The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Men’s team lacking a ‘killer instinct’

The best athletes in sports
have what is known as a “killer
instinct.”

Peyton Manning has it. Michael Jordan had it. Derek Jeter. Mariano Rivera. Kobe Bryant. Tiger Woods. They all have it. LeBron James has shown flashes of it. Larry Bird mastered it. In fact, anybody who’s been in a Gatorade ad within the last 10 years has it. The list goes on and on.

You’d recognize the killer instinct if you see it. It comes out to play late in a close game, when the superstars look like
Michael Jackson during the middle of the “Thriller” video and do inhuman things on the
fi eld. They want the ball in their hands. They itch for that at-bat, that inning on the
mound, that last possession. They want to be the one to take over the game and bring
home the win.

That said, no member of the St. John’s men’s basketball team has it.
D.J. Kennedy might have had it. As the team’s leading scorer, at times he is everywhere at once and gravitates to the
ball at both ends of the fl oor.

Last season, Paris Horne may have had it. The guard upped his scoring output nearly six points and put on a shooting display
every night.

In the past, Anthony Mason Jr. might have had it. He currently ranks as one of St.
John’s all-time best three-point
shooters and is the face of the
men’s program.

A week ago, we thought
Dwight Hardy had it.

Hardy grabbed steals on two
consecutive possessions, got
to the free throw line each
time, and made all four free
throws en route to the Red
Storm’s fi rst conference win of
the season against Cincinnati.

But none of these players
have it. We learned that Saturday
against Villanova.

St. John’s shot 56.5 percent
from the fi eld in the fi rst half
and 60 percent from three-point
range, taking a 38-37 lead into
the locker room and leading by
as many as 11 thanks to Hardy’s
11 points.

But in the second half, the
Wildcats shut each of these
players down on the defensive
end. Kennedy shot
2-of-12 from the fi eld. Horne
failed to make a single
three-pointer. Mason Jr.
scored 10 points but still
didn’t take over the game
offensively the way he used to.

And Hardy was held to just
nine second-half points as
the main target of Villanova’s
halftime defensive adjustments.

The Johnnies wound up
shooting 11-for-38 from the
fi eld and 3-of-11 from three in
the second half. That equates
to 28.9 percent from the fi eld
and 27.3 percent from three.
The Johnnies maintained

contention in this
game early because of their
ability to put the ball in the
basket. With the game still
in hand at halftime, somebody
had to step up to
put Villanova away.

Peyton would have done
it. Jordan would have, too.
And Jeter and Mo and Kobe
and Tiger.
And for Villanova, that
player was and always is
Scottie Reynolds, who had
a team-high 19 points on
6-of-12 shooting and was a
perfect 6-of-6 from the free
throw line. Corey Fisher and
Maalik Wayns may have
combined for 34 points, but
Reynolds consistently carries
his team to victory. He’s got an
instinct for it. He has the
killer instinct.

This is not to say Kennedy,
Horne, Mason Jr. and Hardy are
not talented players who can
lead St. John’s through tough
conference battles later on
this season. But of these
players, is there any one
you’d trust taking and making
a big shot with the game
on the line? Or, in this case,
someone who can carry the bulk
of the scoring and put a team away? I don’t think there is. And if there is one among
them, he’d better make himself known during a game pretty quick.

But even if it doesn’t happen, hey, at least we still get
to see Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl next Sunday.

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