St. John's welcomes Concordia College, a Division III school in the Chicago area (about a mile or two from the western border of the city in River Forest) to Carnesecca Arena. Tonight's game isn't just an exhibition for the Johnnies, or a chance to bring some revenue in to Concordia's athletic program. It's also a promotional event for the Coaches vs. Cancer partnership - fans are invited to dress like head Coach Steve Lavin - white sneakers, collared white shirt with no tie, and a sport coat.
Concordia coach Tyler Jones was inspired by Lavin's story to make sure he didn't have signs of prostate cancer. And it's a good thing Lavin inspired him; he was diagnosed with prostate cancer as well. Almost a year later, Coach Jones is healthy and joins Steve Lavin to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.
In terms of pure basketball action, tonight's game shouldn't be, by all rights, as close a contest as the Sonoma State game.
- The Cougars are small.
- The Cougars had a losing season last year.
- Concordia loses four of their five starters from last year, returning only their fourth leading scorer.
- The team's top four aggregate rebounders are also gone.
- The team's tallest player on the roster is 6'4".
- The two highest percentage three-point shooters shooters returning shot 29% and 27%.
This game shouldn't be a test. (Neither should Texas Pan-American have been last December.)
But it is a chance for the young Red Storm to get more familiar with each other. Many of the players were practicing taking jump shots in game situations, practicing their passing, working on their ball movement and defensive sets. For Concordia, they get a trip to the city and a chance to work on their new rotations against a much larger opponent.
Keys of the Game
Rebounding. St. John's was -1 in overall rebounding to Sonoma State, a smaller Division II school. Sonoma State earned that number on the offensive and defensive glass. St. John's wasn't crisp in boxing out. Watch for whether the Johnnies het their rebounds simply by being tall, or by being in the right place.
Reaching defense. Coach Lavin remarked on the lunging, reaching defense of a number of players, including Sir`Dominic Pointer, who managed to earn three very cheap fouls. Tonight, look to see if St. John's can stay in front of their man, or if they choose to gamble for steals and blocks. Some blocks are good. Some steals - like Phil Greene smacking the ball out of an opponents' hand - are good. But some are risky, and put the rest of the defense at a tactical disadvantage.
Bring on good vibes. D`Angelo Harrison had a poor game on Saturday, earning four fouls, taking shots out of rhythm, and not looking like the team leader he'll need to be for St. John's to move up the Big East standings this year. Watch for him to team up with newcomers JaKarr Sampson and Chris Obekpa to set the tone against Concordia.
Start the conversation below. What will you be looking for?