The Red Storm opened their season with a nervy 76-75 win over Saint Peter’s. It was a game where some things went well for St. John’s, but overall, the team did not look cohesive on either end of the court.
Considering that more than half of the team’s minutes were used by players who were not on campus last year, and that Julian Champagnie was sidelined with an injury, “cohesive” would have been a surprise. But the defense had some poor moments, struggling to impose chaos on the Peacock ball handlers. Plus, the team could not score inside the arc (12/31 at the rim, 39%), and the returning players combined for 15 points on 4/22 shooting.
It’s just one game, and getting the whole team in sync and attacking as one will take time.
But today's opponent, the La Salle Explorers, are an A-10 team with decent talent who could also give St. John’s fits.
[Catch up with the season preview]
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (17-15 in 2000) vs. LaSalle Explorers (15-15 in 2000)
When: Thursday, November 26, 2020, 2:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
TV: FS1 | 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 and La Salle last played in 1964; the Johnnies and Explorers are tied 3-3 in their series.
Scouting La Salle
La Salle was a floor-spreading three-point shooting team last year that still could not score. The interior offense was poor and the squad turned the ball over often. The team was deep — they were 17th in the percentage of minutes played by their bench — but struggled early in A-10 play.
As a bonus negative, their best big man, Ed Croswell, transferred to Providence.
On the upside, the Explorers like to run, force turnovers, and have a talented 6’8” wing coming back by the name of Jack Clark (#5). He can shoot a bit and La Salle hopes he can break out as a sophomore after injuries last season. Sophomore Christian Ray was not a great shooter from distance, but rebounds (despite being 6’6”), gets steals, makes passes and crashes the glass.
Jared Kimbrough (#24), a 6’8” big, was quiet on the floor until Croswell’s departure; afterwards, eh scored in double figures in two of three of La Salle’s games. Brandon Stone (#23), a 6’11” forward, can shoot from distance as well.
Guard David Beatty (#1) is a 6’2” shooter who could be more consistent on his outside shot. Wing Sherif Kenny (#4) is a physical wing player, around Dylan Addae-Wusu's size, who can pass and force steals; he draws fouls at a solid clip.
Point guard Ayinde Hakim (#0) was a poor scorer but a very good passer in stretches as a freshman. Some improvements could make him a force to be reckoned with, and a wide-open game could give him some assist opportunities. Shooter Scott Spencer (#2) is the team’s best long-range threat.
Keys to the Game
Rush their shots. The Explorers love to shoot threes. Those threes, if defended, can turn into run out opportunities. The Red Storm, a short day after a tough game, have to make sure the defensive reactions are quick and effective to rush their shots.
Play with energy. The team will have 16 hours between games. The Red Storm have to concentrate, keep the ball moving, and not give in to cheap, easy shots.
Better rebounding. The work in the paint last night needs improvement. Giving up defensive rebounds as the Johnnies did at times against Saint Peter’s, or even the manner in which Saint Peter’s owned the paint — that needs to change for this team. Maybe it comes from more confident outside shooting? Or just playing against a less-experienced, less active set of bigs?
Prediction: St. John’s wins 76-68.