After a solid win despite some turnover issues against Merrimack on Monday, St. John’s men’s basketball returns to action tomorrow night when they take on the Lafayette Leopards at home. The Red Storm look to take care of business with another convincing win, continuing to start their non-conference schedule off on the right note.
The Johnnies scored the ball very well against Merrimack, finishing with 97 points on 56.9% from the field and 38.5% from deep. Forward David Jones led the charge in his St. John’s regular season debut, pouring in 21 points, also grabbing 10 boards and dishing out four assists. Posh Alexander, Andre Curbelo, Montez Mathis, and Joel Soriano, the four other Red Storm starters, all finished with double digit points, and seven different Johnnies scored off the bench.
St. John’s major issue in the Merrimack game was turnovers, which is something they will look to improve on against Lafayette. They turned the ball over 29 times, with Posh Alexander and Andre Curbelo each registering five turnovers.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (1-0; 17-15 last season) vs Lafayette Leopards (0-1; 10-20 last season)
When: Saturday, November 12, 2022, 6:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, New York
TV: FS2 | FoxSports Online
Odds: St. John’s -24
History: The Johnnies lead the matchup 6-4, having last played Lafayette to a 72-49 win on November 15, 1997. They have won the last six matchups, and have not lost to the Leopards since 1921.
Lafayette comes into the matchup with a KenPom ranking of 314 out of 363 teams, while St. John’s still sits at 37. They were selected to finish last in this year’s Patriot League preseason coach’s poll.
Lafayette is coached by Mike Jordan, who is in his first season as their coach and as a Division-I coach. The Leopards have played one game this season, losing 67-54 at Miami.
Lafayette’s roster returns three of last season’s starters, losing their top two scorers, center Neal Quinn and guard Tyrone Perry, to Richmond and Tennessee Tech, respectively. One starter they have returning is 6-7 junior forward Kyle Jenkins, who averaged 10.5 points and 5.9 rebounds last season, and who scored 10 points and grabbed seven boards in 39 minutes played in the season opener.
Also returning in the starting frontcourt for Lafayette is 6-7 senior forward Leo O’Boyle. Last season O’Boyle averaged 9.9 points per contest, providing a shooting threat for the Leopards with his 1.9 threes a game on 35.7% from deep.
Lafayette’s last returning starter is 6-2 sophomore guard CJ Fulton, who led the team in their season opener with 17 points, 15 of which came from beyond the arc. Last season, Fulton averaged 7.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.4 steals. Fulton connected on 36.8% of his 3.2 three point attempts per game last season, and started off strong this year with his 5-7 from deep performance.
Also in the starting lineup for Lafayette against Miami was 6-7 freshman forward Josh Rivera and 6-3 junior guard Ryan Zambie. Rivera has been described by his coach as a “grown man,” and should be ready to contribute for the Leopards as a true freshman with his athleticism and physical ability. Zambie only played five minutes in the start against Miami, and only played 17 minutes in two full seasons with Lafayette previously.
Lafayette did not run that deep of a bench against Miami, with only three subs registering more than a minute of action. One was sophomore center Justin Vander Baan, who provides some great size off the bench with his 7-0 240 lb frame. Vander Baan is a transfer from Boston College, where he was never given much opportunity to prove himself, and played solidly in his Lafayette debut with nine points off the bench.
6-4 sophomore guard TJ Berger played 29 minutes off the bench at Miami, scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds, although he did go 2-12 from the field and fouled out of the game. He is a transfer, having played a season at Georgetown and at San Diego, where last season he played in 31 games and averaged 3.1 points per contest.
6-1 freshman guard Ryan Pettit played 18 minutes in the season opener, although he did not contribute much, scoring zero points but dishing out three assists. 6-3 junior guard Jon Brantley did not play against Miami, but last season was Lafayette’s sixth man, playing in 26 games and averaging 7.3 points per.
Keys to the Game
Limit the turnovers. This is an obvious one, as the Johnnies look to improve from their 29 turnover performance against Merrimack. Posh Alexander and Andre Curbelo need to do a better job of being secure with the rock as the team’s primary two ball-carriers.
Don’t give up runs. After being up by as much as 27 early in the second half, the Red Storm found themselves in a little too close of a situation with a little over eight minutes left in the game, only holding a 15 point lead. Against inferior opponents like Merrimack and Lafayette, the Johnnies cannot allow blowouts to become games, which is an issue that they dealt with during non-conference play last season.
Keep sharing looks. The Red Storm did a good job sharing looks among all their guys, with all five starters finishing in double figures. This is something they should carry into tonight’s matchup, as these types of opponents should allow the Johnnies to get looks for different players.
St. John’s plays even better than last game to the tune of a 93-60 win.