Home > Big East games, college basketball, previews, Sports, st john's > St. John’s Schedule: Big East, January

St. John’s Schedule: Big East, January

December 31, 2008

03 Notre Dame | 11 @ Pittsburgh | 15 Connecticut | 18 @ Villanova | 22 Cincinnati | 24 Rutgers | 28 @ West Virginia

Schedule: November | Schedule:December

Now for the conference part of the schedule. I held off on writing/ posting this because watching a team ball against the worst teams in Division I says very little… but I didn’t think it was say THIS little. The games against three ACC teams that will not be top-4 seeds in the NCAA tourney did not hold promising results. A repeat of a chart from yesterday’s Providence pre-game post is in order. Again…

3 Game Averages
St. John’s 
ACC Opponents
Offensive Rebounds
Defensive Rebounds
Possessions (Avg)
FG Att + FT Att

Note that whipping on the boards, and how each team has averaged 8 more opportunities to score (assuming that each field goal attempt has around a 50% chance of going in, so one point for each attempt. Which isn’t true, but for the purposes of this exercise, it’ll have to do, pig); if this is the result against weaker opponents, how will they fare against the superpowered Big East?

This look will also refer to the Notes on the Big East Preview I posted months ago . I’ll be using AP Poll, RPI, and Pomeroy Rankings expressed in parentheses like (AP Ranking/RPI Ranking/Pomeroy Ranking) rankings throughout.

Notre dame Fighting Irish logoThe Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7/80/33) basketball team is one of extremes – extremely efficient on offense and surprisingly low on free throw attempts. Good at not sending other teams to the line and bad at forcing turnovers. Somehow, I think it will work out for them. Same cast, with Luke Harangody and Kyle McAlarney more than making up for the lesser offensive production of Tory Jackson and Zach Hillesland, with the addition of Ryan Ayers playing well. Not gonna be pretty. Though there are more forwards to check Harangody this time around, and last time the Red Storm did slow them down.

Pittsburgh Panthers alternate logoI had thought DeJuan Blair was way too undersized for the NBA. But a guy who rebounds on both ends like that? He needs to be considered. If they can just enhance his “basketball height” he’ll get some serious NBA looks. As for the Pittsburgh (3/2/4) game, last year’s matchup against the Panthers was one of many horrifying beatings on the Madison Square Garden floor. With Pitt rolling on all cylinders, the game in Pittsburgh’s Peterson Center, and no Anthony Mason Jr. to put in 29 of 57 points that the Johnnies scored, this could be clownishly bad. They are passing well and right now are the scary-good contender for a #1 seed in March.

U Connecticut Huskies logoConnecticut’s (2/9/7) players probably started envisioning going undefeated… then Georgetown happened. I would say that it was a learning experience, but the thing I noticed was the play of Greg Monroe setting the pace early. How many high post/ 3-point shooting centers with basketball IQ who know how to get Thabeet out of the post will they face? Not that many. But perhaps the rest of the team will wake up and play a bit harder against weaker foes; Coach Jim Calhoun is good at motivating. As for this game, Calhoun loves to run it up on Coach Norm. Last year’s game involved bad turnovers and a lot of running after those turnovers. Jerome Dyson had a career day with 9 steals. U Conn is still there among the top of the league. But for today, at least, they are at the bottom. What can I say, I’m a hater and I revel in it. The U Conn fans will fill the Garden and revel in their victory.

Villanova alternate logoI had some doubts about Villanova (15/35/28) but they have really honed their game. Dante Cunningham is aggressively taking shots on the inside and Reynolds and Stokes are stroking from the outside. Corey Fisher… well, he’s contributing. They clean the glass on both ends, they win the turnover battle handily, and they get to the line. College basketball really is a guards’ game for the Wildcats. After last year’s game against the Red Storm, there were longer pieces in the media about how the Red Storm were so far away from competing in the Big East. And this was after a game where ‘Nova’s offensive production could have lost it for them, but St. John’s was just THAT BAD at shooting the ball. If the Wildcats are getting their shots off, it’ll be very hard for the Johnnies to catch up.

Cincinnati official logoSo the “break” in the schedule comes from that Cincinnati (NR/57/55) team that has had some rough spots but also sports some talent, along with a LOT of size. This is a relatively winnable game at home, but who’s to say the Bearcats won’t be on a streak here? They have a lot of talented finishers, pass the ball very well for a team without a true point guard (passing is everybody’s job!) and are tops in the nation at grabbing offensive rebounds. The Storm and the ‘Cats split their games last year, with St. John’s winning by 12 (!) and then losing by 16 on the road without Mase.

Rutgers Scarlet Knight logoThe freshmen of Rutgers (NR/172/140) will hopefully not have grown into their games yet. Really, I see Mike Rosario coming on really strong at the end of the year; and Echenique will as well, if they find someone to get good at actually passing the ball. Corey Chandler has a high assist rate, but he also has a high “taking shots he doesn’t make” rate. There really has to be some question about how the talent that’s on the team – not overwhelming, but there – still can’t find ways to score as consistently as they need to. St. John’s won a boring sludge of a game against the Scarlet Knights last year… this one may be just as ugly, but could go either way. Right now Pomeroy’s Predictor says the Storm has an 83% chance of winning. That will change downward.

West Virginia logoWest Virginia (NR/15/3) is currently unranked. Their RPI is 15. Pomeroy’s site, which has been pretty good about calling up unknown but very good teams, has them at #3. Who’s smarter, the AP poll or the nerdy numbers? Truck Bryant (who publicly stated that he wanted to come to St. John’s) has been fantastic, as have Alex Ruoff and Da’Sean Butler. Of course they defend and of course they rebound well. Freshman Devin Ebanks’ numbers seem to indicate that he will see his sophomore year instead of a handshake at the podium with David Stern while wearing a team cap. The efforts of Joe Alexander put the Mountaineers over the top last year against St. John’s. Someone else will have to abuse the Red Storm forwards off the dribble this go-‘round as St. John’s closes out their first month of Big East play.

How many of these games do you think St. John’s will win???

  1. sportsaholic89
    January 1, 2009 at 4:15 am

    St. John’s should have a decent season this year; but, it will be tough for them because the Big East is so strong. I’m hoping my Louisville Cardinals can get back on track after tonight’s embarrassment.


  2. picodulce
    January 1, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Yeah, I don’t know about that; a lot has to change for St. John’s to get to decent. There are some beatings in the future.

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