Thursday, November 27, 2014

Preseason NIT, Day 1: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

NEW YORK CITY­ - Thanksgiving eve, a tradition. Penn Station is inundated with travelers awaiting departure, patiently as one can be, studying schedules. In the college basketball circles, it is also a tradition, the Pre-­Season NIT semifinals.

On this chilly, snowy evening which hit us even before winter’s arrival, St. John’s is facing Minnesota, with Gonzaga and Georgia in the nightcap.

The opener again reinforces the importance of playing two halves. The game is 40 minutes. St. John’s did a number of things needing attention, not closing on shooters defensively and being impatient to the tune of zero-for-nine three point shooting offensively. The second half saw a different St. John’s team; not so much an X or O, but simply coming out with a purpose and battling.

St. John’s was a gritty, battling team tonight,” praised Richard Pitino, the coach of defending postseason NIT champion Minnesota. “They outhustled us.” The result for the Red Storm was a 70­-61 victory and championship game appearance.

Gonzaga punched their ticket with an 88-­76 victory over Georgia. They basically ran a clinic offensively and were a joy for a basketball purist to watch. Screen and rolls, kickouts to the perimeter, motion offensively...all part of the Gonzaga package. Georgia battled gamely and stayed within striking distance until the stretch.

Forget the ‘retail detail’ of Black Friday. Put away the ‘fantastic plastic.’ The day after Thanksgiving will see St. John’s facing Gonzaga. On paper, you could point to Gonzaga. Trite, but the saying is ‘the game is decided on the floor.’

Tradition indeed, all part of our ‘Feast Week.’

Minnesota takes the floor for the second half:
The St. John's dance team celebrates a big win:
Red Storm coach Steve Lavin ponders a postgame question:
Still on the job, Minnesota assistants scout opposition for the third place game during the nightcap:
Head coach Mark Fox and his Georgia Bulldogs in the huddle against Gonzaga:
Intense backcourt defense between Georgia and Gonzaga:
Gonzaga coach Mark Few watches the action intently:
On the second game was longtime veteran Ed "The C" Corbett, the C standing for the initial of his last name and the C (corner) position in officiating. Ed worked with Mike Nance and Jeff Clark:

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