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Game #18: Cincinnati Bearcats at St. John's

"I hate losing, everything is darker when you're losing. "It's the worst feeling in the world." - Justin Burrell after loss 76-57 to Villanova,

Cincinnati Bearcats (12-7, 2-4 Big East) at the St. John's Red Storm (10-7, 1-4 Big East)

+ St. John's has to keep the other team off the glass. I harp on second shots because when they give the other team second shots... chaos ensues. They can defend the first shot, but in the scrum to the basket, St. John's is particularly bad at keeping the space clean and clearing the defensive board. Sean Evans barely made a dent in the box score but Justin Burrell - who should have gotten the ball more - played solidly, picking up 13 points (on 6 shots), 7 boards, 2 steals, 2 blocks, and 2 assists.

+ The Bearcats profile: poor shooters, poor at getting to the free throw line, slow paced, bad passers, but RIDICULOUS offensive rebounders.

+ Anthony Mason Jr. will have the pleasure of being the student reporter during ESPN's School Spirit Week - I mean, Campus Connection Week - I mean, cheap gimmick week. Good luck to him - speak clearly, Mase, deliver crisply, and stick to the facts and anecdotes!

+ St. John's is thinner than TyShwan Edmondson this year. The starting guards found themselves logging 40 (Horne), 40 (Kennedy), and 33 (Q Roberts) minutes in the loss to Villanova because of the lack of depth. Despite 3 turnovers, Quincy Roberts had one of his best games, showing his inside and out potential.

+ For a team with strong inside players, St. John's perimeter players shouldn't be taking so many shots unless they can hit threes.

+ The margin of loss for the Bearcats' last 5 losses (and 7 games) is not particularly close, and is as follows:

Memphis: 15
Marquette: 34
Providence (h): 8
Connecticut: 9
Rutgers win: +11
DePaul win: +4
Providence (a): 9

Note the minutes played and shots taken numbers in the table below. The numbers are the average numbers from the Connecticut and Villanova games last week. Kennedy and Roberts were consistent performers; others on this list have numbers that were carried by one performance (Burrell vs 'Nova, Paris vs. U Conn).
St. John's vs Villanova and Connecticut

 

Five Points -or- Keys of the Game

No Fancy Euphemisms, Just REBOUND. This St. John's team, as we all know, is not peppered with shooters. The best offensive plays are probably 1. get the offensive rebound and 2. put rebounded ball in basket. This needs to be done better by St. John's than by Cincinnati. Sean Evans and Justin have to beast up to make up for the loss of Rob Thomas, who always gives effort on the glass.

The Winter Outside. Paris Horne and the perimeter defense have to keep Deonta Vaughn, Alvin Mitchell, and Larry Davis cold outside. In truth, if the team as a whole can keep Yancy Gates and Mike Williams to jump shots, and the guards to long 2-point shots, the Red Storm will likely win.

Don't Use All Ten Seconds Passing in the Backcourt. The ballhandlers have to get the ball into the frontcourt without adventure or turnovers. Cincy may whip out a press to stop Quincy Roberts and DJ Kennedy, since it has been so effective... St. John's has to deal with ball pressure and get into their sets, and hopefully have time to try an attack at the basket and bring the ball back out if it doesn't work.

Involve Justin. Let's get the big fella 10+ good shots. You know, in rhythm or open or moving to the basket. Not just offensive rebounds. But good shots for him to use his offensive arsenal. How about that? Sound good?

No Foul Play. The front line for St. John's is pretty thin. They cannot afford foul trouble against the solid (though inexplicably non-foul-drawing) front court of the Bearcats. The Bearcats will likely try to power and fake their way into some cheap fouls, and the Johnnies' big men have to guard against that.