St. John’s Basketball: Shocking the World One Upset at a Time

January 20th. Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. The St. John’s Red Storm appeared to be on their way to their first Big East Conference win, until Marcus Derrickson buried a three with 3.9 seconds left to force overtime. Georgetown would go on to win in the extra period and the Johnnies were still winless.

Fast forward two weeks and that same team has had maybe the best five day stretch in the history of college basketball. Chris Mullin and his team knocked off the number one ranked Villanova Wildcats Wednesday night, in Philadelphia. The Wildcats were without Phil Booth and Eric Paschall, but they still should have had no problem at home against a St John’s team that was 0-11 in Big East games this season. But they did.
The upset over #1 came just days after the Red Storm took down the #4 ranked Duke Blue Devils inside Madison Square Garden. Duke has had their struggles this year, and St. John’s does play well at MSG, but still should not have given Duke so many issues. They still have the likely first pick in the NBA Draft, as well as two or three more future pros. But they struggled too. With the streak the Storm have been on the question has to be asked:

Has there been better back-to-back upsets ever in the NCAA?

The first team that comes to mind is the 2006 George Mason team and their magical run through the NCAA Tournament. That team had some improbable wins to say the least. They beat a UNC team with Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. They also knocked off a UConn team with Rudy Gay and Josh Boone that was favored to win the Championship. Those wins weren’t back-to-back, however.

Then there was the 2011 VCU team that Jay Bilas famously ranted on ESPN saying they had no business being in the NCAA tournament. That team did beat the consensus favorite Kansas on their way to a Final Four, but no other team was of the caliber Duke and Villanova are this year.

There have been a number of upsets in NCAA history, on stages bigger than regular season games in early February. There’s Villanova over Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the National Championship. Jim Valvano and NC State took down heavily favored Houston for the title. And don’t forget that time Chaminade took down a Ralph Sampson led Virginia team. St John’s beating #1 ranked Villanova or Duke does not compare to these upsets, but combined it’s something special.

Come March these are two teams who could be #1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. St. John’s won’t be there, but they’ll have wins over both them. That’s something you cannot take away. And while people make a big deal about moral victories or participation trophies, for a team that has as little going for it as St. John’s does, they may hold the title for best back-to-back upsets in college hoops history.

 

PS – This is a last minute ploy to watch Shamorie Ponds for at least a half sometime this year. He is one of the most underappreciated guards in the country because he plays for St. John’s, but he is incredibly talented. Just watch his highlights from the past two games.

Isaiah Briscoe: Destined to be Elite from Day One


For the past few years, Isaiah Briscoe has been regarded as the best point guard in the class of 2015. ESPN.com has ranked him the 13th best player in the country and Rivals.com has him as high as nine in their ranking. Tomorrow, Briscoe will announce his college commitment on national television. After listening to the countless pitches and carefully evaluating every program, the list has been narrowed down to Kentucky, St. John’s and Connecticut.

Isaiah Briscoe was an all-star at Future All-American Camp before he even took a high school class

Isaiah Briscoe was an all-star at Future All-American Camp before he even took a high school class

Briscoe, who started his high school career at St. Benedict’s Prep before transferring to Roselle Catholic, averaged 22 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds and nearly 2 steals a game for the Lions last season. With the start of the 2014-15 high school season quickly approaching, Briscoe gets set to help lead a talented Roselle team on a State Championship run. Many have their guesses as to where the New Jersey guard will land, but only one thing is for sure: we know where he came from.

Before the scholarship offers piled up, before countless days were spent traveling from AAU event to AAU event, Briscoe was a budding star at Hoop Group Future All-American Camp. Only a rising freshman at camp, the point guard was not shy to admit that even at an early age, he felt he can bring a little bit of everything to the table for a team, and he’s not wrong. The point guard is a terrific scorer and possesses a good shooting touch. He makes those around him better, dropping crisp, on time passes for assists; he’s even increased his presence in the rebounding department. As a 14 year old at camp, he particularly impressed with his ability to distribute the basketball and deliver passes with both hands, as well as get to the hoop and score.

A New Jersey State Championship is the goal for Briscoe and his talented Roselle Catholic teammates this season.

A New Jersey State Championship is the goal for Briscoe and his talented Roselle Catholic teammates this season.

You could tell from an early age that Isiah Briscoe was destined for big things on the hardwood. Playing for the New Jersey Playaz AAU program, Briscoe played for their 17U team as a rising freshman. Competing alongside other great NJ guards, like former Hoop Grouper and now San Antonio Spur, Kyle Anderson, Briscoe was able to learn lessons and gain experience that very few players his age get the chance to do. “I take a lot of stuff from Kyle’s game,” Briscoe said. “I look up to him like a big brother. Every time he’s playing I always want to watch him play so I can help my game.”

His game certainly has skyrocketed to another level since Future All-American Camp, and at 6:00 pm EST tomorrow, he will become a prize recruit in one coach’s recruiting class. The question on everyone’s minds right now is which school that will be. Will he choose the defending National Champion Connecticut Huskies? Will he become the newest piece to another powerhouse recruiting class for Kentucky? Or will he opt to stay close to home and represent New York City with St. John’s? As the hype and speculation continues to mount, one thing is for certain: no matter what school he chooses, Isaiah Briscoe will be the most recent Hoop Group Alum to achieve his basketball dream.