The team coming in to play to start 2019, however, may be the best team in the Big East this year. The Golden Eagles have big aspirations this season and have shored up many of their deficiencies, taking out three ranked teams (at the time ranked #12 Kansas State, #12 Wisconsin, #14 Buffalo) this season behind the potent scoring of Markus Howard.
Marquette, the sole ranked team in the Big East, looks to start their conference play off right by snagging a road win in Queens. St. John’s wants to recover from Saturday with a home win in the intimate confines of Carnesecca Arena.
Can the Johnnies re-ignite the excitement with a win?
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (12-1) at #16/#18 Marquette Golden Eagles (11-2)
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY (5,602)
When: Tuesday, January 1, 7:00 PM
TV: FS1 | FoxSportsGo
Audio: 970 WNYM | TuneIn Radio
Odds: Even/ pick-em
Last meeting: St. John’s lost to Marquette in Milwaukee last February, 85-73, in their second meetup within two weeks. Without star guard Howard, Marquette held Shamorie Ponds to 1/11 inside the arc (plus 4/7 from distance) and five turnovers. Bryan Trimble Jr. had 19, his only double-digit game as a collegiate. The game dropped the Johnnies to .500, and the team would never get above that winning percentage the rest of the season.
Rankings & School Notes
Last season final KenPom Ranking: 53 | Current KenPom Ranking: 28
School size: 11,426 (8,335 undergraduates)
School is academically known for: journalism, nursing, theater, biology, marketing, engineering
Notable alumni: Charles P. Pierce (journalist), Chris Farley (actor), Gail Collins (columnist), Dan Harmon (creator, Community), Danny Pudi (actor), Scott Walker (WI Gov — did not graduate), Leah Vukumir (WI politician), Bob Odenkirk (actor, Better Call Saul — did not graduate), Nicholas D’Agosto (Harvey Dent on Gotham), Marcus Leomis (Camping World CEO).
The high-scoring Marquette squad has improved in leaps and bounds from last year, with the addition of talented tall players and the emergence of a sophomore to go along with their star scorer.
The Golden Eagles are taller, defending much more stoutly on both sides of the arc, and have wins over Kansas State, a strong Buffalo team, Louisville, and cross-state rival Wisconsin.
The rebounding numbers have been very good, especially on the defensive end, where they grab 77% of their opponents’ misses (17th best in the country). And importantly for the matchup against St. John’s, they do not allow teams to launch shots from deep, allowing only 34% of opponents’ shots to be beyond the arc. Teams are shooting 29% against Marquette from deep.
Much like Seton Hall, Marquette has enough size that their defenders can stick with opposing shooters, and the Eagles also sport at least two plus defenders on the perimeter. But the Eagles turn the ball over on 20% of their possessions, and have one of the 15-worst rates of opponents forcing steals on them (10.7% of possessions).
On the individual side, Marquette leans on the high-usage, highly skilled Markus Howard (5’11”, #0), pushing for Big East Player of the Year with his explosive scoring outbursts. He has two 45-point games this season, against Buffalo and against Kansas State — bringing out his best when the best is needed.
Howard, averaging 25 points per game, is shooting 43% from outside the arc, 91% from the free throw line, assists on a team-high 28% of his teammates’ shots while on the floor and racks up steals. He turns the ball over three times per game, but given the amount he has the ball in his hands, that’s a reasonable percentage of his possessions.
Alongside Howard, Sacar Anim (#2) and Fordham transfer Joseph Chartouny (#21) play shooting guard, with Chartouny spelling Howard from time to time. Anim, 6’5”, is a long guard who can slash to the basket. He’s shooting 25% from distance this year, in line with his numbers last season.
Chartouny, after a rough start to the season, is playing decently as a slashing tall guard who can force steals and make passes. Sometimes, the 6’3” senior makes passes to the other team; he has a very high 36% turnover rate, prorating to around four turnovers per 40 minutes.
Greg Elliott, the 6’7” wing that was a defensive pest last season, will redshirt after a preseason injury.
The Hauser brothers on the wing provide scoring punch. The elder Sam Hauser (#10) is a 6’8” forward who shoots a smooth jump shot, rebounds the defensive end well, rarely turns the ball over, and shoots 56% inside the arc and 42% from deep.
Brother Joey Hauser (#22) provides a similar game, shooting 52% inside the arc and 43% outside, but has the quickness to draw fouls on offense. He has turned the ball over more than Sam. Both are solid players who may not take the Johnnies off the dribble, but can be deadly in rhythm or making quick cuts to the hoop.
Wing Jamal Cain (#23) has seen his minutes spike in the past two contests. A former starter, the 6’7” wing can block shots, steal the ball, and score inside the arc. The 6’8” Brendan Bailey (#1), newly returned from a Mormon mission, started earlier this season as well but has struggled to make shots from the floor.
Up front, the Golden Eagles are threatening. Theo John (#4) has emerged as an offensive force in the paint. A stout 6’9”, he’s shooting 61% and is aggressive in attacking the basket on the roll side of the pick and roll. He’s a strong offensive rebounder, though his defensive rebounding numbers have been weak. He has been a top-notch shot blocker, but has also committed over seven fouls per 40 minutes. Those fouls — and 40% shooting from the line — limit his minutes.
Nebraska transfer Ed Morrow (#30) has been an excellent complement to John, blocking shots, defending very well, and rebounding solidly. The 6’7” big man also commits nearly seven fouls per 40 minutes. 6’10” senior Matt Heldt, a presence on the glass against the Johnnies, sees limited minutes this season.
Keys to the Game
Play fast. The Golden Eagles can play fast — but not as well as the Red Storm have this season, as reminded by Stathouse [video]. Playing fast also negates the damage Theo John and the Hausers can wreak in the paint — and get Shamorie Ponds opportunities to slice and dice the Eagles. That pace should force some miscues from Marquette, as well.
Defend the glass. Marquette has some size and talented offensive rebounders who will be hard to contend with. The Red Storm need to reduce the chances this strong offensive team has to put points on the board.
Get the offense rolling/ keep momentum. The Johnnies can score, but against Seton Hall scoring was a struggle after the first 12 or so minutes. The team needs to keep the ball moving so all five players on the floor are a threat, and to keep momentum. Drawing fouls will help maintain control of the game.
Fingers crossed, but St. John’s wins a thriller, 77-75.