Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Additional Thoughts from St John's Win over William and Mary

If you are one of the few, the proud, the loyal readers of this site, you know my focus tends to be towards mid major teams.  However, I do try to do write about Power Six conference teams when I watch their games live.

Much has been made of St John's vaunted recruiting class, one of the best in the nation. Lately, it's been overshadowed by Steve Lavin's fight with prostate cancer.  Lavin was not coaching Monday night, but he had to be pleased with the results. Having been in attendance for Monday night's win over William and Mary, I made some notes about the Red Storm's play.

  • The first half, the Red Storm struggled in half court offense.  It's to be expected in the first real game of the season.  I thought they played much better in their half court offense in the second half.
  • St John's struggled from beyond the three point arc, shooting 4 of 15.  As the season progresses this obviously needs to improve for the Red Storm to be successful.  Especially with their quickness, opposing teams will play a lot of zone against St John's.  They have to keep those teams honest with better outside shooting.
  • The Red Storm were 12 of 25 from the free throw line. Enough said.
  • As I noted in my previous post, the tide turned when St John's went to a half court press.  The Tribe guards, notably freshman Marcus Thornton who had seven turnovers, really struggled against the press.  Don't be surprised if the Red Storm use the press a lot more as the season progresses.  It fits really well with their athleticism and opens up the transition game, which they are much more comfortable in than in half court offense.
  • But it wasn't just their press that forced turnovers.  St John's half court defense was so much better than the first half.  Due to being so quick, they really got out on the William and Mary shooters.  The Tribe had only eleven three point attempts in the second half as opposed to twenty one in the first half.  
  • For such a young team, to have a 3-1 assist to turnover ratio (thirteen assists, four turnovers) is very impressive.  If that continues, the Red Storm will win more than their share of games this season.
  • Outside of Moe Harkless, no other St John's player was in foul trouble. That being said, William and Mary had no inside presence the entire night (in fairness, two of the Tribe's big men, Tim Rusthoven and Kyle Gaillard were injured and didn't play).  When the Red Storm play a team with an inside game, that will put more pressure on a seven man rotation. 
  • This is my main concern with the Red Storm.  St John's doesn't have anyone taller than 6-8. And they were outrebounded 29-26 by a Tribe team that is not exactly Drexel when it comes to the frontcourt (for those of you not familiar with the CAA, look up Drexel's rebounding statistics). 
  • I liked the Red Storm's balance a lot.  Four players scored in double digits and only Moe Harkless took more than twelve shots (he was 7 of 17). D' Angelo Harrison had 14, God's Gift Achiuwa, and Harkless each had 17, while Nurideen Lindsey had 19.   They distributed the ball well and in the second half they really worked it inside a lot.  
Overall, if you are a St John's fan, you have to be pleased by your team's performance.  To force twenty one turnovers on a William and Mary team that I believe is well coached, while only having four turnovers, that's a pretty good night.   The Red Storm just need to play to their strengths; pressure defense and run as much as an uptempo game if possible.  St John's fans will have to be patient with this team.  Considering their lack of depth and youth, this season may be a learning curve for them.  But if this team stays intact next season and gets a little more size, they will be really good.

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