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Stat look: a recent three game defensive slide

It's hard to tell with all the losses, but the Johnnies have taken a slight downturn on defense. The Rumble investigates.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

St. John's is in the midst of a very long losing streak. You know that. But one of the areas where we could say the team seemed to be making progress has really fell by the wayside - coinciding with what head coach Chris Mullin said during this week's Big east Conference call:

"The last two games have been a little bit lackluster for us. We've played pretty good basketball during this losing streak, but the last two games were repetitive and not decisive so we're hoping to bounce back Saturday against Villanova."

First, the team is very bad at scoring he basketball. In the last six games, the Johnnies have been close to 100 point per 100 possessions (let's use that as the standard for "passable offense") once, scoring 99pts/ 100 possessions against Xavier on the road.

SJU efficiency margins - pre Villanova

First, let's reiterate - that's very, very bad, a mix of blown layups, an inability to score in the paint. The three point shooting has been fairly consistent, but the two point shooting has been poor. That Xavier game was not-so-coincidentally, that was one of two games in the last six where the Red Storm shot better than 33% on two-pointers.

SJU 2-point shooting pre Villanova

But in the efficiency margins, the defense's points per possession allowed has arched upwards, and that's led to even bigger blowouts. The Red Storm's possible lack of energy can be pinpointed in one place - the lack of turnovers forced, which means more opportunities for opponents to score against the often overmatched, inexperienced defense.

SJU Turnovers forced last six games

It seems like St. John's, at least right now, probably isn't going to be competitive unless they are forcing turnovers from opponents in at least one in every five possessions. The Red Storm need run outs, confusion, an the elimination of opponent chances to be competitive. That has to come from active defense, and quick hands from the likes of Federico Mussini, Durand Johnson and Kassoum Yakwe, along with Christian Jones, who has generated some steals in conference play as well.