Following a hectic offseason in college basketball, teams around the country once again are gearing up for meaningful basketball.
Last time the Johnnies played in a legitimate contest, they were wiped off their floor by Villanova in the Big East Tournament.
With a fresh new roster and a year of experience under the belts of many Red Storm contributors, many are expecting a jump from Chris Mullin’s team.
St. John’s will have their first chance to start the new season off strong on Friday night.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (0-0) vs. New Orleans Privateers (0-0)
When: Friday, November 10th, 7:00 PM ET
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
TV: This contest will be on Fox College Sports Atlantic. You can use this channel finder for assistance locating the game.
Audio: St. John’s website will provide free audio for the season opener. That stream can be found by clicking here.
Tickets: You can secure a seat for as low as $3 by clicking here.
Last Meeting: Friday’s game will be the first-ever meeting between St. John’s and New Orleans.
Scouting New Orleans
Led by sixth-year head coach Mark Slessinger, the Privateers are likely to regress this season. Last year, New Orleans won 20 contests, including the Southland Conference Tournament. Their victory earned them a berth in the NCAA Tournament’s First Four round.
Unfortunately for New Orleans, they lost four seniors and their three leading scorers. KenPom’s preseason projections have the Privateers as the 279th best team in basketball.
The most significant loss would be Erik Thomas who averaged about 19 points and eight rebounds per game. His extraordinary season earned him honors as Southland Player of the Year and conference tournament MVP.
Those losses might only exacerbate the offensive struggles the Privateers endured last season. Almost 24% of New Orleans offensive possessions last year ended in a turnover. That mark was third worst in all of college basketball.
Last season New Orleans avenged their turnover issue by generating steals on the defensive end. However, the two that led the team in steals last season are no longer on the Privateers roster.
Keys to contest
Limit fouls: This year, coach Mullin does not have an array of options off the bench. With only nine consistent role players, foul issues can derail an entire contest for St. John’s.
Against Rutgers, big men Marvin Clark II, Kassoum Yakwe, and Tariq Owens racked up a combined thirteen fouls. Once in foul trouble, the inside defense became much more passive. Rather than playing aggressively down low, the Red Storm at times defended to avoid fouling.
St. John’s must defend without fouling, especially down low. The bench is just not deep enough for any of those three players to foul out.
Backcourt dominance: The strongest aspect of this St. John’s team is their backcourt. Players like Shamorie Ponds, Marcus LoVett, and Justin Simon lead a unit poised to be one of college basketball’s best. Against inferior competition like New Orleans, the backcourt could terrorize opponents. As the season begins, it would certainly be encouraging to see the backcourt play dominantly.
Create offense outside of Ponds: In an exhibition against Rutgers, Ponds tallied six of St. John’s eleven assists. The Red Storm offense could undoubtedly be jolted by another guard creating more opportunities for others. Marcus LoVett and Justin Simon each had one assist, far too few for optimal offensive performance.
St. John’s will prove they are a serious contender in the Big East by blowing out New Orleans. It is easy to foresee the Red Storm winning by over 20 points, in what should be a rout.
St. John’s: 85
New Orleans: 62