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Examining Shamorie Ponds in the absence of Marcus LoVett

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Shamorie Ponds has been excellent without his fellow freshman backcourt mate, but the absence shows

NCAA Basketball: Fordham at St. John
Come back soon, Marcus - coach, probably
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus LoVett has now missed the last three games due to an ankle injury and the void he’s left behind has forced Ponds to elevate his play. With LoVett sidelined, the Red Storm have managed to go 2-1 and should probably be undefeated over the stretch.

Unlike last year, coach Mullin has more than one option for running the point and Shamorie Ponds has taken on the burden. Ponds has 23 points per game over the stretch, on 53% shooting from the floor and 54% shooting from deep - a step up from his 15.3 points per game on 46% shooting and 41% shooting from deep before LoVett’s injury.

St. John’s is also averaging 11.3 three point makes per game without LoVett, an improvement from the 10 made threes when LoVett was on the floor. And Ponds has elevated his playmaking and has dished out 5.3 assists per game with LoVett sidelined, nearly twice his output before the injury.

However, the style has changed. LoVett’s value isn’t just about scoring points, but also distributing them - and protecting the ball. As a team, the Johnnies have seen their assist numbers improve dip by two in his absence but their turnover average increase by four, while shooting more outside the arc.

St. John’s, without Marcus LoVett

St. John's 3pRate 3P% Ast/ TO Rate
St. John's 3pRate 3P% Ast/ TO Rate
With LoVett 0.412 0.395 1.133
Without LoVett 0.446 0.459 0.980
Increases in 3-point shooting, but a downturn in assists/ turnover ratio in 3 games Norman Rose

In particular, Federico Mussini has had two games with four turnovers each and one with two, which was his previous high this season. More time on the floor for Malik Ellison has also meant that his turnover numbers have ticked up.

Marcus LoVett’s value goes beyond the statistics. He’s the conductor of the train and often carries the offense for stretches. This allows Ponds and Mussini to stay fresh and be lethal when necessary. LoVett’s presence allows Ellison to play fewer minutes as he grows into a glue role - he’s had some solid moments as a playmaker, but needs to improve his turnover numbers and continue to work on his defense.

In their loss to LIU Brooklyn, Ponds got off to a hot start, coming off a 25-point game and 26-point game. However, after scoring 8 of St. John’s first 17 points, he cooled off and possibly showed signs of fatigue. It was only the second game all season in which he shot under 40% from the floor.

LoVett is also the best defender of the three guards. When he’s on the ball, Ponds can do what he does best and read the passing lanes or gamble in the backcourt. Ponds is the second best rebounder, assister, and scorer on the team, all while leading in steals, free throw percentage, three pointers made and shooting percentage (minimum of 20 shots).

With LoVett out, Ponds has somehow been able to do even more.

But how long can he sustain this high level of play with defenses aiming to stop him?

St. John’s needs the supporting cast to step up more - but the Red Storm need Marcus Lovett back on the court.