Way out west in San Francisco, after the San Francisco Dons honor their own, including Steve Lavin's father, Cap, the St. John's squad faces one of those teams that will:
a) pose a challenge
b) in case of victory, not be a nationally recognized win, but could be a solid RPI win
c) in case of a loss, be a real blow to assuring fans that this year is the beginning of something special.
We can't say whether this is the beginning of something special, but the team needs to win games to bring fans back in this time of tumult. St. John's games won't be packed until the team is good. Steve Lavin is challenging his team - as he did with the trip to Detroit last season, one day under a year ago, and as he did with an opener at St. Mary's in November of 2010.
If it's any consolation, the line has gotten a bit closer - it was -3.5, San Francisco and is coming closer to even. Bettors are liking St. John's a little more, thinking the game is close to a toss-up. But the Dons still have home court advantage.
Things we know:
The Dons have the nation's leading rebounder in Cole Dickerson. De`End Parker has gotten off to a hot start shooting, hitting over 70% from beyond the arc.
The Dons have a lot of players who are freshmen and sophomores; but with Dickerson, Parker, and point guard Cody Doolin, the Dons possess the ability to put those freshmen in role-playing situations, not asking them to have to generate offense, lead the team, or stabilize the squad.
Given the Dons' ability to clean the offensive glass, a slow start will be the Johnnies' downfall. There may not be as many chances to get second chances at missed shots, which has helped in the comebacks against NJIT, Florida Gulf Coast, and others.
Also, the Johnnies will be donning (pun...intended) the black uniforms, which they refer to as the "Darth Vaders," tonight. They wore them in last Thursday's impressive victory over South Carolina, their first in the alternate jerseys since Senior Night two years ago.
- The Rumble's St. John's vs San Francisco preview.
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