St. John’s is coming off a road trip to forget and will welcome the South Florida Bulls to Queens for their final regular season game at their on campus home. The Johnnies hope to be revitalized by their home crowd that hasn’t seen them play for almost a week as they are coming off a loss at Louisville six days ago.
The brutal back to back at Louisville and Syracuse was a huge test for St. John’s without their head coach Steve Lavin on the sidelines because of the passing of his father. The Johnnies fought valiantly but just didn’t have enough to pull out a huge win. Sophomore guard Jamal Branch is still unlikely to play with his knee sprain and Lavin said it could take one, two or more weeks to heal fully.
Last year the Bulls defeated the Johnnies 64-49 in Tampa as the Bulls made their surge to grab an at large berth into the NCAA Tournament. The tables have turned this year and it is the Johnnies looking to secure a home win and make a case for the selection committee and the Bulls are struggling and will not see a postseason this year.
Date: Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Location: Carnesecca Arena- Jamaica, NY
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Radio: WBBR 1130 AM (John Minko, Brandon Tierney)
South Florida Bulls (10-15, 1-12)
Head Coach: Stan Heath
Returning their star forward and a couple others from last years NCAA Tournament team this was supposed to be a more positive season for Stan Heath and his Bulls. But the Bulls have only won a single Big East game this season and are looking into falling to the bottom of the Big East again.
The star of last years 20+ win team was Victor Rudd. Rudd the athletic 6’9 junior is averaging 11.4 points per game as well as grabbing 6.8 rebounds. Rudd is shooting 38% from the field and 26% from three. Rudd averaged 15 points in the tournament last year including two wins. The Bulls and Rudd fell short in the round of 32 as they fell to Cinderella as Ohio advanced to the Sweet 16.
Joining Rudd in the front court is Toralyn Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick is averaging 10.4 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. The 6’8 senior is going toe to toe with Rudd in the front court trying their best to help the team recreate its magic from last year but so far it has not gone as planned. In their last game against Louisville, Rudd scored seven points and had nine rebounds while shooting 3-12 from the field. Fitzpatrick had nine points on 3-9 shooting and got disrupted by the play of the big Cardinal forwards.
Projected Starting Lineup:
F Victor Rudd
F Toarlyn Fitzpatrick
F Kore White
G Anthony Collins
G JaVontae Hawkins
St. John’s (15-10, 7-6)
Head Coach: Steve Lavin
St. John’s and Steve Lavin had a tough week but they need to put it behind them and look forward to their matchup Wednesday night. The Johnnies went 0-2 on their road trip and while they played poorly and turned the ball over too much they did play hard and despite the score were in the games in the second half.
JaKarr Sampson did not win an award for his performance last week and was brought down to earth a tad against Louisville. Despite a great game against Syracuse, Sampson was 4-15 from the field with eight points and nine rebounds against Louisville.
Marc-Antoine Bourgault is still playing well in extended minutes since Branch went down. The junior guard had six points, three rebounds and two steals against Louisville in 22 minutes. Phil Greene had one of his best games to date as he lead the team in scoring with 21 points and three assists on 9-18 shooting. If Greene’s hip is getting better and he can become another scoring option it can really open up things for this team down the stretch.
Projected Starting Lineup:
F JaKarr Sampson
F Sir’Dominic Pointer
G Marc-Antoine Bourgault
G Phil Greene
G D’Angelo Harrison
Keys to Victory
• Cleaning the glass- You have to give freshman forward Chris Obekpa credit where credit is due. Obekpa has been getting much better at the art of rebounding. From earlier in the year where all he wanted to do was block shots, the 6’9 Obekpa pulled down 12 rebounds against a big Louisville team and is now averaging 5.9 boards per game on the season.
• Mr. 1,000- D’Angelo Harrison didn’t quite bust out of his slump but did have a better shooting night against a good team. Harrison has 18 points to pass 1,000 for his career and the sophomore guard became the 48th member of the club and eighth fastest to do so. Harrison will need to score down this stretch of games and be the clutch shot that the Johnnies need.
• Protect your house– The Johnnies have played well at home, amassing an 11-3 record between the Garden and Carnesecca Arena. The Bulls have one Big East win against Georgetown at home. The last time they won on the road was January 2nd against UCF.
• Just win baby- A home game in late February against a below .500 team. This game has to be won by the Red Storm if they want any chance of being called on Selection Sunday. There are a lot of stats and names you could throw out there but pretty much St. John’s needs to win this game either by hook or by crook. Just win.
Final Prediction: St. John’s Wins, 62-50