Tonight, St. John's plays Division II Franklin PIerce in a game that both counts and is part of the NIT Season Tip-Off - an added squad when the tournament struggled to find Division I teams.
Yes, it's a Division II school, but expect them to compete, with the players on nationally-available television [ESPN3]. And note that the bottom of Division I - the NJITs and LIU-Brooklyns and the Fairleigh Dickinsons of the game - aren't so different than the better Division II teams.
Scouting Franklin Pierce
The Franklin Pierce Ravens feature a three guard lineup similar to St. John's and seem to matchup relatively well.
They are led by sophomore guard Donte Gittens who, in the team's first game against LIU-Post, scored 21 points to go with his eight assists, four boards a steal and two blocks all with only one turnover. Also putting up solid numbers was 6'5'' senior forward Ryan Vilmont. Ryan went 4-12, scoring 11 points. He took six threes but only hit on one, adding five rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
The Ravens as a team shot a lot of three-pointers, taking 30 (of their 70 total shots), hitting 11. Coupled with the fact that they don't turn the ball over (four in the game) makes them dangerous. Vilmont, senior guard Paul Becklens and junior guard Tyler Iacuone shot a combined 7-20 from three point range. Gittens added to the shooting frenzy by hitting one of three from long range.
Meanwhile, sophomore Jaleel Bell chipped in 23 minutes off the bench shooting 7-13 from the field scoring 17 points.
Even with the strong three point shooting and only four turnovers LIU Post could have won this game. They dominated the Ravens on the glass 52-32. Both teams shot an abysmal 50% from the charity stripe with FPU going 6-12 and Post 13-26. Post also shot the ball slightly better from with an overall 41.1% fg percentage to the Ravens 38.6%.
So how did Frankin Pierce manage to get the win?
Even with getting severely out rebounded, shooting half as many free throws and shooting 38%, the answer is pretty simple. They don't turn the ball over. They value each possession, limit mistakes and get up a lot of shots. Even with shooting the lower percentage Franklin Pierce managed to actually make four more field goals than Post, taking 70 shots to Post’s 56 attempts
Coming off a 21-8 season and bringing in a core group of players that don't turn the ball over sounds like an excellent test for a team that has games against Minnesota and Syracuse in the very near future.
Tune in on Monday for what should be an exciting game. And join the conversation as Rumble streams a live game thread. See you back here Monday at 7:30 pm.