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St. John's basketball: Mase in the Place

St. John's has struggled in their first two Big East games, losing to the Georgetown Hoyas and Providence Friars.

In taking a look at matchups before the Georgetown game, one might have listed the Providence game as a win. Losing that game takes a real shine off of the Red Storm's early season, with matchups at Louisville and against Cincinnati (and a motivated Lance Stephenson in the place where his legend was burnished) coming in the next week.

Seth Davis has listed the Red Storm as a "sell", and's Brendon Desrochers thinks St. John's is lacking the talent to make Coach Norm Roberts a winner in the Big East in his 6th year.

Seeing the team compound iffy defense against Georgetown (1.1 points per possession given up to the Hoyas) and egregious turnovers (31.1% of possessions for St. John's ended in a turnover against the Friars) with bad scoring (.98 points per possession scored against Georgetown, .8 points per possession scored against the defense-deficient Friars) is not comforting.

Will another weapon help?

According to ESPN 1050's Brandon Tierney, Anthony Mason Jr. is set to make his debut on the court in the red and white at Louisville. He likely won't play a lot of minutes. But his influence will be more than that of a scorer. I don't expect him to be the constant shooter and ball-movement killer many expect him to be. He will be rusty, and look to make plays; but in his time on the court last year, he continued to pass (17.2 assist percentage in his 3 games) and shot less (on 24.4% of possessions). DJ Kennedy and Dwight Hardy need another scorer to distract the defense.

Personally, I feel that his length will help the defense more - length for turnovers and blocked shots. But the offensive problems are more than a personnel issue. Another perimeter player will have to share time with Hardy and Kennedy and Paris Horne; and that might mean even fewer shots for the interior players, who could balance the offense out. And his ballhandling isn't enough to replace Malik Boothe, whose confidence and/ or occasional driving ability to the hoop seem to have disappeared this year.

But it never hurts to have another threat on the perimeter. And most of all, it will be great to see Mase get to finish his college basketball career on the court, one of the stars of the team in the lean decade of the Aughts. And right now, Louisville is weak, and Cincinnati is impressive, but can be defeated.