For the last four years, St. John’s fans and foes have been accustomed to seeing the same names and numbers on the back of Red Storm jerseys. After nearly eight months since the Red Storm’s magical season came to an end, tomorrow this group will embark upon the new era of St. John’s basketball.
St. John’s opens the curtain for its 104th season of men’s basketball with the youngest team in program history. The Red Storm comprised of one returning letter winner from last season and welcome seven new faces to the team.
Over the past two weeks, fans have had the opportunity to get to know this year’s Red Storm unit through two exhibition games that have prepared this young bunch for what lies ahead, but many questions still remain unanswered as we enter the time of the year where the games now count in the standings, and the progress levels of each player will be evaluated under even more of a microscope than in weeks and months past.
William and Mary will be the first official opponent for all but one of the Johnnies at the Division I level, and you’ll find out a little more about them here as well.
The game is the nation’s first of the season, as part of the preliminary rounds of the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament, which will move to Madison Square Garden for St. John’s match up with Arizona.
Below, JohnnyJungle.com takes a look at how the young Red Storm will stack up against sharpshooting William & Mary.
Date: Monday, November 7, 2011
Location: Carnesecca Arena, Queens, NY
Tip Off: 7:00 PM EST
TV: ESPNU (Bob Wischusen, Len Elmore)
Radio: WBBR 1130 AM (John Minko, Tim O’Toole)
Online: WSJURadio.org (Mike Rossillo, Vince Ruffino)
Projected Starting Lineup:(Stats reflect two preseason games against C.W. Post and St. Mary’s [Md.])
G Nurideen Lindsey (6-3 So., 15.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 52% FG, 22% FT, 5.5 APG, 2.5 SPG)
G Malik Stith (5-11 Jr., 4.0 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 38% FG, 50% FT, 4.0 APG, 1.5 SPG)
G D’Angelo Harrison (6-3 Fr., 16.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 41% FG, 83% FT, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG)
F God’sgift Achiuwa (6-8 Jr., 18.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 77% FG, 22% FT, 1.5 BPG, 1.0 SPG)
F Moe Harkless (6-8 Fr., 17.0 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 63% FG, 83% FT, 2.0 APG, 1.5 SPG)
F Sir’Dominic Pointer (6-5 Fr., 10.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 69% FG, 38% FT, 1.5 APG, 2.5 SPG)
G Phil Greene (6-2 Fr., 12.0 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 56% FG, 50% 3pt, 50% FT, 1.5 APG, 2.5 SPG)
Keys To Victory:
– Play smart. Being that this is the first official game for nearly everyone on this team, the potential for St. John’s to get caught up in the moment is higher than ever. Even though most of this team seems mature and emotionally grounded going into tomorrow night’s match up, the atmosphere at Carnesecca Arena 24 hours from now will be something that this team has, by and large, never experienced. Therefore, don’t be surprised to see assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who will fill in for a still recovering Steve Lavin, to make that a critical part of his preparation for William & Mary.
– Dictate the pace. In the Red Storm’s 110-80 exhibition win over C.W. Post, the team was able to set the tone early-on with their athleticism and run-and-gun offense, turning a contest with the Division II Pioneers into a track meet just minutes into the first half. If St. John’s can be the aggressors on offense against a William & Mary team that averaged just 64 points per game last season, they will force the Tribe to come from behind early and often.
– Guard the lines. William & Mary shot 36 percent from three-point range as a team last season, led by the 46 percent clip from senior swingman Quinn McDowell, who is ready to go after missing the preseason. Sophomore point guard Brandon Britt may not be as productive from long range as McDowell, but if you leave him open at any position on the court, he can (and will) burn you.
And their opponents across the court…
William & Mary Tribe (2010-11 Record: 10-22, 4-14 CAA)
Head Coach: Tony Shaver (9th season, 97-146; 455-267 overall)
Projected Starting Lineup: (Stats reflect 2010-11 season)
G Brandon Britt (6-1 So., 10.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 38% FG, 72% FT, 2.2 APG)
G Julian Boatner (6-2 So., 6.8 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 40% FG, 40% 3pt, 83% FT)
G Kendrix Brown (6-3 Sr., 3.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 39% FG, 62% FT, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG)
F Quinn McDowell (6-6 Sr., 15.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 48% FG, 46% 3pt, 87% FT, 2.1 APG)
F JohnMark Ludwick (6-8 Sr., 3.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 39% FG, 38% 3pt, 60% FT)
*F Kyle Gaillard (6-8 Jr., 5.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 48% FG, 35% 3pt, 46% FT, 1.4 APG)
*F Tim Rusthoven (6-9 So., 5.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 57% FG, 84% FT)
G Matt Rum (6-4 Jr., 5.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 35% FG, 80% FT, 2.1 APG)
* Will not play due to injury
Keys To Victory:
– Win with Quinn. As Quinn McDowell goes, so too does the team. The leading scorer, three-point shooter, foul shooter and top returning rebounder from last year’s team, McDowell is the biggest part of this Tribe roster. At 6-6, McDowell is the second-tallest of the William & Mary starters, and will most likely draw Moe Harkless as a defensive assignment, which makes his ability to knock down shots even more of a factor, given Harkless’ two double-doubles in as many preseason games for the Red Storm.
– Bombs away. For every reason why St. John’s needs to guard the three-point line, William & Mary should come out firing. After a year in which the Tribe shot a collective 36 percent from beyond the arc, coach Tony Shaver would be smart to force St. John’s into showing off their length and athleticism against a group that has experienced options outside. St. John’s would also need to have their shooters get on a hot streak to keep up with the Tribe if the game becomes a shootout.
– Use the big men. Not only does William & Mary have a deeper bench than St. John’s, their roster as a whole is also bigger, with five members of the regular rotation measuring equal to or taller than the biggest St. John’s players (Harkless and Achiuwa) at 6-8. If they can stay out of foul trouble, William & Mary’s bigs, which give them a decided size advantage in the generally small CAA, will create a mismatch inside the paint that will play to their favor.
So, Who Wins?
In one corner, you have a team many critics are lauding as a sleeper that is just two years removed from a 22-win season and NIT appearance that is trying to return to the upper echelon of one of the strongest mid-major leagues in the nation.
In the other lies the reigning national media darling, now starting over, while simultaneously keeping the national attention on their side. This will be a telling game for both sides.
For the Johnnies, it will be a match up in which the team gets some much-needed experience that will prepare them for bigger opponents the likes of Arizona and Kentucky.
For William & Mary, it’s a chance to prove that they are just as much a part of the mix for a CAA title as conference brethren George Mason and VCU. The Tribe will also get the benefit of having a high-major opponent, something that will serve them well for future match ups against Missouri and Iona, among others.
Although this game will be close, don’t count on it to be the trap that some analysts are suspecting it may be. The Tribe may have the experience, but the Johnnies have the superior talent that will get them over the hump in this one.
Final Score: St. John’s 82, William & Mary 71