Coming off a 78-68 loss in Philadelphia against the Villanova Wildcats, the Friars try to get back to winning ways as the St. John’s Red Storm make their way to The Dunk on Wednesday. The Friars will try and earn their third win in four games against a team they swept last season, with the two victories coming at an average of 16 points per contest. The Red Storm are in their second season under Coach Chris Mullins and while they don’t currently have a winning record, they are an improved basketball team. The Johnnies are led by the freshman backcourt duo of Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett. Marcus LoVett was on the team last season however was deemed in eligible. LoVett used the year not playing to really work on his game, as he is scoring 16.7 points per contest. Friar fans are certainly familiar with Shamorie Ponds, as the Brooklyn native chose to stay at home instead of playing at PC. Ponds can really score the basketball, as he also averages 16.7 per game and appears to one of the front runners for Big East Freshman of the Year. While it’s their guards who provide the scoring load, their big man can really protect the rim. St. John’s is ranked 5th in the country in blocked shots at 6.48 per game and are led by Tennessee transfer Tariq Owens gets 2.4 blocks per game himself. And with that here are my keys to the game!
Keys to The Game
- Force Turnovers- With a bunch of young players in the backcourt it’s not surprising that St. Johns are a very turnover prone team. They average 14.4 turnovers per game and it will be the prudent for the Friars to keep that trend going. I would like to see Ed Cooley to show the full court trap early in the game but I doubt that will happen. If the Friars can turn the Johnnies over they will be able to score a lot in transition, something they have been so good at doing this season.
- Knock Down The 3– With St. Johns looking to protect the rim the Friars want to make sure they get good looks from the three-point line and knock them down. It starts with Jalen Lindsey who has been on fire from beyond the arch, connecting on 8/14 from three in his last two games. Lindsey had showed promise from three his freshman season but his sophomore campaign was a disaster as he shot 26.9%. The improvement this year has been off the charts as he is shooting 47.3% and his confidence has to be at an all-time high.
- Can Kyron Cartwright Return to Form?- Kyron Cartwright spent Saturday battling an upset stomach and while he played really well in the first half he could only log 10 minutes in the second frame. It is pretty obvious that the Friars are a different team on offense when Cartwright is on the floor. It was no surprise that the Friars saw their first half deficit of 4 points ballon to 20 at one point in the second stanza, as Cartwright sat on the bench. With the Friars lacking many ball handlers it makes it even more important that Cartwright is healthy.
With there only being ten games left in conference play and sitting at 3-5 this becomes a game the Friars absolutely must win. If the Friars want to make the NCAA tournament this season it’s important they hold serve on their home court, especially against teams that they are better then. While the Johnnies have improved their Big East win total from last year, they are a team thats been struggling lately. They are losers of 5 of their last 6 games, with all of the loses by a double-digit margin. They certainly aren’t a team to take lightly as they did upset Butler on their home floor and even went to Syracuse and won by 33 points but those days seem like a distant memory for the Johnnies. If the Friars can defend the there-point line like they have all season and knock down a good share of their own three-point shots I don’t see this game being a problem.
Friars 76 St. Johns 62