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St. John’s at Seton Hall: preview, prediction, how to watch

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St. John’s gets a shot at a split two days after the last game against the rival Pirates.

Posh Alexander reaches for a ball on the floor.
Nick Bello

St. John’s gets back into action tonight against the same opponent from Saturday’s game, the Seton Hall Pirates — but this time, across the Hudson River and in the Township of South Orange Village, on the Hall’s campus. St. John’s has not played there since 1985. Originally, the game was to be the opener for Big East play, and played at the Prudential Center in Newark, but, well, COVID causes pauses.

Seton Hall is having some fun with the change. Former Seton Hall coach Bill Raftery will be on the call, and only Seton Hall students will attend the game. So unlike the game at the Garden, there won’t be the neutral site/ rivalry atmosphere with accolades for the road team — it will be all Pirates, at full throat.

Can St. John’s correct what went wrong in a close loss on Saturday and leave New Jersey with a W?

Game Information

Who: St. John’s Red Storm (10-7, 2-4 Big East) vs Seton Hall Pirates (12-5, 3-4 Big East)

When: Monday, January 24, 2022, 9:00 PM

Where: Walsh Gym, South Orange, NJ

TV: FS1

Odds: Seton Hall -7.5

Last Season: The teams both won at home during the regular season, and the Pirates knocked off the Johnnies in the first round of the Big East Tournament.

Scouting Seton Hall

See our preview for Saturday’s game

Keys to the Game, from earlier preview

The keys to the last game are good keys, and St. John’s managed to miss on each of them. Here’s a look at the keys and how to turn things around.

Have a good game out of Champagnie. St. John’s did not get a good game out of Julian Champagnie. We assume the team knows it and the coaches know it and Julian knows it. He went 3/14 from the field for nine points, his first single-digit game since the Big East Tournament win over Georgetown back in 2020. You know, just before COVID precautions locked everything down.

Seton Hall kept him from getting clean looks. Here is Seton Hall guard Myles Cale reflecting on the work he (and the rest of the Pirates) did to hold down the 21-point per game scorer Champagnie:

“We had a week to prepare for them, and our coaches did a phenomenal job of breaking it down,” Cale said of Champagnie’s tendencies. “I watched a lot of their Creighton game (a road loss Wednesday) and I saw how (Creighton guard) Alex O’Connell make his shots uncomfortable.”

St. John’s didn’t set many screens for Champagnie, and Cale was constantly positioned between him and the bucket, whether Champagnie had the rock or not.

“I had to hold my ground,” Cale said.

More on this after the next Key.

Compete on the glass. The rebounds were not necessarily a huge factor in this game in the box score — Seton Hall was still under 50% at the rim, only had 13 second-chance points — but the Hall grabbed 43% of their own misses, 20 offensive rebounds. That allowed them to manage the game and frustrate St. John’s, even when the Johnnies kept getting stops.

To be fair — the Red Storm stymied the Pirates into an ugly 0.88 points/ possession performance, 35% shooting inside the arc and 31% from deep. The Hall had 17 turnovers (23% of their possessions)

But those rebounds kept the Hall going, and giving up 21 free throw attempts sustained the Pirates despite their inability to score on a field goal for the last five minutes of Saturday’s game. Moreover, the Red Storm’s best offense right now seems to be grit and volume — getting steals, taking more shots than the other team, and getting offensive rebounds — and being beaten on the glass at both ends takes that edge away.

Shoot efficiently. In the last five minutes of Saturday’s game, the Red Storm had a guard drive into the paint and wildly throw up a shot... with leading scorer Champagnie looking open on the wing. Now, to be honest, Seton Hall had bottled him up all evening, but there is a tunnel vision on some of the drives.

It reminds us of two things.

One: the desired outcome of beating a perimeter player and driving into the paint is not a blocked shot — Big East opponents have been adding to their shot blocked numbers in bunches against the Johnnies — but to break down the defense. A broken down defense, with players scrambling to cover the paint, should create opportunities for open shooters. But the player with the ball has to look to pass.

Two: what happened to Stef Smith and Tareq Coburn, a pair of capable shooters? Even if their defense is not creating the necessary chaos, they do have shooting skill. And St. John’s has taken the lowest percentage of shots from beyond the arc in the Big East. Unlike Providence, a team that is usually lowest in the league at taking threes, St. John’s also is not designed to draw fouls in bunches. And when they do, they have shot 61% on freebies in conference play.

Without threes, without fast break points, without free throws... all that is left is the 42% shooting inside the arc, second-worst in the league.

For what it’s worth, St. John’s is shooting 34% on threes, fifth in the Big East in league play.

Prediction

St. John’s fights hard but drops the road matchup to the Pirates, 80-74, but Champagnie has a much better game.