"I don't really think the theme will change,” commented Chris Mullin when asked about mindset heading into the Big East Tournament. “We just played Georgetown, they're a heck of a team; it was a good game. Without being redundant, I just [want us to] come to play with passion and energy. We'll have two good practices and hope we have a nice energetic game on Wednesday night."
St. John’s not only has an opportunity to continue their season, and improve upon recent Big East Tournament misfortune. The Johnnies haven’t advanced in their conference tournament since 2011.
As Mullin stated, energy will be key in Wednesday night’s bout. Coming into the contest much more positive energy stands in the Red Storm’s camp.
Can St. John’s put down the sluggish Georgetown Hoyas?
Who: #8 St. John’s Red Storm (13-18, 7-11 Big East) vs #9 Georgetown Hoyas (14-17, 5-13 Big East)
What: Big East Tournament 1st Round
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: Wednesday, March 8th, 7:00 PM ET
TV: Fox Sports 1 | Fox Sports Go
Audio: St. John’s TV All-Access will provide free audio for the contest. You can also use Tune In radio, reachable here. Also live game audio can be found on 970 AM WNYM.
Tickets: Secure your seat for the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden. First round tickets could be found here.
Although it is hard to believe, the state of Georgetown basketball has worsened since their last matchup with St. John’s. Following their visit to New York almost two weeks ago, the Hoyas have dropped contests against Seton Hall and Villanova. While they did play Seton Hall tough, Villanova embarrassed Georgetown in the nation’s capital.
Making matters worse, after losing to Villanova, coach John Thompson III could not answer questions regarding Georgetown’s future.
When asked about the future of the program and possible distractions, JT3 was not allowed to answer: "Leave it to game-related questions."— The Hoya Sports (@thehoyasports) March 4, 2017
For clarification, when reporter asked JT3 question, SID stepped in and said: "Leave it to game-related questions."— The Hoya Sports (@thehoyasports) March 4, 2017
Besides the fact that Georgetown is continuing their tailspin, they are virtually the same team that played St. John’s almost two weeks ago.
The Hoyas offense remains to be weak. They shoot 32% from three point territory, which is worst in the Big East. Georgetown turns the ball over on almost 20% of their offensive possessions, good for second worst in the Big East.
Despite the negativity, Georgetown’s offense really can move the ball. They focus on limiting isolation play. Their assist per made field goal numbers lead the Big East.
On the defensive end, the Hoyas have played well in conference play. They have held opponents to 47% from two point land, and about 34% from the perimeter. In addition, Georgetown uses their length to block shots. They have blocked a shot on almost 10% of opponents possessions in Big East action.
Hoya big man Jessie Govan is still a viable threat to St. John’s. Last time out against the Red Storm he tallied 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 block. His large stature could give St. John’s big men fits on Wednesday night.
Another key Hoya to watch is L.J. Peak. Last time against St. John’s he dropped 20 points while shooting 60% from the field. Alongside Peak in the backcourt is explosive guard Rodney Pryor. His 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 assist per game landed him as an honorable mention on the 2016-17 Big East All-Conference Teams.
Keys to contest
Create Turnovers: Georgetown was plagued by their turnovers in the last matchup with St. John’s. The Hoyas 22 turnovers kept their offense from getting into a rhythm, which immensely helped the Johnnies. St. John’s needs to repeat this effort in creating turnovers.
Multiple Scoring Options: St. John’s expects to get scoring from guards Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett. However, the Red Storm are at their best when they work in a third or fourth scoring option. Players like Bashir Ahmed, Malik Ellison, and even Federico Mussini have assumed this role previously. Getting someone to add a diverse scoring threat can greatly benefit St. John’s.
Play well for 40: St. John’s consistently falls into slumps throughout the course of gameplay. These cold stretches really allow opponents to pounce and run out to massive leads. I stressed this point last time the Johnnies played Georgetown. Regardless, the Hoyas caught St. John’s on one of their cold stretches at the end of the first half. St. John’s must passionately play a full game to pull this one off.
John Thompson III has lost all faith from his fan base, and it shows the Hoyas in weak play as of late. St. John’s has already beat Georgetown at Madison Square Garden, and I see no sign the Hoyas can avenge that loss.
KenPom Prediction: 79-76 Georgetown (40% chance of St. John’s victory)
Rumble Prediction: 82-74 St. John’s