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Player preview: Marc-Antoine Bourgault, the missing stroke, and the long hunt for shooting at St. John's

Brought in to be the designated shooter, Bourgault will have a struggle to find time in the rotation.

John Alber

Marc-Antoine Bourgault's season started out with a great story.

Having waited weeks to get clearance from the NCAA, he found out after the Red Storm had flown down to Charleston for the early-season Charleston Classic Tournament. He received clearance while in class, raising his hand and telling the professor he had to get to South Carolina, and jumped on a plane to finally play Division I ball.

It had been a long road - after an injury and being ruled ineligible after weeks of classes at Montana State, doing a prep year at Notre Dame prep with the likes of Cleveland Melvin, playing junior college ball at Monroe next to Orlando Sanchez, and then waiting for the NCAA to finally decide on his playing status.

The Red Storm hoped that Marc-Antoine Bourgault would be the court-stretching shooter who would stretch defenses enough to allow the athletic scorers to get into the paint. He would solve that long-time bugaboo of St. John's teams (see table) - the inability to use that special white arc on every college basketball court to score more than two points at a time.

Year SJU 3p% National Rank
2013 27.1 343
2012 28.2 333
2011 33.5 207
2010 33.4 205
2009 29.9 319
2008 33.3 243
2007 34.2 192
2006 26.6 333
2005 31.3 285
2004 31.5 276

It didn't work exactly as planned. His season ended with an epic cold stretch on a team that badly needed scoring.

The Red Storm were very bad at shooting the ball. Bourgault still has a chance to make them better as a senior.

What Marc-Antoine Bourgault did well

2012-13 Vitals: 10 minutes/ game | 3 points/ game | 29% 3-point shooting

  • Straightforward role. Bourgault was a low-turnover wing who took 79% of his shots from beyond the arc. He was a spot-up shooter, and didn't draw many foul shots.
  • IQ. Despite not getting a lot of shots up in some games, Marc-Antoine seemed good at finding an open space to receive a pass... even if no pass came to his lonely island.
  • Starting decently. In eight starts - five in Big East play - he averaged 5.4 points on 37% shooting beyond the arc in 19 minutes per game.

What Marc-Antoine Bourgault needs to improve upon

  • Off the bench poorly. In the Big East games and postseason games he did not start, Bourgault shot 19%. One wonders if he struggled with confidence, given statements tweeted over the summer and periods where the coaching staff would remove him from the floor for a defensive lapse.
  • Late struggles. His late season struggles (3/25 - 12% - beyond the arc from the Pittsburgh game on) looked to be a young man with an itchy trigger finger, trying to shoot himself out of slump (or force his way into the coaches' plan).
  • Missed opportunity. Given minutes against Marquette (27) and Villanova (17) after D`Angelo Harrison's suspension, Bourgault took a lot of shots and missed (3/14 from beyond the arc).

The questions

  • Can Bourgault find his confidence and fend off the shooting of Max Hooper for a spot in the regular rotation?

Probably not.

Hooper has been the first shooter off the bench for the Red Storm. Over the summer and in preseason play, both have seen time together on the floor. The idea of two floor stretchers who work into open spaces, coupled with passers Jamal Branch and Rysheed Jordan, could help.

Bourgault did go 2/7 from beyond the arc in the blowout with a number of shots rimming in and out - not a way to build faith in the coaching staff or himself. But he has the skill and the ability to get open. If he can hit some shots, he could be paired with Hooper in a tandem that changes defensive schemes.

  • Can St. John's guards regularly locate him spotted up on the wing?

Having three-point shooters means little if players don't find those shooters.

The season is long and players will drift in and out of the rotation. Bourgault has to find his shot and playmaking ability to make himself effective on the floor; he has the skills, but won't see a lot of time unless he starts splashing the shots in practice.

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