St. John’s kicks off the “we can watch them” part of the season with the first of two preseason exhibitions. This first game, against local Adelphi University, is a chance to see what St. John’s plans to be working with — and a chance to answer some of the questions, like “how is this going to work?”
Who: St. John’s Red Storm vs Adelphi Panthers (exhibition)
When: Wednesday October 26, 7 pm
Where: Carnesecca Arena
How to watch: ESPN 3 for today’s game.
Let’s get back to the questions, the nagging little quibbles we have to answer before we can really think through what this team’s ceiling is going to be.
The Red Storm return Posh Alexander, who comes in with two full years of experience, and Dylan Addae-Wusu, who has played many minutes in his two years. Center Joel Soriano is competent and blocks shots, Montez Mathis is an experienced defensive-minded veteran on the wing, Esahia Nyiwe is a center with upside, speed, and sneaky solid defensive moments. The team also brings back two freshmen who played — Rafael Pinzon, who brings length and driving skill, and O’Mar Stanley who has height and athleticism — and one freshman who redshirted in Drissa Traore.
It’s an exciting collection of defensive athletes! It’s a team that leans into Mike Anderson’s running offensive style and high-risk, high-reward pressure defense.
What happens when an opponent forces this team to shoot?
Where is the lost production from wings Julian Champagnie and Aaron Wheeler going to come from (and to a lesser extent, Stef Smith and Tareq Coburn)?
Almost all of the players who were reliable shooters from the outside are gone from last year’s roster, a team that struggled to shoot 33% from deep.
The three-pointer is not everything, but a team that wants to rattle the rims needs outside threats to keep defenses honest.
This year’s top-billed transfer newcomers David Jones and Andre Curbelo are both sub-30% shooters from deep in their careers. Jones shot 1/14 his first season and 29.7% in his second. To his credit, he can get those shots off, and has had explosive nights from the outside. Curbelo has shot 16.1% and 17.6% from outside the arc, and is a reluctant outside shooter.
Will the shooting come from improvements in Posh Alexander, who shot 29.9% as a freshman from deep and 21.7% as a sophomore? Will it come from more time for Rafael Pinzon, who shot 37.5% from deep? Will it come from AJ Storr, known more as an ultra-athletic slasher?
The fun part, though, for people who enjoy player development, is that Mike Anderson manages to ride low-turnover offense to high scoring efficiency every single season. Anderson also managed to make Aaron Wheeler, who shot 21.6% and 26.6% as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, into a sniper by Big East play. Wheeler shot 40.8% from deep.
Clearly, Anderson’s staff knows how to get players who like to shoot from deep to improve. That bodes well for Pinzon and Jones, who are both tall for their positions and are willing to take shots from beyond the arc.
What are your questions about this year’s team?