Ah, Tulane, the smarty-pants school of New Orleans. The one-time SEC member, football power, and the school that handed St. John's Hall of Fame coach Lou Carnesecca his final collegiate loss is St. John's final opponent in the "championship" of the Consolation Bracket of the Rainbow Classic.
Getting out of the tournament with two wins would definitely be nice, and a great way of getting Anthony Mason Jr. back in to game shape before this Friday's Holiday Classic in Madison Square Garden.
Quickly, the Keys to the Game:
Inside Men. Rob Thomas provided quality minutes against Hawai'i, and this team needs a follow up performance, especially if Justin Burrell isn't going to grab some rebounds. Burrell should have a better performance on the boards, undoubtedly; and 6'7" Robinson Louisme is a formidable opponent. He's 265 pounds and blocks shots and grabs offensive rebounds, along with shooting a ridiculous 73% from the floor.
Donnie Stith mans the boards with Louisme, and the main offensive focal point seems to be 6'7", 235 David Gomez. The action is going to be inside for most of this game, and the Red Storm's inside play has to be sharp and opportunistic. As always, it's important to keep the Green Wave off of the glass for rebounds, and St. John's needs to continue to NOT foul the big men with poor-effort fouls.
Keep the Ball Moving. St. John's is at its best moving the ball with inside passes, drive and kick plays, and motion; the offense is at it's worst moving the ball around a zone and waiting for an end of shot clock heave. Yesterday's game featured athletic movement against zones and man defenses; Coach Roberts used the players' superior foot speed to break down defensive matchups.
Tulane should be susceptible to the same, especially if Anthony Mason Jr. continues to use his athleticism and height to drive to the hoop; these actions help negate the effect of Tulane's big men and will hopefully get them into foul trouble. The team must watch out for 5'10" point guard Kevin Sims-- he's 160 pounds but comes up with steals and makes assists.
Red and Ugly. Keep the game ugly-- pressure and turnovers create easy shots, and the way the Red Storm makes teams turn the ball over seems to take the opponent of what they want to do offensively. Keep harassing.