Jump Start

St. John’s men’s basketball team took the floor of Carnesecca Arena Saturday afternoon for an exhibition game as a revamped group. In their 82-64 win over the local Division II St. Thomas Aquinas Spartans, the Red Storm displayed their ability to do something that they did not do very well at all last year: shoot the basketball.

Last season the Storm found themselves in the Big East’s basement in total points (1619), field goals (590), and three point field goal percentage (.266). Third-year head coach Norm Roberts’ recruiting for this year was a direct attempt to counter this. It showed on Saturday.

Avery Patterson, a junior college transfer from Iowa Western Community College, was the team’s high scorer. Patterson came out firing and finished with 16 points, 12 of which came from behind the three point arc.

“I felt really good out there,” said Patterson of his first taste of competition in a Red Storm uniform. “I didn’t really feel any pressure because I know we have guys that can get the job done.”

Larry Wright, the athletic freshman guard from Saginaw, Mich., showed the ability to get to the basket and finished 4-5 from the floor with 11 points.

“Larry did very well offensively” Roberts said. “We just have to get Larry to be aggressive all the time because he has tremendous talent.”

But it was not all newcomers on the court for the Storm. The game marked the return of 1000-point scorer Daryll Hill who struggled throughout last season with a knee injury. The senior guard finished with eight points and five assists and was able to pound out 26 minutes on his oft-injured knee. Hill underwent season ending surgery to repair the hyaline cartilage behind his left knee less than a year ago on Feb. 27, 2006.

“Health-wise I feel good” Hill said. “No problems. I’m able to do everything I used to.”

Roberts has also expressed his pleasure with the off-season work of last year’s starters, specifically sophomore forward Anthony Mason, Jr.

“Anthony Mason had a terrific summer,” Roberts said. “His perimeter shot will be much better due to his aggressiveness and his being ready to shoot. I think he has also worked hard at putting the ball on the floor and attacking the basket.”

Mason Jr. finished with 14 total points in 29 minutes and was a perfect 4-4 from the free throw line.

The Red Storm was without senior leader Lamont Hamilton who was not available to play because of an infraction of team rules regarding entry to campus residence halls.