St. John’s couldn’t have asked much more from its season opener on Tuesday night.
Just as they did last season, Julian Champagnie was scoring from all over the floor and Posh Alexander was piling up the deflections and steals. Dylan Addae-Wusu, the other returning player, was back from minor ankle surgery and didn’t look as if he’d lost a step.
The wave of talented players who arrived via transfer appeared to be in synch with the returners and gave the team some new dimensions. And high-ceiling freshmen Rafael Pinzon, out of Long Island Lutheran, and O’Mar Stanley each played more than 19 minutes and performed well.
All in all, it added up to a 119-61 rout of Mississippi Valley State before 4,749, including the Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley and former St. John’s star Boo Harvey at Carnesecca Arena.
Yes, the Delta Demons, 2-22 last season, may not be the best measuring stick. Bigger tests lie ahead, including a Nov. 17 date at Indiana and a Dec. 3 matchup with Kansas at UBS Arena.
"Having fans in the building makes a big difference," Storm coach Mike Anderson said. "It gets the adrenaline going. . . . We played a whole year without [home fans]. That was really Posh’s first time playing in front of fans healthy. He played in the Big East Tournament but for the most part was injured]."
Said Alexander: "Last year we had to build our own energy."
Weaknesses appear to have been addressed.
St. John’s was often outrebounded last season, but dominated the glass, 48-28, behind 6-11 Fordham transfer Joel Soriano and 6-9 Purdue transfer Aaron Wheeler.
And the Red Storm wasn’t a consistent shooting team, but looks far better. Six players made three-pointers, including a career-high four by Alexander and three by Hofstra transfer Tareq Coburn.
Overall St. John’s shot 69% and 52% on the threes.
Champagnie had 20 points and Alexander had 18 points to go with seven assists and three steals to pace St. John’s.
It’s the first time since a Nov. 25, 2015 victory over Chaminade in Maui that St. John’s has had six double-figure scorers. The 119 points is the most St. John’s scored since Nov. 24, 1990 in a 135-92 victory over Centeral Connecticut State.
The 58-point margin is the biggest since a 60-point win over Arnold in 1951-52.
"It’s a pretty new style of play for me, but I like it," Coburn said. "It feels like home already. I feel cool with the guys already . . . and I think we have a lot to prove."
St. John’s largest lead was 112-50 on Alexander’s fourth three-pointer with 4:08 to play.
"We got potential. We got some guys that can do some things that we hadn’t been able to do," Anderson said. "We’ve got some older guys that kind of that figured out their roles with our basketball team. They all had some great moments."
Notes & quotes: Anderson said that 6-8 freshman Drissa Traore from Long Island Lutheran will redshirt this season.