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St. John’s non-conference schedule: dates, matchup strength

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From the Bahamas to Minneapolis, Chris Mullin’s second season features some interesting matchups.

Federico Mussini hears some coaching words from Chris Mullin.
Wendell Cruz

St. John's released the non-conference schedule for this season, and the focus seems to be on development for Chris Mullin’s Red Storm.

The schedule as it stands includes a number of road games - but against teams that struggled last year (though one of those teams found a way to the Final Four). It's not a schedule that will compel the casual fan to swing by games, yet. But it is a schedule that will earn some wins, get a young team to gel, and give the staff a chance to work out the kinks in the offense and defense.

Mullin’s team went 8-24 last year, struggling through a transitional year as they returned around 8% of the previous season’s on-court minutes. Can the team make a great leap, returning 50% of last year’s minutes, with a year of freshman development, and a four-person incoming class with high expectations?

MEA CULPAS: Proving that sources can sometimes be wrong: we had heard from Longwood sources that the Johnnies would host the squad from Virginia, but that didn't make the schedule. All of my jokes are for naught. And Nicholls State was rumored to be on the schedule, but also didn't make the cut, apparently.

We apologize, though we went with the information we had at the time from good sources.

Number of games: 13

Number of Friday games: 3

Number of Monday games: 2 (plus preseason game)

Number of sub-200 KenPom opponents: 7/13

Opponents with winning records: 6/13

We've compiled the Kenpom.com rankings of the St. John's schedule in an earlier post, but here they are again, with dates:

Baruch College (EXHIBITION)

Mon, October 31

Division II Baruch College has a fine gym that has hosted many Pro City games. They went 17-14 last season and played an exhibition against Seton Hall last year - that they only lost by five points. And their head coach is John Alesi, the son of former Xaverian coach Jack Alesi - who once cut Chris Mullin in sixth grade. (They're friends, don't worry.)

Bethune-Cookman (300) 14-18

Friday, Nov 11 || Carnesecca Arena

The Johnnies start regular season play the week of Election Day, a respite from Presidential Election Fatigue. The Wildcats went a respectable 10-6 in the MEAC conference, but 14-18 overall. They were pummeled by more than 20 points by Akron, Richmond, Toledo and Grand Canyon - all teams that finished between 91-129 in the rankings. They did take 12-18 Central Florida to overtime with their very experienced team, so perhaps a close win will be a warning sign and a big win will be a barometer and a chance to get everyone some playing time.

Binghamton (322) 8-22

Monday, Nov. 14 || Carnesecca Arena

Binghamton was fairly poor as a squad last season, with the best win being a home victory over Colgate (242). The Bearcats blocked some shots and played decent defense, but were offensively bad. That said, the America East team was VERY young, and their coach Tommy Dempsey was excellent at building winners on lower levels and with Rider. Note that the team is filled with three-point shooters (not accurate ones, yet).

at Minnesota (223) 8-23

Friday, Nov. 18 || Minneapolis, MN (Williams Arena)

The Red Storm last faced Richard Pitino's Minnesota squad in 2015, a thrilling game in the NIT Season Tip-Off. But last year's team experienced poor results and some late-season suspensions. one player has transferred, but two of the other players involved (including Queens's Dupree McBrayer) will be on the team. And Reggie Lynch, who was being investigated for a sexual abuse charge, will not be arrested; he is expected to be a big part of an improved front line. The Golden Gophers could be a tough test in the midwest.

(Also, if you go to the game, it's not far to Paisley Park, the home of now-deceased musician Prince, which is going to open for tours. Really, if you want Minneapolis tips, we will write about them, because it's one of my favorite cities.) FYI, the game will be on the Big Ten Network.

Harrison after foul vs Minnesota John Alber

Battle 4 Atlantis

Michigan State (5) 29-6

possibly Baylor (28) 22-12/ VCU (30) 25-11 [2nd round Battle 4 Atlantis]

possibly Old Dominion (94)/ LSU (92) [though Wichita State (8), Louisville (10) are on that side of the Battle 4 Atlantis bracket]

Wednesday-Friday, Nov 23-25 || Bahamas (Imperial Arena)

So, St. John's is playing in the tournament with some of the best competition Division I can provide. It'll be a good barometer and a chance to make the hoops-loving nation take notice if they can pull out 2 of 3 wins (or 3 of 3, but let's not be greedy). Even one win would be solid, given the bracket - facing Michigan State and then Baylor/ VCU is a tall, tall task.

Delaware State (348) 7-25

Tuesday, Nov 29 || Carnesecca Arena

I forgot this was a school, just like you did. The Hornets went 0-16 against Division I opponents until January 25th (with a win over D-III Clarks Summit University). They attempt a lot of three-pointers but miss a lot of shots and did not rebound very well.

at Tulane (219) 12-22

Friday, Dec. 2 || New Orleans, LA (Fogelman Arena)

Chris Mullin will be able to spend a few moments commiserating with Mike Dunleavy, Sr. about how much college players have to learn versus NBA players. The Green Wave rebounded well last season but lost big man Dylan Osetkowski to transfer; the Wave could struggle. But New Orleans is almost as nice as Minneapolis. (That sounds like slander, but MPLS is a really cool city.)

vs Cal State Northridge (239) 10-20

Monday, Dec. 5 || Carnesecca Arena

Reggie Theus's team comes to St. John's with a number of players who cut their teeth as freshmen; only rising junior Zacarry Douglas transferred out. It's not unreasonable to think that they could be a solid, competitive squad. They play fast and force turnovers at a high rate, so the Red Storm will have a chance to work out the kinks in their fast break offense. After all, the team nickname is the Matadors.

Fordham (167) 17-14

Thursday, Dec 8 || Carnesecca Arena

The Rams are returning Joseph Chartouny and Christian Sengfelder; Fordham laid a beat down on St. John's last season, so expect the Johnnies to try and whoop them like they tried to crawl in through the bathroom window muttering about a robbery.

by Wendell Cruz
by Wendell Cruz
Wendell Cruz

LIU (282) 16-15

Sunday, Dec 11 || Brooklyn, NY (Barclays Center)

As the undercard to the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Classic, St. John's gets to play a stone's throw from the LIU campus (you'd need a very strong arm to throw that stone, but it's not unrealistic). The Blackbirds have some big man talent in Jerome Frink and Nura Zanna (brother of former Pitt standout Talib) but lost star guard Martin Hermannsson to a professional opportunity late in the summer.

Penn State (146) 16-16

Sunday, Dec 18 || New York, NY (Madison Square Garden)

Though an even .500 on the season, the Nittany Lions managed to go 7-11 in a very competitive Big Ten. After some early hiccups, the Penn State defense came on fairly strong in February. It won't look sexy on the schedule, but this is an excellent warm-up to a conference season that will be far rougher than non-conference play. The Nittany Lions brought in some tough competitors to their squad, highlighted (highlit?) by four-star point guard Tony Carr from Philadelphia.

at Syracuse (24) 23-14

Wednesday, Dec 21 || Syracuse, NY (Carrier Dome)

Reaching the Final Four doesn't save the Orange from the stink-eye look earned from losing to St. John's at Madison Square Garden last December 13. What was Hopkins thinking, Cuse fans wondered as the team got strafed from outside of the arc in their zone. And they lost to a St. John's team that lost all but one game the rest of the season. It's like someone made a deal with the devil. Fess up, readers, who made the compact with Lucifer? And are we all on the hook? Tyler Lydon leads this Orange team, hoping to break a two-game losing streak to St. John's.

Questions

  1. What do you think the Red Storm’s non-conference record will be, considering these 13 games?
  2. What do you think about this schedule?