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Posh Alexander and St. John’s rounding into form

In many ways, Posh Alexander’s season has been representative of St. John’s campaign as a whole. One impressive performance followed by an underwhelming one. Flashes of promise. Not enough consistency.

But Alexander and the Red Storm appear to be hitting their stride at the right time.

In Alexander’s last seven games, five of them Red Storm wins, the 6-foot point guard from Brooklyn is averaging 14.0 points, 6.2 assists and 2.5 steals while shooting a through-the-roof 54 percent from the field. He’s making his teammates better. Their lone losses in the last three weeks, against No. 8 Villanova and No. 21 Connecticut, came while he was sidelined with a right ankle injury.

He has become more decisive, thinking less and reacting more while avoiding foul trouble. That stretch includes the first two double-figure assist games of Alexander’s career, and a personal-best 29-point outburst in a narrow loss to No. 11 Providence.

“I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to win games to help my teammates,” Alexander said in a phone interview on Tuesday as St. John’s prepared to host Creighton on Wednesday in Queens.

St. John's Red Storm guard Posh Alexander #0 drives to the basket
Posh Alexander’s recent turnaround will be needed if St. John’s has any hope for the tournament.
Robert Sabo

It’s not a coincidence that St. John’s has begun to find its form while Alexander has performed more consistently. As junior star Julian Champagnie said recently, “he’s the head of this train.” Alexander sets the tone at both ends of the floor. The sophomore provides constant energy and leadership in coach Mike Anderson’s uptempo pressure system.

“He’s an igniter,” Anderson said of Alexander, the Big East Freshman of the Year and co-Defensive Player of the Year a season ago. “That’s what he did for our team last year and that’s what he does for our team this year.”

Strong play from Alexander will be essential if St. John’s (15-11, 7-8 Big East) is to continue its impressive play. He will be matched up against Ryan Nembhard, Creighton’s impressive freshman point guard. Nembhard, who is coming off an 18-point, five-assist effort in a win over Marquette, makes the Bluejays’ offense go. St. John’s learned how prolific Creighton (18-8,10-5) can be in an 87-64 blowout loss in Omaha, Neb., when the Bluejays went 14-for-27 on 3-point attempts.

“We just got to hang our hats on defense,” Alexander said, pointing to how St. John’s has performed at that end of the floor as a reason for the mini-surge.

It wouldn’t have been possible without him, and for the run to continue, Alexander must continue to be at his best.

Champagnie, after averaging 29.0 points, 5.0 steals, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in wins over Xavier and Butler, racked up a number of weekly awards. He was named the Big East, United State Basketball Writers Association and Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association Player of the Week.

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