Wednesday, January 31, 2024

St. John's Drops Another One On Road, With Champs On Deck


Daniss Jenkins looks to make a pass. @StJohnsBball.

After a week off since their stirring one over Villanova, the St. John's Red Storm suffered another tough road loss, as the Xavier Musketeers staged a decisive late run in the final minutes to roll to an 88-77 win.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Brooklyn Boy Stays Home: Mets Re-Sign Ottavino


Adam Ottavino pitching against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 1, 2022. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets have back relief pitcher Adam Ottavino, a Park Slope, Brooklyn native, on a one-year contract, the team made official on Tuesday.

Ottavino, 38, joined the Mets in 2022 and has been one of their most reliable relief pitchers, serving as closer for parts of last season.

In his two years with the Mets, Ottavino ranks seventh in the National League in ERA (earned run average) at 2.62, and eighth in games, 132. The Mets are 88-44 when the right-hander appears in a game.

In 2023, Ottavino racked up a career-high 12 saves, and he had a 3.21 ERA (22 earned runs in 61.2 innings pitched), 62 strikeouts and 29 walks, with a 1-7 record in 66 appearances. 

Mets President of Baseball Operations David Stearns said in a statement, "Adam has been a steady, integral piece of the bullpen for this club over the last two seasons. We're excited to keep him home in New York, where he's thrived on the field, and we look forward to having him pitching important innings for us in 2024."

Ottavino ranks in the Top 10 among active relievers in strikeouts (fifth with 780), innings (seventh with 672.2), and appearances (eighth with 661). He has spent 13 years in the Major Leagues, pitching for St. Louis, Colorado, the Yankees, and Boston, and he has a 3.42 ERA (261 ER in 687.0 IP) with a record of 39-41.

Since 2018, he has kept his opponent off the board in 292, of his 373 appearances, 78.2 percent. Both the scoreless outings and appearances are highest in the Major Leagues in that span.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

St. John's, Led By "Locked in" Soriano, Stuns Villanova


Joel Soriano slamming one home in the early stages of the second half. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm faced their first gut check moment of the season, as they entered Wednesday night's game against the Villanova Wildcats at Madison Square Garden on a three-game losing streak. 

Their last win came against Villanova on the road on January 6, which meant this also was the first time Rick Pitino's squad would face an oppponent twice this season.

They passed the test with flying colors, as they dominated on the defensive end, to the tune of holding Villanova to 37.5 percent shooting, on their way to a 70-50 win.  improved to 5-4 in the Big East, 13-7 overall, while Villanova fell to 4-4 (11-8).

There were many superlatives to this win for St. John's, starting with this being their first season sweep of Villanova since the 1992-93 campaign. It is also the largest victory over the Wildcats since January 25, 1998, when the Red Storm won 82-59 at The Garden.

St. John's took this game over midway through the first half when they went on a 15-3 run capped by a Joel Soriano jumper, after Chris Ledlum snagged an offensive rebound, that gave them a 28-13 lead at the 6:42 mark. 

St. John's shot 46.7 percent (14-for-30) in the first half, while holding Villanova to just eight baskets in 22 attempts (36.4 percent) to take a 32-22 lead into the break.

In the second half, as one would expect from Villanova, even with Kyle Neptune at the helm instead of Jay Wright, they made a run.

The Wildcats went on a 7-2 spark capped by a Hakim Hart layup on a fast break that cut the Red Storm's lead to 40-35 with 12:46 remaining.

Then, as if to remind everyone this is a new year and Rick Pitino runs St. John's, they took over. 

The Red Storm went on an astonishing 26-10 run capped by a pair of Daniss Jenkins free throws with 1:48 left that made it 66-45.

Soriano slammed one home on their next possession with 1:12 left, and he would be lifted at the next stoppage in play.

When Soriano - who poured in 21 points on a near-perfect 8-for-9 from the field, and nine rebounds - exited the court, he was greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd of 12,859 and his teammates, and received a big hug from Pitino.

Joel Soriano and Rick Pitino embrace. Photo by Jason Schott.

"Well, I'm real proud of our team, needless to say," Pitino said afterwards. "I think our pressure was about as good as could be. Both of these guys played a tremendous game," referring to Soriano and Jordan Dingle, who were to his left on the dais. Dingle had 12 points on 6-13 from the field, with four rebounds and four assists off the bench. 

"Jordan doesn't realize it because he isn't the second leading scorer in the country, but he is a much better basketball player than he has ever been because he is now a good defensive player, he is now a passer. We know he can score, but he had four assists, four rebounds, one turnover. He is really improving, really coming on, great team guy. And [Soriano] tonight came to play. He knew how important this game was for us and he was magnificent...

"You know, he wanted the ball inside. Joel was really locked in defensively. He switched a lot and didn't give up; he played a lot of guards tonight and didn't give up. Joel really, he's becoming a really good defensive player as well. He challenged every shot inside. I thought he was very cerebral, besides being very good. He's very upbeat, very positive, he knew how much we needed this game.

"I mean, we're not gonna bullshit you guys - this was a big game for us. They needed it, we needed it. We played this game as if everything was on the line for the season. We didn't want to go into Xavier (next Wednesday, January 31) with a four-game losing streak. We had to get this game, and they came through. They came through in a big way."

Soriano said of the win, "To be honest, every game there's a lot on it. This game we knew was very important. Playing a great team, a college that has a lot of fans that come into this building, we knew they were going to bring a lot of energy. They came off I think losing three of their last four. We just lost three in a row. We knew today was going to be a hard-fought game. I am proud of our guys for bringing it in the second half and continuing to play defense. We just have to keep building off that into the next game."

Dingle said of the season sweep of Villanova, "I think it's a representation of how hard we have been working this year. It's a sign of a great change. We couldn't do it without our great fans. I haven't played in an environment like this ever in my life. They really did a great job packing The Garden, especially at 8:30 p.m. on a worknight. That means the world to me, my teammates and the coaching staff. The energy in here was amazing and it is every game."

In the second half, St. John's put up the same exact overall shooting numbers - 14-for-30, or 46.7 percent - as they did in the opening frame, with the only difference behind the arc, as they were 4-11 in the first half and 1-8 in the second.

Villanova did slightly better in the second half, as they shot 38.5 percent (10-26). For the game, the Wildcats shot 37.5 percent, or 18-48, including 4-25, or 16 percent, on three-pointers.

"We're just very excited with the way we played tonight, the way 42-to-23 on the backboard (referring to their rebound advantage), the way these two guys played. We're very excited about the win," Pitino said. "I try to tell them 'don't get too down, don't get too up,' but I told them this is the game tonight. This is the game, make no mistake about it. I said, this is the game, if you six seniors want to play in the Tournament, you must get this game. This is the game, and they responded in a big way."

