Saturday, October 21, 2023

Pitino Debuts In Style As St. John's Outlasts Rutgers To Win Charity Game

St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino and Rutgers' Steve Pikiell before the game. @StJohnsBball.


Rick Pitino made his debut as St. John's head coach on Saturday afternoon, and the Red Storm rewarded him with a win over Rutgers, 89-78, in double overtime.

This was a charity exhibition game with proceeds going to the Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation.

A lot of the new faces on St. John's made their mark, starting with Nahiem Alleyne, who led the way with 19 points and made four three-pointers, including one that forced the game into a second overtime. 

The game was tied at 75 at the end of the first OT, and St. John's ran by Rutgers, 14-3, in the second extra frame. Glenn Taylor put up the first nine of those 14 points, and he finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals. 

All five Red Storm starters finished in double figures. In addition to the 19 from Alleyne and 13 from Taylor, Joel Soriano had 12 points and 16 rebounds, Daniss Jankins put up 13 points and nine assists, and Chris Ledlum had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

PITINO POSTGAME: The coach opened with these thoughts: "I don't think we could have asked for anything better...I'm so proud of a lot of things we did right and we have to work on a lot of things we did wrong...I was delighted when Rutgers agreed to play this game because when you play against a well-coached team this early in the year...Winning by 20 or 25 would have killed my team. Going into double overtime in an exhibition game is a dream come true. I told my team I'd rather have lost than win by 20 because of all the lessons learned in a close game. It's all for charity. It's all for the Jimmy V Fund for pediatric cancer research, and there is no charity better than that. We are so happy that we could have done it with a great crowd."

On lessons learned and the growth of his team: "The number one weakness in the game was fouling. I tell our guys every day, 'you put your hands on them, they're going to call that.' For us to get called for that many fouls (28) was awesome, because I'm telling them every day. We learned an awful lot and I'm sure they learned an awful lot. When you get to play a double-overtime exhibition game, it's awesome. We are about 50 percent of our potential, which is great. Once we get RJ [Luis], once we get Jordan [Dingle], once Simeon [Wilcher] and Brady [Dunlap] grow, especially Brady defensively, we are going to be much better."

On Nahiem Alleyne: 'Nahiem is the best defensive player in the backcourt. There were times when [Daniss Jenkins] looks to facilitate and get everyone a shot, Nahiem has to learn that. He was great. I think everybody overlooks him, but we don't because he is our best defensive player [in the backcourt] as well as being able to make his shots."

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