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Will St. John’s benefit from Ismael Sanogo’s absence?

The Seton Hall forward has been ruled out for tomorrow’s game at Madison Square Garden vs St. John’s. We look at the possible impact.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Providence Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of two overtime games in a row (more on this in the game preview to be posted later today), the Seton Hall Pirates announced that forward Ismael Sonogo, a 6’8”, 215 pound junior from Newark, won’t be in uniform against the St. John’s Red Storm tomorrow.

Sounds like a real benefit for St. John’s, a team that struggles with size - especially against Seton Hall the first time the two teams met.

In that game, St. John’s gave up offensive rebounds on 36% of the Pirates’ misses - six to star forward Angel Delgado, who posted a 21 point, 20 rebound game in total. But those rebounds couldn’t happen without players like Sanogo, who held space and tapped balls until their teammates could get to them.

St. John’s is currently the Big East’s worst defensive rebounding team, and it showed in that game, as Seton Hall earned second chances at the rim.

But the upside of losing Sanogo is dampened by the fact that his replacement, 6’8” Michael Nzei, is an even BETTER offensive rebounder on the season. Nzei, a more reluctant scorer, crashes the glass and blocks shots at a solid rate.

The comparison also shows that Nzei fouls at a higher rate than Sanogo does, so there’s that. A table/ tale of the tape:

Comparing Seton Hall’s “dirty work” forwards, Ismael Sanogo & Michael Nzei; #s in Big East play

Player Michael Nzei Ismael Sanogo
Player Michael Nzei Ismael Sanogo
Jersey 1 14
ORB% 9.1 7.7
DRB% 16.0 17.1
AST% 4.1 2.9
STL% 0.3 1.9
BLK% 4.0 3.0
TOV% 23.0 20.7
USG% 10.5 9.7
PF per 40 6.1 3.4
Comparison: Seton Hall’s injured Ismael Sanogo vs his replacement Michael Nzei. Norman Rose (data from sports-reference.com)

Will the Hall miss Sanogo against St. John’s? The Red Storm’s initial mission is to minimize the damage that Angel Delgado can do, obviously, and then they can worry about what the other forwards can do.

But having one fewer option on the bench for Seton Hall could be a little helpful... if St. John’s can crack the Hall’s defense, make some shots, and stay closer to even on the glass.

Tip off is noon on Saturday.