St. John's is headed back on the road to attempt to snap their Big East skid. The present state of the basketball program is rough but Coach Mullin insists that the current 10 game losing streak is not draining the teams effort.
"I've watched them each and every day come back," Mullin said. "They understand that they're close. They're working hard. They do the right things to succeed, but the process is the process and you have to honor that."
The next opportunity to end the losing streak is on Wednesday night against the Seton Hall Pirates. Recently the Pirates have lost 4 of their last 5 games against the upper echelon of the Big East Conference. They will certainly be looking to pounce on weaker Big East competition to try and secure wins wherever they can get them.
Who: St. John's Red Storm (7-13) vs Seton Hall Pirates (13-6)
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
When: Wednesday, January 27th, 7:00 PM
TV: Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports Go
Twitter: Follow @rumbleSBN and @StJohnsBBall for updates
Last Meeting: St. John's beat Seton Hall 85-72 last season in Queens.
Fun Fact: Seton Hall is the oldest diocesan university in the United States.
Scouting Seton Hall
Seton Hall is an improving program even after the departure of talent such as Sterling Gibbs and Jaren Sina. Last season it seemed the Pirates were turning the corner as a basketball team. They started last season 12-2 and leaped all the way to No. 19 in the AP rankings.
Shortly after locker room chemistry became a predominant issue - centered around the young players' relationship with Gibbs and Sina, the veterans - and the Pirates stumbled finishing a disappointing 16-15.
The Pirates exchanged their hostile backcourt for a new talented group.
While changing the culture and the characters of their gifted backcourt, they returned their building piece sophomore Isaiah Whitehead. He possess great aptitude for the game of basketball as a 6-foot-4 guard. Whitehead is Seton Hall's leading scorer averaging about 16 points per game. Sometimes a team has an issue where their leading scorer does not have the ability to create opportunities for teammates. Whitehead is far from being a selfish player. Isaiah Whitehead leads the team in assists by a large margin, the next closest player has 40 fewer assists than him.
So who is Whitehead creating opportunities for?
Another key scorer on this Seton Hall team is sophomore guard Khadeen Carrington. Similar to Whitehead, Carrington is a tremendous guard in the Pirates loaded backcourt. Currently on the season he is averaging about 15 points and 2 assists per contest. The Whitehead/Carrington duo has the ability to give the St. John's defense havoc all night long.
On the defensive end St. John's must watch out for athletic forward Desi Rodriguez and shot-blocker Ismael Sanogo. Desi Rodriguez is one to be concerned about because of his knack for stealing the ball and causing turnovers. Currently, Rodriguez averages about 2 steals per game. On the other hand, Ismael Sanogo is a great shot-blocker. This season he is the leading shot-blocker for the Pirates sitting at 22 total blocked shots this season. In general St. John's does not have to worry about getting there shots blocked, but if anyone was going to block the Johnnies shots it would be Sanogo.
Another impact player is sophomore forward Angel Delgado. Often Delgado plays big on this Seton Hall team. This is best shown in his rebound numbers. Currently, Delgado averages about 10 rebounds per game. Seton Hall as a team averages about 3 more rebounds per game than their opponent.
Overall, watch out for this young and dangerous Seton Hall team. The Pirates start 5 sophomores and despite their youth, have shown stretches of brilliance. Some of the best examples include a road win versus Providence and a victory against Wichita State. Also, Seton Hall played AP top 10 teams Xavier and Villanova very close. Watch out for this bunch for the rest of the season and in the future.
Keys to Game
Diverse Offense: Sunday against Marquette, St. John's struggled getting key scoring contributors on this team baskets. Federico Mussini and Durand Johnson contributed for over half of the scoring on Sunday. St. John's is most dangerous when they have a slew of scorers. For example, against Syracuse, St. John's had 5 of 8 players score 10 or more points. When St. John's has multiple players scoring the ball they become a much more dangerous team. This means they have to have the ability to shoot from the outside, attack the lane, and have a decent post game which we have seen flashes of this season.
Send the press: Against Marquette the Johnnies sent the press about midway through the second-half. This full-court pressure immediately lead to a huge St. John's run that almost brought them all the way out of their hole. Isaiah Whitehead seems to have turnover issues which St. John's must look to expose. Whitehead averages 3 turnovers per game and applying pressure can only help the Johnnies create problems and score easy baskets.
Maintain Energy: One consistent issue this season has been maintaining energy for a whole game. In games like Niagara and Incarnate Word the energy levels have been low and it shows in the result. If St. John's can keep the energy up, send pressure, and diversify their scoring, St. John's could very well beat Seton Hall.
Seton Hall is a tough basketball team that recently knocked off a great Providence team, and kept Villanova and Xavier close. If St. John's can start making shots and shows effort for 40 full minutes, they can knocked off the Pirates. It seems as if the Pirates will be focused on ending their losing ways and ultimately top St. John's.
Final Prediction: 80-65 Seton Hall