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

RFK Jr. Makes General Election Ballot In New Hampshire


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 

Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s campaign announced on Tuesday that it has collected the signatures necessary to get him on the November ballot in New Hampshire.

The campaign collected the full 3,000 signatures necessary in just one day, and Kennedy is now on two ballots in his quest to make all 50. The first state he achieved ballot access was Utah, which was announced on January 3.

"I want to thank our dedicated supporters and volunteers who made this great accomplishment possible," Kennedy said in a statement. "Democracy is much more than voting. I'm inspired by how enthusiastic people are to collect signatures, create new political parties, and rally for real change. This kind of energy is what will get us onto the ballot in every state and fuel our voter registration and GOTV (get out the vote) operation as we head toward election day."

The Kennedy campaign's ballot access and field team led the effort, as volunteers from across New Hampshire and every state in New England came together to gather signatures from voters at nearly 100 precincts from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.

"We had people ages 18 to 88 collecting signatures for RFK Jr.," said Northeast Regional Field Director Larisa Trexler. "All of New England was represented. We made this our primary."

That is in reference to the fact that Tuesday was the "first in the nation primary" in New Hampshire, with former President Donald Trump winning on the Republican side, and President Biden "winning" the Democratic "primary."

The Kennedy campaign explained the significance of achieving ballot access on this day: "New Hampshire was a major battleground between the Kennedy campaign and the Democratic National Committee while Kennedy was running as a Democrat. New Hampshire has traditionally been the first primary in the nation, following the Iowa caucus, but due to Kennedy's broad support and Biden's fears that Kennedy could win the primary, the DNC attempted to reorder the calendar and push New Hampshire to a later date. This made it clear that the DNC would go to any lengths to coronate Biden without a fair contest in the Democratic primary, which compelled Kennedy to declare his independence on October 9."

Saturday, January 20, 2024

St. John's Makes "Quantum Leap" To Nearly Stun Marquette


The Garden erupted after a Joel Soriano layup pulled St. John's within two in the final minutes. Photo by Jason Schott.

St. John's broke out 1994 vintage uniforms on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, and they put on a gritty performance worthy of that era when they nearly pulled off a late comeback that fell short in a heartbreaking 73-72 loss to Marquette.

This is the third straight brutal loss for St. John's, as they also lost by one point at Creighton last Saturday before being humbled by St. John's on Tuesday night in Jersey. (Side note: Creighton outlasted Seton Hall 97-94 in three overtimes in New Jersey as this one was going on.

St. John's fell to 4-4 in Big East play and 12-7 overall, while 17th-ranked Marquette improved to 4-3 in conference play and 13-5 overall.

After a slow start in which they had to adjust to the speed of Marquette, St. John's made a surge late in the first half, with a 14-4 run to take a 34-24 lead. Marquette put up four points in the final 1:20 to cut it to six at the break.

In the second half, Marquette's offensive stalwarts Tyler Kolek, Oso Ighodaro, and David Joplin began to percolate, and they would tie it six minutes in, and they would eventually begin to pull away.

Marquette went on a 13-2 run capped by a Joplin three-pointer in the corner to make it 72-58 with 6:20 remaining.

Marquette Head Coach Shaka Smart greeting his team at half court during their big run in the second half. Photo by Jason Schott.

Coming out of an opportune timeout for St. John's, Joel Soriano made a layup at 5:51, then RJ Luis drained a pair of free throws and after a steal by Luis at 5:08, Daniss Jenkins made a layup with 4:56 left that pulled them within seven, 71-64, and The Garden was rocking again.

Jenkins made a jumper at 3:14, and then after Kolek drained a pair of free throws, Jenkins buried a three-pointer to make it a 73-69 game with 2:55 left. The key to Jenkins' three was that Brady Dunlap snagged a pass that was destined to go in the fifth row and whipped it back to Jenkins clear across the court by the Red Storm bench.

Over a minute later, after Kolek missed a couple free throw attempts, Soriano made a layup that pulled them within just a basket, at 73-71, with 1:35 left.

Marquette then attempted to slow it down, and Joplin took a three that fell short, which really got the crowd going before St. John's went to the other end for a chance at the lead.

Jenkins had a good look at a three-pointer with 46 seconds left, but it rimmed out. Chris Ledlum snagged the offensive rebound, and RJ Luis took his chance at a three, which missed, but Jenkins was fouled after snagging the rebound with 38 seconds left.

After making the first free throw to pull St. John's within one, with time standing still it seemed, Jenkins' second attempt rimmed out, leaving St. John's still down one, at 73-72.

Joplin grabbed the rebound, and he was fouled by Luis. It would be a one-and-one, and Joplin missed the first to give the Red Storm the ball back.

On the ensuing possession, Ledlum missed a three-point attempt from the corner in front of their bench with 10 seconds left.

Kolek was at the line on a one-one-one with six seconds left, and since he missed the first, St. John's had the ball back again with a chance to win.

The Red Storm had to take the ball the length of the floor with 4.3 seconds on the clock, and they raced down rapidly, and Jenkins had a nice look from the side just in front of where St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino stands, and it once again missed the mark. Pitino fell backwards in the aftermath of watching their comeback fall short.

"Major, major, a quantum leap how we finished that game," Pitino said of how impressed he was by his team in the final minutes. "I had an owner in Panathinaikos (where he coached from 2018-20), Dmitri, we lost three games and he'd be so upset, and I said to him, I said, 'don't panic, three tough teams, we'll be fine, we'll make the playoffs, no problem. January, if you looked at the schedule, you say, 'that's gonna be a rough month for them,' okay. You have your points in the schedule where it's going to be rough, then you pick it up, but the guts, like I told them in the timeout before the last, I said, 'you want to quit shooting, you're going to lose by 18 or 20, you want to run your offense, you're going to win this game.'... We went to the offensive glass like we were possessed at the end of the game, so that was a great sign. We took a quantum leap because we're getting better, and you've got to judge a team by a whole body of work...I think we're making strides, I can't tell you where we're going to be at the end, I just think we're making great strides."


Daniss Jenkins' three-point attempt as time expired and the aftermath in three pictures.

Marquette was led by Oso Ighodaro, who had 17 points on a superb 8-for-10 from the field, with five rebounds and two assists. Tyler Kolek had 15 points on 6-12 shooting, with 1-3 from behind the arc, plus 11 assists to give him a double-double, and six rebounds. David Joplin had 13 points on 5-13 from the field, 3-7 on three-pointers, three rebounds, and an assist. 

All three of them each had 11 points in the second half, leading a Marquette offense that shot an impressive 75 percent in the final 20 minutes, as they shot 18-24 from the field.

