After a convincing victory over DePaul in their first Big East matchup of the season on Wednesday, St. John’s returns to non-conference action tonight when they host the New Hampshire Wildcats. UNH is the last non-Power 6 team the Johnnies will face this regular season, as after this matchup they have one more game on their non-conference schedule against Florida State.
The Red Storm might have played their best 40 minutes of basketball so far this season against DePaul, starting the game on a 12-0 run and never allowing the Blue Demons to lead. The Johnnies shot a very efficient 50.8% from the field, but struggled behind the arc, going 5-18 as a team from deep.
All St. John’s starters finished in double figures, and were led by Joel Soriano, who had a dominant performance in the paint, pouring in 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Posh Alexander contributed 13 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals, and Andre Curbelo had 15 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals, although he did turn the ball over 6 times.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (9-1) vs UNH Wildcats (3-5)
When: Saturday, December 10, 2022, 6:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, New York
Odds: St. John’s -22
History: The Red Storm and the Wildcats have met once before, on November 12, 2019, and St. John’s took the game 74-61.
Scouting New Hampshire
The Wildcats are the worst team left on the Red Storm’s schedule, coming into tonight’s matchup with a KenPom ranking of 324th out of 363 Division I teams, while the Johnnies’ currently sit at 43rd. UNH is coached by Bill Herrion, who is in his 18th season as head coach of the program.
Last season, Herrion led the Wildcats to a 15-13 record and a third place finish in the AEC, but lost over 80% of last season’s minutes played and scoring.
UNH has worked themselves to a 3-5 record this season, with their best win of the season coming in their most recent game when they took down Boston College on the road.
UNH’s one returning starter is 6-4 junior guard Nick Johnson, who missed the Wildcats’ first five games due to injury but has been back for the past three games. Johnson, a Bronx native, is in his third season for New Hampshire, and has averaged 11.7 points and 4.3 boards in his first four games.
Johnson is joined in the starting backcourt by 6-4 grad transfer Matt Herasme, who previously played four seasons at Marist. This year for the Wildcats, Herasme is putting up 7.8 points and 6 rebounds per contest, but shoots only 31% on his 5.3 two-point attempts per game. 6-0 junior Kyree Brown started the first seven games at guard for UNH, but did not play in their most recent game at BC.
New Hampshire’s frontcourt is led by 6-6 junior forward Clarence Daniels, a JUCO transfer from Lake Region State College, who is averaging 16.8 points and 11.8 rebounds in his first eight games of D-I ball, with the ability to stretch the floor, as Daniels connects on 50% of his 2.3 three point attempts. Daniels is joined in the frontcourt by 6-10 freshman forward Ridvan Tutic, who averages 4.4 points and 6.1 rebounds, and 6-6 sophomore forward Trey Woodyard, who puts up 1.9 points and 2.4 rebounds.
Off the bench, UNH is led by 6-2 guard Nazim Derry, a grad transfer from D-II Goldey-Beacom, who averages 9.6 points and 2.4 rebounds, and who shoots 5.9 threes a game at a rate of 36.2%. Another backup guard who has played every game is 6-4 freshman Rex Sunderland, who averages a point in 6.3 minutes per game off the bench.
In terms of frontcourt depth, UNH has 6-8 grad transfer Jaxson Baker, who played his first three seasons at Central Arkansas. So far this year, Baker is averaging 6.4 points per contest, connecting on 40% of his 3.8 three point attempts per game.
Keys to the Game
Another big game for Joel. No one on UNH has the size to compete with Soriano, and another dominant performance from him would be key in a Red Storm victory.
Control the game. This is the worst opponent the Red Storm will face for the rest of the season, and they need to take advantage of that. The Johnnies need a dominant performance where they don’t allow the Wildcats to get into the game.
Improvement beyond the arc. The Red Storm had another poor three point performance against DePaul, which is something they should look to improve before conference play gears up.
St. John’s takes care of business with a 90-65 victory.