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Five thoughts from St. John's-Detroit

11/13/2012

Here are five more thoughts from St. John's win over Detroit that didn't make my main story:

* JaKarr Sampson, the most highly touted of the three St. John's freshmen who made their debuts on Tuesday, had the poorest game. Sampson, who many people regard as an NBA prospect, made just 1 of 7 shot attempts from the floor in 18 minutes, several of them being poor choices.

"He had enough energy and electricity running through his body to light up New York City," said coach Steve Lavin. "And that's natural, when it's your first game. You have those jitters, the nerves, the deer in the headlights (look), and just so much adrenaline. It was coming from a good place, he was amped up, ready to go. And so for him this was a great learning experience."

Added Lavin, "He'll probably never have a game like that again the rest of his college career."

* D'Angelo Harrison stepped up his game down the stretch, but I thought he looked lethargic when he first entered the game in the first half, and had trouble getting into the flow of the offense. I think Lavin would be wise to insert Harrison back into the starting lineup -- St. John's won't beat many teams this season without Harrison playing well.

* Freshman guard Felix Balamou did not play, but he was in uniform. Lavin said afterwards that he is not planning to redshirt Balamou after all -- Balamou will likely get some playing time in Charleston, with the team playing three games in four days. But senior forward God'sgift Achiuwa did not suit up Tuesday, and it sounds like Lavin is going to redshirt him -- he retains that option, as long as Achiuwa doesn't play in a game.

* St. John's started off the game in man-to-man defense, but went to a matchup zone down the stretch, when they came from behind to win the game in the final 10 minutes.

"It’s a zone I used the majority of my career at UCLA, and we broke it out this year," Lavin said. "I thought it was very effective because of our length, and it enabled us to contain the dribble. In our man-to-man defense, Detroit was getting inside of us, through dribble penetration, through rebounding, and the zone seemed to slow their attack some, allowed us to level off their dribblers so they weren’t getting angles to the paint or the rim, and it seemed to just unnerve or discombobulate them a bit."

* The announced attendance for the game was 3,506 -- Carnesecca Arena has a capacity of 5,602. I know it was a highly unusual tip-off time -- Tuesday at 2 p.m., because the game was part of ESPN's 24-hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. But I thought there would be a better-size crowd for the season opener, especially considering it was Lavin's return.