This was once a game against Sacred Heart, but the COVID-year of college basketball has been a twisting ride for St. John’s.
In this topsy-turvy year, where Gonzaga had some members of their traveling party test positive for COVID-19, but other members of that party played... and then had another game cancelled for a positive on another player, after the team traveled from Florida to Indiana, we should be thankful that St. John’s has, so far, found games to stick in the schedule.
Kudos for St. John’s staff, administration and players for managing to get four games in already.
Stony Brook started their season late because of COVID-19 positives, and will only be tipping off their third game. The Johnnies, on the other side,have an opportunity to shore up any rough parts of their game against a team that is filled with newcomers.
For the Johnnies, roles still need to be worked out before Big East play begins in a week. Will Rasheem Dunn play? Will the players who shined in the first two games elevate their play?
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (3-1) vs. Stony Brook Seawolves (1-1)
When: Sunday, December 6, 2020, 2:30 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena
TV: FS1 | Fox Sports Online
Audio: St. John’s website provides free audio for the game.
Tickets: Nope. Unless you are a cardboard cutout.
Last Meeting: St. John’s handled the Seawolves back in 2009, 63-55.
Scouting Stony Brook
The Seawolves had some talent coming back, until that talent all transferred out to places like Miami, California, Georgia and UT Rio Grande. The team’s top four scorers and six players in total left from a team that had solid height and was difficult to score on in the paint.
Now? Returnee Mouhamadou Gueye is a 6’9” rebounding forward with some range who is raw inside the arc, and he is the one significant returnee. He has been a very good defensive rebounder despite being listed at 210 pounds; he has good hands and had good energy when I saw him play Albany last season. He is also an excellent shot blocker.
Jaden Sayles, meanwhile, is a transfer from Akron who is a 6’9” big body to bolster the front court. He has handed out eight assists in his two games at Stony Brook — delivering dimes on 31% of his team’s shots while on the floor, which is wildly, wildly out of line with his past. He had delivered five assists in three years (albeit limited minutes) with the Zips.
Frankie Policelli has some promise and transferred from Dayton. The 6’9” local forward has some range, athleticism and versatility. His shots have tended to come from deep, so he needs to be played as a perimeter threat. Policelli’s defensive rebounding is solid, and, in high school, he was thought to have potential to be much better than his ranking.
Manhattan transfer Tykei Greene is a strong-bodied guard who, at least in two games, has rediscovered his scoring touch now that he has left the Jaspers. He’s from Queens, and is a pretty solid defender without committing fouls. Which is strange for any player who has played at Manhattan, where fouling is like saying “peace be with you” at church.
Wing Mohamed Diallo is former Providence wing Alpha Diallo’s brother. Juan Felix Rodriguez has been the most impressive newcomer, drawing fouls and dishing out assists in the backcourt. The six-footer is from Lawrence, MA, like LJ Figueroa, and is a solid rebounder despite his size.
Point guard Jordan McKenzie has also been at Stony Brook for four years.
Keys to the Game
Push the pace. Speed is the key, speed and chaos. The Red Storm want to impose their defensive will and get comfortable playing their game.
Post play. St. John’s need to work on shoring up their interior play. The talent is there to create an interior presence to go along with the wings and guards, but that play has to be more consistent.
Handle the ball. The Johnnies need to improve their ball handling from the past two games. The outcome of this game won’t let fans know whether they have solved the problem or not, but a good, low-turnover performance for this team will indicate they are getting to know each other.
Prediction: I don’t know about a 16-point spread, but the Red Storm should handle this game. 88-64, Johnnies.