It’s been seven months since St. John’s stepped on the floor in an official competition. And, depending on how you consider an exhibition, it could be another week. But if you consider exhibitions real games, the Johnnies are back with a new look, new talent, and a Division II opponent, the Maryville Saints from outside of St. Louis.
It’s an exhibition game; losing has no bearing on the team’s fortunes or rankings. But it can hurt the ego.
With that said, it’s always a benefit to beat the pants off of an exhibition opponent and get all the moving parts of a basketball team with integral new parts in sync.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (16-17 in 2017-18) vs Maryville Saints (20-8 in 2017-18)
Where: Carnesecca Arena
When: Thursday, November 1, 6:30 PM
Last meeting: First-ever meeting
St. John’s exhibition games have, for years, hinted at longstanding connections between coaches and/ or programs.
In this case, the strongest connection is Maryville Assistant Buzzy Caruthers, who, per his bio, was a graduate assistant at St. John’s a few years ago. He also coached the MoKan Elite AAU team, where Marvin Clark II and Bryan Trimble Jr. played their summer league ball.
Head coach Marc Stricker is in his second season at Maryville as head coach. He grew up nearby, going to high school powerhouse CBC down the street where he played alongside former NBA player Larry Hughes and Justin Tatum (Boston Celtic player Jayson Tatum’s father). Justin Tatum was head coach at CBC as well; but his son did not play for him, opting to stay with one of the other local St. Louis Catholic powerhouses, Chaminade.
Maryville returning scorers/ impact players
The Saints lose former Butler big man Nolan Berry, who was a big star for Maryville last year. The team welcomed two grad transfers from Southern Illinois, but only one seems to be on the roster, Chaz Glotta.
Generally, the Saints are a lot of what you might expect from a D-II team — a bit undersized. Robin Thompson can draw some fouls, and that kind of activity may test the Johnnies, who will be a bit thin inside.
But overall, this will be a decent test with a team that should enter with some confidence, despite losing three of their top five scorers.
#32 Robin Thompson (SR) | F, 6’6”, 225 lbs; 13 ppg, 6 rpg, 1 blk/g, 60% shooting from field
#3 Casey Teson (SR) | G, 6’2”, 190 lbs; 12 ppg, 40% shooting from 3-pt
#13 Chaz Glotta (SR) | G 6’2”, 180 lbs; averaged 6 points in 82 games on Division I level at Southern Illinois and Northern Colorado.
What we expect to see from St. John’s
Growing pains. The Johnnies have talent now, but that talent has not yet played as a unit. Last year’s team leaned on Shamorie Ponds, Clark, and Justin Simon to make plays, and four of the other players who logged minutes in Big East play last year are now gone.
Fitting in Sedee Keita and Mikey Dixon from a yearlong layoff, keeping the ball moving with a new high-usage scorer in Mustapha Heron, and integrating the newcomers will be something to watch. How well do they pass the ball? Do they move fluidly like a unit, or look staccato like a squad getting to know each other?
What will the defense look like? Now, with players not required to play 35 minutes a game, will we see Chris Mullin take advantage of his team’s athleticism on defense? Will the exhibition opponents still find open corner looks for threes? Even if those shots don’t fall, we can see just how suffocating this defense can be without departed forward Tariq Owens on the floor.
The Rebounding Question. Even in a game like this, we can start raising an eyebrow if, let’s say, Maryville finishes the game with a high rate of offensive rebounds.
St. John’s starts slow but pours it on late. 82-45, St. John’s.