St. John’s inconsistent run through the Big East continued on Sunday afternoon, as the Seton Hall Pirates bodied by the Red Storm in Newark.
"Part of it is experience. Young players and inexperienced players play well sometimes, and the really good ones that go to the next level do it every day.” Remarked Chris Mullin about inconsistent play following their loss in New Jersey. “And it's not just the games. The other thing is learning how to practice and [analyzing] scouting reports. All of these things are new to these guys."
Prepared or not, the Red Storm will visit Providence for another test in the grueling Big East conference.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (9-12, 3-5 Big East) vs Providence Friars (13-8, 3-5 Big East)
What: Big East Conference game
Where: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI
When: Wednesday, January 25th, 6:30 PM ET
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 570 WMCA.
Last Meeting: Last March, Providence defeated St. John’s, 90-76 at Madison Square Garden.
Coming into this season, no one truly knew what to expect from this Providence team. Over the summer Ed Cooley lost arguably his two best players in Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil. Numerous Friars had to assume larger roles to alleviate the holes left by this departing duo. This uncertainty was one of the main reasons that Providence was picked behind St. John’s in the Big East preseason poll.
Providence has slowly proved their doubters wrong with their solid play up to this point. They have won six contests against top 100 RPI clubs, including a nice home victory against Seton Hall.
The Friars defense has been the catalyst to success all season long. KenPom ranks their defense 43rd in the nation, and fourth best in the Big East. Their stingy man defense rarely allows opponents to get open looks, in addition to creating turnovers. Friar adversaries are shooting an average of 32% from three-point territory. St. John’s currently converts on 38% of their shots from behind the arc. What is even more impressive is that Providence has forced a turnover 21% of the time they are on defense.
Offensively, the Friars have lagged behind the rest of the conference. KenPom ranks Providence’s offensive unit second-worst in the Big East, although steadily ahead of DePaul. They are a very good three-point shooting team, but periodically have trouble getting to the free-throw line. One significant weakness for the Friars has been their inability to create second chances and secure offensive rebounds. Only 26% of their possessions result in an offensive rebound, which is well below the national average. This bodes well for St. John’s, who is coming off an outing where they were slammed on the glass.
Overall, this likely is the best chance for St. John’s to grab another road win in Big East play. Providence is not very deep or experienced, much like St. John’s. The Red Storm could use a victory here to greatly aid the rebuild process. Beating up on DePaul is almost expected, but until St. John’s can win Big East road games, they cannot develop as a real threat across the country.
Friars to watch
Rodney Bullock: This junior forward has been one the best in the Big East. He is averaging just about 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists per contest. He is a dangerous asset for Providence, and keeping him in check is a must.
Kyron Cartwright: Compton native Kyron Cartwright has progressed nicely since joining the Providence program. This season he is averaging 10 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds per game. Closing out on Cartwright will be critical because he is a good shooter.
Emmitt Holt: After one ineffective season at Indiana, Emmitt Holt transferred to Providence. In his first season with the Friars he is averaging 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist per game.
Keys to the contest
Rebounding: Last time out against Seton Hall, the Johnnies were significantly out-rebounded. Pirates big man Angel Delgado secured 20 rebounds alone in that contest. Rebounding has been a reoccurring issue for St. John’s, especially when it comes to capping defensive stops with rebounds. They have allowed too many second chance points this season, and that issue needs to be stopped now.
Defend the paint: St. John’s big men have done a great job blocking shots, but avoiding foul trouble and limiting opponents points in the paint has been a real issue. Seton Hall scored 46 of their 86 points in the paint. Players like Kassoum Yakwe, Tariq Owens, and Darien Williams must effectively defend without fouling. Letting a team score over 50% of their points inside is not a model for success.
Avoid droughts: On multiple occasions this season St. John’s offensive output has gone into hiding. This generally allows teams to go on huge runs that are insurmountable. The Johnnies must avoid at all costs such a scoring drought, because they likely won’t be able to recover.
St. John’s is clearly a very inconsistent team. This is the same team that beat Syracuse by 33, and was wiped out of Washington D.C. by Georgetown. Which St. John’s team will show up Wednesday night? The safest bet would be on Providence to win at home.
Rumble Prediction: 80-70 Providence
KenPom Prediction: 76-68 Friars (77% chance of victory for Providence)