Rysheed Jordan doesn't start games these days nor does St. John's allow him to start sentences. But the multitalented sophomore, who has not been made available to the media since he arrived from Philadelphia last year, has emerged as a dynamic finisher who may one day be an NBA-ready finished product.
"He was lights-out, playing as he is capable of," St. John's coach Steve Lavin said after the 24th-ranked Red Storm rolled to their fourth straight win, easily turning back Fordham, 74-53, Sunday in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. " . . . He played a near-perfect game. His abilities were on display."
Jordan scored 24 points and shot 9-for-12 from the field in just 29 minutes. He created several highlight-worthy sequences as the Red Storm responded well with a small lineup following the automatic ejection of center Chris Obekpa for earning his second technical foul of the game with 3:48 left in the first half. Obekpa got whistled for pushing a Fordham player during a loose-ball scrum with St. John's leading 28-25.
But instead of receding, the Storm (8-1) surged, scoring the last nine points of the first half for a 39-28 lead that grew to as many as 26 in a second half that was highlighted by a game-breaking 15-0 burst. "We were disappointed with our lack of composure and poise," Lavin said, citing Obekpa's technical and early foul trouble on Sir'Dominic Pointer. "The positive was the group that was available to us found a way to win the game in dominant fashion."
Jordan was part of that domination, as was D'Angelo Harrison, who scored 22 points and shot 8-for-12. Jordan sparked an 11-0 first-half run with a three from the wing, a conventional three-point play and a pull-up jumper. He also fed Obekpa for a dunk with a spectacular no-look, behind-the-back pass. "He's capable of those kinds of games," Harrison said of Jordan. "Now that he's starting to hit his jumper, we are going to be hard to play."
In the second half, Jordan joined a jam fest that delighted the crowd of 8,074. On three consecutive possessions during the 15-0 run, the Storm scored on dunks. Pointer made the first two, on an alley-oop from Jamal Branch (seven assists) and after a ball fake along the baseline. Jordan concluded the dunkathon with a breakaway slam following one of his four steals.
After a three-pointer and hanging jumper in the lane by Harrison, St. John's led 59-33 with 11:23 left, giving the bench players plenty of action in the final minutes.
Jordan made 3 of 5 from downtown and all three free throws. "He played with poise and the right pace," Lavin said. "He made good choices and precise passes. I also like his ball pressure. He's a real ballhawk on defense and with his wingspan, he can pressure, unnerve and discombobulate opponents. I like the way he's playing."
Jordan has reached double figures in seven of nine games and his scoring average is up to 15.4, second only to Harrison (19.7). So, did he show enough to return to the starting lineup? "I really don't know," Lavin said.
The Jordan journey is not finished.
Rutgers tops Manhattan.Kadeem Jack scored a season-high 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Rutgers to a 63-55 win over Manhattan in the first game of the Holiday Festival at the Garden.
Junior Etou added 16 points and eight rebounds for Rutgers (6-4). Emmy Andujar led Manhattan (2-6) with 21 points and nine rebounds. Manhattan has lost four of its last six. Rutgers committed a season-high 21 turnovers, but had a 35-23 advantage on the boards. -- AP