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This was the Rasheem Dunn who can really help St. John’s.
Dunn, the slashing, defense-minded fifth-year senior who was such a focal point of last year’s team, was somewhat forgotten after he was a non-factor in the opener against St. Peter’s and missed the next five games with a concussion.
But in his return, Dunn made an impact, scoring 10 second-half points in a 77-68 loss to Seton Hall at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
In 16 minutes, Dunn shot 5-of-10 from the field, had three steals and posted a plus-five rating. He was instrumental in the Red Storm’s comeback attempt from a 12-point, second-half deficit, getting into the lane and creating problems for the Pirates.
“I think it’s important [to have him back],” coach Mike Anderson said of Dunn, the team’s leading returning scorer. “I think what it does is it gives our backcourt a little bit more strength.
“Like I said, you have got to have some balance on your basketball team, you’ve got to have the forwards, and you’ve got to have the guards. His experience alone will help our basketball team, even when we were down, if you look out there, he was the guy kind of leading the charge.”
In his up-tempo style, Anderson likes to go deep into his bench. Adding Dunn, either as a starter or reserve, gives him even more depth.
Freshman Posh Alexander averaged 14 points in his first three games and just five points in his last four. On Friday, he didn’t have a single assist for the first time this year and only attempted five shots.
“We’ve got to be able to push tempo a little bit more,” Anderson said, when asked if he wanted Alexander to be more aggressive.
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard shot down the idea of adding a conference game between now and next Thursday’s trip to Marquette. The Pirates were initially supposed to play Xavier on Tuesday, before that was canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Musketeers’ program. But the Pirates have played six games in the last 12 days, and Willard plans to use this time to give his players a break.
Seton Hall point guard Bryce Aiken (ankle/knee) has been out since the season opener against Louisville, and his return doesn’t appear imminent. He was able to do some shooting on Friday, but Willard is taking it slow with him. A knee issue sidelined Aiken for most of preseason practices, and he turned his ankle in the Louisville game.
“I’m just being super careful with the young man just because I’ve got to make sure he’s back [for good],” Willard said.
In somewhat of a surprise, St. John’s started Josh Roberts over Isaih Moore. Still, reserve forward Arnaldo Toro saw as many minutes (13) as the two of them combined. Toro didn’t score, however, but he did grab three rebounds.