St. John’s plays a second game in the midwest this week, heading to Chicago to take on DePaul — the lone team the Red Storm have defeated in league play this season.
The Big East is strong and full of difficulties, and none may be more difficult than facing a team that knows they did not play their best in the first matchup. Below, we will review how DePaul may change their approach, but note: the Blue Demons are coming off of a lackluster performance against Creighton, but previous had beat Butler, then ranked #5, by 13 points, and it wasn’t really that close.
St. John’s needs to end their skid, and DePaul — a talented team that has hit a rough, icy lakefront patch — could be the team that helps the Johnnies pull up a hard-fought win.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (12-8, 1-6 Big East) vs. DePaul Blue Demons (13-6, 1-5)
When: Saturday, January 25th, 2:00 PM ET (1:00 PM Central time)
Where: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL
TV: FS1 | FoxSportsGo
Audio: St. John’s website provides free audio for the game. The stream can be found by clicking here.
Tickets: You can get tickets for $21 and up if you’re flying out to Chicago (or already live there. Shoutout to the Chi-town St. John’s crew).
Last Season in WinTrust: St. John’s lost 92-83. Max Strus dropped 43 on the Johnnies, Chris Mullin argued with the refs, Josh Roberts helped the Red Storm inside in his first start but was saddled with fouls; then the Demons feasted on Storm entrails, or fears, or bad shots, whatever it is demons feast on.
Last Big East game:
DePaul lacked energy and forward Jaylen Butz in a loss to Creighton; the Blue Jays opened up the second half with a burst of shooting.
For St. John’s, the Red Storm found the Golden Eagles able to bomb from outside, and the Johnnies could not keep up with the perimeter barrage; Marquette shot 32 threes, 19 twos, and 33 free throws in the win. St. John’s had nine free throws.
Scouting DePaul/ changes
[Read more from our previous St. John’s/ DePaul preview]
The Blue Demons have continued to give up the three-point shot. They continue to foul, give up offensive rebounds, and turn the ball over. And yet, the Blue Demons have managed to crash the offensive glass and shoot three-pointers effectively enough to put up some potent offense.
It’s their defense that has led them slightly astray, if you can say that. The Blue Demons too Villanova to overtime on the road in a loss, beat Butler early, often and steadily, but dropped a contest at home to Creighton.
“Our execution and our energy wasn’t what it needed to be,” DePaul head coach Dave Leitao said after the game, per the Chicago Tribune. “When we play well, it’s because we play energized and with passion. We didn’t do that.”
St. John’s, in the three games since the teams met, has delivered strong defensive performances. The offense for the Johnnies has been poor — shooting 31% on three-pointers and 44% on twos (Providence, Xavier and Villanova have been worse inside the arc), while getting to the line far less than the other Big East teams has been the culprit.
DePaul may be dealing with Jaylen Butz’s absence. Butz, a bruising power forward, is a defensive force that helps Paul Reed be a force on both ends of the floor inside. In his stead, Nick Ongenda started, a 6’10” freshman.
DePaul also got an immediately eligible grad transfer in Chicagoan DJ Williams, a slashing wing who last played at George Washington; he was at Illinois for two seasons.
Paul Reed, who was held to four points against St. John’s, should be expected to attack aggressively.
Keys to the Game
More turnovers. The Johnnies took advantage of some sloppiness from the likes of Charlie Moore and the Demons. Expect them to be crisper this time around, but the Red Storm have to make their offensive players think before they pass, deflect, and get turnovers.
Flummox Reed again. The Johnnies won’t hold Reed to four points. But if he is going to score, he will need to try hard to do it — and take the Demons out of their flow. The interior defense has to be swarming and annoying.
Draw fouls. St. John’s picked up only nine free throws against the Golden Eagles. Some of that was good defense, some of that was perhaps not getting credit for drawing contact. But whatever it is, St. John’s needs to get to the free throw line early and often.
DePaul will have enough to pull out a close win on St. John’s. 76-69, Blue Demons.