St. John's was led by RJ Luis Jr., who had 10 points on 7-18 from the field, 2-6 on three-pointers, and 4-4 from the free throw line, with four rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Daniss Jenkins had 16 points (6-13 FG, 2-6 on threes), with four rebounds and two assists, but six turnovers. Chris Ledlum had 13 points (5-14 FG, 1-4 threes), with 11 rebounds to give him a double-double, plus four assists.

PITINO POSTGAME: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media, and here's what he said in addition to his quote earlier in this report: 

Opening statement: "We had two great looks, especially the one in the corner by Chris Ledlum, to win the game, and unfortunately it didn't bounce our way. When we lost to Creighton, I think you could see how unhappy I was about the loss because there are no moral victories. But tonight, there are moral victories. I think we were undermanned, and I thought our guys showed amazing character down the stretch to fight back against a very seasoned ballclub that was picking us apart defensively. Although we lost and I'm disappointed, I thought it was a great effort by our guys and I can't complain about the way they played. They ran their offense, they went back door, they did some really good things tonight. I'm really pleased with our performance, but very disappointed we lost. Let's give Marquette all the credit for executing the two-man game in the second half."

On Marquette: "They just force you to switch. They help and [Tyler Kolek and Oso Ighodaro] play like Stockton and Malone. They are very good with each other, and they know how to throw the pocket pass. You have to switch it, and we did a few times, but we came off the corner. They shot a very high percentage in the second half, shooting 75 percent, but despite all of that, coming back and having a good chance of winning is a good thing."

On the close Big East losses they have had this season: "Every coach gets discouraged with a loss but unerstand, [Marquette, Creighton and UConn] are three teams you could rank in the Top 10 in the nation. And of course, we beat Villanova [on the road] for the first time in three decades. [Marquette] is a machine because they known each other so well. We are just getting to know each other and building something. I think our crowd is great, even though are numbers aren't high. It doesn't have to be high. The 10 or 11 thousand who are here are awesome. Everything is going in the right direction for us regardless of the score. We are going to build something that you are going to look at in two years and say, 'that's greatness.' I'm committed to that."

Friday, January 19, 2024

Pitino Pregame: St. John's Takes on Marquette At MSG Saturday


St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino looks on before his team is introduced at Carnesecca Arena earlier this season. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm return to Madison Square Garden on Saturday at high noon for a Big East matchup with the Marquette Golden Eagles.

St. John's, which received votes in the AP Top 25 ranking, enters this one with a 4-3 Big East record, 12-6 overall. They are coming off as tough a road trip as you could have, as they suffered a one-point loss, 66-65, at Creighton last Saturday, and then an 80-65 humbling by Seton Hall in Jersey on Tuesday night.

Marquette, led by Head Coach Shaka Smart, enters this one No. 17/18 in the county, and they are 3-3 in Big East play and 12-5 overall.

St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino tested positive for Covid just before Tuesday's game, which he did not coach, but he will be back on the sidelines on Saturday. 

Pitino Pregame: The Hall of Fame coach addressed the media on the St. John's campus on Friday morning:

On St. John's: "We were playing good basketball. We played Connecticut to the wire on the road, beat Villanova wire-to-wire, played Creighton to the wire. Even in losses, I was very pleased with our team's performance and, obviously, all of us did not like what we witnessed the other day. I'd like to give credit to Seton Hall for the way they played. We just had one of those nights where we didn't bring it. If this team is not clicking on all cylinders from an effort standpoint, they're going to get beat. We are not talented, tall enough athletic enough to overcome not giving an extraordinary effort."

On Marquette: "We have to play a great game to beat a Marquette team with the weapons they have, the defense they play where they get a turnover one out of every four times down the court. They get a steal one out of every seven times down the court. We have to play exceptionally well to beat a team like that. They are seasoned, they have been together, we have gone through a lot of problems in practice with people out constantly, so we have to overcome that.

"Marquette is a team that can embarrass you very easily. They are so good at what they do that they can embarrass you. It's not like playing against some other teams that do one or two things really well. This team thrives on the deflection, the steal and getting out. They have the MVP of the league, so they do many things very well. They average 34 deflections a game and we average like 16. They are a well-oiled machine. When you beat a Kansas or a Texas, you are a well-oiled machine."

On the effort from his St. John's team: "My wife has a silly expression that all of us in our family poke fun at, 'Nothing changes if nothing changes.' If you don't change, nothing to going to change...It's not one person, it's all of them, collectively. If you don't change, who you are and become better at what you do, from a work standpoint, nothing will change in your life. You will just be mediocre. That's my belief, but I'm not going to let one game change my opinion of who we are. We had a bad night and had a lot of good nights...

I look at their motors, their work ethic. That's how I judge people, on their work ethic. That's why I love Daniss [Jenkins] so much. That's why I love Zuby [Ejiofor] so much because of their work ethic. They bring it every day in practice, they bring it every single day. They are dependable, they are predictable. I know who they are...It's just who Daniss and Zuby are. They may have an off night shooting, but they will never let that deter from their motors. You saw it the other night."

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Mets Tix On Sale Friday & Highlights Of Home Schedule


Citi Field. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets announced that tickets for the 2024 season, which opens in just over two months, will go on sale tomorrow, Friday, January 19 at 10 A.M.

Opening Day will be on Thursday, March 28, when the Mets host the Milwaukee Brewers in the first game of a three-game series. The Mets will open with six games at Citi Field, as the Detroit Tigers come in for a three-game set starting on Monday, April 1.

With this announcement, the Mets also announced when some highly-anticipated events will be taking place, including when Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry will have their numbers 16 and 18, respectively, retired.

Tickets can be purchased on and by calling 718-507-TIXX. The best way to ensure you have Opening Day and the biggest games of the season are by purchasing a full-season, half-season, or quarter-season plan, which are available


- Dwight 'Doc' Gooden Number Retirement Ceremony - Sunday, April 14 vs. Kansas City Royals

- Darryl Strawberry Number Retirement Ceremony - Saturday, June 1 vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

- Subway Series - Tuesday, June 25 and Wednesday June 26 vs. New York Yankees

- Memorial Day Weekend - Friday May 24 - Sunday May 26 & Monday, May 27 vs. Los Angeles Dodgers 

- Father's Day - Sunday June 16 vs. San Diego Padres

- Labor Day - Monday, September 2 vs. Boston Red Sox

- Interleague Series at Citi Field - Kansas City Royals, April 12-14; Houston Astros, June 28-30; Minnesota Twins, July 29-31; Oakland A's, August 13-15; Baltimore Orioles, August 19-21; Boston Red Sox, September 2-4

Note: The Mets will release their full 2024 promotional schedule at a later date.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

St. John's, Without Pitino, Has A Tough Night In Jersey


Seton Hall's Al-Amir Dawes wants people to see how well he played. @SetonHallMBB.

