Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Red Storm Rolls Past Sacred Heart For Fourth Straight W


Chris Ledlum burying a three-pointer in the opening minutes of the second half. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm rolled to an 85-50 win over Sacred Heart at Carnesecca Arena on Wednesday night. It is the fourth win in a row for Rick Pitino's club, who will look to keep it going in Brooklyn on Sunday as they will take on Boston College at Barclays Center.

St. John's, now 6-2 on the season, was led, as they often are, by Joel Soriano, who had 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including a three-pointer, with 13 rebounds to give him a double-double, along with six assists. Jordan Dingle had 17 points (7-11 FG, 3-7 on three-pointers), with two rebounds. Daniss Jenkins had 13 points (5-12 FG, 3-6 on threes), seven rebounds, and four assists. Chris Ledlum had seven points (2-7 FG, 1-3 threes), with five rebounds and three assists. The Red Storm reserves had nice contributions, as Brady Dunlap had six points, and Nahiem Alleyne, Simeon Wilcher, Zuby Ejiofor, and Drissa Traore each had five points.

In the opening stages of the game, Sacred Heart was hanging in, with St. John's holding a 19-14 lead midway through the first half. That was the moment a switch went off for the Red Storm, as they closed out over the final 10:30 with an elongated 28-12 run to open up a 47-26 lead.

In the second half, St. John's really pulled away, as they opened it with a 12-3 run capped by a Daniss Jenkins three-pointer that made it 59-29 just over five minutes in. 

Just a few minutes later, a Drissa Traore three made it 66-33 Red Storm and they would lead by as many as 36 points, and won it by 35.

Rick Pitino and the St. John's players during opening introductions. Photo by Jason Schott.

PITINO POSTGAME: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media after the game, and he opened with this statement: "They are getting better. Jordan [Dingle], we all know he can score, but his passing and his defense are getting so much better, where he is becoming one of the better players on the team. The passing tonight didn't show it in terms of assists, but he made a lot of hockey passes (note: basically the pass before an assist to set up a hoop, and refers to how hockey awards two assists on goals) and that makes him lethal because everybody worries about his scoring. I can't say much about Joel [Soriano] except that he only played 24 minutes and had 18 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Van Macon told me this year that the only thing about Joel is he's not a really good passer, and he had been working really hard to prove that wrong. I'm real proud of both [Joel and Jordan], to improve at their age is great, and it's going to bode well for our future."

On the improvement of Joel Soriano: "Well, he has gotten a lot better. He has always been good, but he goes from 14% [body fat] to 9%...He looks like a different person...I knew he was a great person, everyone bragged on that, and I knew he was going to be the captain, but he has improved dramatically in every phase of the game and takes coaching extremely well. He always just says 'I got you' and digs in. He is the anchor of our team, he is the captain and is doing a fabulous job."

Rick Pitino on the St. John's sideline. Photo by Jason Schott.

On the team's improvement: "I think we are improving, taking baby steps, getting better and better each game we play. Tonight, we didn't want to let up in the way we defend. You see the improvement individually. I thought Daniss [Jenkins] was terrific tonight. I thought our backcourt was great. I thought Joel [Soriano] wasn't only great tonight, but highly intelligent with his ball faking, not panicking...He does everything a great player should do and his game is starting to match the person he is...I think his game is rising to that level. Both of these guys [Soriano and Dingle] deserve a lot of credit because they want to win badly, they want to improve and they're both terrific young men."

On the performance of the bench: "I think the more time we get Simeon [Wilcher], the better he will perform. I think Drissa [Traore] played very well. I just think they need time in game situations, reading defenses. On the defensive end, I thought Sean Conway played excellent. I think Drissa did a lot of really good things and Zuny [Ejiofor] always gives you 100%. They just need some minutes and some time, but overall, I thought they were good. Brady [Dunlap] was sick and he played through that."

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