St. John’s continues late charge towards NCAA tournament berth

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At 0-5 in the Big East the St. John’s Red Storm looked like a team unsure of its individual roles and how they fit within the team concept, and despite their individual talent Steve Lavin’s team didn’t look like a group capable of turning things around. But a switch was flipped, and the Red Storm have now won eight of their last nine games after beating Georgetown 82-60 at Madison Square Garden.

D’Angelo Harrison and Rysheed Jordan scored 24 points apiece to lead the way, with Harrison’s three-pointer with 10:29 remaining ending a 17-4 Georgetown run and pushing the Red Storm advantage back out to ten points. Clearly Harrison’s shot was a big moment in the game, and without it maybe the Hoyas continue their charge.

In regards to the St. John’s rotation becoming more comfortable in its individual roles, Jordan’s the player who has made the most progress. Sunday’s scoring effort represents a season-high for the freshman, and during this current run his decision-making has improved substantially. Jordan committed just one turnover, and over the last four games he has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.75.

The understanding of roles has been critical for St. John’s but so has their improved effort on the defensive end of the floor. During this nine-game stretch just four opponents have averaged at least one point per possession, with Georgetown (1.00) barely reaching the mark. Having a shot blocker like Chris Obekpa protecting the rim certainly helps matters, but the improved defense has been a team effort. The Red Storm are playing harder and applying more pressure to the basketball, which has resulted in fewer quality looks for the opposition.

With their best non-conference win coming at the expense of San Francisco, the Red Storm do have work to do in regards to playing their way into the NCAA tournament. But they’ll have opportunities, with games against Villanova, Xavier and Marquette remaining on the schedule. And given their improved play and understanding of what needs to be done, St. John’s has hope, something that couldn’t be said a month ago.

North Carolina to wear black jerseys December 19 vs. UCLA

UNC Athletic Communications
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While there have been some alterations made to North Carolina’s basketball uniforms over the years, there haven’t been too many drastic shifts. Of course there was the move to the Alexander Julian-designed argyle print during the 1990’s, and there were also those jerseys in 1999 that had the interlocking “NC” logo as opposed to “North Carolina” on the front.

Friday the program announced a major uniform change for its game against UCLA December 19 in Brooklyn. North Carolina will be wearing black jerseys for the first time in school history. Senior guard Marcus Paige showed off the new look to his teammates, and it’s safe to say that they’re happy with the new uniforms.

Traditionalists probably won’t like the uniforms, and that’s fine. Changes such as these tend to focus more on the younger crowd (especially recruits), which in some instances like the status that can come with having something that’s both new and exclusive.

Villanova forward to undergo hip surgery

Jay Wright
Associated Press
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Two-time defending Big East champion Villanova will be down a man in its front court, as the program announced Friday that freshman forward Tim Delaney will undergo hip surgery. According to the release a torn labrum in Delaney’s left hip is the reason for the surgery, and it has yet to be determined how long the freshman will be sidelined.

“I’m disappointed for Tim,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “Tim had a great summer and preseason. He’s a very coachable young man and was picking up everything we do. The good news is that the doctors tell us this is an injury that can be fixed and we know Tim will be fully committed to his rehab.”

Villanova’s front court rotation will be led by senior Daniel Ochefu, who averaged 9.2 points and a team-high 8.5 rebounds per game in 2014-15. Junior Darryl Reynolds and sophomore Kris Jenkins will also see minutes in the front court, with redshirt freshman guard/forward Mikal Bridges factoring into the competition as well.

Villanova also has Fordham transfer Eric Paschall, but he isn’t eligible to compete in games this season.