Johnnies Sunk by Old Pirate: Theodore has 10 Assists as St. John’s Falls to Rivals

Last season, St. John’s men’s basketball coach Steve Lavin said that tri-state rival  Seton Hall “took us to the woodshed and really waxed us,” in an 84-70 win.

Assistant coach Mike Dunlap repeated that line after this season’s matchup, but the better metaphor may be that the Pirates – and their senior guard Jordan Theodore – took the Red Storm – and their “Fresh Five” –  to school.

Theodore finished with 16 points and 10 assists as Seton Hall (18-8, 7-7) cruised past St. John’s, 94-64, a game in which the Johnnies (10-15, 4-10) never led.

“We weren’t down [going into the game],” freshman guard Phil Greene said. “But we weren’t up like we should have been.”

Both teams relied on freshmen, with Seton Hall playing three freshmen at least 20 minutes apiece and St. John’s starting five freshmen.

“My young kids played good, but our two seniors [Theodore and forwawrd Herb Pope] led our team, as they have all year,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Willard.

Seton Hall shot 15-of-24 from three-point range, exposing the Red Storm’s Achilles heel on the defensive end of the floor. Entering the game, St. John’s had allowed opponents to shoot 35 percent from long range, 14th in the conference.
“I thought we did a good job of going inside-out against them,” Willard said. “Sometimes you can stay on the perimeter on them, which is what they want you to do. I thought we did a good job of getting into gaps.”

The Pirates hit two three-pointers in the first 2:19 of the game, and Theodore hit three of his four three pointers in a four-minute span to help put the game away.

“It was an avalanche of confidence for them,” Dunlap said. “They probably could have had their manager on the floor and he could have hit a three, because they were feeling it. They were shaking and baking.”

Freshman guard D’Angelo Harrison and freshman forward Moe Harkless, two of the conference’s leading rookie scorers, once again led the team in scoring. Harkless had 15 points, while Harrison put up 12.

“Those kids at St. John’s, I give them a tremendous amount of credit to be doing what they’re doing,” Willard said. “I hate when I have my freshmen on the floor, so I can’t imagine what Mike [Dunlap] is going through.”

Theodore, however, showed the value of his experience, consistently breaking down the Red Storm’s zone with dribble penetration before finding the open man.

“He has a hard edge,” Dunlap said. “He has savvy on the court. This is his year. You have a sense of urgency that you can see him. He wants to go to the NCAA. I have nothing but respect for a player like Theodore.”

The Red Storm’s loss is its third 20-plus point defeat in their last four games. In the Storm’s last game, a 71-61 loss to No. 12 Georgetown, the team hung around until the final minute. The effect of that game and the quick turnaround of playing again just two days later may have had a lingering effect against Seton Hall, according to Dunlap.

“Coming off the Georgetown game, one in which we regrouped and had a fine game, I think we’re a little thinner, because we’re in uncharted waters with the pups,” he said.

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