St. John's vs Monmouth: watch for sloppiness (three stat keys)

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

**The Rumble steps to the e-podium**

First, let me be clear - there are no easy wins for this St. John's team.

This is a team that needed a sharp defensive ten minutes - or Bucknell's tired legs - to knock off the Patriot League's Bison. This is a team that played horrendous defense in stretches against Wagner in the win on November 15 and against Wisconsin in the loss on November 8.

Let me also be clear on this: anything less than a complete and utter showcase spanking will be as disappointing as sweating out a one-possession win over a Division II team in exhibition season. (Oh wait, that happened.)

The Johnnies would have to really let up against Monmouth for that level of disaster to happen; this should be a game where coach Steve Lavin finally gets to experiment with playing shooters Marc-Antoine Bourgault and Max Hooper, who have combined for a single solitary minute this season, despite being the "weapons" and "shooters" this team seems to need.

By the numbers - what to watch for

Hawk-like speed

Monmouth loves a fast pace, careening up the court at 74 possessions per game - 30 in the country (out of 351 Division I teams). St. John's has played at a relatively pedestrian 68 possessions per game, down at 252 in the nation. Some of the pace is due to added free throws (by these calculations, every two free throws will be a possession, and rightfully so) and changed defenses due to the new refereeing guidelines, but we don't need to bore you with all that.

The upshot: if St. John's wants to play sloppy and run over the floor, they will be playing into Monmouth's hands. And while they are young and punchless, in their win over Hofstra, they scored 37 points in the last ten minutes. That's what most teams score in a half, at best.

Big Apple turnovers

Monmouth also likes to take what is not theirs on the court, swiping 21% of opponent possessions. Seton Hall had 14 turnovers despite crushing the Hawks from beginning to end. (It was the kind of crushing that gave forward Patrik Auda a career high in points, while also boosting the stat line of Stephane Manga, who didn't come into the game known as a scorer). Jamal Branch, Rysheed Jordan, and the other players who depend on their dribble to get shots, take note!

Container policy

Monmouth's Deon Jones, a transfer from Towson, is scoring 21 points per game, hitting 58% of his three-pointers and 52% of his twos. Hopefully a team effort will stifle him and keep the ball out of his hands., If not, Sir`Dominic Pointer will have to defend him all the way to the checkout line*.

*I have no idea how to use Dom Pointer's "Cost CO" nickname for fun and profit. I apologize.

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