St. John’s faces their toughest test before conference play, the Princeton Tigers, on Sunday for the Holiday Festival. While Princeton rank as a mediocre team generally, they are a solid, experienced Ivy League team that could definitely give a challenge to St. John’s at their best
The first of six matchups at Madison Square Garden for the Red Storm this season, the Johnnies hope to send the holiday shopping crowd home with a smile, and the feeling that this team is coming together into a threatening unit.
Sunday afternoon is a chance for the Johnnies to get closer to entering Big East play undefeated, but it is also the greatest test on paper until the end of December.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (8-0) vs Princeton Tigers (4-3)
Where: Madison Square Garden
When: Sunday, December 9, 1:00 PM
TV: FS1 | FoxSportsGo
Audio: 970 WNYM | TuneIn Radio
Odds: St. John’s, -12.5
Last meeting: In 1982, #9 ranked St. John’s defeated Princeton 58-46 at Carnesecca Arena in December. The then-Redmen were 9-0 at the time. Led by Chris Mullin, that team went on to win the Big East Tournament and fell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Since 1966, St. John’s is 8-3 against the Tigers.
Rankings & School Notes
Last season final KenPom Ranking: 190 | Current KenPom Ranking: 171
School size: 8,181 (5,400 undergraduates)
School is academically known for: Politics, mathematics, business, engineering, ego
Notable alumni: James Madison (US President, Founding Father), Henry Lee (Revolutionary War officer, Virginia Governor & father of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee), Woodrow Wilson (US President), Elana Kagan (Supreme Court Justice & native New Yorker), Sonia Sotomayor (Supreme Court Justice), Samuel Alito (Supreme Court Justice), John Tukey (mathematician), Jerome Powell (Federal Reserve Chair), Ben Bernanke (Federal Reserve Chair), Paul Volcker (Federal Reserve Chair), Greg Mankiw (famed economist), James Baker (White House Chief of Staff, other positions under Presidents Reagan & Bush I), Donald Rumsfeld (Sec. of Defense, twice), Mitch Daniels (Governor of Indiana), William Paterson (Governor of New Jersey), Eliot Spitzer (Governor of NY), Ted Cruz (US Senator), John Foster Dulles (US Secretary of State), Robert Mueller (FBI Director), Saud al Faisal (Saudi Arabia Foreign Affairs Minister), Ralph Nader (consumer advocate, US Presidential nominee), Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO), Steve Forbes (Forbes magazine), Malcolm Forbes (businessman, father of Steve Forbes), Meg Whitman (former Hewlett-Packard CEO), Carl Icahn (businessman), Ellen Pao (former CEO of Reddit), David Duchovny (actor), Dean Cain (actor), Ellie Kemper (actress), Brooke Shields (model/ actress), F. Scott Fitzgerald (author, did not graduate), Jodi Picoult (author), Jonathan Safran Foer (author), Queen Noor of Jordan, Michelle Obama, Craig Robinson (basketball coach & Michelle Obama’s brother), Bill Bradley (politician, New York Knick), Bob Bradley (former US Soccer coach), John Thompson III. And others.
Princeton is on its sixth starting lineup in seven games, mixing and matching returning players. Overall, expect a low-turnover, efficient-shooting, slowly-paced, backdoor-cutting attack that will test the Red Storm’s discipline. This season, the Tigers have gotten to the line a fair amount more than last year (with essentially the same roster). Their defense will be a soft man and the Red Storm should be able to get shots off from outside the arc.
This is a veteran group that returns a lot from last season, starting with Myles Stephens (#12) and Devin Cannady (#3).
This season, the 6’5” wing Stephens has been excellent at the rim and middling away from the rim. He wants to dunk the ball, and can; note that he shot over 40% from outside the arc in his sophomore and junior years, so his 21% three-point shooting percentage should not be trusted right now. He’s their best per-minute rebounder on defense. He is backed up by Ryan Schwieger (#1), who is a solid-rebounding wing who takes quite a few shots from beyond the arc.
Cannady has been on fire, hitting 58% on twos and 55% on threes. He’s automatic at the line (95%). He takes most of his shots from beyond the arc.
Center Richmond Aririguzoh (#34) is the 6’9” player who will be on the floor who won’t shoot a three. He’s a strong offensive rebounder and a solid defensive rebounder; he’s been very efficient this season inside the arc, all on layups.
Sebastian Much (#33) is a 6’8” stretch-four who has been both a perimeter shooting threat and a turnover threat, giving the ball up at least once per game before their last match against Saint Joseph’s (where he started the game). Quebecois Jerome Desrosiers is a 6’7” 230 pound forward who can score inside and out, while being a solid rebounder.
Point guard Jose Morales (#2) has sneaky quickness and a good passing eye; he will look to get to the basket on opponents.
Freshman Ethan Wright (#14) has played a total of four minutes in the past two games, and is looking to find his shot.
Keys to the Game
Impose attacking speed. Princeton will do a solid job of slowing the pace for stretches. St. John’s has to patiently find ways of creating chaos and turnovers with Justin Simon and Shamorie Ponds. When Princeton chooses to run, those two players need to help disrupt the attack and counter — and score when they do.
Defend the three-pointer better. The Johnnies have been allowing a lot of three-pointers as they switch in their defenses and occasionally play zone. The Tigers could shoot their way to a win if the Johnnies don’t force them off the line — pressuring from the half court line, goading them to drive.
Defend without fouling. Opponents have looked to take advantage of the Red Storm’s switching to attack the likes of Marvin Clark II on the perimeter — and draw fouls. Can the Johnnies be effective at defense (and possibly more physical) without fouling? Can they defend the Princeton bigs and keep the seven-man rotation on the court?
St. John’s pulls away late, 80-74.