Game Preview: St. John's vs. DePaul - will D`Angelo Harrison play?

Phil Greene IV comes home again to face DePaul. - John Alber

Possibly shorthanded, the Johnnies look for win number one in Big East play

That's what the St. John's Red Storm (9-6, 0-3) will be doing as they begin a stretch of three games in six nights after an emotional loss to #8/10 Villanova on Saturday. The first game of this tough stretch is will be against the Blue Demons of DePaul (9-8, 1-3).

Both teams are looking to surge as they currently sit at the bottom of the Big East standings. Tip off is 7 PM tonight at Allstate Arena.

Not only was the loss to Villanova a disappointment because it was right there for the taking, but it also created a very worrisome injury situation. Junior guard D`Angelo Harrison was diagnosed with a minor concussion and will be a game-time decision.

D`Angelo Harrison injury

During the first half on Saturday, Harrison took two apparent blows to the head which caused him to go to the bench for a while, but he ended up playing 29 minutes, scoring 22 points in total.

Although Harrison is the leading scorer on the team, fourth-year head coach Steve Lavin isn't worried if the team's leading scorer (18.7 points/ game) can't go.

"They have a resilience about them and they’ve shown what they are capable of in difficult situations," Lavin said. Remember, a lot of these players played without Harrison when he was suspended the last three games last year. It is a fairly good sign for the Johnnies that Harrison did finish the game on Saturday and the fact that doctors are comfortable with him traveling to Chicago.

With the expectations of this St. John's team playing in the NCAA Tournament in March, these upcoming games are ones that they must take care of. St. John’s opened the Big East with three very tough games, and now their schedule lightens up, giving the team opportunities for confidence-building wins.

After DePaul, they have Providence, Dartmouth, Seton Hall, and at Butler. Besides the Ivy League’s Dartmouth – one more non-conference game -, these teams are a mid-to-lower Big East teams which could be victories (Playing at Butler will be tough). At least, they should be victories, if St. John’s hopes for a top-half finish.

"I don’t look at this as a soft part of our schedule," Steve Lavin said. "I think we need to take advantage of having three of four at home. This is the Big East. It’s a great conference and each team has a very small margin of error."

Scouting DePaul

DePaul, who is lead by the experienced Oliver Purnell , has two seniors in Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young who are the leaders of the Blue Demons team on the court and in practically every stat category. DePaul also has a lot of returning players from last year, a season where the Demons took the Johnnies to overtime at Carnesecca Arena.

They will press opponents with different looks all game and force turnovers. Last year in Chicago they forced the Johnnies to commit an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers.

If Purnell uses the same game plan with his deeper and more experienced Blue Demons team, how will the guards of St. John's react – especially without the heady scorer D`Angelo Harrison?

Game Notes

St. John’s record without D'Angelo Harrison last year was a poor 1-5.

St. John's hasn't lost to DePaul since Steve Lavin was hired as head coach in 2010. DePaul last beat St. John’s in 2008 in Carnesecca Arena.

Prediction

St. John's 71 DePaul 62... St. John's gets the hardest Big East win... the first one.

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