After a disappointing outing across the country in San Francisco, the Red Storm return to New York and Madison Square Garden for the MSG Holiday Festival. The Red Storm will be taking on the Fordham Rams from the Bronx and the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Rams are the first really bad team that the Storm will face this season, and they will be without their best player. Chris Gatson who tore his meniscus during the third game of the season, is expected to be out up to a month.
The Holiday Festival is a St. John’s tradition and last year with only six players the Storm beat Fordham 56-50. St. John’s leads the all-time series 62-21 as it dates all the way back to 1909.
Date: Saturday, December 8th, 2012
Location: Madison Square Garden- New York, New York
Time: 7:30 PM EST
TV: MSG+ (Don LaGreca, Vin Parise)
Radio: WBBR 1130 AM (John Minko, Tim O’Toole)
Fordham Rams (1-7, 0-0)
Head Coach: Tom Pecora
The Fordham Rams are going to have their work cut out for them when they take on St. John’s Saturday evening. The A10 bottom feeders will be without Chris Gatson, who is fifth all-time in rebounding and ninth all-time in points. Gatson had 11 points and 14 rebounds last year in the Holiday Festival against the Johnnies and in his place the focal point of the front court has been Ryan Canty. The 6’9 Canty had 14 points and nine rebounds in the Rams’ latest loss to Lehigh. He is averaging 6.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game picking up the slack with Gatson gone.
The Rams will mostly be playing a small lineup which is a big disadvantage playing against such an athletic team like St. John’s. Junior guard Brenden Frazier has been solid for the Rams averaging 15.6 points and 4.8 assists per game in the backcourt. The Rams don’t shoot it too well from distance, only 32% as a team.
Bryan Smith though, might be their most dangerous asset. The sophomore guard is averaging 10.4 points and is a team best 39% from three point land. If he can get hot and get going it would give the Rams their best shot at taking down the Johnnies.
Projected Starting Lineup:
F Khalid Robinson
C Ryan Canty
G Brenden Frazier
G Jermaine Meyers
G Bryan Smith
St. John’s (6-3, 0-0)
Head Coach: Steve Lavin
They were close, then they weren’t so close. For one half the Johnnies were able to keep up with the San Francisco Dons. But a huge game by Cody Doolin, De’End Parker and their hot shooting from three sent the Johnnies back home to NYC with a loss.
The Johnnies will be looking to rebound in their first game at Madison Square Garden this season. To do so they will look to get Phil Greene and D’Angelo Harrison back on track. Both starting guards had a rough time out west and hope to get back into the New York groove. Greene had six points and one assist in 28 minutes while Harrison had 14 points on 5-16 shooting from the field including 1-6 from behind the arc. Harrison couldn’t get anything to go and was played tough in the second half and was a non factor.
It will be interesting to see the lineup Lavin uses when Fordham goes small. Will Obekpa be a factor and game changer or will the Johnnies go small with the Rams and possibly see both teams with four guards on the floor?
Projected Starting Lineup:
F JaKarr Sampson
F Amir Garrett
G Phil Greene
G D’Angelo Harrison
G Felix Balamou
Keys to Victory
- Return of Jakarr- Jakarr Sampson had quite the game at San Francisco, shooting 10-17 from the field and racking up 22 points, while keeping the Red Storm in the game for as long as he could. Another great game by Jakarr could signify the coming together of a lethal tandem of Sampson and Harrison.
- Rebounding? Rebounding!- In the loss to the Dons the Johnnies handled the boards against a tough rebounding team. The Johnnies out rebounded the Dons 37-34 and held Cole Dickerson to only eight rebounds, well below his season average. With a much smaller team coming to town it will be even more important to win the battle of the boards.
- Don’t switch- One thing you could see during the San Francisco game, is no matter what, the Johnnies will switch on a ball screen. The Red Storm need to get tougher defensively and understand their responsibilities. Switching on every ball screen against the Dons, a team known for their ball movement, led to a ton of open shots and mismatches.
- Check the shooter- Fordham is not technically a great shooting team, only 41% as a team and 32% from downtown as a team. But they have two guys in Frazier and Smith who can knock down a shot if they are left open. Remember, hand down, man down. Get in their faces and force contested shots and the Johnnies should be alright.
Final Prediction: St. John’s Wins, 72-57