Home cooking against an opponent that should be beatable will feel good for a St. John’s team that has lost four straight games between the Gavitt Games matchup and the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Red Storm need to take the lessons from the Bahamas tournament and refine their attack, gain some confidence, and put a W on the board after returning with a 2-4 record.
But for the developing team, it’s still early; the freshmen will learn, the sophomores will adjust and the team’s ceiling is still there.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (2-4) vs Delaware State Hornets (1-5)
Where: Carnesecca Arena
When: Tuesday, November 29, 6:30 PM
How to follow: On TV: FS2 (Announcers will be Rich Ackerman and Ron Thompson) and online on FoxSports Go. On radio, 970 AM WNYM (Announcers are John Minko and Brandon Tierney).
Twitter: Follow @rumbleSBN and @StJohnsBBall for updates.
Scouting Delaware State
The Delaware State Hornets play in the MEAC like season-opening opponent Bethune-Cookman. The Hornets have also gotten blown out by Rice, Maryland-Baltimore County and Montana State in their 1-5 season, despite returning a number of starters from last year. (The one win was against non-Division I Clark’s Summit.)
Their interior defense is poor, despite some size on the inside in sophomore starters Demola Onifade and DeVaughn Mallory. The defense seems to play a bit of zone, which can be an equalizer. In a related note, the Hornets lost to Louisiana-Lafayette on the road by one point and competed with Texas Southern - and both of those teams lean on inside scoring. The teams that blew Delaware State out shot from the perimeter to do so.
No team can be taken lightly with the Red Storm’s record. And a Red Storm team that looks to establish its big men against Delaware State could find slow going - or the kind of game that builds confidence.
On offense, St. John’s will need to watch for a trio of shooters. 6’5” Kavon Waller is hitting 59% of his three-point shots; Dana Raysor is nailing 47% of his; and point guard Devin Morgan is shooting 34%. The Hornets may try to run given the opportunity, but their pace has been slow and deliberate this season. Some pressure may give the Johnnies a chance to speed up their game to the Red Storm’s desired pace.
What to watch for
Support for LoVett and Ponds. Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds are averaging 19.8 and 15.3 points per game, respectively. They’re not a problem - but their backup is. What can Malik Ellison and Federico Mussini provide in support?
Extended work minutes. St. John’s needs to find frontcourt support. This game won’t tell the full tale, but Yankuba Sima, Tariq Owens and Kassoum Yakwe all showed flashes in the opening weeks. Can one start putting a lock on a frontcourt starting position? Can one be a dominant rebounder?
Defensive intensity. The defense as a whole needs to define its identity. Will this team force turnovers? Will the guards rotate properly and defend the three-pointer? How will this team make opponents uncomfortable?
I’d think this should be a comfortable game, given the team’s strengths and the scoring the squad can lean on. 89-57, St. John’s.