St. John’s tangles with Marquette tonight in Milwaukee, hoping to earn their second Big East win. The Red Storm have won one of their last six games, struggling to put the ball in the basket and to keep opponents off the offensive glass.
The performances, mostly, have been solid; but the team needs a few players to step up their offensive games and pull the team to a win.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (12-7, 1-5 Big East) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (13-5, 3-3 Big East)
When: Tuesday, January 21st, 9:00 PM ET
Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
TV: FS1 | FoxSportsGo
Audio: St. John’s website provides free audio for the game. The stream can be found by clicking here.
Tickets: Tickets can be had for as low as $5.
Last Season in Milwaukee: St. John’s needed a last-minute layup from Shamorie Ponds and some defense on Markus Howard by Mustapha Heron to come away with a 70-69 win over the Golden Eagles, sweeping Marquette. Greg Williams Jr. had 14 solid minutes, helping to cover foul trouble for his fellow guards.
Last Big East game: St. John’s battled the Hall, but fell in a close game, 82-79. Marquette defeated Georgetown in DC 84-80 behind 42 points from Markus Howard and some late game free throws from Koby McEwen.
Last six games, W/L form (left side is most recent game)
St. John’s: LLLWLL || Marquette: LWLLWW
Marquette plays an uptempo style, and takes a lot of shots outside the arc — they are willing to take more threes than twos. If St. John’s can’t find a way to slow them down, the Golden Eagles can put up points in bunches faster than the Red Storm will be able to keep up. The Johnnies take a far lower percentage of shots from beyond the arc, and don’t get to the line enough to compensate.
On offense, stroke threes efficiently (at 39.7% on threes this season, they are 5th best in the nation). They have gotten to the line in non-conference play but struggled to draw free throw attempts in Big East play. Defensively they have guarded well but not spectacularly; there won’t be many steals forced or shots blocked, but they will rebound on the defensive end.
Marquette is much the same as they have been with star guard Markus Howard (#0) — a team that scores, scores in bunches, and features Markus Howard taking a lot of shots. His percentage of shots taken while on the floor is tops in the nation at 42%. He’s deft in transition and more of a quick guard than Myles Powell of Seton Hall, who is more of a power players.
In years past, St. John’s has had moderate success chasing Howard with Justin Simon, who topped the 5’111” Howard by six inches and had the quickness and defensive reaction time to stay in front of him, chase him around multiple screens, and to make the process of catching and turning to square up for a shot or drive difficult. Note that Howard is better at drawing fouls at the rim than he is at actually making contested shots close to the basket.
Nick Rutherford will likely get some cracks at that task; his defense has been strong all season. (For what it’s worth, the defensive rating for the Red Storm while he is on the floor is 89.6 points allowed per 100, second among major contributors only to LJ Figueroa. Josh Roberts is third.)
Wings Koby McEwen (#25) and Sacar Anim (#2) are capable drivers/ jump shooters. McEwen, a transfer from Utah State, put up points in bunches at his previous stop, but has been inconsistent with Marquette shooting from the field. He has a very good touch at the line, and when he’s on, can physically get his way to the basket. McEwen is also a solid passer. Symir Torrence (#10) has seen minutes but is not heavily involved in trying to score.
Big man Theo John (#4) is trouble for the Johnnies — if he can stay out of foul trouble. He is a strong offensive rebounder and a good one on the defensive end. His hands and touch at the rim aren’t top-notch, but given a chance, he will dunk the ball. John blocks a good number of shots and at 6’9”, 255, is an imposing figure in the paint. He is their best defensive presence.
Jayce Johnson (#34) does not see a lot of time, but the seven-footer can also alter shots.
Forward Brendan Bailey (#1) is a 6’8” forward with ability to score from beyond the arc and to take jump shots inside the arc. He is pretty quick, and can block some shots, but not terribly physical. Jamal Cain (#23) has been solid scoring inside the arc and will throw down a dunk. He has also been a good defensive rebounding in Big East play.
Greg Elliott (#5) is a defensive-minded wing who has missed the past three games with an ankle injury. He has shot fairly well on the season, but has deferred to others in the offense.
Forward Ed Morrow (#30) has missed the past two games after leaving the Golden Eagles for an “indefinite absence” for personal reasons.
Keys to the Game
Score. The most glaring issue with this year’s Red Storm is the inability to put points up enough to keep up with Big East foes. The team lacks reliable shooters, the offense is not structured to free players up for shots, and the best options have been Rasheem Dunn’s and LJ Figueroa’s one-on-one quickness — which depends on them making the shots they generate. The Red Storm do a lot of things right in terms of protecting the ball, but they need to generate more shots, get offensive rebounds or get to the line.
Force mistakes. The quick Golden Eagles get their shots up. Can St. John’s force them into turnovers and slow them down for long stretches?
Do not let them score easily. The Red Storm defenders need to pay attention on defense, not let the Golden Eagles draw fouls. Covering the right spots in the paint will convince Marquette that a better shot is a pull-up jumper off the dribble; those are the shots that St. John’s wants them to take. That shot is less efficient than a catch-and-shoot three or a dunk.
Why not? St. John’s can build off of a good performance on Saturday and come away with the road win, 75-71 Red Storm.