In the team’s second game, St. John’s hopes to keep the aggressive, running style from the first win — a blowout of Loyola Maryland — going.
But the second game is a sneaky-tough contest against a MAC team with size, experience and depth, the kind of game that will require the Red Storm to play sharply, shoot efficiently, and avoid fouls.
The Bowling Green Falcons could be a barometer for how well the Johnnies deal with size and paint play this season.
Both teams are 1-0 on the season. For St. John’s, this second game precedes a week-long break before the Battle of the Outerbridge Crossing against Rutgers next Friday.
Can Chris Mullin’s squad iron out more wrinkles in what looks to be a more competitive game?
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (16-17 in 2017-18) vs Bowling Green Falcons (16-16 in 2017-18)
Where: Carnesecca Arena
When: Friday, November 9, 6:30 PM
TV: FS2 | FoxSports Go (Rich Ackerman & Jim Spanarkel)
Audio: 570 WMCA
Last meeting: St. John’s and Bowling Green last met in 1994; St. John’s won, 77-64.
This game is part of the Legends Classic on-campus games.
Head coach Michael Huger is New Yorker who played at Adlai Stevenson HS in the Bronx before attending Bowling Green, where he was the runner-up for the Mid American Conference player of the Year as a senior in 1994. At Stevenson, he won back-to-back PSAL City Championships in 1988 and 1989. He also played for the Riverside Hawks.
Rankings & School Notes
Last season final KenPom Ranking: 232 | Current KenPom Ranking: 184
School size: 19,331 (16,52 undergraduates)
School is academically known for: College of Education
Notable alumni: Actress Eva Marie Saint, MLB’s Orel Hershiser, Senator Tim Ryan, NBA Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond
Scouting Bowling Green returning scorers/ impact players
The Bowling Green Falcons come in with a 1-0 record, but that first game was against something called Tiffin University, a Division II school. Still, the game a game, and the Falcons have gotten their feet wet with their roster, which has a good deal of experience from last season.
The Falcons played fairly fast last season, and the 16-16 record obscures the fact that they lost their final six games, a thud of an end to what had been a solid season.
Now more experienced (the Falcons were 330 in team experience last year per Ken Pom), they hope to start building on last year and making noise in this game.
BGSU was the best defensive rebounding team in the MAC last season, and also the second-best at drawing free throws. What the Falcons struggled at was scoring. Despite being very good at getting to the free throw line, they were the worst team at scoring inside the arc at 46% and also struggled on outsideshots (32%). The Falcons were decent in preventing three-point shots, but did not force turnovers or block shots.
In the offseason, Derek Koch, a big-bodied center, transferred to Ashland University, leaving the Falcons with four returning starters from last season.
BGSU returns guards Dylan Frye and Justin Turner, but most importantly, big man Demajeo Wiggins, a 6’10”, 240 pound center.
Frye (#5) and Turner (#10) played heavy minutes last season, and both are scoring threats from outside the arc , hitting 36% and 39%, respectively, last season. Frye assumes point guard responsibilities, but both are solid passers with low turnover rates.
Frye, at least last year, really struggled inside the arc; both were competent at the rim, but Frye found himself taking longer 2-point jumpers, and hitting 26% of them. He said in the preseason that he’s been getting stronger and more physical, so that could improve. New York native Michael Laster (#0) joins the backcourt from Central Georgia Tech JC, as does guard Caleb Fields (#3).
Wiggins (#1) is a monster rebounder; in 17 of his 29 games, he grabbed double digit rebounds overall. Lest one believes those are of the “slapping at the ball on the offensive end” variety, in seven of those games he had double-digit defensive rebounds (and four more games with nine apiece). He gets to the line often, scored 56% on his two-pointers, and generally, will be a problem for Sedee Keita and the rest of the squad.
Wiggins is backed up by senior Jeffrey Uju (#13) in the post, a 6’7” forward who was an excellent rebounder in limited time. Uju will also take shots from outside the arc, unlike Wiggins. Also on the front line are freshman Tayler Mattos (#2), who is 6’11”, and Joniya Gadson (#52) who is 6’10”, plus Marlon Sierra (#22), who is 6’7”.
Also returning are two 6'6" wings, seniorAntwon Lillard (#11) and sophomore Daeqwon Plowden (#25). Lillard is a solid rebounding wing who gets to the rim. Plowden was more of a shooter than slasher last season, but also was solid at blocking shots.
Keys to the Game
Get used to the bang. For Sedee Keita, who fouled out in ten minutes in his first game, some adjustment may be needed to not pick up fouls. He wasn’t as “reach and grab” as, say, Josh Roberts, but Keita will need to quickly establish physicality without picking up fouls. Marvin Clark II will also be pressed into action inside; both will also seek to test themselves against the bigs of Bowling Green.
Run! Bowling Green will look to run; St. John’s needs to make this running a chaotic folly, getting a normally turnover-averse team to turn the ball over. Shamorie Ponds, Justin Simon and the rest will need to steadily apply pressure and make Bowling Green rush their actions.
Attack. For the Red Storm, attacking in transition is easy. Now with Mustapha Heron, attacking in the half court needs to be a matter of practice. The three-pointer should be there; indeed, the Johnnies will want to keep the Falcon guards busy on the perimeter — but making sure not to fall in love with long jumpers will be key against a team with some capable bigs.
Prediction: St. John’s has some tough moments, but the magic of Heron, Ponds, Mikey Dixon and L.J. Figueroa pull it out. 81-70, St. John’s.
What’s your prediction?