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Game #34: CBI Tournament, St. John's at Richmond Spiders

The CBI provides a meaningful opportunity for teams that are deserving of a postseason experience. - The Gazelle Group, on the CBI website

logo image courtesy of Gazelle Group

College Basketball Invitational CBI logoThere you go.

Here are some "meaningful games" in March for you, fans. Which cost meaningful money for participation. From a fellow who is Not the Sleeveless Guy on message boards, I got some good information and links about the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), the tournament where St. John's and the Richmond Spiders will vie to get to the second round tonight - below the fold.

"But I'm very surprised by everybody's fixation on the monetary aspect. With any NCAA event, you have to submit a bid to host and it has similar financial commitments. It's not unique for a school hosting a tournament to have financial risks."

Despite all that... there are local detractors. And with some reason - this is not the glory the St. John's fans are hoping for. But it is a chance for more practice time, and more game time, for a team and coaching staff that needs to work out a lot of kinks. The schedule for opening round games, from the CBI site:

East Regional
March 18th- 7:00 PM ET
St. John's (16-17) vs. Richmond (18-15)
March 18th- 8:00 PM ET
Coll. of Charleston (26-8) vs. Troy (19-12)
West Regional
March 18th- 8:00 PM ET
Vermont (23-8) vs. Green Bay (22-10)
March 18th- 10:00 PM ET
Houston (21-11) vs. Oregon St. (13-17)

Midwest Regional
March 18th- 8:00 PM ET
Buffalo (21-11) vs. Wichita St. (16-16)
March 18th- 10:00 PM ET
Boise St. (19-12) vs. Stanford (18-13)

South Regional
March 17th- 9:00 PM ET
Northeastern (18-12) vs. Wyoming (19-13)
March 17th- 11:00 PM ET
UTEP (19-12) vs. Nevada (21-12)

And the full bracket is here as well.

Richmond Spiders logoSince the Red Storm are still playing a road game tonight against the Richmond Spiders, there is a Calm Before the Storm pregame post on Johnny Jungle, talking about the slow-paced, Princeton-offense playing, everybody-shoots-the-three pointer, very tall (and gangly) Richmond squad.

Tomas Jasiulionis gets to go back to Richmond, where he played high school ball for 2 seasons.

The Johnnies are currently a 5 point underdog,which means Vegas sees the talent as even, but gives 5 points for the home team. St. John's also has a very poor road record under Norm Roberts... hopefully the guys will get geeked for the game and make winning happen.

And the 5 Keys to the Game? Well, take a look below.

5 POINTS: Keys to the Game

St John'sCome to Play: Last year, the Cincinnati Bearcats were the squad that gave some Big East credence to the College Basketball Invitational. So those Bearkitties lost to the 18-15 Bradley Braves. The Bearcats didn’t put the good fight in until near the end of the game. St. John’s has to come out with the effort that sometimes eluded the during conference season. I think they will, though this out of conference opponent is neither from the ACC nor from the dregs of Division I. They will have to bring their game. And the coaches will have to prepare well for this version of the Princeton offense, run a bit better than this year’s Georgetown team ran the offense.

St John'sUgly It Up: St. John’s is most effective when creative filthy, physical on-court wrestling matches, fighting for floor burns, and banging people on offense and defense. The Johnnies have mostly been successful when they play ugly aesthetic basketball (unless they're playing a team in the lower depths of Division I). One might say the Red Storm are less effective at banging the point guards this year than in years’ past with Eugene Lawrence and Cedric Jackson; this is a good time to give the "full body massage" to Richmond’s starting guards, getting them out of their rhythm.

St John'sOwn the Virginia Glass: The Richmond Spiders, despite one of the tallest average heights in NCAA Division I, don’t rebound. St. John’s does rebound on both ends, and despite a lack of height, have a lot of muscle. I think this is a match made in offensive rebounding heaven for guys like Rob Thomas and Sean Evans. Better, of course, if St. John’s also sticks some of those shots in the basket, as well.

St John'sGet it Rolling: The St. John’s offense was terrible against Marquette close to the rim and from the perimeter. This game is a chance for Justin Burrell to show how good he can be without the mask; and for Paris Horne, with a few days rest, to hit some shots, even if the opponent knows what is coming. The team - and coaching staff - must feel that they are better than what they have shown, and here's a chance to prove it against an evenly matched opponent.

St John'sCut and Slash: The Johnnies have to get to the basket against this team. Their defense is decent, but as I remember them, the Spiders aren’t extremely athletic outside of the guards. Getting a good number of free throws up (and getting them to fall) is paramount for this Red Storm team, which is not great at scoring in the halfcourt.

But the athleticism can carry them to a win on the road.