Tonight, the St. John's Red Storm (9-1) get back into action against another competitive side in the Long Beach State 49ers (5-7). It's the Ugly Sweater game and the Red Storm hope the on-court game isn't as ugly as Friday's contest, where St. John's scored 18 points in the first half... and held St. Mary's to 14 points in the second.
Despite the record of the 49ers, the team has some talent and should contend for the Big West Conference title.
St. John's will face Long Beach State for the first time in the team's history.
Of note: Rysheed Jordan is out sick with the flu and won't be on the bench.
Rysheed Jordan has the flu and won't play today per #sjubb. Won't be on bench either. At home resting.— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) December 22, 2014
(Wouldn't this be a great chance for Rysheed to be like Michael Jordan, whose number he wears? Michael had a very famous flu game, after all. Alas, that won't happen tonight.)
How to watch/ online access
Tonight's game will be on the CBS Sports Network at 7:30 PM and will not be available online. Dave Ryan and Bob Wenzel will announce the game on television with Jon Rothstein on the sidelines (perhaps he'll let the TV audience know how D`Angelo Harrison has so much Salim Stoudamire in him, one of his many comparisons).
John Minko and Brandon Tierney will have the game on the radio on 970 AM WNYM.
St. John's is favored by 8.5 points.
Scouting Long Beach State
The Beach, as it says across their chests, comes in with some experience in the backcourt but with a young frontcourt. Still, the 49ers have tested themselves across the country, having played ranked San Diego State and Texas before coming to Queens to face the Red Storm.
LBSU has beaten Xavier on a neutral court... and has lost to Xavier in Cincinnati (we don't know how that scheduling quirk happened either). The Beach's seven losses have been to BYU, the aforementioned Xavier, UCLA, University of Washington, Stephen F. Austin, and San Diego State and Texas.
LBSU hopes to come away with one more marquee win before heading up to Syracuse and then down to Louisville to close out the year.
The Beach have had strong scoring performances from Mike Caffey, a 6'0" guard who takes a lot of jump shots, and doesn't get to the rim. Basically, his game will be like looking in a mirror for Phil Greene IV and D`Angelo Harrison, except Caffey has hit 50% of his threes. Dan Monson's team is happy to shoot threes and will adjust their defense to suit the time and opponent.
As a team, the 49ers struggle to rebound the defensive end, allowing opponents to snag 38.5% of available offensive rebounds, one of the worst rates in the country. Up front, the paint is manned by freshman Temidayo Yussuf (6'7" 260), who draws a lot of fouls, and David Samuels (6'7", 225), a senior who is willing to shoot jump shots.
Tyler Lamb, the ex-UCLA wing, is also a scoring factor for the 49ers, with solid shooting percentages all over the court.
Travis Hammonds and Jack Williams were instrumental in the effort against Texas defensively; LBSU led Texas with 12 minutes to go on the road before falling to the top-ten Longhorns late in the contest.
Perimeter quickness vs St. John's defense. The Red Storm need to defend against the shooting of Caffey and Lamb, and opportunistic shooting from the likes of Branford Jones on the perimeter. The paint should be an advantage for St. John's, but expect the 49eres to make Chris Obekpa and Dom Pointer work to defend.
Keys to the game
High energy start. The Red Storm struggled offensively to start the game against St. Mary's on Friday, out of sync at best and settling for contested jump shots against a soft defense designed to highlight the Johnnies's inconsistent shooting. The team has to play to their defensive strengths and understand what the defense is giving - and why - and adjust.
Rysheed Jordan and Jamal Branch have to make scoring difficult for Caffey.
St. John's handles the game with time enough to play Myles Stewart and Amar Alibegovic. A better offensive performance than last time, 68-57 win.