Against DePaul last night, St. John’s looked the best it has since the first half of the last Seton Hall game.
Big East Defensive Player of the Year Justin Simon received the challenge of bottling up Max Strus last night and thrived in trying to “make [Strus] uncomfortable.” Tonight, the challenge will be turned up a notch for Simon, as it will likely be his responsibility to negate Big East Player of the Year Markus Howard.
For St. John’s as a whole, tournament season would be an ideal time to perform with consistency. The Johnnies have won back-to-back games against Big East opponents only three times this year. If the Red Storm wants to advance, they need to string together wins.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (21-11, 8-10 Big East regular season) vs Marquette Golden Eagles (23-8, 12-6 Big East regular season)
Where: Madison Square Garden (cap: 19,812)
When: Thursday, March 14, 7:00 PM
TV: FS1 | Fox Online
Audio: 570 AM WMCA | TuneIn Radio
Odds: Opened at Marquette, -2.5 per Oddsshark
Scouting Marquette/ St. John’s
Over the course of the season, the bulk of Marquette’s scoring load has fallen to Howard (25.0 PPG) and the Hauser brothers (Sam - 14.8 PPG, Joey - 9.8 PPG).
St. John’s has held Howard to a combined 25 points over their past two match-ups, and success tonight will likely require another off night for Marquette’s leading scorer.
While the Hausers will likely pick up some of the slack for Howard, but the other big threat to St John’s is Theo John and Ed Morrow. The duo of bigs grab 1.8 and 1.6 offensive rebounds per game, respectively.
Marquette has grabbed 9 and 10 offensive boards in the last two match-ups with the Johnnies. Even if Simon silences Howard, if John, Morrow, and the rest of Marquette can create more than 10 second chance opportunities for the Golden Eagles, St. John’s will struggle to keep the Marquette offense reigned in.
Keys to the Game
Simon says stop. Howard will want to go and score, and it will be Simon’s job to deny Howard. Marquette will introduce more wrinkles to get Howard free, and Simon must find a way to adapt and overcome.
Finish defensive possessions. This is March, and St. John’s will not become a great rebounding team all of a sudden. Marquette will grab some offensive boards, but St. John’s needs to make them work for them. When they do get second chances, St. John’s must deny second chance points.
Make Marquette move. Against DePaul, St. John’s was at its best when the ball was flying around the perimeter and going in and out of the paint. In the half-court possessions, St. John’s needs to make sure the ball touches the paint and moves from sideline to sideline to supplement their open-court scoring.
It is tough to beat a team three times in a season as demonstrated by last night’s DePaul game. However, when St. John’s is rolling, they may be the hardest team to beat in the Big East. St. John’s wins in a thriller, 75-73 with neither team shooting better than 33% from deep.