This afternoon, St. John’s gets back on the court at Carnesecca Arena to take on the Saint Peter’s Peacocks at home, considered to be a leading contender in the MAAC.
The Red Storm's first game was promising — a 58-point win against Mississippi Valley State.
The matchup against the Peacocks should be much less of a walkover. The rising squad from Jersey City are a local foe with athleticism, a strong defense, and a lot of experience playing together.
Saint Peter’s, coached by former Seton Hall star and assistant coach Shaheen Holloway, is ranked far higher than Mississippi Valley State and gave the Johnnies some trouble to open the season last year.
The Red Storm would like to build up some momentum before heading to Indiana for their Gavitt Games matchup next Wednesday. The game against MVSU gave the Johnnies a chance to experiment with their depth and give the Devils plenty of different looks.
In a game that could be tight, it will be interesting to see how Mike Anderson distributes minutes.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (Big East, 16-11 last season, 1-0 this year) vs Saint Peter’s Peacocks (MAAC, 14-11 last season, 0-1 this year)
When: Saturday, November 13, 2021, 4:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
TV: FS1 | online
Radio: TuneIn | Red Storm Sports App
Last Matchup: St. John’s won a 76-75 thriller in the first game of the 2020-21 season. All-time, St. John’s is 19-0 against the Peacocks.
Scouting the Peacocks
Saint Peter’s finished 5th in the MAAC last year, and have a KenPom ranking of 162 out of 358.
The Peacocks also opened their season on Tuesday, losing 57-54 to VCU. The Peacocks gave St. John’s a game to start the season last year, keeping it close down the stretch, and it looked as if they might upset the Red Storm until a Posh Alexander steal and Vince Cole three with eight seconds remaining put the team up one.
Saint Peter’s has a very similar team to the one that visited last year, returning all 5 starters and 90% of their scoring. Their best returning player is two time MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, 6-7 forward KC Ndefo.
Ndefo averaged 14 points, seven rebounds, and nearly four blocks last season, and considered transferring after the season but decided to stay with the Peacocks. He was only able to play 16 minutes and score 10 points in the season opener due to foul trouble. The other returning frontcourt starter for Saint Peter’s is 6-7 forward Fousseyni Drame, who averaged eight points and seven rebounds last season, and had six points and eight rebounds against VCU.
The Peacocks run a relatively small starting five, with three guards 6-3 or under. 6-3 Darryl Banks averaged 11 points, four rebounds, and two assists last season, hitting 1.8 threes a game at 37.4% from deep. There is also 6-0 Matthew Lee, who averaged eight points and four assists last season, and 6-2 Doug Edert, who averaged eight points and three rebounds last season. Edert led the team with 17 points in the opener against VCU.
Saint Peter’s made use of five players off the bench against VCU, but only one received more than 10 minutes. That was 6-7 forward Hassan Drame, twin brother of starting forward Fousseyni Drame. Hassan averaged six points and six rebounds last year, and played 26 minutes against VCU, only scoring two points and turning the ball over four times.
Guards Isiah Dasher, Jaylen Murray, and Marty Silver, and forward Clarence Rupert all played 10 minutes or less in this year’s season opener, and combined to score four points.
Keys to the Game
St. John’s will want to play their game — high-pressure and in transition — even though the Johnnies would have an advantage in a slower-paced game, given the Red Storm’s height. Can the team force turnovers and make the Peacocks play an uncomfortable game?
Control the paint. Saint Peter’s did not play a player taller than 6-8 against VCU, and the Johnnies need to take advantage of this lack of size. Watch the rebounding numbers, and look for Joel Soriano, Aaron Wheeler, Omar Stanley, Esahia Nyiwe, and even Julian Champagnie to score points in the paint and control the glass on both ends.
Play team basketball. The Peacocks do not have depth and the Johnnies seem to have a deep team. St. John’s should take advantage of this through playing team ball, using a lot of energy to pressure Peacock guards, and getting plenty of different guys involved.
Control the game. It is important for the Red Storm to have control throughout the entirety of the game, as last year they let the Peacocks go on a second half run that almost lost them the game. How the Johnnies adjust to Saint Peter’s adjustments and runs will be telling.
St. John’s keeps momentum going with an 80-65 win.