Listen/ See: Raekwon, Incarcerated Scarfaces (video link, opens in new window. Naughty language inside)
Tip Off: 7:00 PM, Eastern
Vs: Wagner College
Location: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
TV: Storm Tracker All-Access
Opposition blog/ message board: none noted
If you follow the Red Storm like I do, you're jonesing for this month - all home-area games until Big East play. No midnight starts. No figuring out what Alaska time converts to in Eastern. We're New Yorkers, we only have a loose idea of how far away Alaska is in the first place (FAR).
And for the team, it has to be nice to be back in the city, from the land of roving moose and 20-hour dark, back home in their beds, back in front of their fans and friends, and back in class. And the game doesn't start after a red-eye from California. Hopefully the combination of rest and newfound confidence will mean bad news for tonight's opponent, Staten Island's Wagner Seahwaks.
WWagner Seahawks" align="left" height="100" width="150" />agner - the little liberal arts/ theater school on Staten Island - competes in the Northeast Conference, and haven't had much success with the whole basketball thing. And so they hired high school coach and Jersey legend Dan Hurley to coach them (and his more heralded brother Bobby came along as an assistant). The joke, of course, was that his St. Benedict's high school could probably beat the Wagner Seahawks soundly.
It's a big, bold move - hiring a local coaching star to make the leap from the high school ranks to Division I. But in truth, with his high school team playing a national schedule with and against ballers who have real hopes of being paid by the NBA or Euroleague for basketball, is it such a leap? So far, not so much. Wagner is one of those teams that plays road games in November and December, being hosted by teams looking for a competitive but fairly sure win. And Wagner has been a bad guest, going 2-2 on the road. What the Hurleys have done with talent that went 5-27 - and a trio of new players - is impressive.
St. John's should expect to take care of business. The Seahwaks have played lower-level opponents. And while defensively tough, the talent gap between St. John's and the Seahawks should be evident - if St. John's does the things they need to do to win. The Seahawks are road warriors; St. John's needs to play seriously and not let the game slip out of their hands.
Perimeter Shooting: So far, Wagner's offensive success comes from their ability to create points without scoring inside the arc, The Seahawks are drilling shots at 45.6% from three-point line (top 10 in percentage in the country) behind the efforts of guards Tyler Murray (47.8%), Latif Rivers (48.4%), Chris Martin (47.1%), and Danny Mundweiler (43.8%).
No Easy Shots: ...and the Seahawks have defended opponents into poor shooting nights, allowing an effective field goal percentage of 41.5%
Interior Play: Freshman forwards Naofall Folahan, Orlando Parker (from Orlando), and Ryan Schrotenboer are still developing; they don't provide much in the way of prolific scoring, efficient scoring, or rebounding on either end. Falohan and Parker actually play decently in their time on the floor, but each commits 3.5 fouls per game in 15 minutes on the floor. So they can't play 30 minutes and help the team's rebounding.
Turnovers: Dominating in shooting from outside like Wagner does should win every night. But the Seahawks haven't taken from the Marquette playbook of last year - they turn the ball over on 22% of their possessions, which cuts into their offensive efficiency.
See the review of the first month, coming later.
Keys to the Game
Close the Holes on the Outside of the Zone. Wagner can shoot, and there are still holes in St. John's zone. The Seahawks will look to nail shots from the outside if the Red Storm can't keep their shooters out of the edges of the zone.
Maintain Aggressiveness. The Seahawks will attack with passion - the upstart local team trying to make a name for itself. St. John's has to one-up their energy, forcing steals and keeping them out of their offense.
Crush Them On The Boards. They aren't small, but St. John's should still dominate their young interior players on the glass.
Drive Time. The Seahawks are young, and want to defend and to harass. St. John's needs to be aggressive on offense, driving to the hole and drawing contact. Wagner is thin. Getting to their backup forwards will mean that the game will likely be a beating.
Spread the Scoring. This is less of a key and more of a goal the team should have. The team has to get some players back on scoring track - especially Dwight Hardy, D.J. Kennedy, and Dwayne Polee II.
St. John's will win if: they can harass Wagner into a poor-shooting, turnover-filled night.