The value of someone can be seen as much in their absence as their presence, and that's something the St. John's men's basketball team experienced on Tuesday night.

At 5:14 p.m., around three hours before the Red Storm tipped off in Newark against Seton Hall, it was announced that St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino would not be there, as he was recovering from Covid, and that Associate Head Coach Steve Masiello was at the helm for the night.

Seton Hall dominated from the start, as they took a quick 6-0 lead and kept St. John's off the board for the first four minutes and 53 seconds of the game. Joel Soriano got a basket after he missed a layup at the 15:07 market of the first half.

St. John's, who was without Jordan Dingle due to Covid, then found a rhythym and, before you knew it, the game was tied at 24 on a Daniss Jenkins three-pointer with 4:33 left in the first half.

The Hall responded with a 14-0 run to finish out the opening frame, and they took a commanding 38-24 lead into halftime.

Incredibly, they opened the second half on another 14-0 run that put them up 52-24, and they were well on their way to an 80-65 victory.

Seton Hall, at the top of the Big East Conference standings, improved to 6-1 in conference play, and 13-5 overall. St. John's fell to 12-6 and 4-3 in conference play, with all three of those losses on the road.

The Hall was led by Al-Amir Dawes, who had 21 points on 5-10 shooting, 3-5 on three-pointers, and 8-9 at the free-throw line, with one rebound and one assist. Dylan Addae-Wusu had 16 points (4-12 FG, 3-6 three-pointers, 5-5 free throws),  with 10 rebounds to give him a double-double, and five assists. Elijah Hutchins-Everett had 14 points on a near-perfect 5-6 from the field, including 1-2 on threes, with seven rebounds and two assists.

St. John's was led by Daniss Jenkins, who had 17 points on 6-14 shooting and 3-8 on three-pointers, with five assists and two rebounds. Joel Soriano was held to six points on 3-8 from the field, with four rebounds in 18:39.

MASIELLO POSTGAME: Associate Head Coach Steve Masiello addressed the media in Pitino's absence, and opened with this statement: "Obviously, very disappointed with our performance tonight. Give a lot of credit to [Head Coach] Shaheen [Holloway] and Seton Hall, I thought they came out and really took it to us, especially on the glass, really making us work on the offensive end. Then with about five minutes left in the first half, they really started getting out in transition, got some second-chance opportunities, started to open it up a little bit. Then the first four minutes of the second half starting off [14-0], we didn't respond very well. We have to learn from it, get better, and turn the page."

On the team's mindset being without Pitino and Dingle: "It's not about excuses, this is college basketball. Adversity happens every day and you have to respond to adversity. Its ten percent what happens and ninety percent how you respond to it...We need to respond better. We didn't respond well today. We have to own it and be better. Simple as that. No one is going to make excuses about it."

On the team's effort: "I didn't think effort was a problem. I just thought we weren't there where we needed to be. We were out of rhythm, we were out of sorts, we weren't as quick to things. Our rotations were a little bit different tonight because of losing Jordan so close to the game. Our backcourt was a little thin, so we had to move some things around. Our effort on the glass wasn't there for sure...Giving up 21 offensive rebounds, we have to be tougher, but again, credit to Seton Hall."

Yankees Sign Stroman, Bringing New York Kid Home


Yankee Stadium. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees have signed one of the best pitchers on the free agent market, Marcus Stroman, to a two-year contract, the team announced on Wednesday. There is also a conditional player option for the 2026 season.

The Medford, New York, native, who played for the Mets from 2019-21, returns home to play for the team he rooted for as a child.

Stroman, 32, spent the past two seasons with the Chicago Cubs, and he was an All-Star in 2023, as he went 10-9 with a 3.95 earned run average (ERA), with nine of those wins coming in the first half of the season. He threw 136.2 innings pitched, and allowed 60 earned runs (68 overall) on 120 hits, including just nine home runs, and 52 walks, with 119 strikeouts, and he had a complete game shutout, in 27 games (25 starts).

Among Major League pitchers in 2023 with at least 100.0 innings pitched, Stroman ranked second in groundball percentage (58.4) and home runs allowed per nine innings (0.59), eight in opponents' slugging percentage (.335) and 12th in opponents' OPS at .640.

Stroman made his Major League debut with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, and he pitched there until 2019, when he made the All-Star team. His best season with the Jays was in 2017 when he went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA and in his five-plus seasons with Toronto, he went 47-45 with a 3.76 ERA. 

After arriving to the Mets at the trade deadline in 2019, he went 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA, and then after sitting out the 2020 pandemic season, he had a superb 3.02 ERA in 2021, while only going 10-13 in Jacob deGrom-like fashion.

In his nine-year career, Stroman's record is 77-76 with a 3.65 ERA, as he has thrown 1,303.2 innings pitched, and allowed 529 earned runs (591 overall), 1,257 hits, 376 walks, 120 home runs, while striking out 1,091.

In the time since he debuted in 2014, Stroman ranks second in the Major Leagues in groundball percentage at 57.5 and fourth in home runs allowed per nine innings (0.83). He is one of just 11 pitchers to make 25-or-more starts in at least six of the past seven full seasons since 2016, which excludes 2020's 6-game campaign. The 1,146 innings he has thrown since 2016 are also the 12th-highest among Major League pitchers.

Stroman was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, but did not sign and attended Duke University for three seasons before Toronto drafted him in the first round (22nd overall) in the 2012 Draft.

At Patchogue-Medford High School, where Stroman graduated from in 2010, he was a four-year letterwinner. In his senior year, he went 9-1 with an eye-popping 0.25 ERA and 120 strikeouts, which earned him First-Team All-State and Third-Team All-American honors.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Books: New Novels For The New Year From Shalvis & Oshansky


The Bright Spot

By Jill Shalvis

Avon Books an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; paperback, $18.99; available today, Tuesday, January 16th

Jill Shalvis is a New York Times bestselling author who lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters, and any resemblance to them is mostly a coincidence. She has had a legendary career writing romantic fiction, and her book, The Trouble with Mistletoe, has been adapted into a feature film, with two books optioned for television. 

The Bright Spot is the fifth standalone novel in Shalvis' Sunrise Cove series, and it is a heartwarming story about the choices we make and the love we let into our lives. It is full of quick humor, relatable yet flawed characters finding their way, and animal sidekicks.

Luna Wright is many things, but sweet and trusting are not on the list. However, she is a sucker for the underdog and a hard-luck story. She was adopted at birth with little knowledge of her biological family, but she has created her own inner circle, which included her best friend Willow, to help run the struggling but charming Apple Ridge Farm.

