St. John’s needs this one badly.
Is this Red Storm team one that can actually rip off some wins, or a team that only concentrates for the big games? that seems a strange question to ask, but the team lost 11 straight games to start Big East play, but turned on a new gear against yop-5 foes.
Marquette is not a top-5 team, and the Johnnies are guilty of coming out flat and/ or slow against DePaul and Providence — and even against Creighton.
The Red Storm need a hot start, and need to keep the recent momentum going on Saturday against Marquette. There is a huge opportunity available — a string of wins should put them in some manner of postseason contention, a chance to play after the Big East Tournament is done.
A loss doesn’t undo the joy of the last week, but it crushes the hopes of a phoenix-from-the-ashes finish.
Will this St. John’s team be able to withstand the shooting prowess of the high-scoring Eagles tomorrow? Let’s dig in an discover what makes the Golden Eagles fly.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (12-13 I 1-11 Big East) versus Marquette Golden Eagles (14-10 I 5-7 Big East)
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY (capacity 5,602)
When: Saturday, February 10th, 12:00 PM ET
TV: FSN | Online
Audio: 970 AM WNYM; TuneIn Radio
Last Meeting: St. John’s was blown out in Milwaukee behind poor defense and 19 points from Sam Hauser; the final was 93-71.
We go more into detail on the podcast with our friends at Anonymous Eagle, but here is what you need to know:
Marquette’s offense is hard to stop inside and outside the arc. In conference play, the Golden Eagles are shooting 50% on two-pointers and 40% on threes, taking 41% of their shots from outside the arc.
The 5’11” pair of Markus Howard (#0) and Andrew Rowsey (#30) get their shots, in constant motion and helping to move the ball. Howard, who shot over 50% from outside the arc last season, has added a driving component to his game, and is a threat to get to the line. Rowsey is a threat to get to the line with his pump fakes; be warned, it is a thing. Or, #TheThing. He is far less effective inside the arc.
Greg Elliott (#5) is a freshman who joins the scoring fun. He and Rowsey are the defensive ballhawks in the backcourt.
Up front, 6’8” forward Sam Hauser (#10) is a stretch-four who rebounds very well, rarely turns the ball over, and keeps the ball moving. Hauser, who dropped buckets on the Johnnies last year, is shooting 48% on his outside shots.
Hauser is joined by 6’11” center Harry Froling (#21), who can be a little foul-prone, but adds an inside element (and could add an outside punch in the near future). Theo John (#4) may or may not be available, but if he is around, the 6’9” freshman will provide minutes and shot-blocking in the paint. Matt Heldt (#12) is a junior who rebounds well — watch him on the offensive glass.
Sacar Anim is a wing who is a strong slasher, drawing quite a few fouls and scoring inside. Jamal Cain (#23), at 6’7” provides some defense as well.
Where the Golden Eagles struggle is on the glass and on defense, though. Playing mostly man defense, Steve Wojciechowski’s group has given up some big numbers to good teams, including Providence, twice.
In the last five games, which include a string of four losses to Xavier, Villanova, Butler and Providence before a close win over Seton Hall in New Jersey, teams have been able to get shots inside and grab second chances. Meanwhile, Marquette’s perimeter shooting touch escaped them until they shot 63% (12/19) from outside the arc against Seton Hall.
(Geez. That’s some shooting.)
Keys to the Game
Force turnovers. No matter what, St. John’s HAS to get more shots up than Marquette. Live ball stops will be needed to slow down the Marquette ball movement. Justin Simon and Shamorie Ponds will need to make having the ball in hand uncomfortable for the likes of Rowsey, Howard and Hauser.
Attack the rim. St. John’s has the kind of athletes who can draw fouls from opponents; but sometimes, those athletes choose to lay back and shoot. Whenever possible against the semi-porous Marquette defense, the Johnnies need to test the Golden Eagles, make them uncomfortable and, hopefully, cause the kind of foul trouble that will test their depth.
Play with poise. In every game, the Johnnies need to come with a high level of poise, attacking early, maintaining control, and being disciplined about fouling.
I have been told that negative predictions in the past two games have led to wins. I am not superstitious, though, and I say St. John’s wins, 81-75.