I've been on vacation (honeymooning!) So here are boxscores for the recent games:
Boston College 82, St. John's 70 - outplayed.
And moving on to current games... Bethune Cookman.
Bethune-Cookman? Really? It's one thing to bring in a slate of beatable opponents to your campus to take their whippings, to enhance the positive feeling in your team, to work on rotations and plays, and to puff up the win total. It's another thing entirely to bring a bottom of Division I team up from Daytona Beach, Florida. Wouldn't Stony Brook have been cheaper to bring in? And generate more fan interest?
Then again, Rutgers played the locals... and those losses to Lehigh, St. Bonaventure, and Binghamton did nothing good for their team. So maybe there is little benefit from playing an opponent from down the turnpike.
Interestingly, Bethune-Cookman’s next game is on December 17th at Long Island University, so perhaps they just scheduled St. John’s to get a little more sightseeing time around New York. I hope they get some cheesecake from Junior’s. The historically-black college was recently named a University with the addition of a graduate program, and is better known for their football team and their band, though neither program is as well known as the SWAC programs like Southern and Grambling.
As it is, the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats out of the MEAC are about the quality of a Division II opponent. They have done two things reasonably well – rebounded the ball on their offensive glass, and forced turnovers while holding on to the ball themselves. The team looks to play a slow pace, scoring a high of 70 points once against a Division II opponent (Edward Waters College) and a searing 64 in their fastest-paced game against Chicago State, which they lost. The Wildcats also got smoked by Dayton, 78-38, and lost to Auburn 61-46. The past few games, Bethune-Cookman has enjoyed a three-game winning streak, beating a Division II opponent (Webber International), Texas Southern, and their first conference game, at Florida A & M.
Stylistically, they try to score inside the arc, but don’t connect well (36% on 2-point attempts) and they don’t shoot well outside the arc either. They foul quite a bit, and allow a lot of assists on field goals made.
St. John’s isn’t any great shakes outside the three-point line themselves, topping 32% only against Loyola-IL and Howard. But the team has been working on their running game and has been pretty good about being a low-turnover team (much to anyone’s surprise who watched the squad last year). This writer thinks they need to come up with ways to create more steals, but that’s just me. Hopefully the attendance will be more than friends, family, and some dudes with signs this Sunday.
The Red Storm can use this last tune-up before the Holiday Festival to shine up their games a little. Dele Coker whipped out a little back-down move that wasn’t terrible, though he missed the shot; and Justin Burrell can use the time to refine some of his moves. Kennedy can fatten his scoring average against these hapless opponents.
Once the main players are out, this is a chance for the bench to shake out – the next three guys seem to be Dele Coker, Quincy Roberts, and Rob Thomas; with TyShwan Edmondson coming in first to spell at the point but logging fewer minutes on the season than Quincy. One of the candidates for the back-up point guard slot needs to shine – and perhaps make a few more shots. From here on, the games are more serious, with the Holiday Festival against Marist and Columbia/ Virginia Tech; not the time to be experimenting with backup point guards. Rob Thomas can use the opportunity to take some shots against a front line with a little bit of height. If any of those players sticks a few more three-pointers, that will give some hope for the season…
Here’s hoping that the walk-ons get a little game action in this one.
PG 3 Malik Boothe 9.3 ppg/ 5.4 apg/ 4.4 rpg/ 1.3 spg
G/F 1 DJ Kennedy 14.3 ppg/ 7.3 rpg/ 1.3 spg/ 38% 3pt
G 23 Paris Horne 12.7 ppg/ 3.7 rpg/ 2.3 apg/ 36% 3pt
PF 24 Justin Burrell 11.4 ppg/ 4.8 rpg/ 56% fg
PF 5 Sean Evans 8.4 ppg/ 5.1 rpg/ 1 spg/ 49% fg/ 48% FT
The Wildcats have played a number of starting lineups; the one listed below has been used for the past two games. #00 Jarrell Thomas (6’3" 180 lbs JR G/F) is not in the starting lineup, but scores 7.8 points per game on 39% 3-point shooting (46% overall); #2 John Holmes (6’5" 220 lbs SR F) scores 8.9 points per game and pulls down 6.3 rebounds on 44% shooting. #33 Tyrel Adams (6’9" 250 JR F/C) has also started 3 games. The starting guard is the head coach’s son. Forward Anusionwu is from London; perhaps Phil Wait can talk trash to him in British slang.
G 3 Clifford "CJ" Reed 6’3" 175 FR 15.4 ppg/ 3.5 apg/ 2.4 rpg/ 38% fg, 28% 3pt
G 10 Stanley Elliott, Jr. 6’3" 170 FR 3 ppg/ 1.3 rpg/ 24% fg
F 22 Jerry Jones Jr. 6’2" 205 FR 2 ppg/ 20% fg
F 32 Alexander Starling 6’6" 205 SO 9.1 ppg/ 7.1 rpg/ 1.1 bpg 36% fg, 26% 3pt
F/C 12 Kene Anusionwu 6’8" 215 JR 2.9 ppg/ 3 rpg
Five Points, or, the Keys to the Game
Focus. The Red Storm can’t afford to lose focus and get into a dogfight against a team that should be inferior. The team has to play its game, defend hard, and make the game ugly for the Wildcat offense, while being opportunistic and aggressive going to the basket.
That Big City Pressure. St. John’s cannot slack on defense. They have to make the Wildcats take outside shots, limit penetration, and get some turnovers – show them what pressure looks like. If the Wildcats attempt to trap, St. John’s has to execute and get those easy baskets.
Quick Start = A Day at the Beach. Give them credit – the Red Storm have been very good at imposing their will and scoring on the weak opponents. One more day with some bench time for Malik Boothe is needed; after the Marist game, it is likely that he will be playing 30-35 minutes per night, with the other 5-10 minutes becoming dicey affairs.
Keep the Glass Clean. Games like these can get hectic, with the inferior team hustling to get opportunities. The Wildcats are not good shooters; but even bad shooters can be competitive in the scoring column if St. John’s gives them extra chances (or sends them to the foul line). Red Storm’s height should allow them to snare rebounds, but they cannot become lax at boxing out and chasing the ball. And this would be a fine game for Justin Burrell to wreck another hoop.
Work it Out, Ty/Q. TyShwan and Quincy received more minutes on the court against the weak NJIT opponent, and they showed more confidence shooting the ball. The results were mixed - Ty got his shot off, and made some drives to the basket, but couldn't finish. Meanwhile, Smooth Jazz Quincy Roberts had a good offensive performance, going 4-6 in 18 minutes for 9 points. Edmondson showed some hustle with 3 offensive rebounds. This game against the Wildcats is probably the pair's last chance to show what they can do, as mentioned before. Ty looks quicker, but Quincy has had better results, though playing off the ball a good amount.
St. John's should roll in this one... let's hope these extended practices will help them when they play Virginia Tech and Miami of Florida.