If you read that the St. John's Red Storm won a game 82-80 against the likes of Georgetown or Marquette in January or February, fans would be ecstatic.
But it is November, and it’s exhibition season. After struggling against Division II opponent San Francisco State, are Johnnies fans a little worried? Was it just a matter of not taking the Gators seriously? Or was it just them actually struggling on both sides of the court?
The Johnnies head into their second exhibition hoping to clean up their play.
How will the Red Storm respond to being almost beat at the buzzer by a missed three in regulation? The Johnnies welcome the Humboldt State Lumberjacks come to Queens tonight to find out. This will be the second exhibition in three days for the Johnnies as they lead to up to the opener in South Dakota against the Wisconsin Badgers. The game tips off at 7:30 pm and will be available nationally on ESPN3 as a part of the newly-created St. John's Television Network (SJU-TV).
Points of Attention
One of the main points to watch for the first exhibition game was the minute distribution in the back-court with Rysheed Jordan, Phil Greene IV, and Jamal Branch. Jordan played 29 minutes, Greene played 18 minutes, and Branch only played 7 minutes. Expect that trend to continue for Tuesday's game to get Jordan's feet wet in the college game and to keep Greene (coming off hip surgery) and Branch healthy.
Another point of attention for the Johnnies is their execution on the offensive and defensive side of the court. The team showed signs of their struggles last year. The Johnnies played man-to-man the whole game; Jordan and junior Sir`Dominic Pointer shined in that defense because of their athleticism and length. The team as a whole, though, struggled to get out on shooters.
The offense lacked penetration, and was jump shot happy – much like last year. The Red Storm loved the mid-range jumpshot last season - especially the reigning Big East Freshman of the Year, Jakarr Sampson, who struggled with his jumper against SF State. D`Angelo Harrison (29 points) was enough to carry the team, but he will need help.
Although it is only an exhibition, it will be very interesting to see if the Johnnies will go with a gameplan to go inside and get their bigs in foul trouble. Instead of Orlando Sanchez popping out for a jump shot, we’d love to see more what he's got posting up on the block – which he did at times against SF State, drawing fouls.
Scouting Humboldt State
Last year Humboldt State (11-15) led their conference in free throws made and attempted. This contest will be their second exhibition as well. They faced California on Halloween in which head coach Steve Kinder found many positives in a 83-61 loss.
"This was a great learning experience for our program, as a Division II program in California," Kinder said. "It is a real test for us, something that we are really proud of."
They will be looking to gain more experience as they continue to get ready for their season opener against Dominican University.
Humboldt State’s roster has only 3 forwards or centers. Only one of them is over 6'8", center Jermain Wilson at 6'10. Injured are the Lumberjacks’ leading scorers from last year, Austin Bryan and Rocky Brown, along with their best perimeter player, Ethan Dillard.
Who is left? Against the California Golden Bears, the Jacks started their two remaining players over 6’6", Brandon Pomrehn (6’8") and David Howard (6’7"). Two other starters, 6’6" wing Jordan Mackie (a University of San Diego/ Citrus Junior College transfer) scored 14 points and 5’9" guard Allen Guei, a transfer from Cal State Northridge, led the team with 15 points. Mackie and guard Farris Parker combined for 16 of Humboldt State's 26 three-point attempts. The last starter is freshman wing Will Taylor.