After a buy-game win over UMES, St. John’s visits Miami to play the ACC’s Georgia Tech. The freshmen and the walk-ons got some time against the Hawks, but it will be interesting to see if any of them have earned regular rotation minutes or if Coach Mullin will revert back to the seven-man rotation.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (6-0) vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-2)
Where: American Airlines Arena (19,600 capacity)
When: Saturday, December 1, Noon
TV: ESPNU (Rich Hollenberg and Mark Adams)
Audio: 570 AM WMCA | TuneIn Radio
Last meeting: St. John’s last faced Georgia Tech for the 10th time, with St. John’s winning their last meeting 69-58 in the 2013 Barclays Center Classic.
Rankings & School Notes
Last season final KenPom Ranking: 119 | Current KenPom Ranking: 75
School size: 29,370 (15,572 undergraduates)
School is academically known for: research to improve the human condition through advanced science and technology
President Jimmy Carter (who moved on to graduate from the Naval Academy), Leonard Wood (commander of the “Rough Rider” regiment before Teddy Roosevelt), Senator David Perdue, a bunch of astronauts, Herbert Saffir (co-creator of the hurricane scale we use today), Jeff Foxworthy (comedian, did not graduate), Krishna Bharat (creator of Google News), Mark Texiera (baseball player), Nomar Garciaparra (baseball player), Bobbi Morse (aka Mockingbird in Marvel Comics. Yes she’s not real, but she’s spectacular), Kenneth “Kenny” Anderson (basketball player), Christopher “Chris” Bosh (basketball player), Stephon Marbury (basketball player), John Salley (basketball player).
Scouting Georgia Tech
Defensively, Georgia Tech forces low scoring games, holding its opponents to 59 points per game, good for 19th in the country. The Yellow Jackets have been to excel at their perimeter defense, ranked 6th nationally opponent’s made threes’s with 27 and 14th in opponents 3PT Percentage (25.7%). Georgia Tech’s perimeter defense is almost matched by its interior defense, which ranks 18th nationally in 2PT Percentage with 41%. Despite the Yellow Jacket’s effective defense, they do not force as many turnovers as one might expect. Georgia Tech ranks 68th in blocks (31) and 80th in steals (54).
Offensively... it is a good thing for the Yellow Jackets that they can play quality defense. Georgia Tech does not take many shots from the perimeter, ranking 309th nationally with only 116 attempts through their first 6 games, which makes sense given they shot just under 33%. In short, the Yellow Jackets simply take the air out of the ball offensively, averaging just under 55 field goal attempts per game.
Against Northwestern, Georgia Tech got boat-raced early, being down by as much as 28 points with just over 16 minutes left in the second half. Northwestern let off the gas soon thereafter, and with nothing to lose, the Yellow Jackets lost only by 6 for the score to be significantly closer than the game actually was.
Notable Georgia Tech players include sophomore guard Curtis Haywood II, sophomore guard Jose Alvarado, and senior forward Brandon Alston. Thus far, Haywood has been one of the Yellow Jacket’s most efficient two-way players. Haywood is second on the team in 3PT Percentage (36%), second on the team in assists (13), and tied for third on the team in steals (7). Alvarado, Georgia Tech’s leading scorer (13.7 points per game), also leads the team in steals (2.2 per game). Finally, Alston has been an effective spark off the bench, leading the team in points per 40 minutes with 20.
Keys to the Game
Pace. Georgia Tech minimizes the amount of possession in a game by playing a methodical half-court offense. St. John’s will need to set the tempo and force Georgia Tech to play up-and-down for stretches to keep the Yellow Jackets out of their comfort zone.
Efficient Scoring. Odds are, there will be stretches where Georgia Tech’s slow style will prevail. Consequently, the Red Storm will need to convert these possessions efficiently. Despite having one of the premier tough-shot makers in college basketball in Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s may benefit more from Ponds’s vision for easy shots rather than his shot-making ability.
Defensive Intensity. Georgia Tech will bring it defensively. Even when getting blown out by Northwestern, Georgia Tech continued to compete defensively (Northwestern taking the foot off the gas notwithstanding).
Last time St. John’s played Georgia Tech, the Red Storm won 69-58. Why mess with a bad thing? St. John’s will win again, 69-58.
It will likely be a boring game for stretches. St. John’s will likely settle for some tough shots given their reputation and Georgia Tech’s defense.
Georgia Tech’s best chance of winning will be to convert more from the perimeter than they have, and St. John’s settling for contested jumpers off of isolations.