St. John’s may have come from the loss to the Connecticut Huskies with the sense that some things are coming together for the team. The next opponent, Georgetown, is exactly the kind of foe that the Red Storm can show their true improvement against.
Still, the things that St. John’s does well on the floor have been stymied by teams with imposing, experienced big men. While the Hoyas bigs have not yet emerged as league-leaders yet, the Red Storm could find themselves on the wrong side of some highlight reel star moments from the Hoyas centers.
Georgetown may have many questions, but so does St. John’s. And if the Red Storm have postseason hopes, the turnaround has to start with a convincing win over Georgetown at home in their first Big East game in Madison Square Garden this season, a win where the promise from the previous game turns into a resounding victory.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (9-5, 1-2 Big East) vs Georgetown Hoyas (6-7, 1-2 Big East)
When: Sunday, January 16, 2022, 4:30 PM
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Odds: St. John’s, -10.5
Last Year: St. John’s and Georgetown split two high-scoring games last year, with the Red Storm losing in overtime on the road and winning by 11 at home.
The Georgetown Hoyas have a number of injuries — and had their coach missing from their last game due to Washing DC’s health and safety protocols.
Even before the recent injuries to players like shooting guard Donald Carey and the December injury to freshman guard Jordan Riley, the Hoyas have struggled to shoot and to defend, losing to Dartmouth in their season opener but with a win over Syracuse on the season.
At full strength, the Hoyas shoot threes well, though the starting guards try to drive to the basket and create penetration in their fast-paced offense. The team’s two-point shooting has been poor, in large part because the starting guards have not been strong at converting inside the arc. The bigs (and one guard) are very good offensive rebounders, however, and Georgetown will draw fouls.
Defensively, the Hoyas defend without fouling, but are very permissive inside and outside the arc. Teams find (and comfortably make) threes. Given the size of the Hoyas, scoring inside is a bit more difficult, though they are not as parsimonious as, say UConn. Georgetown has struggled to maintain defensive balance in transition, and fastbreak points should be available if the Hoyas plays as they did in the first two Big East games.
The guards Aminu Mohammed (#0) and Dante Harris (#2) take up a number of possessions and attack with the ball. Mohammed has been a volume scorer with a nice touch outside the arc. Inside the arc, he has really struggled at the rim and has taken a lot of shots at the rim. With a big 6’5” frame, though, he will draw fouls; he will be a tough matchup for Montez Mathis and Dylan Addae-Wusu.
Harris is smaller, and will pull up for shots early in the offense. Sometimes, he can be a spark, and sometimes he can be sloppy with his decision-making. His passing is generally good. Both he and Mohammed will force steals. Dante Harris missed the Hoyas’ last game, and freshman Tyler Beard (#3) got some run. He has some talent and is a betters scorer inside the arc, but defensively less impactful, and more turnover-prone.
Wing Kaiden Rice (#11) is strictly a three-point shooter; he has a quick release and can drop some points. The transfer from The Citadel scored 34 against UMBC and has topped 20 twice. St. John’s will need to find him in transition.
Wing Collin Holloway (#23) is strictly a driver, and has big shoulders that help him draw fouls. (Holloway is 7/14 on threes this season, so “strictly” is a bit strong.) Holloway looks to be a relatively decent defender, but fouls a lot. He may be facing Julian Champagnie.
If he plays, Donald Carey (#13) is a smart player who will mostly shoot threes. He is above 90% form the free throw line, passes the ball well, and is a key to calming to Hoya attack.
If Kobe Clark (#24) plays, he’s seen action in two games and offers a seldom-used 6’6” wing frame who grabbed 10 rebounds in his collegiate debut.
Up front, Timothe Ighoefe (#5) returned to the starting lineup after a six-game injury absence. At 7 feet and 250 pounds, he is a strong shot blocker and defensive rebounder who fouls too much. He’s a solid scorer at the basket, but does not get much offense run for him, or isn’t aggressive with the ball when he has chances.
Seven-footer Malcolm Wilson started with Ighoefe was out but only played three minutes against Butler. He blocks shots, rarely turns the ball over in possession, and leads the Hoyas with 11 dunks. Ryan Mutumbo (#21) — yes, the son of Dikembe — does block shots, grabs offensive rebounds, and has a burgeoning touch from outside the paint.
Forward Jalin Billingsley (#4) is 6’8”, solidly athletic, and scored his career-high of eight points against Butler.
Keys to the Game
Play relentless basketball. The Red Storm have played with solid effort in recent games, and seem close to delivering the kind of chaos that was promised from a Mike Anderson club. In front of the home fans, the team can show just how disruptive they can be on defense.
Compete inside. The Hoyas have size and will lean on that size at times, especially on defense against the driving guards of the Red Storm. St. John’s has to attack for offensive rebounds, continue to try and draw fouls, read the defense for attacking opportunities, and pose a stout response to the Georgetown size.
Transition/ threes. There will be transition opportunities that St. John’s has to work hard not to squander. And the three-pointers should be available after ball movement, or even in transition. Some strong outside shooting, coupled with keeping the Hoyas from scoring in transition, should lead to a win.
St. John’s wins, though they let Georgetown have hope. 91-82, Red Storm.