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Game #20: St. John's basketball vs South Florida

St. John’s travels to Tampa, FL to take on the South Florida Bulls, Saturday February 2nd, 7 PM.

There’s a game tomorrow… against the South Florida Bulls. I will be watching from the home bar in New York, and will be happy to be back in my first home… watching one of the crappier college basketball games this season. This team pits the two bottom teams of the competitive Big East conference against each other. The 1-7 St. John’s has not been a good road team in Norm Roberts tenure, and the Coach is likely feeling his seat get hotter; a win over the 1-7 South Florida Bulls on the road would be a boon to his re-rebuilding effort.

South Florida is coached by former Arkansas head man Stan Heath, a former member of the Tom Izzo coaching staffs of the 90’s. His first year showed promise, but the Bulls are at the bottom of the league after Rutgers’ victories this week. The Bulls beat Rutgers in their only conference win.

The offense and defense centers around LSU transfer Kentrell Gransberry. He’s large. Very large. And adept in the post. One might think that this is the kind of player that the Red Storm has players like Tomas Jasiulionis or Dele Coker on the roster for, but then again, neither played big minutes against Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert.

Dominique Jones is their outside threat, though his game has tailed off in conference play. He is still an offensive threat. Chris Howard mans the point and dishes assist well. All three of the mentioned players get to the free throw line with some regularity. Verdejo is a scorer who transferred from the University of Arizona. Orane Chin is from Jamaica, West Indies (word) and he’s 6’7". Hey, it's South Florida, I don’t know that much about these guys and neither do you. Solomon Bozeman will get some time off the bench, but his 3-point shot hasn’t been falling.

Starters

C: Kentrell Gransberry 6’9" 270, sr: 57% FG, 11.1 reb/g, 20.3 ppg, 1 blk/ g
SG: Dominique Jones 6’4", 200, fr: 39% 3PT, 15.0 ppg, 1 stl/g, 4.1 reb/g
G: Jesus Verdejo 6’4" 205, jr: 9.1 ppg, 3.0 ast/g
PG: Chris Howard 6’3" 200, so: 8.3 ppg, 4.1 reb/g, 4.1 ast/g
G: Orane Chin 6’7" 195, fr: 2.4 reb/ g (F Mobolaji Ajayi 6'9", 225)

Keys to the Game:

Center of Attention: Gransberry is the focal point of this team. He’s big, he gets fouled, and he does the teams rebounding. Seriously. Most of it. St. John’s has to try and keep him off the boards by boxing out, and if not, the Red Storm must not give him more chances—no fouling. None of those "jump in air" block attempts that Jasiulionis does. All of South Florida’s offensive strength is based around Gransberry—getting to the free throw line, getting offensive put-backs, and scoring in the paint. And St. John’s is best when they are crashing their own offensive boards and getting easy shots.

At Least They’re Not Georgetown
: This team is tall in general, but not the overwhelming talents that St. John’s faced in the past few weeks. The Red Storm have to take out their frustrations on this team. There were inklings of good moments; the team has to build on those. Mason has to get his shot back. Burrell has to take his passionate play and throw some poster dunks on these Bulls.

Keep Your Head: St. John’s has to give that good effort, that crazy energy. The season is not lost—some good play might turn things around, build up good rhythms. Guys need to get confidence back in their shots, their defense, their rebounding.