Through ten games, we have yet to fully get a grasp on this season’s St. John’s team. These Johnnies have showed great promise against weaker opponents like Fordham and Bethune-Cookman; even flashing potential in their Battle 4 Atlantis excursion. At the same time in games like Delaware State, this team looks bound for the Big East’s cellar.
Which team will show up on Sunday?
Fans will have to wait and see for themselves. One thing is certain, St. John’s upcoming schedule only gets more difficult, with two major-conference foes (Penn State and Syracuse) before Big East play. Confidence-boosting victories are critical before the upcoming daunting tasks. St. John’s has a chance to grab one of those victories on Sunday afternoon against Long Island University in the Brooklyn Hoops festival at Barclays Arena.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (5-5) vs LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (6-3)
What: Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival
When: Sunday, December 11th, 12:00 PM ET
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
TV: Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports Go
Audio: St. John’s TV All-Access will provide free audio for the contest. That station can be found by clicking here. Also live game audio can be found on 970 WNYM.
Tickets: Fans can secure seats for this event by clicking here. Alongside St. John’s and LIU Brooklyn, Kentucky will play Hofstra in the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival.
Twitter: Follow @rumbleSBN and @StJohnsBBall for updates.
Last Meeting: Back in 2014, St. John’s topped at home LIU Brooklyn by a 66-53 score.
Scouting LIU Brooklyn
Despite their formidable start, LIU Brooklyn is not a very good basketball team. KenPom rated this team 295th out of 351, as opposed to St. John’s, which is ranked 104th. The Blackbirds have played a schedule against some of Division I’s weakest teams, which has meant six wins for a squad that lost a star late in the offseason and added a major contributor in mid-August.
Martin Hermansson, an Icelandic guard and all-Northeast Conference player, decided to go pro and sign in France in March, leaving two years of eligibility. That left coach Jack Perri with star forward Jerome Frink and some decent returnees, but missing a star guard who could play most of the game and hang with most Division I players.
But LIU located a guard from Seattle named Jashaun Agosto who has slotted into the starting lineup, playing over 30 minutes per game.
The Blackbirds this season have struggled to consistently defend, especially from deep. In addition, their opponents have been awarded many free-throw opportunities, offensive rebounds, and steals.
On a more positive note, LIU Brooklyn has had success grabbing their own offensive rebounds, drilling shots from long-distance, and converting at the charity-stripe.
Unlike in previous years, the Blackbirds have played a slower style - and have been creating their shots individually. St. John’s, which should have a higher level of athleticism, should be able to force the Blackbirds into misses.
Jerome Frink and Nura Zanna (brother of Talib Zanna, who played at Pittsburgh) are very good big men with rebounding prowess. Agosto, fellow freshman Julian Batts, and veteran guard Iverson Fleming bring some scoring and shooting punch from the perimeter.
Keys to contest
Continued big development. St. John’s big man Kassoum Yakwe and Tariq Owens started the game against Fordham with a lot of energy, showing that the team can be more than just guard play. Of course, since that game, Yankuba Sima has transferred from the program. Can the remaining big men bring that energy against an LIU team that likes to battle down low?
Guard leaders. Shamorie Ponds has been a revelation in the early going, Federico Mussini has had a pair of very strong games in a row and Marcus LoVett may play tomorrow. The trio needs to continue to bring their game, burying opponents with deep three-pointers and low-mistake play - while keeping the ball moving for their teammates.
Awareness on defense. St. John’s has to continue to bring good effort on defense, bothering ballhandlers and not losing opposing players on back door cuts.
St. John’s seems to be on a roll, though the Blackbirds will be tough. The Red Storm will be far too much for the Blackbirds to handle - and will be motivated by not allowing themselves another Delaware State game.
Final Prediction: St. John’s handles the Blackbirds just blocks from their campus, 82-64.