St. John’s plays another non-conference game tonight when they host the LIU Sharks. The Red Storm are coming off a win against Niagara on Saturday that was closer than expected to be, as they took home a 78-70 victory. Tonight’s matchup will be the Johnnies’ only game until Sunday, when they take on #23 Iowa State on the road.
Against Niagara, Mike Anderson had to rely more heavily on his bench than usual, as he was without Posh and Andres Pinzon due to injuries, and Andre Curbelo and David Jones were limited to only 20 minutes each due to foul troubles. Joel Soriano was the star of the show with 21 points and 19 rebounds, while the Red Storm as a whole did a solid job creating chaos defensively, forcing the Purple Eagles into 17 turnovers.
The Red Storm struggled Sunday with shooting the ball, going 26-66 from the field, 3-15 from deep, and 23-38 from the stripe. The Johnnies looked to be pulling away in the second half with a 19-point lead, but allowed a 12-0 Niagara run that kept the game too close
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (7-0) vs LIU Sharks (1-4)
When: Tuesday, November 29, 2022, 6:30 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, New York
Odds: St. John’s -33
History: The Red Storm have not yet played LIU since D1 LIU Brooklyn and DII LIU Post merged, but played LIU Brooklyn 13 times, taking nine of those matchups.
The Sharks are one of the worst Division I teams in the country, coming into the matchup with a KenPom ranking of 350th out of the 363 DI teams, while the Johnnies currently sit at 39th. LIU’s only win this season came against D-III program Mount Saint Vincent, while they have lost to Utah, Marquette, South Dakota, and Northern Illinois. Only the loss to Northern Illinois was by a margin of less than 25 points.
LIU is coached by Rod Strickland, who is in his first season as head coach, and as a player had a 17 year NBA career that included an assist title and an All-NBA Second Team in 1997-98. Strickland has been dealt a difficult hand in his first season head coach, as his LIU roster only returned one starter from their 16-14 team that finished third in the NEC last season.
That one returning starter for the Sharks is 6-1 senior guard Tre Wood, who started off hot this season with averages of 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in his first couple games. Wood has missed the three games since then due to injury, and would be a key return for LIU if he came back tonight.
The Sharks’ starting backcourt without Tre Wood is led by 6-5 sophomore Jacob Johnson, who played his first two seasons of D-I ball at Kansas City. Johnson currently averages 9.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest.
He is joined in the starting backcourt by 6-6 sophomore guard Quion Burns, who in his second season with LIU is posting averages of 9 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest. In the absence of Wood, 6-6 freshman RJ Greene has started, and has averaged 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 steals in his first five games of college ball.
LIU’s leading scorer is 6-6 sophomore guard Marko Maletic, a JUCO transfer from Laramie County Community College who comes off the bench. Maletic averages 15.8 points per contest and connects on 39.5% of his 8.6 three point attempts per game. He is joined off bench by fellow guard Noble Crawford, a 6-5 sophomore who averages 3 points per game.
In the frontcourt, the Sharks are led in scoring by 6-8 junior Jake Cook, a third year player for LIU who averages 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. This season, Cook has averaged 3.8 three point attempts per game, but has only connected on 10.5% of those attempts.
He is joined in the starting frontcourt by 6-8 250 lb senior big Cheikh Ndiaye, who puts up 5.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Cook and Ndiaye are backed up by 6-10 240 lb big Amadou Fall, who averages 2.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, while shooting only 22.2% from the floor.
Keys to the Game
Control the glass. LIU is a pretty long team, with no starters being shorter than 6-6 and two of their guards averaging more than six boards per game. The Johnnies need a good game on the glass led by Joel Soriano where they aren’t outworked and don’t allow second chance opportunities.
Perimeter defense. In the first half against Niagara, the Red Storm struggled with perimeter defense, especially against Niagara’s best scorer, Noah Thomasson, who had 11 points and three deep balls in the half. St. John’s needs a better effort against LIU and Marko Maletic, who is a serious shooting threat.
Dominate. St. John’s needs to dominate tonight in a game where they are 33 point favorites, especially because their last three games have all been decided by single digits.
St. John’s handedly wins by a score of 87-63.