With a farm-to-table cafe plus a menagerie of rescued animals, including a baby goat who keeps escaping to the pantry to eat potato chips, it's the best home she has ever known. When the owner Silas, who they secretly call The Grinch, passes away, Luna realizes the farm is now under control of his investment manager, Jameson Hayes, as well as Luna herself. They also discover the many secrets had many, many secrets.

Luna's carefully cultivated corner of the world is threatened and she has to dig deep to find true strength, along with her friends, and the real meaning of love and family.

Poor Deer

By Claire Oshetsky

Ecco; hardcover, 240 pages; $26.99

Claire Oshetsky is the author of Chouette, which was a PEN Faulkner Nominee, the winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and a finalist for the Northern California Book Award and the Barbellion Prize. 

Poor Deer is Oshetsky's new novel, and it is about Margaret Murphy, who weaves fantastic tales while growing up in a world where the truth is too much for a little girl to endure. 

Margaret's first memory is of the day her friend Agnes died. Nobody blames Margaret, and her mother insists to everyone who will listen that her daughter never left home that day. While left alone to make sense of tragedy, Margaret wills herself to forget these unbearable memories, and forgets them with imagined stories that she fills with faith and magic that always end happily. 

Poor Deer is a strange and formidable creature who winds her way uninvited into Margaret's made-up stories, and she will not rest until Margaret confronts the truth about her past and atones for her role in Agnes' death.

A story that is heartrending, hopeful, and boldly imagined, Poor Deer explores the journey toward understanding the children we were, and the stories we tell ourselves to endure life's toughest moments.

Kennedy Campaign Forms "We The People" Political Parties


Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Courtesy Kennedy 24.

The Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Presidential campaign has found a new avenue in their goal to be on ballots in all 50 states, as it announced on Tuesday that some of his supporters have filed political party paperwork in six states.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

St. John's Suffered "Extemely Disappointing Loss," As Pitino Put It, At Creighton


Daniss Jenkins puts up a layup. @StJohnsBball.

The St. John's Red Storm suffered a crushing loss at Creighton on Saturday afternoon, 66-65, which might cost them a shot at a ranking in the Top 25.

St. John's falls to 4-2 in Big East Conference play, and 12-5 overall, while Creighton, who entered this one ranked 22nd in one poll and 20th in another, matched them at 4-2 in the Big East, while the Blue Jays are 13-4 overall.

Creighton jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead before St. John's went on a 14-2 run capped by a Jordan Dingle jumper to take an 18-12 lead at the 10:03 mark of the first half. The Red Storm took a 35-30 edge into the half, backed by a balanced scoring attack, as Daniss Jenkins and Dingle had six points apiece, while Nahiem Alleyne and RJ Luis Jr. had four points each.

In the second half, Creighton opened it much as they did the opening frame, with a 15-7 run capped by a Mason Miller fast-break dunk that made it 45-42. St. John's responded with a 10-0 run capped by a Chris Ledlum put-back layup that made it 52-45 with 9:47 left.

Creighton re-took the lead with 5:46 left when Ryan Kalkbrenner slammed one home to make it 59-58. Five lead changes would follow before St. John's took a 65-64 lead on a Joel Soriano dunk with 2:02 remaining.

It would stay that way nearly until the finish line, but Trey Alexander was fouled by Jenkins with 10 seconds left. He would get to the line, bury the pair of free throws to make it 66-65 Creighton. They would hold on at in the closing seconds as Jenkins missed a pull-up jumper in the paint, and Dingle grabbed the offensive rebound and missed a jumper in the paint as time expired.

Creighton was led by Kalkbrenner, who had 18 points on 6-11 from the field, 1-2 from behind the arc, with nine rebounds and one assist. Baylor Scheierman had 17 points on 5-15 shooting, 1-6 on three-pointers, and 6-7 on free throws, with 12 rebounds to give him a double-double, plus two assists.

St. John's was led by Joel Soriano, who notched his 10th double-double of the season with 13 points (5-11 FG) and 11 rebounds, with an assist. Daniss Jenkins had 11 points (5-17 FG, 1-3 on threes), with five assists and two rebounds. 

PITINO POSTGAME: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media after the game, and he opened with this statement: "That was an ectremely disappointing loss for us. We played good enough to win, but on the road, you've got to get loose balls and you've got to rebound. It was a very disappointing loss and the team's very dow about it. We had a chance to win it. I told the guys not to take floaters in the lane, take two-point shots. I thought our bench gave us a big lift tonight and got us the lead...We're disappointed, but in this league, you can't get too low because we have Seton Hall next, who just beat Butler on the road. We'll take a long trip home and get ready for them. (St. John's plays Seton Hall on Tuesday night in Newark)

On Creighton: "I thought we played good defense and it came down to the buzzer...It was nothing they did that was impressive and there was nothing that we did that was impressive. It was two teams that were playing their hearts out and [Creighton] came away with the victory."

On this game: "We played well today, but didn't come away with a victory. We could have gone from 34 in the NET to 20 in the NET with a road victory, but we didn't get the job done. We have to get ready for a Seton Hall team today that is playing lights out."

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Tributes To Buddy Harrelson, Member Of 1969 Miracle Mets


The Mets announced the very sad news that Buddy Harrelson, a member of the 1969 Miracle Mets championship team, passed away on Wednesday night at age 79 at a hospice house in East Northport, Long Island after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease.

St. John's Holds Off Carter, Providence At Raucous Garden


Chris Ledlum making a basket late in the first half. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm, in what Head Coach Rick Pitino called "a great learning experience for our basketball team," raced out to an 11-point halftime lead before holding on for a 75-73 win over the Providence Friars on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

St. John's is now 4-1 in Big East Conference play, their best mark since 2000-01, and they are tied with UConn and Seton Hall atop the Big East standings. They are also 12-4 overall, which already bears watching because 20 wins is the benchmark you need to reach to make March Madness, something recent St. John's teams had issues with because they would have maddeningly slow starts in conference play.

Just as they had done in their win over Villanova Saturday. St. John's raced out to a 10-0 lead. Despite a few flourishes from Providence, St. John's led 40-29 at halftime, as they shot 56.7 percent from the field (17-30), as Daniss Jenkins had 11 points and Jordan Dingle chipped in nine off the bench.

The second half was a different story, as Devin Carter began to heat up, as he poured in nine points amidst a 16-4 run in the opening five-and-a-half minutes to give Providence a 45-44 lead.

By this point, the Friars faithful began to make their presence known, as they made up a big chunk of the 11,832 on hand at The Garden. That would make the final 14:30 of the game as raucous an atmosphere as a St. John's game there has had in years, what they envisioned when they hired Pitino, who by this point had loosened his tie, noteworthy since he's one of the few coaches left who still wears a suit.

