Sir’Dominic Pointer, Coach Steve Lavin
and D’Angelo Harrison address the
media after the Red Storm’s win over
Providence. Photo by David Russell.
When the season began, D’Angelo Harrison, Rysheed Jordan and Chris Obekpa were expected to lead the Johnnies and improve their NBA draft stock. Instead, it’s been Sir’Dominic Pointer leading the way, playing himself into the Big East Player of the Year conversation.
“I’m just trying to help my team out right now,” Pointer said after the Red Storm’s 75-66 win over Providence on Saturday. “Player of the Year, I don’t know anything about that. I’m only trying to help the team win and get us to the NCAA tournament.”
“I thought he controlled the whole game today with his energy, with his tenacity,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said.
“Coach [Lavin] has been telling me to shoot the ball and attack the rim since freshmen year and it’s just starting to come out,” Pointer said. “Sometimes it takes longer for certain players to get it. I’m starting to get it now and the results are starting to come.”
Pointer certainly made an impression. “He was Superman today,” Cooley said.
It’s been an interesting stretch for St. John’s. They held off Marquette, blew a double-digit lead to No. 5 Duke, lost to a Creighton team that entered the game 0-8 in the Big East and then turned around and beat Big East leading Providence Friars.
Head Coach Steve Lavin saw his Johnnies start off 2-5 in conference play, but has been inspecting his team’s past record. “There are times when you’re winning and you feel like your team isn’t making any progress,” Lavin said. “Then there are stretches, lose six of eight, and you like the progress.”
Jordan missed most of the Creighton game with a strained patella and Harrison has been battling through a calf injury. Harrison shot 3-18 in the win over Marquette, but Lavin likes the fact that the third-highest scorer in school history still likes having the ball and will not tell him to stop.
“It’s like telling Reggie Jackson to choke up and lay down a bunt,” Lavin said after the Marquette game.
Harrison would hit the biggest shot of the game against Providence, a three from the corner which started a 10-0 run to put the game away after the Friars cut a double-digit lead to two points. With less than a dozen games to go before the Big East tournament, Lavin will try to find minutes for some of the Johnnies at the end of the bench.
The six-man rotation that has been employed has faltered down the stretch of several games. “When you’re trailing you go with your return players,” Lavin said. When leading he sticks with the upperclassmen to “salt the game away.” He’d like to get his seventh, eighth and ninth guys in the rotation in the game “if we’re up 25,” which Lavin admitted is unlikely to happen often in the competitive Big East conference.