On Senior Night in Madison Square Garden, Marvin Clark II and the rest of the Red Storm get to try their hands at revenge against the Seton Hall Pirates, victors in their December meeting in Newark [more on that later].
It’s been a trying couple of weeks for the fans. While Chris Mullin preaches the need to maintain a steady level of effort, the need to forget the games or errors in the past and stay in the moment, it’s hard to ignore that way that Providence manhandled the Red Storm in both games.
Or Shamorie Ponds’ unsightly recent shooting numbers.
Or the need to find a little separation in a league that has been Marquette, Villanova, and the hoi polloi beating each other up in the muck of the standings.
This game will tilt the balance of the league, with three more league games to play.
The Red Storm could win out, or flame out, and a win against Seton Hall will keep them on the positive side of the NCAA Tournament ledger.
Some will posit that there is an effort issue from game to game with the Red Storm. That may be a factor, but for St. John’s, the games seem mostly about matchups of styles.
Teams with talent that want to run/ get sloppy with their scoring find that the Johnnies will take advantage (Creighton, Marquette, Villanova). Teams that can pound the paint and play zone find St. John’s turns into a defanged team for stretches.
The staff has to figure out an answer, and against Seton Hall is as good a time as any to solve the riddle and get the team running.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (19-8, 7-7 Big East) vs Seton Hall Pirates (16-10, 7-7 Big East)
Where: Madison Square Garden (capacity: 19,812)
When: Saturday, February 23rd, 8:00 PM ET
TV: Fox Sports 1 | online
Audio: TuneIn Radio | online
Odds: St. John’s, -4
Last Meeting: %^&*$&%$!!!!!
The voice of mom in my head says “use your words”, so the rephrase:
- St. John’s gives up a lead in the second half, gets it back.
- While up 1 point, with four seconds left, LJ Figueroa blocks Myles Powell’s weak layup out of bounds.
- The Pirates inbound with just under four second left; Quincy McKnight’s weak pass is tipped and caught by LJ Figueroa.
- On Figueroa’s way down with the ball, the referee calls Figueroa out of bounds.
- A long review ensues, where we learn that’s not a reversible call.
- The referee seemed to “see” Figueroa’s feet go out of bounds, even though he was dancing on the end line; really, the referee wasn’t looking at the feet, which would determine possession.
- Pirates get ball, inbound to Shavar Reynolds, who hits a winning three.
We here at the Rumble are not about that asterisk on a game, but that was egregious. But it happened. St. John’s could be 8-6 and Seton Hall, 6-8. But the teams are 7-7 and all we have right now is questions.
We do not know if St. John’s matches up well with Seton Hall or not. Underlying that awful officiating miscue in the last game is the truth that the pirates whipped out a zone and kept St. John’s scoreless for four minutes of clock time. In those four minutes, the Hall erased a 10-point deficit; the Johnnies had led by as many as 12 in the middle of the second half.
Slowing the Red Storm down, perhaps? Or did the Johnnies get tired?
The whole game, Kevin Willard’s Pirates attacked the glass, grabbing 38% of possible offensive rebounds. In the second half, Seton Hall got to the line more while St. John’s hot shooting from deep cooled off. The Pirate zone also stifled penetration and kept the Red Storm from getting to the rim.
The Pirates still feed off of Myles Powell, get support up front from Sandro Mamukelashvili and at the paint from Quincy McKnight, who is improving each month. Myles Cale provides shooting off the catch, generally, and Michael Nzei crashes the offensive glass hard.
Taurean Thompson adds size. Romaro Gill, who started their last game, is a 7’2” presence in the paint on defense. Shavar Reynolds, Jared Rhoden, and Anthony Nelson round out the regulars.
Keys to the Game
Do better on the glass. In the first matchup, the Red Storm had Figueroa and Ponds as the leading rebounders. This time, Sedee Keita and Josh Roberts can get some minutes inside to at least slow down the Hall’s attack on the boards. The Hall, not a spectacular offensive rebounding team in general, should be held to 23% or less in offensive boards. And if the Johnnies so choose, offensive glass opportunities will show up for them.
Better offensive balance. In the last outing, both Shamorie Ponds and Marvin Clark II struggled. Really, the whole team struggled offensively. Against the Pirates, contributions from all will be needed; when a player gets hot, the Hall will shift defenses to slow that player down. New threats must continually emerge — and the team has to identify when the Hall’s rules of engagement have changed, and where opportunity lies.
Keep the Hall off the line. Myles Powell, in particular, can push the issue and get shots from the free throw stripe. For the Pirates, getting to the free throw line is a way of slowing down the pace, keeping a team from running out after misses. Off of a free throw, the Hall can set up a variety of defensive looks.
We will keep it positive, since St. John’s is at home on senior night. Red Storm win, 77-70.