Providence taking the lead appeared to be the kick in the pants the Red Storm needed, as they responded with a 13-2 run capped by a Jenkins three-pointer with 9:29 left that made it 57-47.

The scene during a timeout with St. John's up 57-47, when The Garden crowd was revved up. Photo by Jason Schott.

It appeared that the Red Storm had it in hand in the final minute when Joel Soriano drained a pair of free throws with 37 seconds left that made it 74-69. 

However, Providence, and Carter, who had 19 points in the second half and 27 in the game, was not done yet. After being fouled on a three-point attempt, he made the first two of his three attempts at the charity stripe, and after missing the third one, Rafael Castro nabbed an offensive rebound with 22.8 seconds left. Carter then raced around the Red Storm defense for a layup with 9.8 seconds left that made it a one-point game, 74-73.

Brady Dunlap, who was nursing an ankle injury throughout the game, was fouled on the inbounds with 6.7 seconds left, and he missed both of his free throw attempts. 

RJ Luis Jr. nabbed a crucial offensive rebound with 4.7 seconds left, and he was fouled by Carter. That was the Providence sharpshooter's fifth of the night, so he fouled out. 

Luis buried one of two free throws to make it 75-73, and Providence raced to the other end, with Jayden Pierre taking a deep three-point attempt that fell short.

St. John's was led by Joel Soriano, who had 16 points on 4-for-8 shooting, and he was 8-11 from the charity stripe, with seven rebounds and an assist. Daniss Jenkins matched him with 16 points, as he went 6-12 from the field, and an impressive 4-5 on three-pointers, with eight assists and four rebounds. RJ Luis Jr. had 12 points (3-7 FG, 6-8 free throws), with eight rebounds, and Brady Dunlap and Jordan Dingle each chipped in nine points.

Providence was led by Devin Carter, who had 31 points, including 23 in the second half, on 11-19 shooting, including 2-6 on three-pointers and 7-12 from the free throw line, with 13 rebounds, four steals, and two assists.

PITINO POSTGAME: St. John's Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media after the win over Providence and he opened with this: "I thought tonight was a great learning experience for our basketball team. I don't think we could have played better in the first 18 minutes of the first half. I told them after the game, you have to understand why you could have potentially lost this game by taking the shots that you took. But you have to give credit where credit is due, [Devin] Carter, by himself, was tougher than our entire team. 31 points, 13 rebounds from a guard - he was brilliant, great, four steals. One of the better performances that I've seen, and we defended him fairly well in the first half. But took a lot of bad shots. It's the first time we've taken challenged shots; we were 4-for-15, we want to keep it under six, and we took 15, so it was a great learning experience.

I really believe this, because I've been around this game a long time. If we had won by 25, we would have gone into Creighton (this Saturday) and just got our asses handed to us. So, this was great for our team to understand if you rebound like that, you take challenged shots like that, and you allow a guard to rebound like that, you are going to lose some close ones, so it was a great learning experience where you can win and learn fast, but we did a lot of great things in the first half, and the second half, due to Providence's brilliant play, we did a lot of poor things, but you know, overall, in the first half, when you shoot 56 percent from the field and 45 from the three, you're doing a lot of good things, and then the second half, 37 and 28 because of the shot selection that we took. These two guys (Jenkins and Soriano) played well, not great; they played well. They've played well all year, but they've got to do more, and they will.

On RJ Luis' late offensive rebound: "RJ is a great talent who is going to give me a nervous breakdown because he, like throwing the ball off the guy's rear end on an inbounds pass, some of what he does is really going to age me. I'm very young for my age (71), but coaching RJ this year has made me 90 years of age. I'm close to Louie right now, very close," referring to Lou Carnesecca, who just turned 99 years old. "But he's a great talent, that rebound saved the game, but he was told not to let the man go by him on the inbounds pass and he let him go by him. He's gonna learn; if he's a student of the game, I believe someday down the road when he heals with the shins at practices, after next year, he has a great chance of being a first round draft pick.

On Providence Head Coach Kim English: "I have to tell you, the guy who coached against me tonight is absolutely fabulous. His team plays like they haven't eaten in a week. You know, my guys are at the buffet every hour. This league is full of great coaches."

On assessing his St. John's team, and Joel Soriano: "I'm pissed off at my guys right now; it's okay because you can get upset when you win and you learn a lot of lessons, but they played great. I have very high aspirations for them, very high goals for them and I don't want them to do the things they did tonight in terms of taking challenged shots and doing those things. They're intelligent. [Joel Soriano] is the most lovable young man I have ever coached...I'm trying to make him so much better than he is just by getting on him constantly. I want him to get 25 or 30 rebounds in games. Is that possible? I don't know but I want him to try and do that because he is such an amazing young man, one of the finest I've ever met in my lifetime, and I want so much for him. He is one of the guys, either one, two or three, early in the season who should be the best player in the league. I want him to be even better than that. I don't want anyone to think about rebounding when he is in that area."

On St. John's first Big East game at The Garden: "Carnesecca is an amazing home-court advantage. I never knew that because I remember playing there and winning by one point, but I never remembered...We want to mix it up. The Garden is where everyone dreams of playing...I tear up every time the starting lineups happen because of my memories of Madison Square Garden, not only as the Knicks assistant, Knick head coach, winning two back-to-back Big East titles, signing my scholarship papers to UMass on The Garden floor - to me, it's a magical place...It's 'The World's Most Famous Arena' and we're excited to be here."

Photo by Jason Schott.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Pitino Pregame: St. John's Returns To The Garden Wednesday Night


Rick Pitino and his St. John's players before player introductions on December 6th. Photo by Jason Schott.

The St. John's Red Storm returns to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night when they take on the Providence Friars.

Books: "The Furies" By Elizabeth Flock


The Furies: Women, Vengeance, and Justice

By Elizabeth Flock

Harper; hardcover, 304 pages; $32.00; available today, Tuesday, January 9th

Elizabeth Flock is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who has spent the past five years covering women in the criminal justice system, especially those imprisoned for defending themselves against an abuser. Every month, she speaks to dozens of women behind bars, and she has studied hundreds of criminalized survival cases. She is the host of the Blind Plea podcast, which is about a black mother in Alabama who killed her white abuser, filed a Stand Your Ground claim, and was instead given a blind plea, an option to take an unknown sentence in exchange for pleading guilty. It was #1 on Apple Podcasts and is the first journalistic look at the practice of blind pleas. 

The Furies is Flock's new book, an incisive account of three real-life women, in three different parts of the world, who have used violence to fight back against rape, domestic abuse, and the incursions of war. This brings about questions of whether women's actions fighting back help or hurt them, and if women can truly hope to effect societal change by pitting their own brand of violence against the systemic violence afflicted on them by their oppressors.

