The St. John's Red Storm are set to start their second game of the season, facing the Lehigh Mountian Hawks on ESPN2. The game is part of the 2K Sports Classic/ Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament's regional rounds, and starts at 7 PM Eastern.
As he did with the win over William and Mary, Coach Lavin is expected to watch the game from home as he continues to recuperate from prostate cancer surgery. He is closer to a return and the Rumble is monitoring the situation. For now, the tactician Associate Head Coach Mike Dunlap, serves as head coach.
St. John's is preparing for a low-major team with a high-major talent in CJ McCollum. McCollum, all of 6'3" and 165 pounds, was the Mountain Hawks' leading scorer and rebounder; he takes a lot of shots (35.% of the team's shots, top-10 in the nation) and can hit a lot of shots, scoring 21.8 points per game through slashing drives, catch-and-shoot perimeter opportunities, and drawing a lot of fouls.
The Mountain Hawks are slim, but they run; last year, their pace was one of the 20 fastest in the country. All that running means they get to put up a lot of shots. But will they run against the Red Storm? The Johnnies may be young and lacking in depth, but they are much more athletic than the Lehigh team.
And the way to attack the Red Storm, so far, has been to exploit the moving, trapping zone and take outside shots.
We'll see if Lehigh tries a different way, and how well that will work for Coach Brett Reed's Mountain Hawks.
St. John's hopes to build off of the success of the second half of the William and Mary game, where their press generated offense and flustered the Tribe. But with only 7 scholarship players, the Red Storm may choose to lay in the weeds in the first half, unleashing the Storm (so to speak) on Lehigh after some halftime adjustments. Still, it's imperative that St. John's takes better shots in the game than they did in the first half against William and Mary.
Look for Sir`Dominic Pointer to once again be a pest on defense - likely assigned to McCollum for stretches - and look for the Red Storm to find inventive ways to get shots at the basket.
This is the gamethread - we'll add comments as the game goes along, updates on the score, and in-game observations.