Exhibition games are exactly that – exhibition.
Their sole purpose is to give players a chance to work out the kinks, to give coaches a look at the potential combinations they want to use in certain situations.
All those processes were in play when St. John’s took on the Harlem Globetrotters Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Even though the Red Storm lost, 86-61, the final tally in a game like this is irrelevant – the lessons learned are more valuable than victory.
For St. John’s Head Coach Mike Jarvis, staying injury-free was just as important.
“One thing I prayed for coming into this,” Jarvis said, “was that we would leave the game healthy, and we did that.
“If there’s anything good that came out of tonight, it was that.”
There were a few more good things about the game, like the first five minutes when the Johnnies jumped out to an 11-0 lead, pressing the Globies into offensive miscues.
But after that, things started getting sloppy, and St. John’s tried to play catch-up against a squad that included former NBA players Cedric Ceballos, Olden Polynice and Todd Day.
Once the Trotters got back in the game and took the lead midway through the first half, the Storm had trouble finding a rhythm at both ends of the court.
“You just have to play so smart against guys that are as experienced as them and you’ve got to be a student of the game while you’re playing the game,” Jarvis said, “and you’ve got to make the proper adjustments or they’ll pick you apart.”
The Globetrotters picked the Johnnies’ pockets to the tune of 19 turnovers and held them to just 33 percent shooting, 0-for nine from behind the three-point line.
The Red Storm didn’t fare any better from the charity stripe, hitting just 54 percent of their free throws.
“A combination of our depth and experience make us tough,” said Harlem assistant coach Milton Barnes. “It ultimately takes its toll on the younger guys.”
There were some bright spots on offense, however, namely Marcus Hatten, Anthony Glover and Tim Doyle.
Hatten turned in his usual brilliant performance – 17 points, three assists, two steals – and was ready to get out on the floor in a non-practice situation.
“I was excited to get out there because we had a long, rigorous preseason workout,” the All-American candidate said.
Glover turned in a workman-like 11 points and team-best seven rebounds, while Doyle made the most of his 27 minutes.
His five points and four rebounds were only half the story, as the freshman’s passing ability put people in the proper position to make plays.
Junior College transfer Grady Reynolds also showed flashes of his athleticism with six points and two rebounds in 19 minutes.
“A couple guys played pretty good,” Jarvis said, “a lot of guys didn’t.”
Two of those players with off-nights were Eric King and Kyle Cuffe, who combined to go three-for-21 from the field.
“I was just so anxious tonight that every time I got the ball I rushed it instead of just taking my time,” King said. “I was too excited.”
Elijah Ingram, still recovering from surgery, and Willie Shaw, serving his suspension from last season, did not play.
Aundre Branch led the Globetrotters with 22 points, while Ceballos added 19 and Brandon Dean chipped in with 10.
Former St. John’s player Chudney Gray had five points, five rebounds and four assists against his alma mater.
The Red Storm will play their second and final exhibition game this Friday against the Israeli national team at Alumni Hall at 7:30 p.m.