Flock reports that the public's view of such women is often distorted by the media and pop culture, which either castigates or exalts them as heroes or rebels. The truth is a bit more complicated, as she discovered.

The first story Flock examines is that of Brittany Smith, who was the subject of a New Yorker piece that went viral. Smith is a young woman from rural Stevenson, Alabama, who killed a man she said raped her but was denied the protections of the state's Stand-Your-Ground law. The second story takes place in Uttar Pradesh, India, where Angoori Dahariya, is leader of a gang dedicated to avenging victims of domestic abuse. Then, the reader is introduced to Cicek Mustafa Zibo, a fighter in a thousands-strong all-female militia that battled ISIS in Syria.

Each woman chose to use lethal force in order to gain safety, power, and freedom when the institutions meant to protect them, including police, government, and the courts, failed to deliver. Each woman has faced criticism for their actions by those who believe that violence is never the answer.

Flock conducted research on the ground, as she embedded with families, communities, and organizations in America, India, and Syria, and tells their stories with the necessary nuance to give the complete picture. With a topic this complex, and with subjects in three vastly different societies, it is fascinating to see where there are similarities in their experiences.

A Conversation With Elizabeth Flock (provided by HarperCollins):

Elizabeth Flock.

Why have you chosen these three stories, in particular; what links them together? "As a culture we are obsessed with stories of female vigilantes (what the BBC in 2022 dubbed the 'ascent of the violent-and-yet-relatable female anti-hero'). I believe we are obsessed with these stories because we wish we could be them, due to the global epidemic of gender-based violence that exists in our homes, largely behind closed doors. Using that as a premise, I went looking for real-life stories of women who fought back against domestic and sexual violence, to better understand what happened when they did. Did their actions help stop the violence, or only breed more? And what happened to the women?

I spent years researching stories of women who defended themselves all over the world, from Senegal to Mexico to the UK to the Ukraine. I landed on the three stories I did - in the rural US, India, and Syria - because they took place in 1) deeply patriarchal places with 2) cultures of honor where 3) institutions are often inadequate and so individuals must stand up to protect themselves 4) in this case women and 5) I had access to study these women.

I wanted to look at the problem in both a macro and micro way (from the battlefield to the community to the home). It was important to me to report on this subject in my own country (the US), as well as far afield (India, Syria), to show how the problem of gender-based violence plagues us everywhere, from far-flung places to the reader's own backyard. It was also my intention to follow an individual (Brittany Smith), a group (Angoori Dahariya's Green Gang), and a larger system (Cicek Mustafa Zibo and the YPJ) of women who fought back, to understand female self-defense at multiple levels.

In all three stories, women violently fought back against gender-based violence perpetrated against them and/or their communities - at great personal cost to themselves.

What impression do you want to make on the reader upon finishing The Furies? As a society, we pretend to be peace-loving, but a closer look suggests a state - and a masculine - monopoly on violence. This is clear any time the police use excessive force, a corporation destroys the land, or we carelessly drop bombs abroad. When a violated woman fights back, however, it is another story. Women's claims of self-defense do not get the same treatment as men; in many places around the world, for example, women are twice as likely to be convicted of a crime if they defend themselves with lethal force.

The central argument of this book is really a series of questions: If there is a global epidemic of gender-based violence, yet women are not able to defend themselves against it, have women really made true progress? Why, if we profess to be pacifists, do these women's uses of violence feel so necessary? Is an insistence on nonviolence really just the purview of the privileged and the safe?

Why are we so shocked when women are violent? It is one of the oldest steretypes or myths in the world that women are peacemakers. As political scientists Caron E. Gentry and Laura Sjoberg put it, 'Gender and development and even feminist discourses suggest that women are necessarily more nurturing and peace-loving than men - and that, by extension, there is something especially troubling about women whose behavior transgresses these.' As a result, we feel uncomfortable with women who are violent. We want them to pacify, to mediate, to nurture, to rise above."

Are women and girls becoming more violent, or is it just that we've never confronted it before? No, I don't think so. Despite the fact that we have long assigned women as the more peaceful gender, our mythologies and histories are rife with tales of violent women, from the goddesses Athena, Kali and Inanna to the biblical Judith to the ancient queen Boudica, from the paintings of Artemesia Gentileschi to the contemporary Lorena Bobbitt. I just think we have not, in our modern era at least, confronted the idea that female violence may be necessary.

Would you agree that in each of the three stories, each woman becomes powerful, without gaining any power? Each woman in the book gives agency by actively instead of passively responding to the violence perpetrated against them and their communities. They also gain a voice. But I wouldn't say they became more powerful. In fact, while they arguably gain more power for the women around them (Brittany for other Alabama women, Angoori for her Green Gang members), and Cicek for her fellow fighters), they do so at great personal costs to themselves. They are victims of the systems they tried to challenge - but not for nothing.

Can you expand on what you mean by the book's last line, "If only we could all fight so hard"? We are living at a time of many crises: from the epidemic of gender-based violence to rising income inequality to religious wars to environmental catastrophe. Many of us feel that we cannot do much to change these circumstances. I believe this is fundamentally untrue, and that these women and their challenge to entrenched systems are a testament to that. Fighting back is often damaging personally but can have a large impact systematically. I wish this book to be a call to arms to all of us to, in response to these crimes, do something.

Can you expand on what you mean around "their failings are, in part, a response to living within damaging cultures of honor"? Do you think these are very specific cultural stories relating to female violence, or are there broader more universal themes that can be applicable to women's (lack of) status everywhere? Brittany Smith struggled with addiction in large part because of the domestic violence she endured. Angoori Dahariya searched for power because she had none as a poor, low-caste woman. Cicek Mustafa Zibo was looking for an ideology to grab onto because being relegated to the home as a housewife made no sense to her.

But of course these cultures of honor don't just damage women. They damage men as well, who feel they must be violent to be powerful. 

Michigan Wins College Football Playoff, Honored With MacArthur Bowl


Michigan's Blake Corum scoring a touchdown. Provided by NFF.

The Michigan Wolverines won the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night, as they beat the Washington Huskies, 34-13, at NRG Stadium in Houston. 

This is Michigan's first national championship since 1997, the completion of a 15-0 season, the best in their illustrious history, and the first for Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.

Michigan running back Blake Corum was the Offensive MVP, as he ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns, and defensive back Will Johnson was the Defensive MVP, as he had an interception on the first snap of the second half when Michigan was clinging to a 17-10 lead.

In addition to Corum's 134 yards, Donovan Edwards ran for 104 yards and also had two TDs, part of a 303-yard rushing output for Michigan, a CFP title game record. 

