The third St. John’s opponent from the state of Maryland, and the first of four Northeast Conference teams, Mount St. Mary’s travels to Queens to match up against the St. John’s Red Storm, who have at times struggled to put away opponents.
St. John’s faces one of those opponents that is easy to overlook — especially since they return 7% of their minutes from last season — but an opponent that can, with the help of off nights, a lot o energy and a bit of zone defense, could expose the Johnnies’ flaws for the whole country to see.
Will the Red Storm come out with the right fire for this game against an opponent that has lost to some of the worst teams in Division I? Or will the Mountaineers scale new heights by knocking off the Big East squad?
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (7-0) vs Mount St. Mary Mountaineers (0-7)
Where: Carnesecca Arena
When: Wednesday, December 5, 6:30 PM
TV: FS2 | FoxSportsGo
Audio: 970 WNYM | TuneIn Radio
Odds: St. John’s, -25.5
Last meeting: In 1928, St. John’s knocked off Mount St. Mary’s 37-27; St. John’s is 4-1 all time, including that most recent win over the Mountaineers.
Rankings & School Notes
Last season final KenPom Ranking: 238 | Current KenPom Ranking: 336
School size: 2,323 (1,817 undergraduates)
School is academically known for: Catholic theology, Business, Criminology
Notable alumni: Blessed Stanley Rother (martyr, 2nd person to be beatified on US soil); His Eminence John McCloskey, Archbishop of NY (1864-1885); Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes (1979-87)
Scouting Mount St. Mary’s
This year’s Mount St. Mary team is picking up the pieces after a number of players and the head coach left in the offseason. This is a team that has lost to Morgan State, Loyola-Maryland (remember the decisive win the Johnnies had vs the Greyhounds?) and got blasted by North Carolina A&T. All three of those teams are some of the worst in Division I this year.
Mount St. Mary’s this year does a decent job of not fouling on defense and of drawing fouls. They have rebounded decently, and are very willing to play zone. But they struggle to score in all aspects, and have been torched from outside the arc.
The Mount, now with a new coach after Jamion Christian left for Siena in May, has an entirely new roster. Transfers decimated the squad to the point that new coach Dan Engelstad has one player who got solid minutes last year. Omar Habwe (#13) is a 6’6” wing who can extend to the perimeter. He’s the Mount’s returning scorer, after scoring just under three points per game last season.
Drake transfer Jalen Gibbs (#1) was granted a waiver to play this season, and he’s been needed. A 6’3” guard, Gibbs has been the Mount’s primary ballhandler and has taken the most shots on the team, connecting on 51% of his twos and 41% of his threes. Vado Morse (#0), a 6-foot combo guard, is quick and can steal the ball, but has struggled to make his shots inside the arc. Damian Chiong Qui (#15) is 5’8” but has been effective in making strong passes to teammates. He has shot poorly from the field (2/13 inside the arc, 2/9 outside).
Big man Malik Jefferson (#42) has been very good on the glass and inside the arc. He will be a threat for St. John’s to watch out for at 6’9”, 230 pounds. He grabbed 11 defensive rebounds in a loss at Marshall and seven offensive rebounds in a loss at Morgan State. In the Mount’s last game, he scored 22 on 10/15 shooting inside the arc. Collin Nnamene (#21) has only played in the last three games, but at 6’8”, 210, looks like a competitive rebounder.
Returnee Nana Opoku (#22) gets his first playing time and logs a lot of minutes. While his game extends beyond the three-point line, he can rebound, block shots, and get to the free throw line. Texas Southern transfer KJ Scott (#35) is a jump shooting wing who can pass a bit.
Keys to the Game
Get back on track offensively. Both LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron had rough offensive outings against Georgia Tech. As a whole, the team needed Shamorie Ponds to carry them... which is great, but he will need more players to step off and take the heat.
Don’t beat selves. The Johnnies need to play a smart brand of focused basketball. This is not an exhibition.
Get some run for the bigs. It’s not just Josh Roberts who could see more time to develop his raw game. Marvin Clark, who was effective in Miami against Georgia Tech, fouled out fairly early from the game — and never got to display the aggressive, outside-in game that he has.
83-67, St. John’s win.