Thursday, January 01, 2009

Friars Blitz Johnnies In Blizzard

By Zach Smart

Providence— Norm Roberts knows they are no “easy outs” this season.

Those games were taken care of before Big East play kicked off. The Johnnies got off to their best start since the 1994-95 season by scoring victories in guarantee games against a groundbreaking bad NJIT and other smurf-size programs.

So, heading into the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence Friday night, he knew his team would need to be at full force. With point guard Malik Boothe, go-to-guy Anthony Mason Jr. sidelined with injuries, and freakishly athletic forward Justin Burrell fresh off a nagging injury, the Johnnies were nothing short of...well...shorthanded.

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The absence of these three vital cogs, along with an ineffective five minutes from the ever-soft 6-foot-11, 265-pound Center Tomas Jasiulonis (scoreless with one board as he continues to be on a short chain in Roberts' system this season) presented a gap wider than the Sargasso Sea.

Randall Hanke turned in his best performance of the season, and the Friars' mauled the Johnnies to the beat of 75-54.

It was as much as the Friar fans, who braved the snow and arctic, jam-packed highway roads to get the game, could have asked of their senior center. Providence, which improves to 9-4, had been waiting for a breakout game of that type from Hanke.

NBE predicted the Friars would stamp a 73-63 victory. Hanke's performance, however, ran parallel with the Friars' dismantling of the Johnnies, who hope to revive an ailing program this season.

Hanke scored a season-high 17 points in just 18 minutes, hitting his shots at a 7-for-10 clip.

The towering 7-foot Center scored with ease, getting his first two point on a layup off a deft feed from Jeff Xavier.

Hanke added a pair of free throws and then connected on a jumper, followed by a quick lay-in. The back-to-back buckets helped keep the momentum rolling as Providence, which withstood an early 11-0 Red Storm run, held a 33-25 edge at the intermission.

The Friars upped the lead to 40-27 early in the second, reeling off a swift 6-0 run following a Paris Horne bucket. The head-spinning run prompted Roberts to call for a 30-second timeout.

The lead ballooned to 65-47 after a 7-0 run.

The spurt featured five points from Hanke and culminated with a trifecta from Weyinmi Efejuku (thank God I wasn’t announcing this game).

The snowstorm outside the gym, one which left more empty seats than a box office snooze-show (the summer flick “College” was terrible by the way, almost as bad as “Eurotrip”), ran parallel to the perfect storm inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

With Marshon Brooks (15 points) scoring nine points and helped facilitate a titanic 29-8 run.

The run left Roberts irate and gave the Friars a 29-19 lead that they wouldn’t squander.

Sheraud Curry, who scored 16 points and had eight dimes, was exceptional. He was a major part of every spurt and gave an efficient account of himself.

Geoff McDermott, who hands out assists like a fraternity house hands out cups of jungle juice, snared nine boards and Jonathan Kale chipped in with 10 points.

The lack of a bench and abysmal life from beyond the arc (2-for-17) hurt St. John’s, which was led by Sean Evans and Paris Horne.

Both players paced the Johnnies with 16 points apiece.



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