Quartetback J.J. McCarthy threw for 141 yards, as he completed 10 passes, and he rushed for 31 yards. Defensive back Mike Sainristil led Michigan with eight tackles, and he sealed the win with an interception which he returned 81 yards with 3:53 remaining in the fourth quarter. 

This was the third straight season that Harbaugh led them to the College Football Playoff, and the first time they reached the championship game. He has led them to a 40-3 record the past three seasons, and an 88-25 mark since taking over in 2015.

Michigan became the recipient of the 2023 NFF MacArthur Bowl National Championship Trophy for the second time. Its name will be etched among the champions of college football, including the 1997 Wolverines, on the trophy, which is housed at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

The MacArthur Bowl has been presented to every college football national champion since 1959. The trophy was the gift of an anonymous donor, who commissioned Tiffany & Co. to craft it from 400 ounces of silver, in honor of early NFF leader General Douglas MacArthur. It took eight months to make, and the trophy features MacArthur's famous quote, "There is no substitute for victory."

Twenty-four different schools have won the trophy at least once in its 65-year history. Alabama has won it the most, 10 times, while Notre Dame is second with five, followed by Ohio State, Miami, Southern California, and Texas, with four. The trophy is a replica of a football stadium, and it features archways with space to engrave the names of 100 teams and miniature goal posts.

NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell said, "On behalf of the National Football Foundation, our 12,000 members, our Board of Directors and Chairman Archie Manning, we are extremely proud to recognize Coach Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines. 

"This trophy was started in 1959 by General Douglas MacArthur, the great sportswriter Grantland Rice and legendary coach Red Blaik, and etched on the side of this stadium replica in all silver are all of the subsequent national champions. As the keepers of the history and the legacy of the sport of football, we are exceptionally pleased to maintain this unique tradition by etching the 2023 Michigan team on its walls."

Monday, January 8, 2024

NFF Announces 2024 College Football Hall of Fame Class


In what has become a tradition, the National Football Foundation announced the 2024 College Football Hall of Fame Class ahead of Monday night's National Championship game between Michigan and Washington.

There will be 19 players inducted, including Randy Moss, Warrick Dunn, and Larry Fitzgerald, and three coaches, including Mark Dantonio. 



Justin Blackmon - WR, Oklahoma State (2009-11)

Paul Cameron - TB, UCLA (1951-53)

Tim Couch - QB, Kentucky (1996-98)

Warrick Dunn - RB, Florida State (1993-96)

Armanti Edwards - QB, Appalachian State (2006-09)

Deon Figures - CB, Colorado  (1988, 1990-92)

Larry Fitzgerald - WR, Pittsburgh (2002-03)

Toby Gerhart - RB, Stanford (1006-09)

Dan Hampton - DT, Arkansas (1975-78)

Steve Hutchinson - OG, Michigan (1997-2000)

Antonio Langham - CB, Alabama (1990-93)

Randy Moss - WR, Marshall (1996-97)

Julius Peppers - DE, North Carolina (1999-2001)

Dewey Selmon - NG, Oklahoma (1972-75)

Alex Smith - QB, Utah (2002-04)

Kevin Smith - CB, Texas A&M (1988-91)

Chris Ward - OT, Ohio State (1974-77)

Danny Woodhead - RB, Chadron State [NE] (2004-07)


Mark Dantonio - 132-74 (64.1 winning percentage): Cincinnati (2004-06), Michigan State (2007-19)

Danny Hale - 213-69-1 (75.4%): West Chester [PA] (1984-88), Bloomsburg [PA] (1993-2012)

Frank Solich - 173-101-0: Nebraska (1998-2003), Ohio (2005-20)

Saturday, January 6, 2024

St. John's Vanquishes Villanova In Signal This Is A New Year


Brady Dunlap draining a three-pointer. @StJohnsBball.

The St. John's Red Storm went down to Philadelphia and scored a decisive victory over the Villanova Wildcats, 81-71, on Saturday afternoon.

St. John's improves to 11-4 overall, and 3-1 in Big East Conference play on the season. It was the first time they won at Villanova in nearly five years, dating back to February 7, 2018, during Shamorie Ponds' late season run that year.

Joel Soriano led the way with 20 points on 7-10 shooting, with eight rebounds and three assists. Daniss Jenkins had 18 points on 7-17 from the field, including 2-5 on three-pointers.

Brady Dunlap got the start in this one, and he made the most of it, as he had 15 points on 5-8 shooting, with 3-5 from behind the arc, with two rebounds.

St. John's opened the game with a dunk from Soriano, the emphatic start of a 10-0 run that opened it up. 

Even though Villanova cut it to six points, 34-28, at halftime, the Red Storm opened the second half with a 10-2 run capped by a Glenn Taylor layup at the 16:02 mark.

That put St. John's up 44-30, and it felt like they maintained a 10-point edge the rest of the way, bulking the lead up to 17, at 67-50, when Jenkins got a layup with 5:26 left.

Villanova responded with a 7-0 run, but Dunlap then drained a corner three at the 2:44 mark that sealed the win.

St. John's next game will be against Providence on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.

PITINO POSTGAME: St. John's Red Storm Head Coach Rick Pitino addressed the media after the win, and he opened with this: "Obviously it was a great road win for us. Offensively, we were very efficient, especially in the first eight minutes of the game. We never relented because we kept attacking the basket, which was beautiful to see, and we played great defense, by in large we did an outstanding job there. [Joel] Soriano and Daniss [Jenkins] have been playing fantastic basketball. Joel is so much fun to coach because probably, there isn't a more likable human being on Earth. He is so much fun to coach because his attitude is tremendous, it's always about winning. It's never about him, it's always about the team. We had to bring in new players and thank God he stayed, because he is the captain. Daniss is as good as it gets, with the exception of the play these two guys ran where DJ took on the big guy. Other than that, it was an awesome performance from our guys."

On the win over Villanova: "You know it's a great win for us because we are getting better. I try to make sure we don't get too high, but celebrate a great victory. We don't get too low after a loss. It was a really good win. I don't look at the past too much. I've always believed that the past you both cherish and you learn from it, but you don't live in it and the future will take care of itself if [Joel and Daniss] keep playing like that. We just take care of this game and now we have a tough Providence game. I'm just proud of our guys. Totally focused in on beating Villanova.

On the improved defense: "With the exception of [Daniss Jenkins], we recruited all offensive basketball players, and we are trying to teach them defense. It's really difficult when you have all defensive players, and you try to teach them offense. When you have gifted offensive players, the defense is just hard work and paying attention to scouting. Now, they are all becoming a good defensive team. They are mixing up their zone with their man. They are mixing up their presses. They are an intelligent group."