The St. John's season has missed the mark; it is the kind of season that feeds apathy, where some fans are consumed thinking of a savior as the next coach instead of the games in front of them.
The game against Providence feels like a tall order, but it is also a chance to get right against a team that a show of inspired defense and a home crowd could make nervous.
After all, the Mayor has declared in Johnnies Day in New York City. Maybe this is a game where the factors come together and a noontime tip at the Garden brings a little bit more magic to the proceedings.
Depending on the poll, the Friars are considered the #20 or #17 team in the country, meaning they will be a tough out.
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (14-11, 4-10 Big East) vs #20/#17 Providence Friars (18-6, 10-3 Big East)
When: Saturday, February 11, 2023, 12:00 PM
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Odds: Providence, -4.5
Last meeting: The Red Storm fought valiantly in Providence but fell just short, 83-80.
Catching up with Providence
Style-wise, Providence is actually a lot like St. John’s, without the gambling defense — and they play a more deliberate style, slowing the pace.
Providence ranks near the bottom in three-point shots taken (31%, eighth in the Big East) and at 18 turnovers per 100 possessions, the Friars are 10th out of 11 teams. But the Friars make up for it by shooting free throws well (74%), getting to the free throw line in bunches (a 39% ratio of free throws to field goals, highest in the league), and crashing the offensive glass (2nd in the league, grabbing nearly 35% of their misses).
For comparison: St. John’s also does not shoot from beyond the arc — less than 25% of their shots come from deep in league play, lowest in the Big East. They also shoot free throws badly (lowest in the Big East) and don’t get to the free throw line (25% ratio of free throws to field goals, lowest in the league). But St. John’s crashes the glass and is in the middle of the pack on turnovers.
Providence has welcomed back guard Jared Bynum - a preseason all Big East selection- to the fold by bringing him off the bench behind Alyn Breed.
Bryce Hopkins continues to be Providence' leading scorer and rebounder.
Keys to the Game
Big game poise. One major problem with St. John's is that the team has not clicked in a way where the players look like they are in a flow or rhythm. The defense has been disconnected, the offense has been individualist. Can the Red Storm find some kind of rhythm against the defense?
Soriano and friends. The St. John's guards have been trying to get the ball to the talented and large big man. But Soriano so has a solid long jumper and some passing skills; can the Johnnies activate Soriano in a virtuoso performance?
Nothing easy for the perimeter. Keep the Friars from shooting. Keep them from being to attack into the paint.
St. John’s falls, 76-73.