St. John’s is 6-1, but the month of December will have a number of tests before the team reaches conference play in the last week of 2017.
A look at what lies ahead for the Red Storm:
Saturday, December 2 vs Sacred Heart at home
The Pioneers, in the NEC conference like Central Connecticut, should prove to be an opponent that allows the Red Storm to work on some wrinkles and issues. With a high turnover rate and a fast pace, there are chances for the Johnnies to take advantage.
Tuesday, December 5 at Grand Canyon in Arizona
The late-night (for easterners) game in the Valley of the Sun Shootout will take place at the Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Grand canyon Antelopes are 4-1, powered mostly by the defense, which has limited three-point shot attempts to the extreme. The Johnnies will be favored, but Dan Majerle’s Antelopes are playing near home, start three seniors, and are rather tall.
Friday, December 8 vs Arizona State
The Sun Devils, 6-0 after a victory over Xavier, will pose the biggest threat to the Red Storm this month outside of the Big East teams. A win over the now-ranked Sun Devils would go a long way towards legitimizing the Storm’s surge. Star guard Tra Holder has powered one of the nation’s best offenses, accompanied by a pair of talented seniors.
Sunday, December 17 vs Iona
This year’s Holiday Festival - the Red Storm’s first game in Madison Square Garden this season - matches the Red Storm against New Rochelle’s Iona Gaels. Tim Cluess’ team is 2-4, but play their first home game of the season this Saturday. The Johnnies will meet a tested and hungry squad that really, really loves its jump shots.
Wednesday, December 20 vs Saint Joseph’s
The other SJU is 4-3, weathering a number of injuries to key players in the early season. With a lot of youth and a tough December schedule for the Philadelphia team, the Hawks could be worn out - or eager to put it all together at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Thursday, December 28 vs Providence
Big East play starts with the Providence Friars, who just announced that forward Emmitt Holt would miss this season as he recovers from an injury. PC is 6-1 with only a loss to the very good Minnesota Golden Gophers as an L on their record. Still, their coach Ed Cooley called out the team for a lack of grit. It might be beneficial to catch the Friars early in Big East play.
Sunday December 31 at Seton Hall
The Pirates, now unranked, are probably just as good as anyone thought before the season started. The Hall fell by a point to Rhode Island in a neutral site game and then handled Vanderbilt. Their schedule has a number of good, “resume-building” games coming, including tonight against Texas Tech.
Which games do you think the Johnnies run risk of losing? Which ones are most intriguing?