After two straight conference losses, St. John’s returns to action tomorrow after a short drive across the Hudson River to New Jersey to take on the Seton Hall Pirates. In their most recent game against Xavier, the Johnnies had a very sloppy first half and started the second half off poorly, which was too damaging for their late-game run to fix. The Red Storm struggled to go on runs offensively.
Against Xavier, Montez Mathis had a solid offensive performance, efficiently scoring 14 points while knocking down a couple threes. David Jones had 19 and Joel Soriano had 14 but did so on a combined 11-27 from the field. Andre Curbelo and Posh Alexander both struggled offensively and combined to go 7-23 from the field with 7 turnovers. Off the bench, Dylan Addae-Wusu had a solid game, knocking down a pair of threes, and getting four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Today’s matchup is an opportunity for the Johnnies to get back on track. Seton Hall has dropped all three of their first conference matchups. The Red Storm need to turn things around with a big win, as avoiding a big losing streak is an important step on their quest to dance this March.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (11-3, 1-2 Big East) vs Seton Hall Pirates (7-7, 0-3 Big East)
When: Saturday, December 31, 2022, 12:00 PM
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Odds: Seton Hall -3.5
Last Season: The two teams played both their games within two days of each other and both came away with a win on the road.
Scouting Seton Hall
Seton Hall’s 7-7 record can be a little deceiving; they played a tough non-conference schedule that led to losses to Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas, although they did lose a non-conference matchup to Siena at a neutral site. Their best non-conference wins came in nail-biters over Memphis and Rutgers, with both games decided by two points or less. So far in conference play, they lost to Providence by four at home, Xavier by three on the road, and Marquette by 14 on the road.
The pirates are led by first year coach Shaheen Holloway, who led 15-seed St. Peter’s to the Elite 8 last year. Last year’s Kevin Willard-led squad had a 21-11 record and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as an eight-seed. That squad did not return three of its starters to this season’s team, including its top two scorers. Still, this is an experienced team with a deep bench, replenished by transfers.
Seton Hall has been defensively stout, forcing turnovers and making opponents hurry threes. But offensively, the Pirates have struggled mightily; their three-point shooting has been sporadic and inaccurate, and they have turned over the ball. Seton Hall has been very good at getting to the free throw line... though they are shooting 66% on their free throws.
The Pirates’ best returning player might be 6-10 senior forward Tyrese Samuel, a fourth year player who spent his first three seasons coming off the bench. He has played well in his expanded role, with averages of 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds. Samuel is joined in the starting frontcourt by 6-7 grad transfer KC Ndefo, who was a three-time MAAC DPOY in his four previous seasons with St. Peter’s. For Seton Hall, Ndefo has averaged 7.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks.
Seton Hall’s backcourt is led by, 6-6 junior Kadary Richmond, a former top-100 recruit who played his freshman year for Syracuse and last season for the Pirates. As a returning starter, Richmond is averaging 9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.9 steals. Also in the starting backcourt is 6-2 senior Al-Amir Dawes, a transfer who played his first three seasons at Clemson, and who is currently averaging 10.6 points and 3.2 rebounds, while connecting on 40.3% of his 5.5 three point attempts per game. Seton Hall’s fifth starter is 6-6 junior Femi Odukale, a transfer who played his first two seasons at Pitt, and who is averaging 6 points and 4.1 boards in his first Seton Hall season.
Shaheen Holloway employs a deep rotation, with five players averaging double digit minutes off the bench. The backups are led by 6-6 junior Dre Davis in the backcourt and 6-10 senior Tray Jackson in the frontcourt, both competent scorers who average 10.4 and 8.1 points, respectively. 6-2 grad student Jamir Harris provides experience off the bench as a second-year Seton Hall player in his fifth Division I season. 6-9 freshman Tae Davis is a solid backup power forward, and the rotation is rounded out by 6-4 freshman Jaquan Sanders, who played his high school ball at Our Savior Lutheran, the high school of Posh Alexander and Dylan Addae-Wusu.
Keys to the Game
Defensive intensity from the jump. The Red Storm’s backcourt defense needs to look like it did in the last 10 minutes of the Xavier game the entire Seton Hall game, where full court pressure is intensely applied, leading to forced turnovers and Johnnies runs.
Look organized offensively. The Johnnies need to start playing with more organization and less sloppiness on offense, getting into their sets, creating better looks, and limiting turnovers.
Solid bench play. St. John’s will need strong efforts out of its bench players against a Seton Hall team that employs a deep bench. The Red Storm cannot allow anyone to get too tired and allow Seton Hall to take over because of that.
The Red Storm play a fast-paced and hectic game that sees them escape with a 89-86 win.