Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Villanova 90, St. John's 72: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

New York City – The glamour and associated glitz and adoration of national rankings can soon disappear. In some cases, you can chalk it up to conference play, the harsh reality of heightened competition that hits you like an icy blast of chilling air on exiting a warm building, very much what has happened to St. John’s in the space of a week. Fifteenth-ranked on New Year’s Eve, the Red Storm are looking at 0-­3 in the Big East. Villanova’s 90­-72 triumph at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday extended that streak.

St. John’s got off to a good start, and with a slight second half lead, looked as if they would ride some home court momentum. Villanova showed poise. The conference factor came into the equation as well. Quite simply, in the league, everyone is aware of the opposition tendencies; as a team, individual, and in situations. It comes down to execution. Villanova, especially down the stretch, executed.

Wins come with a price tag, especially in the Big East. (Hopefully) Not the injury variety. Rather, the expenditure is in the effort. Villanova got off to its best start in nearly seven decades. Their first loss was this past Saturday at Seton Hall in overtime. At 1-­1 in the Big East, Jay Wright’s team entered the Garden if not with a sense of urgency, a sense of purpose.

Exiting MSG, a few St. John’s fans were on the elevator. They spoke of getting a win streak, similar to last season, started. In a conference of this magnitude, it’s best to focus on your next opponent. Streaks are not the immediate priority. St. John’s coach Steve Lavin would be first to agree.

Outside Madison Square Garden about 90 minutes prior to tipoff on a bone-chilling New York night:
Ed Corbett leads partners Roger Ayers and Tony Chiazza out onto the floor minutes before the tip:
Several St. John's cheerleaders pose prior to the start:
Tony Chiazza explains a situation to several Red Storm players:
"'Nova Nation" had representation among the crowd of 8,565:
Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono, (6-of-7 from the line) a model of free throw concentration:
Leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison (25 points) of St. John's on an inbounds:

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