A little applause for the Red Storm, who crafted their own three-team mini tournament — this will be the latest edition of the Lapchick Tournament — while bringing in two teams that are on the rise (and should be actual challenges), two teams with unique mascot names, two teams with black head coaches who are former Big East assistants.
And applause for the team managing to, despite living in one of the most crowded areas of the country, not go on a 14-day quarantine pause because someone in the circle tested positive for the coronavirus. (I have no doubt it is going to happen, but this has been really good work of the players and staff for taking precautions seriously.)
The Red Storm, with no exhibition games under their belt, games at 7 pm tonight and 2 pm tomorrow, face the challenge of the quick turnaround and rust, as the team integrates a set of new players. And... there is a possible injury to Julian Champagnie that may hold him out.
We will get to see a host of new players — Isaih Moore, Posh Alexander, Vince Cole, Dylan Addae-Wusu, Jonathan McGriff, Arnaldo Toro. It’s good to be back.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (17-15 in 2000) vs. Saint Peter’s Peacocks (18-12 in 2000)
When: Wednesday, November 25, 2020, 7:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
TV: FS2 | Fox Sports Online
Audio: St. John’s website provides free audio for the game.
Tickets: We are in the second wave of a pandemic. There are no tickets. But you CAN purchase a fan cutout!
Last Meeting: St. John’s gave up a late run to Saint Peter’s but still won by 10 last season.
Scouting Saint Peter’s
First up in the 2021 season for the Johnnies are the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, helmed by Shaheen Holloway. The Peackocks came to St. John’s last year, and the Johnnies, led by Julian Champagnie early, built a big 20 point lead... only to allow a spirited 19-2 run to let the Peacocks claw back.
This year’s version of Saint Peter’s hopes to build on the pillars of last year, where the Peacocks played inspired defense and spread the minutes; Holloway’s team led the NCAA in percentage of bench minutes, and no player logged more than 57% of the time on the floor.
Guard Aaron Estrada went to Oregon (he and LJ Figueroa are hoping to be cleared to play without sitting out this season), but most of the rest of the team from last year remains.
Guard Daryl Banks (#5), shooter Doug Edert (#2) and forward KC Ndefo (#11) should lead the charge as veterans in the system. Edert and Banks are outside shooting threats. Matthew Lee (#15) is another shooter to watch for.
Ndefo is undersized but a good rebounder and an offensive rebounding threat. He is quick off the floor to block shots as well.
The Drame twins - Fousseyni Drame (#10) and Hassan Drame (#14) - provide more size inside. They and Ndefo are able to run the floor with the Johnnies’ athleticism, and can draw forwards away from the basket. Hassan Drame posted excellent defensive rebounding rates, and the twins are also offensive rebounding threats.
Keys to the Game
Keep them off the glass. The Peacocks will be aggressive in getting to the glass after missed jumpers, and the Johnnies need to be aware. The skills of Josh Roberts, Arnaldo Toro and Isaih Moore will come in handy in the opener.
Make the defenses honest. Shooting will be a question this season. Faced with a team that can run with St. John’s, and a team that knows the Red Storm want to run, Mike Anderson’s team has to make some shots.
Smarter team play. The Red Storm will take quick shot opportunities. They need to be smart about what opportunities they are seeing, and not be goaded into bad shots, ball hogging, and stiff ball movement.
A little applause for the beginning of what should be a strange season, filled with rescheduling, cancellations and the occasional lawyer to argue the language of signed contracts.
This is NCAA basketball under the ‘rona.
Prediction: St. John’s should win, 78-66