NEW YORK — It is the Year of the Freshmen in college basketball and New York’s two best frosh squared off in a Saturday matinee at Madison Square Garden.
Fordham’s Jon Severe could’ve used the game to show St. John’s coach Steve Lavin and the Red Storm fans what they missed out on by not recruiting him.
St. John’s freshman Rysheed Jordan could’ve put on a show in his first college game at the Garden.
Instead, neither freshmen did those things in a game in which the Johnnies thrashed the Rams, 104-58, by shooting 79 percent in the first half (making 17 straight shots at one stretch) and 66 percent overall.
Severe and Jordan combined for 18 points, with Severe going 1-for-21 from the field for 9 points and Jordan putting together a solid, if unspectacular, outing of 9 points (on 2-for-5), 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
“I’m sure they were highly motivated,” Fordham coach Tom Pecora said of St. John’s effort on Severe. “They’d heard enough about New York State Player of the Year and all that nonsense…
“It’s all part of the learning curve for a freshmen, no matter how good they are. There’s a growth cycle..A day like this will help him prepare for some of the better teams in the A-10 as we move forward.”
The 6-foot-3 Severe entered the game averaging 23.2 points per game, more than sensational frosh Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon.
But faced with St. John’s length and athleticism, he struggled to get his shot going, going 1-for-5 from the arc and 0-for-16 from inside the arc.
“He’s a great player,” St. John’s junior guard D’Angelo Harrison said. “Him and Branden Frazier, they’re the two key guys on the scouting report. We knew if we could shut them down and basically not let them have easy looks, it would be a long night for them. We took care of business and they struggled tonight.”
Still, Fordham has reason for optimism going forward.
Severe will be joined next year by 6-6 Eric Paschall of St. Thomas More (Conn.), giving coach what could be a deadly 1-2 punch in the Atlantic 10.
The A-10, make no mistake, is still a strong league but it’s not what it once was, not with the defections of Temple, Xavier and Butler.
And teams like Fordham (and Dan Hurley’s Rhode Island crew) can make strides in the coming years with the right infusion of talent.
Jordan’s situation is a little more curious.
He averaged 24.8 points last season at Philly Vaux Roberts and scored 40+ points on three occasions.
Yet his career-high at St. John’s is just nine points — and he has already been suspended for one game for a violation of team rules.
He did flash a nice crosscourt bounce pass to God’sgift Achiuwa and played a solid all-court game. And he is playing alongside some talented older guards in Harrison, Jamal Branch, and Phil Greene IV.
“When you have a surrounding group of veterans who can carry the load, then it doesn’t put undo puressure on Rysheed,” Lavin said.
He added: “Rysheed is as gifited a player as I’ve coached in my career.”
But he has yet to be the impact player many expected him to be. And thusfar Severe has been New York City’s best freshman, despite this brutal effort.
On this day, though, neither player commanded the stage.