Without star guard D'Angelo Harrison, who was benched by head coach Steve Lavin, the St. John's Red Storm easily defeated Concordia, 87-37, Tuesday in a men's college basketball exhibition game at Carnesecca Arena.
The victory helped the Red Storm finish their preseason slate with a 2-0 record, each win coming against Division II opponents, but the post-game talk was about Lavin's benching of Harrison, St. John's returning leading scorer.
"This was sending a message, like smelling salts," said Lavin, who declined to offer specifics on Harrison’s benching. "Like taking TV privileges away or getting grounded on a Saturday because you didn’t do your chores. It’s very rudimentary, but I know that the little things makes a difference when you’re trying to build a culture."
This was the second consecutive game Harrison saw limited action. On Saturday, the Preseason All-Big East Second Team did not start, got into foul trouble and did not return in a 73-55 win over Sonoma State. Harrison finished with just five points in 14 minutes.
Now, heading into the regular-season opener against visiting Detroit Titans, Nov. 13, the Red Storm could be searching for a new leader of their young squad that features six sophomores and four freshmen.
Lave feels confident his message was sent and Harrison is already learning from this.
"He really had the right attitude," Lavin said. "He’s come back with just what any coach would hope a player would do, which is to say it won’t happen again and I’ll do whatever it takes to get back into the good graces."
The Johnnies are looking to improve on last season's 13-19 overall record. In 2010-11, St. John's earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since '02.