St. John’s season has very quickly taken a turn for the worse.
Just one month ago, the Johnnies held a respectable 12-5 record. At that point in the season, merely staying out of the Big East’s cellar likely would have led to a NCAA Tournament bid.
Following a home victory against DePaul just one month ago, the Red Storm have lost six of their last seven. Their tournament aspirations seem all but lost, and the confidence they have displayed so many times this season has slowly fled. Making matters worse, according to the New York Post, St. John’s is now expected to be without senior guard Mustapha Heron for the rest of the season.
The Big East has been incredibly competitive this season. Mike Anderson’s team has learned the hard way. St. John’s currently owns a 2-9 record in conference, including two excruciating home losses against Seton Hall and Georgetown.
Nevertheless, not all is lost for the Johnnies. There is no reason they cannot play themselves into the NIT, where they could potentially meet traditional foes Georgetown, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut. There is no saying where this season is headed for the Johnnies, but it is clear that a victory against Providence will only help.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (13-11, 2-9 Big East) vs. Providence Friars (13-11, 6-5 Big East)
When: Wednesday, February 12th, 8:30 PM ET
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
TV: CBS Sports Network | CBS Sports
Audio: St. John’s website provides free audio for the game. The stream can be found by clicking here.
Tickets: For any fans hoping to catch a game at Carnesecca, it will only set you back $13. Fans can purchase tickets by clicking this link.
Last Meeting: St. John’s could not overcome their poor shooting performance, falling 63-58 to the Friars in Providence.
Last Big East game: St. John’s was overwhelmed by a good shooting Creighton team. They left Omaha defeated by a score of 94-82.
The Friars fought hard, but fell just short at Xavier last weekend. They could not find any rhythm from deep and lost 64-58 as a result.
Since the last time these two met, the Friars have lost four of six. They have had one of the more inconsistent seasons in the country. Coach Ed Cooley’s team currently owns good wins against Marquette, Butler, and Creighton. Nevertheless, they have also lost to Long Beach State, Penn, and Charleston.
Offense: According to KenPom’s offensive efficiency rankings, the Friars have one of the worst groups in the Big East.
This is a team that does not like to push the pace, rather setting up much of their offense in the half-court. They have found success this season on the offensive glass. Beyond that, Providence has struggled to effectively score the basketball.
They have shot a lackluster 46% from inside the arc this season, and an equally uninspiring 32% from three. This is a team that does not necessarily get to the foul line all that often. Even when they do have the opportunity to shoot free throws, the Friars are only converting on 69% of their chances. Overall, this Friars’ team is not all that great offensively.
Defense: On the other end of the floor, Providence has proven to be a good defensive unit. Similar to St. John’s, the Friars are good at stealing the ball. Just around 22% of the time Providence turns their opponent over, while 12% of the time they end a defensive possession with a steal. Furthermore, they have been good all season defending the perimeter. Providence opponents are shooting a lousy 32% from three.
Expect to see a lot of sophomore guard David Duke (#3). He currently leads the Friars in minutes per contest. So far he is averaging about 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Duke is the main shooting threat from Providence. He is shooting 46% from distance this year.
Joining him in the backcourt is senior guard Alpha Diallo (#11). Diallo is a rather large guard standing at 6 foot 7 inches. This season he has averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds per game. The Johnnies will have to keep him in check.
Another Friar to watch out for is big man Kalif Young. Last time against the Johnnies, he used his big body to grab eight rebounds. Alongside him in the frontcourt is center Nate Watson. He is averaging 10 points and five rebounds per game, while shooting 53% from the field.
Keys to the Contest
Limit Second Chances: Once again, Providence is extremely good at rebounding on the offensive end. They snatch about 33% of their missed shots, which allows for many second chances. The Friars are not a formidable threat on offense. If they are limited in their second chance points, they are going to be even less of a threat. The Johnnies must get on the defensive glass.
Make the critical play: St. John’s has lost four home games by one possession this season. In three of those cases, the Johnnies blew a second-half lead. There is a solid chance this game comes down to the final five minutes. When the game gets tight and the clock is winding down the Red Storm have to make plays. They cannot allow this contest to be their fifth close loss at home.
Speed up the Friars: Providence plays a much slower game than St. John’s does. Coach Anderson’s team loves to push the pace. If they can dictate the tempo of this contest, they have a good chance at victory. Teams that play quicker than their comfort are prone to mistakes. Making the Friars play fast should be a goal for the Red Storm in this one.
St. John’s has avoided a four-game losing streak all season. In both instances, a victory over DePaul snapped their three-game losing skid.
Providence is not DePaul, but they arguably are the closest team to the Blue Demons in conference. The Johnnies will not let themselves get swept by the Friars.
St. John’s: 68