“I see a lot of good play, both individually and collectively, but there is a lot of room for improvement,” said coach Chris Mullin when asked about his team. “I do see that we can be much better in a lot of areas, but we are doing some good things. We just have to understand that and keep on working. I think we’ve identified our weaknesses as a group, and we continue to work on them in practice so we can execute them in a game. I’ve seen some good, overall improvement.”
After two lopsided home victories, the St. John’s Red Storm will take aim at the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (2-0) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (2-0)
What: Gavitt Tipoff Games (Big East-Big Ten challenge)
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
When: Thursday, November 16th, 6:30 PM ET
TV: FS1 or Fox Sports Go
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 $4 by clicking here.
Last Meeting: St. John’s and Nebraska will meet for the first time.
The Cornhuskers enter Queens with two wins over Eastern Illinois and North Texas. Nebraska also visits New York at a time when two of their players are injured. Freshman guard Thomas Allen is questionable with a tailbone injury, and Anton Gill is also questionable with knee and groin issues.
Regardless, the show goes on in Nebraska. On the offensive side, the Cornhuskers have a decent unit. Mainly, they have effectively got to the foul line this season. In their first two contests, 35% of their total points have come from the charity stripe. Nevertheless, the Cornhuskers only shot 67% from the foul line as a team.
Unfortunately, coach Tim Miles’ offense is held down by poor shooting. Through two contests, the Cornhuskers have only shot 43% from inside the arc, and 30% from three-point land.
Nebraska has been stout defensively to commence this season. They have forced a turnover 23% of the time, blocked a shot almost 20% of opposing shots inside the arc, and limited the number of free throw opportunities well.
The Cornhuskers cannot be adequately scouted without mentioning junior guard Glynn Watson Jr. After two contests, he is averaging 18 points while shooting 46% from the field. Watson is a clutch player that elevated his play to help Nebraska prevail over Eastern Illinois in their first game.
Additionally, the Nebraska frontcourt is bolstered by forward Isaiah Roby. Listed at 6-foot-8, Roby has averaged 11 points and ten rebounds so far this season. It will be interesting to see how he matches up against bigger Johnnies like Marvin Clark.
Keys to contest
Keep up defensive energy: The Johnnies need to capitalize on the slow shooting start for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers are shooting 44% from the field through two contests. If St. John’s can keep their defensive energy up for 40 minutes, they should be able to exit Carnesecca victorious.
Do not slip on glass: Spectators around the Red Storm knew rebounding issues would be prevalent this year. Still, not many could have foreseen the Johnnies getting outrebounded 42-27 to New Orleans.
Fortunately, St. John’s recovered and won the battle on the glass against Central Connecticut. The Red Storm must focus on winning the rebounding battle once again.
Finish strong: Mullin’s team has yet to play a tight regular season contest. This bout with Nebraska might be their first. St. John’s cannot coast in the games final minutes as they have previously. It will be critical that the Johnnies do not look tired and inexperienced as the game winds down.
The Cornhuskers provide St. John’s with their toughest competition yet. However, relative to college basketball, Nebraska is not all that stiff of an opponent. The Red Storm have an opportunity against a beatable Big Ten foe, and I would expect them to seize it.