On St. John's Carnesecca Arena woes

Tonight, St. John's Red Storm plays its first game as a ranked team in 10 years against the lowly DePaul Blue Demons. The Blue Demons are improving, they're threatening. But the Red Storm are at home, and it's the 500th contest at Carnesecca Arena.

The Red Storm should easily prevail, sending happy fans onto Union Turnpike and onto the Long Island Expressway and up Utopia Parkway, singing the praises of the program.

Except... the games at Carnesecca Arena have been a little too close for comfort. remember that loss to Cincinnati where the team couldn't hit their free throws. Or that squeaker of a win to the tough Rutgers Scarlet Knights. That loss to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. The two too-close-for-comfort wins against the Columbia Lions and the Wagner Seahawks?

The team's record at Carnesecca in the five games played on-campus isn't quite what the team intended. Two losses in the place where the mediocre opponents are relegated? Adding that to lackadaisical performances last year... does the team actually play differently at MSG than they do at Carnesecca?

What's the problem?

Below, some basic and some tempo-neutral tables, comparing the Red Storm's performance at Carnesecca vs. their performance over all, at Madison Square Garden, and in their last 4 games, below the fold.

First, the tempo-neutral look, with the bad numbers marked in red:

Tempo-Neutral Average Performance
ST. JOHN'S
OPPONENTS
VENUE
Pace
PPP
eFG%
FTR
TO%
PPP
eFG%
FTR
TO%
All
66.0
1.052
49.4
45.8
18.3
1.002
50.9
41.1
24.9
MSG
66.1
1.096
51.7
52.6
18.9
0.989
49.5
39.0
24.7
CAR
63.8
1.012
43.9
49.3
13.6
0.950
48.9
32.9
29.9
Last 4
64.5
1.108
51.3
48.8
18.7
0.990
47.9
42.7
22.4

Note how the games at Carnesecca Arena are slower-paced affairs - fewer possessions, fewer shots - and the Red Storm's shooting (eFG is field goal percentage that incorporates 3-pointers) also drops off quite a bit.

They do force more turnovers against opponents at Carnesecca. That's to be expected; the teams that played at Carnesecca are Columbia,Wagner, St. Bonaventure, Rutgers, and Cincinnati.

Let's go to the FTR column (Free Throw Rate). St. John's shoots free throws at a rate of 1 for every 2 shots, on average' opponents are closer to 1 of every 3 shots. Standard percentages tell the story of what happens next:

Average Performance
ST. JOHN'S
OPPONENTS
VENUE
Pace
Pts
FG%
FT%
TO
Pts
FG%
FT%
TO
All
66.0
69.4
45.4%
71.2%
12.1
66.3
43.4%
70.4%
16.3
MSG
66.1
72.6
48.0%
78.2%
12.6
65.4
42.6%
68.6%
16.3
CAR
63.8
64.6
39.4%
57.9%
8.6
60.6
41.5%
75.6%
19.0
Last 4
64.5
72.0
46.6%
77.3%
11.8
64.0
40.0%
64.4%
14.3

That 57.9% free throw shooting percentage is abysmal! Meanwhile, opponents are killing it from the line, hitting 75.6%. Game by game:

StJ FT%
OPP FT%
Columbia
65.0%
72.7%
Wagner
61.1%
76.5%
St. Bonaventure
50.0%
81.8%
Cincinnati
46.2%
85.7%
Rutgers
64.5%
64.3%

Except for Rutgers (who must be kicking themselves about the points the left at the line), those are some healthy free throw shooting percentages, and some serious disparities. The field goal shooting isn't much better:

 
Average Performance
 
ST. JOHN'S
OPPONENTS
VENUE
Pace
FT%
2P%
3P%
FT%
2P%
3P%
All
66.0
71.2%
49.0%
33.3%
70.4%
48.2%
36.4%
MSG
66.1
78.2%
50.5%
38.6%
68.6%
49.0%
33.5%
CAR
63.8
57.9%
41.0%
35.1%
75.6%
42.5%
39.8%
Last 4
64.5
77.3%
47.5%
43.8%
64.4%
43.0%
36.0%

The early struggles of the St. John's offense are part of the problem. Remember, it took Dwight Hardy a while to find his shooting stroke and get to the Player of the Year candidate level he's at now.

While Dwight was struggling to make shots from the field, he, D.J. Kennedy, and Paris Horne have all missed a few more shots at the free throw line at Carnesecca:

Horne
Min
Pts
FG
FGA
FG%
FT
FTA
FT%
AVG (all)
26.6
7.3
2.5
5.8
44.0%
1.6
2.7
60.3%
AVG (CAR)
28.0
7.8
2.8
6.8
41.2%
1.4
3.4
41.2%
Hardy
Min
Pts
FG
FGA
FG%
FT
FTA
FT%
AVG (all)
33.7
17.2
5.3
12.1
44.1%
4.7
5.4
86.4%
AVG (CAR)
31.4
13.6
4.8
12.4
38.7%
2.4
3.4
70.6%
Kennedy
Min
Pts
FG
FGA
FG%
FT
FTA
FT%
AVG (all)
29.3
10.5
3.5
7.4
47.4%
2.9
3.8
77.6%
AVG (CAR)
28.6
11.4
3.6
7.8
46.2%
3.4
5.8
58.6%

Is it the home fans? Is it the lack of a big-game atmosphere, despite the good crowds at Carnesecca Arena? Are the players not taking the opponents seriously enough? Are the fellas lacking concentration? Are the sight lines at Carnesecca hurting the players at the line? Are the fans too familiar?

Whatever it is, here is hope that DePaul is the cure for what ails the Carnesecca Arena shooting woes. The home fans deserve to see a good thumping of DePaul tonight.

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