2000-01-05 / Sports

Storm Takes Heart Out Of

Pioneers In 95-66 Victory

BY Richard Kagan

A college basketball team goes through various checkpoints, to see where they’re at in terms of competing against the really good opponents.The St. John’s Red Storm (8-2) know they can beat the over-matched ones. A case in point, last Wednesday night at Alumni Hall, the Red Storm manhandled the Sacred Heart Pioneers, 95-66 in front of a sold-out crowd.

Sacred Heart University, a long-time Division IIbasketball power, is now playing with the big guys in Division I. The Pioneers (1-7) have not gotten off to a good start in their inaugural season in Division Iplay.But that’s who the Johnnies had on the schedule and the Red Storm used the game as a final tuneup before Big East Conference play begins on Jan. 3rd. "Jan. 3rd, we begin,"Head Coach Mike Jarvis said."The fun and games are over, we go into the new millennium 8-2, ready to find out a lot about ourselves."

Courtesy SJUMedia Guide

Erick Barkley’s 22 points led all scorers for the Red Storm.



Yes, St. John’s had a tough time putting away an inspired Hofstra team recently.But, now it’s on to the bigger challenges of competing against teams like Syracuse, Miami and the University of Connecticut, the defending national champions. St. John’s will also meet basketball powers Duke University on their own home turf, and a highly anticipated rematch with Ohio State University, who knocked the Red Storm out of last spring’s National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament.

Give a lot of credit toSacred Heart.They recently lost their leading scorer, Donte Lloyd for the season due to academic ineligibility. But the Pioneers showed up and actually took an early first half lead led by some solid play by junior forward Marijus Kovaliukas, the game’s high scorer with 24 points.St. John’s took the lead for good when senior guard Chudney Gray converted on a layup to make it 15-14 St.John’s.The Storm never trailed for the rest of the game and cruised in. Four Johnnies scored in double figures led by Erick Barkley’s 22 points, six assists and five steals.Senior Bootsy Thornton had a very good game with 19 points. The Storm shot 53 percent from the floor for the game—and had a blazing second half hitting 64 percent of field goals attempted.

When Lavor Postell followed a Barkley missed shot with an emphatic dunk, the crowd loved it. Postell’s basket gave St.John’s a very comfortable 48-28 lead early in the second half—and the Pioneers bid for an upset was a forgotten dream.Jarvis was able to freely substitute with his bench and players like Heath Orvis, a freshman guard, who can hit the three-pointer, saw more minutes than usual.Orvis had a good night and scored eight points in just nine minutes of play.Orvis found the range with two long treys to the delight of the Johnnies’ fans.Reserve center Donald Emanuel also added eight points in perhaps his best game of the young season.

After the game, Jarvis was eager to start conference play and thought his team would only get better. "I really believe we can get better,"Jarvis said. "I don’t really believe that the guys individually or collectively have anywhere reached near their full potential."Thornton spoke with confidence about the team just days before he and his teammates meet the University of Pittsburgh to kick-off the conference schedule. "I feel very good about the team if we don’t have confidence in ourselves, then nobody else will,"Thornton said.

Both Thornton and Barkley thought that St.John’s would need to play with discipline in order for the team to have success this season.The Johnnies bench is on the thin side this year, and the starters are going to have to play a lot of minutes, emphasizing teamwork. "Discipline is going to be the key word for this season, if we stay disciplined we can go far, we can go very far,"Barkley noted.

The Johnnies seem ready to begin this next phase of the season with high hopes. It all begins when St.John’s faces off against the Pitt Panthers onJan. 3rd at Alumni Hall.





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