Less than 18 hours after suffering their first loss of the season, St. John’s hits the court again, taking on Texas A&M in the consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Arizona will face Mississippi State immediately following, in the championship game. Below, JohnnyJungle.com gets you caught up on what will be the second game for the Johnnies in as many days.
Date: Friday, November 18, 2011
Location: Madison Square Garden; New York, New York
Time: 4:30 PM EST
TV: ESPN2 (Dan Shulman, Bob Knight)
Radio: WBBR 1130 AM (John Minko, Tim O’Toole)
Online: WSJURadio.org (Mike Rossillo)
St. John’s Red Storm (3-1)
Head Coach: Steve Lavin (2nd season, 24-13; 169-91 overall)
Projected Starting Lineup:
G Nurideen Lindsey (6-3 So., 16.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 52% FG, 62% FT, 4.0 APG, 2.8 SPG)
G Malik Stith (5-11 Jr., 6.0 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 56% FG, 50% 3pt, 71% FT, 1.0 APG)
G D’Angelo Harrison (6-3 Fr., 14.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 42% FG, 37% 3pt, 79% FT, 2.0 APG, 2.3 SPG)
F God’sgift Achiuwa (6-8 Jr., 14.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 64% FG, 84% FT, 1.0 BPG)
F Moe Harkless (6-8 Fr., 15.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 50% FG, 55% FT, 1.5 APG, 1.8 BPG, 1.8 SPG)
F Sir’Dominic Pointer (6-5 Fr., 3.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 55% FG, 50% 3pt, 29% FT, 1.0 SPG)
G Phil Greene (6-2 Fr., 4.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 35% FG, 33% 3pt, 63% FT, 1.5 APG)
Keys To Victory:
– Start fresh. For such a young team, a loss as close and as heartbreaking as the one St. John’s suffered last night against Arizona could linger in the memories of the players longer than the coaching staff would like it to. This team has already shown a maturity beyond their years both on and off the court, and today’s game will be Exhibit A since the Red Storm will technically be taking the court twice within a span of 19 hours.
– Don’t be afraid to shoot the three. Texas A&M fell into a hole early in their matchup Thursday night against Mississippi State, as the Bulldogs hit each of their first five triples and never looked back. The Aggies are also yielding a 33 percent clip from beyond the arc to their opponents, so there will definitely be a handful of open looks for the Red Storm, should they choose to capitalize on them.
– Survive and advance. This terminology is usually reserved for March, but St. John’s will have that mindset when they go up against a Texas A&M team that is as deep as the Arizona squad the Red Storm faced last night. The Aggies regularly play an eleven-man rotation, four more than St. John’s currently features, in a routine contest. The Red Storm would also like to come away unscathed from the Garden, as a potential trap game awaits them at Carnesecca Arena Tuesday night against a scrappy St. Francis College unit that nearly defeated Seton Hall at the Prudential Center.
And coming in from College Station, home of the 12th man…
No. 18 Texas A&M Aggies (2-1)
Head Coach: Billy Kennedy (1st season, 2-1; 213-180 overall)
Projected Starting Lineup:
G Dash Harris (6-1 Sr., 4.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 22% FG, 60% FT, 3.7 APG, 1.0 SPG)
G Jordan Green (6-4 Fr., 5.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 71% FG, 60% 3pt, 50% FT, 1.3 APG)
G Elston Turner (6-5 Jr., 13.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 48% FG, 100% FT, 2.3 APG, 1.0 SPG)
F David Loubeau (6-8 Sr., 12.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 46% FG, 50% 3pt, 81% FT)
F Ray Turner (6-9 Jr., 14.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 70% FG, 44% FT, 1.0 SPG)
F Kourtney Roberson (6-9 So., 8.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 69% FG, 43% FT)
G Jamal Branch (6-3 Fr., 7.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 71% FG, 67% 3pt, 4.0 APG)
G Naji Hibbert (6-5 Jr., 3.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 40% FG)
C Keith Davis (6-10 So., 1.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 50% FG, 33% FT)
Keys To Victory:
– Take control. The Aggies lost the opportunity to dictate the pace of the game last night after Mississippi State got off to a hot start from three-point range and used it as a launching point to their 69-60 victory. Going up against a young team who was just on the court no less than 18 hours prior to tipoff, Texas A&M will look to play their style from the opening tip, thereby forcing St. John’s to catch up on a day where fatigue is the last thing Steve Lavin wants to worry about.
– High-percentage shots. The Aggies come into this contest shooting 54 percent from the field as a team, and three of their players have field goal percentages of 70 percent or higher, with reserve forward Kourtney Roberson close behind at 69 percent. Coming from a physical and offensively gifted, Big 12 Conference, Texas A&M is disciplined enough to know which shots they should be taking, and when to back off for a better look. If the Aggies can hold the ball long enough to find the play that is best suited for them on each possession, St. John’s will be attempting to erase an even bigger deficit than the ones they have fought back from in their three victories.
– Two for the price of one. Not every team is blessed with two point guards, but the Aggies are not “every team.” Freshman Jamal Branch has come out of the gate strong to start his collegiate career, averaging just over seven points per game, to go along with four assists per night as the understudy to senior Dash Harris. Branch has also shot the ball well, missing only four field goal attempts while making two of three from beyond the arc. Since Jordan Green only averages around 15 minutes per game, it would not be surprising to see head coach Billy Kennedy use both his point guards at the same time, letting his elder statesman Harris run the offense while Branch plays off the ball, or the other way around.
So, Who Wins?
This game will be the first of many where St. John’s can really prove themselves for what the team will ultimately become, as they will be taking the court for the second time in as many days, gaining experience that will serve them well for Big East play, and ultimately, the Big East tournament on this same Madison Square Garden court. For the Aggies, it is an opportunity to show that they are the team some critics are predicting could win the Big 12, as they will get the chance to go up against a team from what still is regarded as the best basketball conference in the nation. St. John’s will most likely play beyond their years once again, but the depth and intelligent shot selection they will be facing, coupled with the short turnaround between games, will be the nails in the proverbial coffin. Texas A&M will prevail, but not without overcoming a fight.
Final Score: Texas A&M 77, St. John’s 67