Listen/ See: Big Star, You Get What You Deserve (video, opens in a new window)
Tip Off: 12:00 PM, Eastern
Vs: Notre Dame | Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: MSG | Radio: Bloomberg 1130 | Internet: ESPN3
Opposition blog/ message board: Rakes of Mallow | ND Nation | Leprechaun Legion | Subway Domer | Blue and Gold (message board) | Irish Hoops (message board)
"For starters, we put ourselves in vulnerable situation because of foul trouble; we need to do a better job of moving the feet, not reaching, lunging or gambling defensively."
- Steve Lavin on the Red Storm Report, talking about the goals for Sunday's Notre Dame game
Five games into the Big East schedule, the Red Storm are at 3-2, with 3 close well-fought wins... and 2 15+ point losses. And on Sunday, the team on the other side looks familiar. For the second time in 8 days, the Red Storm face off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, a team that walloped the Johnnies 76-61 in South Bend. That loss took some of the air out of the hopefulness that surrounded the Red Storm program.
Since then, St. John's has had a week - and a dispiriting loss - to learn more about what they can and cannot do, and how they can attack top 15 teams. Because how they've played in the past week won't move the team closer to a top half Big East finish. D.J. Kennedy's needs to add more scoring; and others need to step their games up. Yes, these are top-15 opponents; but St. John's needs to perform better if they hope to get to the NCAA Tournament.
Did You Know?: Prospective 2011 recruit at combo guard Phil Greene will be checking out the game as part of his official visit. Sir'Dominic Pointer will also be in Madison Square Garden; he is one of Steve Lavin's signed recruits, from Quality Education Academy and originally from Detroit.
Did You Know 2?: Ben Hansbrough of the Fighting Irish got some pointers on team leadership from the Knicks' point guard Raymond Felton while playing in pickup games at North Carolina.
Storm Warnings: Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish beat the Red Storm with offensive activity and by hitting their open shots. It didn't help that St. John's couldn't get good deep position or hit the shots that they got.
Dwayne Polee II had a solid game, scoring 12 points on 8 shots and 6 rebounds (3 offensive). But Justin Burrell went scoreless. And Brownlee needed 18 shots to score 17 points. Dwight Hardy scored 8 and had trouble defending the Irish's Ben Hansbrough when they were matched up; Hansbrough also abused the Red Storm zone with drives and passes. D.J. Kennedy started off aggressively but was quiet late in the game.
On the other side, Eric Atkins played well, filling in for the missing Carleton Scott. Tyrone Nash found himself in foul trouble, but the Irish's Scott Martin and Tim Abromaitis worked the glass in his absence, along with Jack Cooley, who got minutes off of the bench. The Irish got good ball movement; the Red Storm were on their heels.
What Needs to Change?
Defend Hansbrough Better. Ben Hansbrough dominated the game on his way to Big East player of the week honors. And St. John's didn't pick him up in transition, or force him out of position on screens, or get a hand in the face of his shots. He's the engine that makes the Fighting Irish function well.
Defend Without Fouling. St. John's picked up a lot of fouls in the first game, and the team isn't deep enough to weather having the starters on the bench. Especially in the post and guarding Hansbrough, there are lots of chances for a player to pick up a pair of quick fouls in the first half.
Closer Shots. The Red Storm needs to get better deep position, whether in transition or in the halfcourt. More movement, better screening, better ball movement - all will help the team score more efficiently. Justin Brownlee has to have a more efficient performance, with smarter shots, for the team to win.
Better Ball Protection. St. John's needs to be better at protecting the ball from the Irish's long hands. Those turnovers were killers.
More Energy. The Red Storm will try to pressure a little more and extend the rotation to keep players' legs fresher, allowing them to hit shots and disrupt the Irish, which is necessary. In the pressure, St. John's has to remember not to give up second chance opportunities to the Irish, as well.
Can the Red Storm beat the Irish in the rematch? Comment below.