Things we know: the Bucknell Bison won't crash the boards much. They won't force turnovers. But they will get back on defense, they will encourage a deliberate pace, and they will shoot the ball.
Stat keys to the game
Stop #42 Cameron Ayers. Ayers, the 6'5" guard, scored 19 points in each of Bucknell's wins, but only 11 in their loss to Stanford, shooting 1/8 outside the arc. In the other games, he shot 9/10 outside the arc. Give him space, and he's confidently nailing shots.
Watch for a burst of pace. Against Penn State, between the 13:01 mark in the second half and the 8:47 mark, Bucknell outscored Penn State 18-5. The Nittany Lions couldn't get into the paint, and the Bison scored most of their points around 10-13 seconds after the beginning of their possession - which is to say, they took advantage of breakdowns in Penn State's defense of the secondary break. In eight made shots, there were four layups (three layups by #3 Steven Kaspar), and two three-pointers by Cameron Ayers.
Minimize mistakes. St. John's has to be careful not to give up turnovers to a team that is near the bottom of the country in forcing turnovers. Unforced mistakes power fast breaks.
In the papers
A lot of talk about Rysheed Jordan's slow start; less on the lack of scoring support for D`Angelo Harrison. Harrison, by the way, has taken 11 of the team's 21 three-point attempts.
Lavin said he has seen continued progress from Jordan — who will not be made available to the media until late December — with each practice and game, and thinks the team’s depth is an "ideal situation" for the freshman. Jordan may have the hype, but he doesn’t yet need to be a star for the team to succeed.
Still, heading into Tuesday night’s game against Bucknell (2-1) at Carnesecca Arena, D’Angelo Harrison said he wouldn’t be surprised if Jordan followed up his 0-fer with a triple-double, because as the team’s leading-scorer said, "He’s that good."
"We keep him (level)-headed. We encourage him," [Jamal Branch] said. "It’s a thing that freshmen go through. You see JaKarr went through it last year with his first games, but he got through it pretty quickly. Rysheed is just going to take time. Once he feels comfortable and confident, he’s going to be dangerous."
Big East Coast Bias // Game Preview: St. Johns vs. Bucknell - Big East Coast Bias
But other than Sir'Dominic Pointer (six points and five rebounds per game), there's been inconsistency and some all around general malaise in St. John's game. The Badgers toyed with St. John's at times. Against Wagner, the Red Storm (1-1) allowed a lesser opponent to stick around far too long. In fact, the Seahawks actually closed to within six points late in the game. Luckily for the home team, St. John's hit some free throws and shut the door.
That was Wagner, Bucknell is no Wagner. This whole "checking out" of games, like when Wisconsin got up 18 or those Seahawks clawed back in the second half, is a perfect way to drop this game.
It’s going to be real interesting to see how St. John’s coach Steve Lavin balances the minutes at center between Orlando Sanchez and Chris Obekpa. Sanchez is currently starting for the Red Storm in the pivot but Obekpa led the nation in blocked shots last season and brings a defensive presence not many teams have. In Friday night’s win over Wagner, Obekpa had eight rebounds and four blocked shots in just 16 minutes of action.
More from Rumble In The Garden:
- Dancing on the pitch: men's, women's teams looking for NCAA Tournament success
- St. John's vs Bucknell game preview: Johnnies face possible "Sweet Sixteen" team
- St. John's vs Bucknell pregame: five questions on the Bison with CBT's Kevin Doyle
- Episode 8: a busy upcoming week for St. John's and Rutgers
- St. John's fights off run to defeat Wagner, 73-57, for first win of the season