Archive for December, 2015

The New York Jets continued the magical ride of the last five weeks and found a way to beat the New England Patriots at home, in overtime by a final score of 26-20. Yes, this was a depleted Patriots team, that trailed the Jets by 7 late. And to his credit as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, somehow someway Tom Brady figured out a way to get down the field and tie the game late and force the Jets into a 20-20 overtime deadlock.

The coin toss to start overtime is where the game took its most interesting turn. In a miscommunication with the official, the Patriots won the toss but elected to kick off. After the game, Bill Belichick defended the move and claimed it was what the Patriots wanted to do, but it looks like this was just to defend his player from the scrutiny. The end result is the Jets taking the ball first and going the length of the field for the touchdown to Eric Decker to win the game. And the games that this franchise has found ways to lose forever continue to go their way.

But any real Jet fan was spending their Sunday watching three games at once. The Jets game, the Chiefs game and the Steelers game. A dramatic win against the Patriots was not going to be enough. As the Browns mounted a late rally, and the Ravens desperately tried to cling to a 3 point lead, the Jets were driving in overtime. And it was Johnny Football and the Browns running out of clock, but it was the Ravens defense, believe it or not, stopping the red-hot Steelers offense on a fourth and 15. And the Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-17 in stunning fashion in Baltimore.

And when Eric Decker caught the ball every Jets coach, player and fan knew. They knew that with a little bit of help and five straight weeks of fighting they had set up everything you can ask for in sports. They had set up what every Jet fan was trying to figure out how to make possible five weeks ago. They had set up a date with their former head coach who now is the mortal enemy and the only thing standing in their way. They had set up the three best words you can say as a team. They had set up, Win And In.

– Rob DiToma

A week ago St John’s fans were basking in the euphoria of handily defeating former Big East arch-rival Syracuse at the World Most Famous Arena. After a tumultuous 48 hours where the Red Storm lost to Incarnate Word and NJIT at Carnesecca Arena feelings of trepidation started to develop. Not only did two programs that do not have grandiose name recognition but the daunting Big East schedule has not started yet. A loss to #25 South Carolina at Mohegan Sun did not ease any feelings of angst either. While it might look bleak for this season at this moment for the Johnnies there are four comforting thoughts that should help ease the stress for the Red Storm faithful.

1. There will be upsets pulled off by St. John’s this season.

When you are picked to finish dead last in your conference it is more likely than not that the Red Storm will be underdogs in most if not all their Big East games this year. It should also be noted that every basketball game starts out with the score being 0-0. No matter how good Villanova or Xavier are this year when they match-up with the Red Storm neither team will start out with a 20 point lead. As illustrated in the Syracuse game there will be games where everything clicks for St. John’s. While it might be hard to predict when this will happen, keep faith because it will happen.

2. The team will improve as the season progresses.

With the high turnover from last year’s roster nine new players enrolled at St. John’s and just like everyone is saying, it will take time for the team to gel and improve. Current issues the team has are turnovers and defending the three-point shot. While the turnover issue could be corrected if Marcus Lovett is deemed eligible and is able to be an efficient point guard but the Red Storm should still devise a corrective action to have better offensive possessions. With defending the three-point shooting Mullin should show footage of the Red Storm upset over Duke at Madison Square Garden in 2011. What Dwight Hardy and company did to the Dukies was having ferocious close-outs and turned the jump shooters to drivers. On that day the Blue Devils shot an uncharacteristic 3-21 (14.2%) from deep which enabled the Red Storm to pick up the momentous upset.

3. The last 10 games of the season will show growth

Up to several years ago the NCAA selection committee would look at how a team’s win-loss record in their last 10 games to determine if the team should make it to the NCAA tournament and where they should be seeded. To determine how far the Red Storm developed this season Red Storm fans should do the same. It is a cliché but there reaches a point in the season when freshmen are not freshmen anymore. The freshmen have gone into hostile territory and have played under bright lights in front of national TV audiences. By gaining this key experience the new players will not be afraid and should have hopefully improved on their weaknesses and be able to play much better as an individual and as a unit.

4. Anticipate the 2016-2017 season.

While it is projected to be a challenging year for St. John’s many of the key components will be returning in 2016. From redshirt junior Christian Jones to forward Kassoum Yakwe all are expected to return. More help is on the way in the form of much heralded guard Shamorie Ponds who has already committed to matriculate at St. John’s and Mullin and his staff are expected to gain more key prospects before the start of the 2016-17 season. And when the final net is cut down in April all the bumps and bruises from this season will just symbolize lessons learned. The lessons learned this season could help lead the Red Storm towards their ascent in the Big East and potentially turning into a national power.

