CHARLESTON, S.C. — Nahiem Alleyne pulled Rick Pitino aside.
He wanted to meet the Hall of Fame coach.
“Here it comes,” Pitino pondered. “He’s going to want to know how to get more minutes and how to get back in the lineup and so on.”
It was not so.
Alleyne apologized for his behavior to his new coach.
He was not performing to his standard.
“I didn’t come here to play like that,” He was told by a fifth-year senior.
Sunday’s effort was more like it.
Alleyne made an impact, helping St. John’s knock off Utah, 91-82, in the third-place game of the Charleston Classic.
The Connecticut transfer had 10 point on 4 of 6 shooting. Three assists were also recorded, and the plus-nine rating was achieved in 17 quality minutes.
In their talk, Alleyne didn’t lobby Pitino for more playing time.
“I’m going to be ready whenever you call my name,” Alleyne remembered the conversation. “It could be one minute, two minutes, I’m going to be ready to go.”
The 6-foot-4 swingman showed his value in Utah.
He defended well — Pitino has called him the team’s best perimeter defender — hit a few 3-pointers and even set up his teammates a few times.
Pitino wants him to be more than a scorer on the offensive side.
“He was a big factor tonight playing small forward. I said all I want you to do, son, is create some assists, get some rebounds. I know you can score the basketball,” Pitino said. “Tonight he gives us a big lift, three assists, zero turnovers, one steal. He just did a lot of good things.”
RJ Luis told Pitino before the game he wasn’t quite ready to return. The UMass Transfer has not been practicing since Oct. 1. He fractured his left hand. The 6-foot-7, sophomore will return to action against Holy Cross this Saturday.
Pitino was pleased with the performance of Joel Soriano who scored 12 points and had 15 rebounds, as well as two blocks. He played against Utah’s two 7-footers Brandson Carlson, and Lawson Lovering.
“I think Joel played about as intelligent as a pivot can play with walling up and not fouling,” Pitino said. “It was tremendous to see that.”