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St. John’s vs Fordham - how to watch, keys to the contest

St. John’s looks to be a vengeful Storm tonight

Wendell Cruz

With two wins under the team’s collective belt, the St. John’s Red Storm get back into action at home against Bronx rival Fordham. Last year, the Fordham Rams took their shot at the Red Storm, not only beating the Johnnies but leaving their starters in to press the new-look Johnnies.

Chris Mullin didn’t much like it.

So for a developing team, tonight is a chance to learn to get addicted to the sweet taste of revenge, the feel of crushing motivated opponents, a solid learning experience for moving forward into Big East play in a month.

Fans are also being asked to wear red; there is a pregame rally. With free food. Consider yourself informed.

Marcus LoVett is still day to day. On Twitter, he seemed to indicate that he will play tonight, but that may just be the hopeful typing of a young man itching to be back on the floor.

Mullin speaks to the injured Marcus LoVett
Wendell Cruz

Game Details

Who: St. John’s Red Storm (4-5) versus Fordham Rams (5-4)

Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY

When: Thursday, December 8, 2016, 6:30 PM

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.

Twitter: Follow @rumbleSBN and @StJohnsBBall for updates.

Scouting the Rams

The 5-4 Rams have lost three straight - two at home and one on the road at Harvard on Saturday. Along the way, the Rams have been defined by an extremely strong ability to force turnovers and a willingness to take three-point shots.

Jeff Neubauer’s squad will try to apply lots of pressure. But when the pressure fails, teams score nearly 60% inside the arc on the Rams, who tend to play small lineups. Teams that share the ball - assisting on 60% of made baskets - fare very well against Fordham.

And on offense, the Rams take the 13th most three-pointers as a percentage of their total shooting output. That, of course, leads to explosive runs and sluggish stretches, especially since the team shoots 31% from beyond the arc, including a 13/38 performance against non-Division I NY Institute of Technology. The Rams play a slow offensive style, working the ball around for long periods in each shot clock, looking for an outside shot.

Joseph Chartouny is the leader in forcing steals at 3.6 per game - but he missed the game against Harvard with an injury suffered in practice. Like Marcus LoVett, he might still play tonight. Javontae Hawkins is the squad’s leading scorer at nearly 15 points per game, and the best Fordham big man is Christian Sengfelder, an outside-shooting wing.

Keys to the Contest

Dynamic guard scoring. The Rams are more susceptible to interior play. St. John’s should try to work on shots for Kassoum Yakwe and the centers, but the Johnnies can’t let Fordham take them out of their game - which has been the dynamic scoring of Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett, with Federico Mussini chipping in during many games. The guards have to maintain confidence, break pressure, and punish gambling plays from Fordham.

Defend the perimeter. Without three-point shooting, the Fordham Rams struggle to put up points. Tonight, the Rams will be looking for a breakout performance; St. John’s has to continue to defend the perimeter.

Create transition opportunities. Though the Rams may not take quick shots, the Red Storm need to force the Rams to defend in transition. Forcing misses from the Rams and aggressively pushing the ball will be key for St. John’s.

Prediction

St. John’s wins, 70-62. That prediction is made without LoVett. If LoVett plays, I’d say 74-64.