Apparently, having St. John’s and Providence at the end of the year is a thing — this is the third straight year where the regular season has ended in a contest between the two squads.
Trivia aside, the Johnnies have a chance to go one game over .500, which will be important for possible NIT consideration... along with the fact that winning is important for the perception of the season and good for all of us.
Shamorie Ponds’ status is unknown, a game-time decision, but the Johnnies have a chance to win with or without him.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (15-15 I 4-13 Big East) versus Providence Friars (18-12, 9-8)
Where: Dunkin’ Donuts Arena, Providence, RI
When: Saturday, March 3, 2018 | 12:00 PM
TV: FSN/ Fox Affiliates | Watch online
Audio: 570 WMCA | TuneIn Radio
Last Meeting: St. John’s was beaten 94-72.
Scouting the rematch
First, let me say that I think that game against Providence was St. John’s second-worst performance of the season, next to being drubbed at Butler.
The final score was less ugly, but the effort at times was questionable. Open spots lingered on the wing, just waiting for a Friars player to slip in and take an uncontested shot.
This time around, Shamorie Ponds or not, the Johnnies need to bring the fighting spirit to the game.
St. John’s only forced 10 turnovers (14% of possessions), allowed the Friars to shoot nearly half of their shots from outside the arc (at a 53% clip), allowed 34% offensive rebounding, and let four Providence players reach double figures.
At the very least, the Red Storm needs to apply far more pressure on the ball to Ed Cooley’s team.
Every year, Providence manages to be a upper middle level Big East team while playing tough and not standing out statistically in any one category, aside from not shooting many threes and keeping opponents off of the three-point line.
They are big at all positions, can crash the glass, and have a rotation of big men that will be hard for the Red Storm forwards to fully contain. Expect a physical game.
This year’s Friars are dangerous attacking the basket with Kyron Cartwright and with the strength of Rodney Bullock. Isaiah Jackson and Makai Ashton-Langford are dangerous slashers who need to be contained. Jalen Lindsey is a catch-and-shoot threat whose only offense comes from shooting from the outside; if he is covered, he is not a heavy threat to manufacture points.
Overall: a good defensive effort should give the Johnnies a chance. Matching their physicality and not giving them opportunities to score in transition will be key.
Keys to the Game
A consistent attacking effort, no matter what defense. The Johnnies can fall into lulls where the players are not attacking their opponent, not trying to drive into the paint, and settle for jump shots. That was an issue in the first game, and will be an issue as long as teams can dare the Johnnies to beat them from outside. Justin Simon needs to attack hard and look for Tariq Owens and others cutting to the basket.
Pressure. St. John’s has to make Providence more uncomfortable than the last game.
Smart play. The game will come down to a contest of wills — if St. John’s plays disciplined enough basketball to keep the game close. Bashir Ahmed and Marvin Clark II’s choices and aggression will be key.
St. John’s puts up a better effort, but falls, 70-66.