On a mild evening in Chicago, St. John’s will be facing the DePaul Blue Demons in FS1’s later evening game. With a win over Providence, perhaps a little sense of what can make this team cohesive is creeping in. Maybe, like so St. John’s teams of the past three years, it simply takes a little more time to figure out what combination of players and tactics work over a long stretch.
DePaul took a solid beating from St. John’s a team they have had solid success against over the past. DePaul defeated St. John’s in Chicago last year and also in 2019, both in high-scoring games.
If St. John’s facing a DePaul team rocking cool throwback jerseys, allow the Demons to run and gun up and down the court, the Johnnies might once again find the bitter taste of defeat.
Will the Red Storm fend off DePaul tonight in David Jones’ return to face his old team in his old home arena?
Who: St. John’s Red Storm (15-11, 5-10 Big East) vs DePaul Blue Demons (9-16, 3-11 Big East)
When: Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 9:00 PM
Where: WinTrust Arena, Chicago, IL
Odds: St. John’s, -1.5
Last meeting: St. John’s handled DePaul at home, winning by almost 20.
Catching up with DePaul
DePaul continues to struggle on the court. This season’s muddle for Big East’s Chicago team may be worse than last year, where the team approached a winning record, won six games in conference, and showed physical toughness on the glass.
The Demons, a team of mostly upperclassmen, are decent at protecting the ball and taking three-pointers, but are painfully bad at scoring inside the arc. On the other end, injuries have robbed them of solid paint presences, and the pressing defense leaves gaps — so in a given game, DePaul can give up bunches of offensive rebounds, bunches of threes, and quite a few free throw attempts.
The Blue Demons continue to give effort on both ends of the field; but their fast-paced attack leaves gaps in transition defense for good ballhandlers to attack and draw fouls. (In a close win, Seton Hall attempted 45(!!) free throws; Connecticut got to 34 in a less-close game; Georgetown took 41.)
The Demons have also struggled to keep Big East opponents from offensive rebounds and second-chances in a possession. On top of that, DePaul has committed their fair share of fouls.
Some teams are poised to take advantage of that. St. John’s could be that team, but the Johnnies have tended towards jump shots (instead of using ball movement to unbalance the opponent and draw contact).
DePaul’s guard Umoja Gibson (#2) and wing Javan Johnson (#1) are the team’s best three-point shooters. Forward Da’Sean Nelson (#21) is coming into his own, and is a threat on the offensive glass; he’s the team’s best rebounder, though wing Eral Penn (#11, from Brooklyn, and an LIU transfer) is also pulling down many defensive boards.
For the Johnnies, tonight’s game needs to be physical, but the Red Storm also have to take advantage of available opportunities, and not let DePaul squeeze out a win.
Keys to the Game
Keep the energy/ effort going. If St. John’s comes out like this is a casual game, and DePaul will roll over in a game that may be their best remaining chance to win in the Big East... the Johnnies will have problems. High-energy defense, and attacking offense will be key.
Stick with them. Keep the easy transition opportunities low for DePaul, stay with them on the perimeter, and make them take contested shots. DePaul will rush their offense; make sure there is a hand in their faces and that they have to work through the halfcourt.
Find some shots in the paint. There may be shots on the outside for the likes of Dylan Addae-Wusu and AJ Storr, but the Red Storm have to drive into the teeth of the defense, get touches to Joel Soriano, and make the Demons work. Settling for jump shots, even if they fall early, cannot be the Red Storm’s game tonight.
St. John’s takes the game seriously, but so does DePaul. 83-79 St. John’s victory.