Tonight, the Red Storm look to notch their third win of the season in as many tries against the Northeast Conference’s Central Connecticut State Blue Devils, having already taken care of Merrimack and Lafayette in their first two games.
The Johnnies last game — a 15-point win Saturday against Lafayette from the Patriot league — was less convincing than it could have been, especially in the first half. The Johnnies improved a lot on their turnover issues from the Merrimack game, but had some defensive struggles against a Lafayette offense that found opportunities to shoot many three-pointers.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (2-0) vs Central Connecticut State Blue Devils (0-2)
When: Tuesday, November 15, 7:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, New York
Odds: St. John’s -27.5
History: The Johnnies have won all three previous matchups between the two squads, last taking down the Blue Devils on November 9, 2019 with a 87-57 win.
The Blue Devils are coming off a disappointing 2021-22 season, where they finished with an 8-24 record and a 4-13 conference record, which left them in last place in the NEC. They are coached by Pat Sellers (CCSU Class of ‘91), who is in his second season as head coach of the program. This year has not started with much more promise, after the Devils dropped matchups against UMass and Quinnipiac. CCSU is ranked 338th of the 363 Division I teams ranked by KenPom, while the Johnnies currently sit at 39th.
Two CCSU key players from last season aren’t with the team this season, as guards Ian Krishnan and Tre Mitchell graduated. The Blue Devils’ leading scorer and primary ball handler from last season returns, 6-0 senior guard Nigel Scantlebury. Last season, Scantlebury averaged 13.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per contest, making 1.6 threes a game at a rate of 41.4%.
Another returning starter for CCSU is 6-6 sophomore forward Andre Snoddy, who averaged 8.0 points and 7.1 rebounds as a freshman last season. Snoddy is joined in the starting frontcourt by 6-7 redshirt freshman forward Abdul Momoh, who only appeared in four games for the Blue Devils last season. Momoh has been rather quiet in his first couple of starts, averaging 5.0 points and 2.0 rebounds across those two contests.
The Blue Devils have a couple new faces in their starting lineup in transfers Kellen Amos and Jay Rodgers. Amos is a 6-7 junior guard who played at Binghamton for the last two seasons. Last year at Binghamton, Amos averaged 6.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in 23 games. He has gotten off to a great start in his first couple games as a Blue Devil, leading the team in scoring with averages of 18.5 points and 4.5 rebounds. He has shot the ball very well, averaging three deep balls per game at a 40% rate.
Jay Rodgers, a 6-3 junior guard, comes as a transfer from JUCO program Cochise College, where he averaged 17.8 points per game and shot 40.1% from deep. He played his freshman season at DI New Orleans, where he did not see much action, totaling only 20 minutes all season. He has averaged 6.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in his first two CCSU games, although he’s been pretty inefficient, going 5-19 from the field and 3-10 from deep.
A couple of sophomores receive minutes off the bench for CCSU, 5-8 guard Davonte Sweatman and 6-8 big man Jayden Brown.
Sweatman averaged 4.8 points in 21 games last season, and has provided some scoring off the bench so far this season, averaging 8.5 points across the two contests. Like Jay Rodgers, he’s had some efficiency issues, going 5-14 from the field and 2-8 from three. Brown started in 22 of the 25 games he played in last season, averaging 5.6 points and 3.8 rebounds. This season he has found himself coming off the bench, averaging 3.0 points and 5.0 boards in CCSU’s first couple games.
Keys to the Game
Establish a lead. The Red Storm cannot have a first half like they did against Lafayette. They need to play good defense from the start of the game, so they can build a lead in the first half and not allow CCSU to make tonight a game.
Keep scoring well. The Johnnies have done a good job offensively in their first couple games, averaging 90 points, with a field goal percentage of 54.6, a three-point percentage of 43.5, and a free throw percentage of 85.7. They should keep getting good looks against bad teams and continue to take advantage with a lot of scoring.
Let Jones cook. St. John’s should continue to feed the ball to David Jones. A Big East Honor Roll member this week, Jones has been great in his first couple games as a Johnnie, averaging 20.5 points and 7.5 rebounds, going 15-30 from the field and 7-16 from deep.
St. John’s wins, but not by as much as they should, with a 86-70 victory.