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St. John's vs Providence: can the Storm fight for an NCAA berth without Harrison?

Notes and scouting reports for tonight's game.

Time for a Phil Greene star turn?
Time for a Phil Greene star turn?
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has happened between games for the Red Storm (16-11, 8-7 Big East).

If you hadn't heard, there is good news for next year regarding the eligibility of Orlando Sanchez. And then... there's the much more relevant bad news about D`Angelo Harrison. The team's leading scorer has been suspended for the rest of the year.

The St. John's squad had an outside shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if they could rip through a trio of wins at the end of the Big East season.

Game Information
Tip Off: 8:00 PM Eastern
At Providence Friars
(15-12, 7-8 Big East; coach, Ed Cooley)
Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI
(capacity: 12,410)
Radio: Bloomberg 1130
Announcers: Eric Frede and Ron Perry

That pipe dream is deeper in the pipe, hard to see, and will need a miraculous run to happen.

How will they score? Will that run be even better defense than the fifth-ranked per-possession defense in the Big east?

On the other side, Providence were 5-1 in February with wins over Cincinnati and Notre dame (both ranked at the time) as well as victories over Villanova, South Florida, and Rutgers.

The Friars are hoping to catch the 16-win Johnnies in the standings and get themselves in the conversation for an outside shot at the NCAA Tournament.

Expect a hard fought game with lots of floor burns and transition opportunities tonight.

Mood Music

For your creepy old man swag: Robert Palmer, I Didn't Mean to Turn You On

See also: 5 questions with Friar Frenzy and Friar Basketball | Q&A with Norman from Rumble in the Garden | Q and A with Rumble in the Garden!

Scouting Providence

Over the course of their hot February, the Friars have won close contests (with the exception of the thrashing of Notre Dame and their blowout loss to Syracuse) with offensive rebounding, solid defense (forcing turnovers) and hot scoring streaks. As pointed out in the Not Half Bad podcast, the Friars burned Rutgers for a 19-0 run in the first half.

The Friars have a lot of hustle, scrapping on the floor for loose balls, aggressively attacking passing lanes, and assaulting the offensive glass.

The Friars are led by Big East assists leader Vincent Council (437 career assists in Big East play). In February, he averaged 7.7 assists and 9 points per game on 33% shooting. The 6'2" former Lincoln High (Brooklyn) point guard is no great shooter, but can get key buckets in the half court sets.

Bryce Cotton is the team's sharpshooter, scoring just under 19 points in Big East play. But he struggled against Big east defenses in February, dropping to 15.5 points/ game on 37% shooting. He can pass (3.2 assists per game) and score inside as well. Kris Dunn provides more passing (3.2 assists per game) while adding defense on the perimeter.

6'10" Kadeem Batts (16 ppg/ 6.2 rebounds per game in February) has upped his scoring in the last month; 6'6" forward LaDontae Henton adds activity and 8.5 rebounds per game in the last month. He scored 11 points per game in the year's shortest month; he'll take 2-3 three-pointers per game. He's connected on 47% of those attempts recently. They are a capable frontline, and St. John's will have to work to deny them touches off of Council/ Kris Dunn passes.

Keys to the Game

Clog the interior.

The Friar guards will want to penetrate the lane to draw defense and get their finishers shots at the rim. Jamal Branch and Sir`Dominic Pointer have to contain their wings and their penetration.

Find a way to score.

Will the Red Storm score with a renewed dedication to offense? Or will a new player step up to join JaKarr Sampson and Phil Greene IV as the main shot-takers? With so much athletic talent on the Red Storm, it would be a surprise for the Johnnies to not be able to find someone to score.

Be tough in the paint.

The Friars will aggressively chase down their teammates' misses, and Chris Obekpa, Christian Jones, Amir Garrett, and others have to battle in the paint to keep the Friars from second and third chances.

Prediction: St. John's will fight... and surprise. St. John's pulls off the win in a fast-paced contest, 67-65.