St. John's faces off against Ed Cooley's Providence Friars tonight, who slow the ball down and defend with gusto. The game is on Fox Sports 1 at 6:30 pm.
Read our game preview.
Plus we have this Q and A with Mike Hopkins of PCBB1917, among other places.
Q: Is this Providence team meeting expectations, exceeding expectations or falling short of expectations with a 13-8 record?
I'd say their record is about what I expected. They exceeded expectations in the non-conference with their 10-2 start until they lost at Boston College. That loss started a swing in the other direction where they dropped 3-straight games, including blowout losses at Xavier and Butler. Since then they've played pretty well and won/lost the games they were supposed to win/lose. If they keep winning their home games, at least the ones they are supposed to win, and maybe steal a game or two, here or there, either at home as underdogs or on the road then this could be an interesting and bubbly season come March.
Q: What have been the weaknesses and strengths of this team?
Weaknesses have been lack of consistently good halfcourt offense and lack of scoring punch from the shooting guard position. Providence has been prone to long scoring droughts this season at times and much of that can be attributed to the lack of a scoring guard. Kyron Cartwright has certainly picked up the scoring but the Friars really need him to be a distributor first to get guys like Rodney Bullock and Emmitt Holt involved.
Strengths have been transition offense and 3-point defense. Providence is a better team when they are running with the ball in transition. When they score easy baskets on the break it seems to make their halfcourt offense operate much better. Cartwright has been a maestro at not playing too fast -- something that was a problem for him at times in his first two season in a Friar uniform -- but running when it makes sense. On the defensive end, the Friars aren't the biggest frontline but they have tall and long wing players like Jalen Lindsey who have managed to do an excellent job defending out to the 3-point line. The Friars currently rank 52nd nationally in 3P%, per Kenpom.com.
Q: How is Kyron Cartwright's game different than Kris Dunn's?
Cartwright is faster, end to end, than Dunn. He's also more of a pure distributor. Dunn is the better athlete and is more dynamic as a scorer. Cartwright has proven he can run the hell out of a team, like Dunn. Cartwright's biggest statistical advantage over Dunn is his lack of turnovers. Dunn's career average for assist-to-turnover ratio was 1.8 and Cartwright's is currently 2.6. Cartwright is a blur up and down the court, throws excellent lookahead passes and has been one of the team leaders this season. He doesn't possess Dunn's defensive prowess or size but he's having a very good junior season for Cooley.
Q: Who is the best defender?
Jalen Lindsey. Not close. Lindsey is routinely the player that marks the opposition's top scoring threat and he's been successful at slowing or shutting that player down, more often than not. Freshman Alpha Diallo is seeing his playing time expand and he's been helping Lindsey out on the defensive end but Lindsey is the best defender.