On Tuesday, October 25th, the C.W. Post men’s basketball team faced Saint John’s on the road at Carnesecca Arena, having the chance to face a legendary, Big East school that has produced multiple NBA players throughout the years. In this exhibition game however, the Pioneers fell to the Red Storm by a final score of 110-80.
At the half, the Pioneers were within striking distance of the Red Storm, as the score was 51-40. But once the second half got underway, the Red Storm could not be stopped. Saint John’s went on a 10-2 run to open the second half of play, and never looked back. Saint John’s shot the lights out, shooting over 65% from the field and six players scored in double-digits. The Red Storm at one point led by as much as 36 points, due to their efficient fast-paced offense.
The Red Storm had a bevy of weapons on the floor, including center, God’s gift, Achiuwa, who showed he has the ability to run the floor well and has great hands around the rim. Standing at 6’9’’ tall, Achiuwa was too much for the Pioneers’ defenders as he finished with 21 points (10-13 shooting) and nine rebounds.
Although the Pioneers came out on the losing side of the game, the team as a whole shot 47% from the floor. On the other hand, the Pioneers struggled from behind the arc as they were only 3-15 shooting.
Senior guard and preseason All-American Stefan Bonneau scored a game-high 28 points on 10-19 shooting for the Pioneers, while junior guard Tobin Carberry also played well scoring 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Freshman forward Charles McCann had an impressive debut for C.W. Post as he finished with 15 points and six rebounds.
The Pioneers will now look forward to their next matchup against the defending NCAA Champions: the University of Connecticut Huskies. That matchup will take place in Storrs, Connecticut on Sunday, November 6th at 1 p.m.
“I think these games benefit us in terms of giving us an opportunity to play against the best and give us a chance to go and execute our stuff,” said Pioneers head coach Chris Casey. “It’s going to be a battle because they’re very, very high level teams and players, and they’re very talented.”
UConn is the defending NCAA Division I Champion and boast one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all-time in Jim Calhoun. Calhoun has a career record of 852-366, and is a three-time NCAA Tournament Champion. In addition, he has coached several players that have moved onto the NBA including Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Rudy Gay, and Kemba Walker.
“There’s not many better ones out there, he (Calhoun) could be the best, and I have a great respect for what he did. But I don’t look at it as facing off against him,” said Casey. “I’m looking at it as putting my team on the floor and trying to execute what we do as best we can, and try to continue to get better throughout the year and use it as a learning experience. And hopefully, we compete well against a very good team and program.”
Although Kemba Walker has moved onto the professional level, the Huskies still have an incredible amount of talent. Crucial players to last year’s championship, sophomore guard Jeremy Lamb and junior forward Alex Oriakhi are returning to the team. In addition, UConn reportedly has an incoming freshman center named Andre Drummond, who has a tremendous amount of potential.
Opening the season against Saint John’s and UConn are two very difficult and challenging games for any team in the country to begin a new season. “It feels like an unbelievable experience to play against two top Division I schools even though we’re Division II,” said Pioneers sophomore forward Vaughn Allen. “It’s a good opportunity for us to see where we’re at and tell us where our season is going to end up.”