While St. John's record looks nice at 3-1, that doesn't show what their quality of play has been like.
The Red Storm lost to a top-25 team, and struggled to win against three teams who may make the tournament by winning their one-bid conferences. Meanwhile, the Red Storm have had an interesting couple of days since their last game.
Tonight they welcome the Longwood Lancers from Farmville, Virginia into Queens to wrap up the regional bracket of the Barclays Center Classic. Longwood, after being an NCAA Independent, will be entering its second year in the Big South Conference. Tip-off is slated for a 7 P.M. start, on Fox Sports 1 with Rich Ackerman and Ron Thompson on the call.
The Red Storm have had an interesting couple of days, starting with their game against Monmouth last Thursday. Junior guard D`Angelo Harrison got into early foul trouble and St. John's was affected on both sides of the court.
Only up two at halftime, it took phenomenal efforts by Phil Greene IV offensively (22 points, eight rebounds) and Chris Obekpa defensively (nine blocks) to win against a young team considered one of the worst in NCAA Division I.
Before the game, top 25 Recruit, freshman Rysheed Jordan, was suspended before the game for a violation of team rules and did not practice with the team. This is similar to the punishment that Harrison was issued at the end of last year; he eventually came back, and so will Jordan.
Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News has already reported that Jordan practiced with the team yesterday and will play against Longwood.
To wrap the week up on a positive note, special assistant to head coach Steve Lavin Gene Keady was inducted to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Lavin has always stated that Keady, after his parents, is the person to have the biggest influence on his life.
Scouting St. John's
Could the Jordan issues and problems putting away less-talented opponents be set up as distractions for the Johnnies tonight? Or will they come out focused and take care of business?
Compared to his first two games, D`Angelo Harrison has come back to earth. His stat line in terms of minutes played and points are down mainly because he has gotten into first half foul trouble.
The biggest eye-opening stat for Harrison when he can stay on the floor is his three-point shooting. This year he is shooting 20 percent. Monmouth was his best game from behind the arc shooting 50 percent on six attempts. Instead of only throwing shots up from deep, Harrison has adjusted and is driving the ball more, creating opportunities at the free throw line, where he shoots nearly 90 percent. He is crucial at the end of games because Lavin wants the ball in his hands to get fouled and secure late-game leads at the line.
Tristan Carey (19 points per game) leads Longwood in almost every offensive category for first-year coach Jayson Gee. Carey is the true definition of the senior leader for the Lancers because he truly does it all. He shoots threes (9 attempts per game), he rebounds (5 per game) and he gets steals (2 per game).
Longwood hung tough in their first game of the Barclays Center Classic against Penn State in Happy Valley but it ended up being a rout 93-67.
Gee's post-game quote about Penn State could be something that St. John's will be looking to take advantage as well. "I thought the biggest difference in the game was their post guy's ability to shoot the basketball," Gee stated after the Penn State loss.
A lot of times we hear Red Storm fans (and yes, sometimes us) complain about Jakarr Sampson and Orlando Sanchez settling for jumpshots. Jakarr's ability to drive and shoot from the high post could lead to a big game for him, if Longwood doesn't make adjustments from the Penn State game.
Prediction: I think the Johnnies will stay focused and continue to improve as they prepare to face Penn State on Friday in Brooklyn. Hopefully, Steve Lavin can improve the gelling of the Red Storm on the court so they'll be ready to go Friday. St. John's 78, Longwood 56
More from Rumble In The Garden:
- Report: Rysheed Jordan practices, expected to return from suspension Tuesday night
- Phil Greene IV named to Big East weekly honor roll
- St. John's selected for 2015 Maui Invitational, along with college basketball elites Kansas, Indiana, UCLA and more
- Episode 9: a trip to the therapist's couch
- Stat recap: St. John's overcame Monmouth's hectic first-half pace