So, there has been a lot of drama around Seton Hall in the papers since Wednesday.
There was a game suspended for unsafe conditions up in Providence. Seton Hall finished that game the next day at noon at Alumni Hall on Providence College’s campus, and won.
There was Desi Rodriguez hurting his ankle in that game on Wednesday. He’s likely out for tomorrow.
And this morning, there was a significant mention of a former player and his former coach, Tiny Morton, who was brought in to be an assistant coach. The player and coach were both listed as people who received cash from an NBA agent, which is a violation of NCAA rules. (The coach also coached Desi Rodriguez.)
All of that is entertaining, moralistic noise that does not obscure the real issue: St. John’s needs to win again after the loss at Marquette.
St. John’s was badly outplayed, watching the Golden Eagles race by them for the win. “Defensively we were terrible in transition,” Chris Mullin summed up the effort today. “Offensively we weren’t very sharp.”
Can the Johnnies mount a better performance at home in Madison Square Garden?
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (14-14, 3-12 Big East) vs. Seton Hall Pirates (19-9, 8-7 Big East)
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY (capacity 19,786)
When: Saturday, February 24, 12:00 PM
TV: FOX | Fox Sports Online
Audio: 570 AM WMCA | Tune In Radio
Last Meeting: With Shamorie Ponds injured, the Johnnies lost by five points on New Year’s Eve, the second of 11 losses in a row.
Don Bosco forward Marcellus Earlington will take his official visit to St. John’s this weekend. Can the Red Storm lock in his commitment?
Scouting Seton Hall
The Pirates, coming off of a home win against DePaul and road win at Providence, had lost four straight games. They are a veteran bunch that excel in having multiple options, crashing the offensive boards, defending the interior and connecting on their three-point shots.
But they have not been defending particularly well in last six games. In particular, DePaul had their third-best offensive performance by efficiency in a loss to the Hall. And the Blue Demons shot 26% from beyond the arc! Marin Maric got shots inside, the Blue Demons got some key offensive rebounds, and the guards got to the free throw line. (DePaul missed 10 of 22 free throws in a five-point loss.)
With starting senior forward Desi Rodriguez sidelined after hurting his ankle on the condensation on the floor of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, expect to see more of 6’5” Myles Cale, a freshman scorer who has not yet found consistent shooting from beyond the arc.
Michael Nzei and Ismael Sanogo are likely to play slightly bigger roles as well, as big men who both rebound solidly and defend.
As always, St. John’s will need to defend against the size and deep positioning of Angel Delgado on both ends, and against the crafty strength and scoring of lead guard Khadeen Carrington in the Garden.
Looking Back at Game One
In the first game, St. John’s was tantalizingly close to a win, despite missing their star guard, that would have righted the wrong of their Big East opening loss to Providence.
“We fought hard throughout the entire game,” Justin Simon said, looking back. “We were facing adversity with Shamorie and Marcus [LoVett], our two best scorers, out.”
Little did we know the miserable sights that awaited St. John’s fans around the bend after that game — a total of 11 losses.
St. John’s was close, losing by five points, scoring 1.01 points/ possession despite 14 turnovers (20% of possessions) and allowing 1.09 points/ possession.
What they did well:
- force turnovers on Seton Hall — 17, or 25% of their possessions
- Get balanced scoring — led by Tariq Owens’ 19 + 10 rebounds, 18 from Marvin Clark II, 16 from Bashir Ahmed, 15 from Justin Simon.
- Slow down Angel Delgado... kinda. 12 points on 5/12 shooting, 12 rebounds, six assists
What they did not do well:
- Defend the three — Seton Hall shot 13/29 on many open threes. They took more shots from outside the arc (29) than inside (28), while going to the free throw line 23 times. Too much opportunity.
- Handle the end of the first half. St. John’s held a nine-point lead in the middle of the first half, but ended the half with a 10-point deficit.
- Take care of the ball. In the face of a press, the Red Storm had an uncharacteristic percentage of possessions ending in a turnover.
Keys to the Game
Get Shamorie Ponds — and the transition game — going. When the Red Storm are not running, they can look lackluster on offense. When they are, they look like the kind of team that beats Duke and Villanova. Steals will be key, as will being disruptive to the movement of the ball, as will executing in transition.
Keep the Hall off the boards. With scoring wing Desi Rodriguez on the bench, the Pirates are likely to try and scrap for points by banging the glass. St. John’s has to keep them from creating many extra possessions.
Team energy. The Red Storm need big contributions from the whole squad, and a composed, cohesive first half.
St. John’s takes a close one, 74-70.