City Sports Report

St. John’s, Seton Hall and Fordham Bring Basketball Excitement to NYC by Derrel “Jazz” Johnson

New York City gets an undeserved bad reputation when it comes to college basketball. In the area, you have three teams that play home games at local arenas. St. John’s, who play at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan and Carnesecca Arena in Queens, Seton Hall, who plays at Prudential Center in Newark, and Fordham, who play at Rose Hill gymnasium in the Bronx, are all easily accessible.

Of the three area college teams, the Red Storm of St. John’s seem to be the best. Currently on a four-game winning steak in the Big East Conference, the Red Storm defeated the Seton Hall Pirates on Sunday 71-67, at Madison Square Garden. St. John’s used a spectacular 30-6 run that spanned the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half to take control of the game, but the Pirates did not give up, and were able to cut the lead to one. In the final minute, Sophomore D’Angelo Harrison, the best player on the Red Storm, hit some big shots. Junior Fuquan Edwin, the best player on the Seton Hall Pirates, missed two three pointers and two free throws in the final minutes.

St John’s head coach Steve Lavin talked about the team’s success after the game. “The last four games had similar themes, stretches where we played brilliantly and the where teams make runs on us. The opponent is always well coached because of the talent because the Big East is the best conference in America. There are many things we can improve upon after we watch the tape, some things offensively and defensively.”

Through 20 games, Harrison is averaging 19.8 points, good for second in the Big East Conference. He also leads St. John’s in steals, with 1.7 per game. Chris Obekpa, a Freshman from Nigeria, impacts the game defensively for the Red Storm, leading all of NCAA Division I Basketball in shot blocking with 4.6 per game. We should see both Harrison and Obekpa playing in the NBA some day. St. John’s takes on DePaul Wednesday, then travels to challenge Georgetown, before returning home Wednesday, February 6, 2013, to face Connecticut.

Though Seton Hall is only 2-5 in the Big East, they have played hard in most of their games. The Pirates, however, are a young team that has lapses at the end of the first half and at the beginning of the second. This was especially true against St. John’s. Edwin leads the Pirates with 17.1 points a game and 2.5 steals. At 6’6″, Edwin needs to improve on his shot selection and his free throw shooting, which is below 70%. Seton Hall plays at Georgetown Wednesday, before hosting #24 Cincinnati. The schedule only gets tougher, as they still must face top 25 teams Syracuse, Louisville, and Marquette.

The Fordham Rams got off to a slow start with an injury to their best player, Chris Gaston, who has missed eight games this season, including the last two. At 6-14, Fordham is near the bottom of the newly revamped Atlantic 10 conference, which includes #9 Butler, who Fordham will host February 16, 2013, in the Bronx. While there are no cheap victories in the Atlantic 10 Conference, Fordham must try to compete in the first conference tournament at Barclays Center in March, which slots the top 12 teams.

With an improved St. John’s team under head coach Lavin, a young, competitive Seton Hall team under head coach Kevin Willard, and a fun team at Fordham under head coach Tom Pecora, there are three teams to choose from for exciting college basketball in the New York City area.

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