Big East play has been anything but kind to St. John’s so far. Entering conference play with such optimism, the Red Storm have let down many largely due to a hobbled backcourt. It is still unclear if Marcus LoVett is ready to return from a sprained MCL injury. As for Shamorie Ponds, he is certainly not thrilled with his play of late as he also missed time due to an injury.
I AM LETTING MY TEAM DOWN!!! I HAVE TO STEP IT UP!!! I SUCK RIGHT NOW!!! ITS JUST HOW AM I GOING TO BOUNCE BACK!! #HEADHIGH— Shamorie Ponds (@ShamorieP) January 6, 2018
Time is running out for St. John’s to figure it all out. Their NCAA Tournament aspirations have taken a huge hit these past few games. While their goals remain in reach, the road back to achieving them begins with Georgetown.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (10-6 I 0-4 Big East) versus Georgetown Hoyas (11-4 I 1-3 Big East)
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: Tuesday, January 9th, 6:30 PM ET
TV: FS1 and FOX Sports Go
Audio: 570 AM WMCA; TuneIn Radio
Last Meeting: St. John’s outlasted Georgetown 74-73 in a physical Big East Tournament contest.
Scouting the Hoyas
Patrick Ewing is back at Georgetown and rebuilding what once was an elite basketball program. Although a steep task for a first-time head coach, early indications show he is up for the challenge. Granted the Hoyas have yet to beat anyone of significance, they seem to be improved compared to last year.
On offense, Georgetown is shaped like the mold of a young team. With an array of young ball handlers, it is no surprise they turn the ball over more than anyone else in the Big East. Furthermore, they have struggled to hit from deep, only collectively hitting 34% of their three-point attempts.
However, Georgetown has excelled at grabbing offensive rebounds and drawing fouls. So far this season, about a quarter of their total points have come from the foul line.
Defensively, the Hoyas play a relatively passive perimeter attack but rely on physicality from their big men. They hold an impressive block percentage of 12% this season. Additionally, Georgetown has kept opponents from gaining second-chance points, as they are an excellent defensive rebounding team.
Since Georgetown relies on physicality down low, big men Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson are important players. They have combined this season to average 33 points, 19 rebounds, and four assists per game. Also, the duo has swatted 35 shot attempts this season. It is vital St. John’s keeps these two in check.
Keys to contest
Rebound: DePaul outrebounded the Johnnies 46-30 in what was an embarrassing display on the glass. St. John’s is getting another strong rebounding team in Georgetown, so they must box out and even up the battle on the boards.
Get Shamorie Ponds going: Ponds is coming fresh off a rough outing against DePaul. In that contest, he shot 7-24 from the field and 1-9 from three. Without LoVett, Ponds is the centerpiece of this St. John’s team. Ponds has to begin acting like the star once again.
Find Kassoum Yakwe Time: One bright spot from the DePaul game was the energy Kassoum Yakwe brought to the floor. His play prevented a further blowout at the hands of the Blue Demons. Against a potent backcourt like Georgetown’s, it will be important for Yakwe to step onto the floor and combat Govan and Derrickson.
St. John’s needs to show up now more than ever. In what should be a tight contest, expect the Red Storm to prevail at home.