Fresh off a statement win Thursday night against Big 10 opponent Nebraska, St. John’s’ next home game is Monday night against Division II Molloy College at Carnesecca Arena.
St. John’s is off to a 3-0 start, while Nassau County’s Molloy College Lions only won their first game this weekend. Molloy enters with a 1-3 record. On paper, the Red Storm should cruise past the Lions.
In the same breath, one can also say St. John’s should have also taken care of Delaware St. at home last year, but they didn’t. Coming off a big win, and playing against a Division II squad before a bracketed holiday tournament, this could be a potential trap game.
Who: St. John’s (3-0) vs. Molloy (1-3)
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, N.Y.
When: Monday, November 20th, 6:30 p.m.
TV: FS1, Fox Sports Go
Radio: 970 AM
Series History: First meeting.
Coming off a season where Molloy finished 18-11, the Lions graduated three seniors, including their two top scorers, and they haven’t quite been able to figure things out four games into the season.
Molloy has three players that are averaging double-digit scoring in the early parts of the season. Leading them is Nick Corbett, a sophomore guard who scored 30 in a loss; he averages 19 points per game in his three games.
Curtis Jenkins, a guard, is averaging 18 points per game and just under seven rebounds per contest. Jenkins is a guard that loves to get into the paint, so St. John’s will need to keep him outside the arc, where he only shoots at a 15% clip. He has gotten to the free throw line 22 times in four games, leading Molloy.
Nolan Kelly and Steven Torre have been sharpshooters for the Lions in their four games.
With any St. John’s opponent, size is a huge factor. Overall, the Lions don’t have a huge team, but they do have five players that are 6’5” or taller. Their tallest player is senior Shandy Casmir, who is 6’10”, but he has only played two minutes total this season. Josh Dennis and Derrick Okunpolor, who are 6’4” and 6’5”, respectively, have had good rebounding games for the Lions this season.
In total rebounds, Molloy has been out-rebounded by five per game; they give up offensive rebounds on 34% of opponents’ shots.
Molloy also struggles to take care of the ball on offense. They average 10 assists per game, while they average 12 turnovers.
An interesting note is that Molloy gives up 78 points per game, and St. John’s is scoring 78 points per game.
Those numbers, if this game is played right, should change.
Keys to the Game
Take this game seriously. The killer instinct from the Nebraska win could lead to a stat-padding performance for the likes of Shamorie Ponds - but only if they take the game seriously.
Attack the rim. St. John’s can be deadly from outside the arc, but also too-reliant on the outside shot. Attacking inside should boost confidence and take the fight out of the Lions. The team can also get players like Kassoum Yakwe more confident in their offense.
Work on rotations. St. John’s will use this game to tighten up, and this is a game where they can work on different combinations of players, get Amar Alibegovic some minutes, and maybe see what Bryan Trimble, Jr. can do in extended time.
Statistically, St. John’s should run away with this game, keeping their streak of three double-digit wins in a row this season alive. Molloy has lost both of their games by double-digits, and it’s safe to say that they haven’t faced a team with the athleticism and talent of the Red Storm.
However, St. John’s was one of the most inconsistent teams last year across all of Division I. With the additions that the team has made, less pressure has been put on Marcus LoVett and Shamorie Ponds, making for a much more efficient team.
St. John’s handles business like a serious team should, 91-44.