At last! After 242 days, 12 new players, two scrimmages, and a Hall of Fame hiring, the St. John’s men’s basketball team will finally play an official basketball game that counts.
The Red Storm have won their last nine opening night games and they hope to continue that streak against the Coastal Athletic Association’s Stony Brook Seawolves.
We wrote an in-depth preview of the Seawolves over the summer, but we’ll provide the nuts and bolts of what to know below.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm vs. Stony Brook Seawolves (CAA)
When: Tuesday, November 7, 2023, 7:00 PM
Where: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
Odds: St. John’s (-18.5), O/U at 142.5
Last meeting: December 6, 2020, when St. John’s blew out Stony Brook, 89-66
Scouting the Seawolves
The Seawolves are hoping for a healthy season after multiple season-ending injuries derailed their 2022-23 campaign before conference play began. Their 11 wins were their fewest in a season since 2007-08 when they went 7-23.
The Seawolves were one of the slowest teams in the country last season, finishing 331st in tempo according to Ken Pomeroy. They were also a team that operated around the arc, as they were 29th in the country in three-point attempt percentage (44.4 percent).
Tyler Stephenson-Moore is expected to be the lead scoring option for Stony Brook. The fifth year guard averaged a team-high 14.3 points per game last season. Joining him in a backcourt triumvirate are redshirt grad transfers Dean Noll and Aaron Clarke, who both missed a combined 61 games last season. Small-ball four Andre Snoddy and 7-foot-1 center Keenan Fitzmorris are expected to hold down a lion’s share of frontcourt minutes.
Keys to the Game
The cavalry is here - Everyone with the exception of R.J. Luis will be healthy for Tuesday’s game, including scoring dynamo Jordan Dingle. Rick Pitino should have the flexibility to deploy a deep rotation after being restricted to nine players in the shocking exhibition loss to Pace. Dingle was not a part of Pitino’s announced starting lineup, so it will be interesting to see how he performs off the bench.
Jenkins, Allyene, Ledlum, and Soriano will start— Kevin Connelly (@KevinConnelly24) November 6, 2023
Sean Conway or Glenn Taylor Jr. will be the other starter tomorrow vs. Stony Brook #SJUBB
Don’t go cold - St. John’s had multiple stretches in their October scrimmages when they couldn’t buy a basket for several minutes. Stony Brook may not be able to match the Red Storm’s physicality, tempo, and defensive pressure, so St. John’s needs to sequence buckets together and avoid another stress-inducing close call. Eliminating the simple lapse-in-concentration misses at the basket is a good start.
Lock down the paint - Despite Stony Brook receiving one of the greenest lights from beyond the arc last year, they were dreadful from three (31.1 percent). Their most consistent contributor was actually down low in the gargantuan Keenan Fitzmorris, who shot 70 percent at the rim last year. The onus will be on Joel Soriano and Zuby Ejiofor to overcome the height disadvantage and apply tons of resistance on Fitzmorris in the post.
I originally predicted a 25-point victory for St. John’s on opening night in our offseason preview, but I’m less bullish on them in this game given the recent injuries and lack of playing time together. I still expect a solid 15-to-20 point win for the Johnnies here, as Jordan Dingle’s return should alleviate the cold stretches St. John’s faced in the scrimmages.