If there had been any questions about what transfers David Jones and André Curbelo could bring to St. John’s on the court, the two seemed to answer that in the Red Storm’s season-opening win over Merrimack on Monday.
Jones highlighted his shooting prowess from the floor, finishing the game shooting 8-of-16 for a game-high 21 points, and Curbelo’s energetic style seemed to throw Merrimack off kilter. Both players were two of the Johnnies’ offseason prizes to make the jumps from DePaul and Illinois.
Jones had already been expected to take on a big role in trying to help fill the void left by Julian Champagnie, who went pro after last season. Against Merrimack, Jones contributed half of St. John’s 10 total three-pointers and shot just under 50% from beyond the arc.
But it was more than just his shooting that head coach Mike Anderson noted.
“You talk about his three-point shooting, I think he’s a slasher that can get to the basket,” Anderson said. “I think he puts time in on his shot, but I love his activity on the glass. I really believe the uptempo (style) will make him an even better player. Now he’s catching the ball in space and we saw him make a little Eurostep. Got to the basket and he’s capable of doing that. And he’s a pretty good passer at times too. … I just love the grit that he plays with. He played with a lot of toughness tonight.”
The St. John’s coach was referring to Jones’ 10 rebounds and a blocked shot.
Curbelo certainly plays with a high tempo of his own, which was highlighted by some of his early work in the first half. The former Illini guard scored the Red Storm’s first basket of the season off a turnover in the paint.
Later in the half, Curbelo’s aggressive style forced a turnover on the inbounds and allowed him to feed Posh Alexander for a slam dunk during a 6-0 run that swung the game for St. John’s. There had been questions about how the Red Storm star and the transfer would play alongside each other, but that didn’t appear to be an issue.
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“That’s my guy,” Alexander said about co-existing with Curbelo. “Having a partner like him, like I’ve said before, was just a blessing. Just to show everybody, cause that was everybody’s biggest question. How Ya’ll gonna work out now? Today showed everything. Like I said before, our defense was incredible tonight. Me and him both picking up 94 feet, getting steals, playing off each other. I see him in a fastbreak I kick it up and he scores.
“I get hype for him the same thing for me. He get hyped for me and we just built our brotherhood back to that trip to the (Dominican Republic). Along with having practice every day. Me and him competing against each other snd just making each other better.”