Jets Week 15 Review

Posted: December 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

The New York Jets flew into Dallas, Texas for a Saturday night clash with the Dallas Cowboys, one day ahead of the rest of the leagues Sunday slate. The end result was a hard fought, and at times ugly 19-16 win that kept the Jets win streak alive at 4, and at the same time mathematically finally put the Dallas Cowboys out of their misery, and eliminated them from the woeful
NFC East playoff race.

As Ryan Fitzpatrick said it was “tough sledding” all night for the Jets offense. The game was a litany of mistakes. From a fourth and 1 that was stuffed at the Dallas 3 yard line, to a missed extra point, to a missed field goal (after a penalty negated a made field goal) at the expiration of the first half. For the majority of the 60 minutes, the Jets did exactly the things you need to do to keep a bad football team in the game and eventually lose. Early in the game the Cowboys turned to their current backup quarterback in Kellen Moore. He led one touchdown drive and had the Cowboys leading 13-9 into the fourth quarter.

The Jets led the turnover battle by a 3-1 count as they were trailing by 4 to a last place team. Eventually, Fitzpatrick would find Eric Decker for a three yard touchdown connection to put the Jets up 16-13. Kellen Moore would overcome a 1st and 25 to get the Cowboys to a 50 yard field goal attempt at the 2 minute warning. Dan Bailey hit the upright but squeezed it through for the Cowboys to tie the game. Fitzpatrick and the Jets offense took over on their own 20 and had to convert a 3rd and 1 on a Fitzpatrick keeper to keep the drive alive. He fumbled the ball, but on the official review was deemed downed by contact, and it was extremely close. On the very next play, Fitzpatrick connected with a streaking Kenbrell Thompkins up the right sideline for a 43 yard connection, to put the Jets inside the Dallas 25 yard line with 49 seconds left. Three running plays later, with Dallas using all its timeouts, kicker Reggie Bullock lined up for the lead. And no doubt, with thoughts of an earlier missed field goal and a missed extra point in his head, Bullock drilled the 39 yarder with 36 seconds left to give the Jets the 19-16 lead.

The Jets defense would then pick off a long, aired out pass from Kellen Moore, for their fourth turnover and the game clincher. It wasn’t pretty, it was not as scripted, but it was a prime time road victory. It puts the Jets at 9-5, still with absolutely no control of their playoff destiny. But it kept them in the race nonetheless. And as a fan you have to say to yourself, this team has become fun to watch. They have won games down the stretch here that Jets team have always found a way to lose in their troubled existence. And even though they could pull out huge victories against the Patriots and the Bills the next two weeks and still miss the playoffs, they have given their fans something fun and something meaningful to watch in December. The team was 5-5 and had basically nothing to fight for, now they are 9-5 and fighting for everything. The fight continues next week, against the old familiar foe, Brady and Belichick and the rest of the Patriots. On to week 16…..alive and kicking.

– Rob DiToma

Yankuba Sima illustrates the demographics of the St John’s roster in two distinct ways. First, he is one of the six foreign born players to be suiting up for the Red Storm this season. Second, he is one of the seven freshmen that committed to new coach Chris Mullin and his staff. While Sima will go through a baptism by fire this upcoming season he does provide necessary attributes that can provide a solid foundation for the Red Storms ascension through the ranks in the coming years.

One skill that the lanky 6-11 center from Spain has is an ability to be a scoring threat in the post. For years St. John’s has not had a post player that could be an offensive threat in the paint and now Sima appears to that threat. Whether Sima is finishing off a feed from Federico Mussini or making a left handed baby hook Sima is providing points in the paint which usually dictates a team’s superiority in a contest. Also being able to finish with his offhand Sima could potentially draw the eye of a diligent NBA scout because very few 6-11 forwards can finish a post move with their off hand. Sima could also be able to elevate his game to the level where the opposition has to double him on post touches which will lead to open shots for the Red Storm sharpshooters.

One trait that has been very luminous for the Red Storm the past several seasons has been the ability to block shots. Sima is making his presence felt on the defensive end of the floor by averaging 3.6 blocks a game. First, consistently blocking/altering shots will put a sever damper on the opposition from scoring points. Second, a block shot could act in a similar action as a live ball turnover and lead to run outs and transition points for the Johnnies.

The most enticing element about Sima is he has not yet reached his full potential. As Sima physically matures fewer opponents would be able to stop him offensively and more opponents would be deterred by him on defense. Sima has sporadically shot the 3 ball and is a 50% free throw shooter but if both of these skills improve and develop over time very people could stop a 6-11 forward who can score in the post and from the perimeter.