Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/21/14
The losing streak ended Saturday night with a dominant second half performance. St. John’s got 16 points from Phil Greene IV and a fine all-around effort from Orlando Sanchez, eight points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, in its 69-55 victory over Dartmouth, the Red Storm’s first win in 22 days. Despite the feel-good victory, St. John’s plummeted even further in the Big East, to all alone in the conference’s cellar as Butler picked up its first league win. The Johnnies will go for its first league victory Thursday night against Seton Hall. Below are some thoughts from the skid-snapping victory. Obekpa’s struggles continue: Chris Obekpa played 12 minutes, he committed five fouls, didn’t score a point and grabbed just three rebounds. The big man from Nigeria, arguably the nation’s best shot blocker when right, hasn’t made the impact he was expected to make this year. He’s been held scoreless in three of the team’s last seven games, hasn’t recorded a double-digit rebounding game since Nov. 29, and hasn’t scored in double figures once this year. His minutes are down, from 26.3 last year to 20 this season, as are his numbers. I asked Steve Lavin about the 6-foot-9 forward’s struggles, and I didn’t get a response. The question could’ve been phrased better — “where do you think Chris is right now” — but I clarified it, and Lavin’s response, after jokingly calling it an “existential” question and looking at the box score, was he needed to watch the film. It seems fairly clear Obekpa, who has started just six games, is out of sorts. “I don’t know what he’s searching for,” Lavin said. Win brings relief: There’s no telling where St. John’s goes from here, but for the next few days, the Johnnies will at least feel good about themselves. That was the sense I got from JaKarr Sampson and Phil Greene IV in the post-game press conference. They were smiling, genuinely happy talking about what went right, rather than what went wrong, recanting the last three weeks of going without a win, how the team has bonded and stayed together instead of fracturing, and what changed against Dartmouth. Breakthrough? What breakthrough?: Greene described the win over 7-8 Dartmouth, a team with five Division I victories will likely finish near the bottom of the Ivy League, as a breakthrough. Lavin said the team’s breakthrough came in the week of practice after the ugly loss at Georgetown Jan. 4, that they have performed very well overall as a team since.
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