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Initial thoughts on the first game of the college basketball season (a 74-59 St. John’s win over William & Mary):
St. John’s has its issues - lack of depth and an inexperienced roster - but the Johnnies have supreme athleticism and a talented quartet of freshmen. Nurideen Lindsey was probably the least touted of the newcomers (and a back story that you can guarantee Dana O’Neill will write about and consequently make you cry). Lindsey looked the most poised of any of SJU’s players as he finished with a team high 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting.
God’s Gift Achiuwa, Moe Harkless, and D’Angelo Harrison all looked comfortable in their first games, but the one veteran, Malik Stith disappointed as he forced the issue offensively. Stith managed to be the only Johnnie to finish negative (was -7).
At Lehigh’s media day (the Mountain Hawks are a future Red Storm opponent), forward Gabe Knutson noted there were a few things that Lehigh needed to prepare for. The first? St. John’s 3/4 court pressure. The Johnnies forced turnovers on 32.5% of Bill & Mary’s possessions (median rate last year was 20%).
The second point Knutson made: rebounding. St. John’s didn’t hit the offensive boards hard, but did grab about 30% of its misses in the second half when the team made its run to blow out W&M. The Johnnies did limit W&M’s second-chance opportunities to 23% (median rate across college basketball last year was 32%).
The final point Knutson made: Force St. John’s freshmen to make mistakes. The Johnnies went over 20 minutes without a turnover including the entire second half. St. John’s won’t shoot terribly well this year, but if you give them an extra five-eight shots per game, they’ve got the pure talent to beat you.
As for William & Mary, Quinn McDowell looked healthy coming back from a knee injury. Tony Shaver definitely has one of the best players in the league in McDowell who dropped 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting (including four three-balls). After McDowell though, the Tribe have next to nothing on this roster.
Follow @JamesonFleming on Twitter. He’s a @CHJournal contributor and social media editor for @CBSSports.com. He’ll specifically be covering Lehigh, Lafayette, and Patriot League basketball as well as the national hoops scene.