"As a team we have to grow. That's just what it comes down to. We have to grow as a complete unit. We have to get on the same page and always stay on the same page."
This statement was remarked by newcomer Tariq Owens following a disheartening defeat against Penn State.
St. John’s is likely headed for the Big East’s cellar once again, and for now, that is understandable. The Johnnies just need more time, more practice. As Owens said, they need to grow as a unit.
St. John’s will have an opportunity to grow Wednesday night against former Big East rival Syracuse. This will be the 91st meeting between the Red Storm and Orange.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (5-7) vs Syracuse Orange (7-4)
Big East conference game
Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY
When: Wednesday, December 21st, 7:00 PM ET
TV: YES Network will carry the game for those in the New York area. Clicking here directs you to YES Network’s channel finder. For all those outside of New York, St. John’s and Syracuse will be played on your regional sports network. All of those regional channels are listed below.
- FOX Sports South/FOX Sports Carolinas
- FOX Sports Sun
- FOX Sports Midwest Plus/FOX Sports Indiana Plus
- Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus
- NESN Plus
- ROOT Sports Pittsburgh
- SportsTime Ohio
- FOX Sports San Diego
- FOX Sports Prime Ticket
- ROOT Sports Rocky Mtn.
- ROOT Sports Northwest
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 AM WNYM.
Tickets: Reminder, Syracuse listed tickets to this contest against St. John’s in the fourth tier. That tier is set aside for the cupcake games, and often are the cheapest games for sale.
Fun Fact: Syracuse has dropped their last two contests against St. John’s. Back in 2014, Steve Lavin’s Johnnies left the Carrier Dome victorious. Just last season, Syracuse visited Madison Square Garden just to lose by an 84-72 score.
Federico Mussini was in hospital Monday night with an infection and he won't be with the team for game at Syracuse, per sources. #sjubb— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) December 21, 2016
Doesn't look like St. John's forward Amar Alibegovic (knee) will play against Syracuse, I'm told. #sjubb— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) December 20, 2016
Quick Tyler Lydon update: He'll be a game-time decision | https://t.co/AyhBRstzYE— Syracuse Basketball (@syrbasketball) December 20, 2016
Supporters in Syracuse expected great things from this Orange squad. Our friends at Nunes Magician predicted nothing less than an Elite Eight before the season started.
Entering Wednesday, Syracuse is 7-4, having lost a pair of winnable rivalry games against Georgetown and UConn. They also squandered any chance of winning an important non-conference game, dropping decisive contests against both Wisconsin and South Carolina.
Despite holding a weaker record than expected at this time, the Orange have not played all that bad.
Defensively, the 2-3 zone continues to stifle many Orange opponents. Boeheim’s bunch does an exceptional job forcing opponents to take uncomfortable shots, both inside and out. This season Syracuse has blocked an average of almost six shots per game. They also do a great job at creating chances off others mistakes. As a team they force about 15 turnovers per contest.
On the offensive end, Syracuse loves to shoot from deep. As a collective unit they make approximately 10 three-pointers per game, converting on 42% of their attempts. Overall, Syracuse hits about 47% of their field goals per game.
Andrew White III is someone the Orange rely heavily on to score. White is senior guard who has previously played at Kansas and Nebraska. This season he has averaged 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals per game, while shooting 40% from three-point territory. He is lethal when he can catch and shoot, and truly an issue for anyone that is tasked with defending him.
Another player to watch for is sophomore forward Tyler Lydon. Although he will be a game-time decision on Wednesday night, if he suits up for the Orange, he could give St. John’s trouble all night long. He is incredibly versatile and beats defenders in an array of ways. So far this season he is averaging 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. He is another sharpshooter from deep, as he is shooting 43% from behind the arc.
Down low, a duo consisting of Taurean Thompson and DaJuan Coleman can be an issue for St. John’s defenders. Both players are physical and are not easily pushed around. They have averaged a combined 15 points, 9 rebounds, and almost 2 blocks per game.
Syracuse is arguably the toughest opponent St. John’s has played up to this point. That is a tad concerning considering how the Johnnies have played against much weaker competition.
Keys to the contest
Defend: Throughout the contest against Penn State, opposing playmakers were able to get good looks around the rim. St. John’s was forced to go to a full-court press once the lead ballooned, which only lead to more easy buckets for the Nittany Lions.
St. John’s must limit Syracuse’s effectiveness on offense, and force them to take tough shots.
Hit some shots: The Johnnies are severely overmatched here, but that hasn’t stopped teams in the past from beating Syracuse. The Orange dare opponents to beat them from three, something that only happens every so often.
St. John’s has a collection of three-point shooters, and is moderately successful at hitting the deep ball. If the Johnnies can catch fire with their shot, they might be able to give Orange fans a scare.
Bench Scorer: Last season the unsung hero against the Orange was Amar Alibegovic. Seemingly out of nowhere he put on a show at Madison Square Garden. For St. John’s to have a shot at winning, one of their role players must play very well. I’d watch for Richard Freudenberg to breakout and potentially be that unsung hero.
St. John’s is the lesser team in this contest. This trip to Syracuse will be give the Johnnies valuable experience. It is hard to see at the moment, that St. John’s will secure anything greater than a morale victory. Let us not forget, very few people expected St. John’s to win last year against the Orange, and we all know how that turned out. Beating Syracuse on the road is not impossible, but for now let’s consider it highly improbable.
Final Prediction: 85-70 Syracuse