After nearly a week off, St. John’s gets back to Carnesecca Arena to face a local squad at high noon. The Johnnies went 1-1 at Mohegan Sun, finding the rhythm against UMass but losing a lead against Arizona State.
With a month to go before conference play begins, the Johnnies will look to find consistency, figure out their rotations and get the kinks out of the defense.
Wagner might come up from Staten Island and help with those tasks. But despite being young, the Seahawks will provide a challenge if the Red Storm do not execute well early in the game.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (5-2) vs. Wagner Seahawks (2-4)
When: Saturday, November 30th, 12:00 PM ET
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
TV: FS2 and Fox Sports Go
Audio: St. John’s website provides free audio for the game. That stream can be found by clicking here.
Tickets: You can secure a seat for a low of $30 by clicking here.
Last Meeting: St. John’s struggled in the first half to gain separation, but blew out Wagner in the second half, 73-58.
The Seahawks have one win over a Division I opponent — an overtime win over Saint Peter’s, who coincidentally are the Red Storm’s next opponent. Besides that game, they were blown out by Seton Hall, Penn State and NJIT, all solid, veteran teams.
Wagner lost in overtime to Stony Brook, in a back and forth game that saw the Seahawks shoot over 50% from beyond the arc. The Seahawks have had their struggles — their internal defense has not been great, they have fouled a lot, and they do not force turnovers well — but they have shot the ball well.
With three returnees, Bashir Mason’s team has turned to former UMass and Fairfield guard Curtis Cobb III (#33) as one of their leaders. He scored 40 against non-Division I Wesley College, shooting 10/15 on threes. New Jersey’s Alex Morales (#2) has been a do-it-all forward from JUCO Prince George’s CC. Will Martinez (#11), from Wings Academy in the Bronx and Monroe College, has been a slashing, driving player. Martinez and Morales are both around 6’6” and have drawn a lot of the team’s fouls.
Elijah Ford (#4) has been a strong JUCO newcomer for the Seahawks; he has also drawn a number of fouls and steals the ball.
Chase Freeman (#12) is an undersized scoring guard, the player with the most experience under Bashir Mason. Most of his offense will come from outside the arc. Atiba Taylor (#1), a guard from Hackensack, has not played since the team’s first game.
Tyrone Nesby (#13) and Nigel Jackson (#0) are both wings who will shoot mostly from outside the arc.
Up front, Chicago State transfer Patrick Szpir (#32, pronounced “spear”) provides some very good rebounding on both ends. Ja’Mier Fletcher (#22) provides some more size up front. Center DeAndre Wilkins (#25) is 6’11” and has seen some spot minutes.
Keys to the Game
Open up some space. In halfcourt play, St. John’s has sometimes looked predictable, which has caused players like Mustapha Heron to struggle to find clear spaces to attack. Getting Heron on track, and adding some wrinkles to the offense, will be key going forward. The Red Storm can win this game without improvements in the halfcourt, but those improvements are needed.
Hold the Seahawks down. The Red Storm need to aggressively attack Wagner on defense, but also not give up easy opportunities to shoot threes or crash the glass for putbacks.
Play hard, keep it going. A consistent effort, and practice at how to attack different defensive looks, will be needed from the Red Storm. Wagner will have wrinkles; St. John’s has to identify the wrinkles and keep executing.
30 minutes of hell. 88-67 St. John’s win.