Two days ago, St. John’s went on the road and, perhaps learned some lessons.
A tough game against the strong defense of Indiana was a reminder that it has been a long time since this team has played in a venue with a loud partisan crowd, or against a team that can physically match the Red Storm.
Tomorrow’s game against Fairleigh Dickinson, however... should be less challenging, given the level of the FDU Knights.
The Johnnies still need to not allow for a let down in their return to the friendly confines of Carnesecca Arena. And as a team, the squad needs to sharpen up some areas that could make the Knights a tough opponent, if they are allowed to hang with St. John’s.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (Big East, 2-1) vs Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (NEC, 0-2)
When: Saturday, November 19, 2021, 6:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
TV: FS2 | online
Radio: | TuneIn
Odds: St. John’s
History: St. John’s is 12-0 against FDU, having played since 1959.
Scouting Fairleigh Dickinson
To be clear, Fairleigh Dickinson is more like Mississippi Valley State than Saint Peter’s, and on paper, is the kind of team brought in for the expectation of a fairly comfortable win. Coach Greg Herenda, now in his ninth year, has made FDU solid contenders in the NEC, with a pair of NCAA berths earned (both 16 seeds).
The Knights tend to play fast, play a deep bench, look for steals on defense, and have been a better offensive team than defensive team over the years.
This season, with a number of young additions to their lineup/ bench, the Knights have played Seton Hall and Northwestern, and have not scored 50 points in either game. The gave up over 90 to Seton Hall and 83 to Northwestern. On a per-possession basis, the Knights scored 0.64 points/ possession, shooting 3/30 on their three-pointers and 26% inside the arc.
Chances are that St. John’s will win big, but FDU will come away with positives after scoring more than 50 points — because St. John’s has a defense that will give them opportunities to actually hit a few threes.
Three-year starter Brandon Rush [#2] has taken on a bit more of a load for the Knights, and is the only player scoring in double figures. The experienced lead guard also draws fouls. Guard Devon Dunn [#0], a co-captain, is primarily an outside shooter; the Knights will look to get him off tomorrow night. Wing Joe Munden [#1] was their leader in steals per minute last season.
Up front, Bronx native 6’5” Ibrahim Wattara [#11] scored in double figures against Northwestern. The Knights have additional height in 6’9” Anquan Hill [#35] and 6’8” Pier-Olivier Racine [#14].
Keys to the Game
Play hard. This is the kind of game that some teams decide to bring their “B” game for. That often does not work out well. Playing with energy and forcing turnovers from the beginning will establish the Johnnies in the game.
Make the shooting windows small. The one way the Red Storm can struggle — and an important on-court problem to work on — is making sure that the open spaces when an opponent breaks the press are very small. Specifically, the corner three is often open against the Red Storm’s press, and the Red Storm players have to rotate and dash with awareness.
Protect the ball. Turnovers have been a problem for the Red Storm, who were better at ball protection last season.
What we want to see
Tomorrow’s game — and the following match against St. Francis (Brooklyn) are opportunities to fine tune the Red Storm attack. In particular, St. John’s should take the opportunity to:
- Get Aaron Wheeler and Tareq Coburn in rhythm. Wheeler only logged nine minutes against the Hoosiers on Wednesday, and has the talent to make more of an impact. Meanwhile, Coburn, who looked like a scoring machine in the first two games — went scoreless against the Big Ten foe.
- Work on their transition spacing and take quick shots, especially at the rim.
- Aim for the lowest number of turnovers possible. Communication and understanding help, but so does repetition — to reduce miscues.
St. John’s 94-60.