The Johnnies leave Maui an exposed team, going 1-2 against two high level teams and Division II Chaminade. Still, Chris Mullin and his staff are "happy with how the team maintained their focus after getting shellacked in the first game," according to the head coach today. "[The games were a] learning experience. Overall, it was a really good trip."
St. John's lost to stellar competition in Hawaii and will look to get back on the right track. This game is the first true road game this season for the Johnnies. They will be eager to grab this win and head back home for some easier games in December and a couple of benchmark challenges against Syracuse and South Carolina.
Who: St. John's Red Storm (4-2) versus Fordham Rams (4-1)
Where: Rose Hill Gymnasium, Bronx, NY
When: Wednesday, December 2nd, 7:00 PM ET
How to Watch: Game not on TV, link live video can be found here
How to Listen: 570 WMCA
Twitter: Follow @rumbleSBN for game updates
Last Meeting: St. John's downed Fordham last season by a score of 74-53 at MSG
Fun Fact: Vince Lombardi played football at Fordham from 1933-1936
Fordham is a rebuilding team out of the Atlantic 10 conference. First year head coach Jeff Neubauer inherited a rough situation and an untalented roster in the Bronx. The depleted Rams took a massive hit this offseason with the departure of star player Eric Paschall. He was the 2014-15 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and one of the leaders on the team. Paschall averaged about 16 points and 6 rebounds per game and led the Rams with 45 three-pointers last season. This offseason Paschall transferred to Villanova where he will sit out one season before competing.
This season Fordham will look to guys like Mandell Thomas, Christian Sengfelder and Ryan Rhoomes to lead. Early on those guys have stepped up and played tremendous basketball. Mandell Thomas is Fordham's highest scorer and has recorded the most steals. In total, the Rams have had four straight games where they have had 10 steals or more.
Last time out against Manhattan, Thomas dropped 26 points and shot 50% from the field. Christian Sengfelder shot a blistering 57% from three-point territory, and Ryan Rhoomes blocked 6 shots. It is also worth noting that Rhoomes is a ferocious rebounder who just took over the 14th spot on the all-time career rebounds list at Fordham, and is a strong inside scoring presence.
Jon Severe, freshman Joseph Chartouny (who leads the team with 26 assists) and sophomore guard Antwoine Anderson also see major minutes for head coach Jeff Neubauer's Rams, who have shot 42% from beyond the arc so far this season.
Keys to the Game
Defense: The St. John's defensive unit was lacking in Maui. On many instances shooters were wide open, especially on the perimeter. Vanderbilt, Indiana, and Chaminade all shot over 50% from the field. They also shot over 40% from three-point territory. If the Johnnies are to go home triumphant they must have a cohesive defensive performance, not giving shooters time to set their feet and launch from the outside.
Containing Ryan Rhoomes: 6-foot-8 Ryan Rhoomes could create havoc for the young St. John's frontcourt. St. John's is below average at rebounding, and Rhoomes is an above average rebounder. If Yankuba Sima can minimize his rebound totals - especially on the offensive end, the Johnnies should be fine. Rhoomes is a prolific shot blocker, who averages about 3 blocks per game. Having active and energetic four-star freshman forward Kassoum Yakwe active for the match-up should help keep Rhoomes in check.
Maintaining offensive momentum: Against Chaminade the Johnnies balanced scoring attack helped secure the victory over the Silverswords. Getting many players involved in the scoring, and keeping the turnovers down will be vital to putting the Rams down. The Rams create turnovers and having multiple scoring threats will keep the ball out of Fordham's hands.
Overall, Fordham is a young team that has potential to give St. John's trouble. Fordham is a very good shooting team, stingy on defense, and they have a viable rim protector in Ryan Rhoomes. If St. John's has defensive lapses early on like they did against Vanderbilt, the Rams just might be able to pull this one out. Also if forward Ryan Rhoomes outplays the Johnnies bigs, St. John's could be in for a rough night.
But this Red Storm team is ready to take the lessons from Maui and cover three-point shooters; and the Johnnies have enough big men to slow Rhoomes down with different looks. Expect this one to be close, but Chris Mullin and crew should be able to hold off Fordham. Tell us your prediction below!
Final Prediction: 69-66 St. John's