St. John’s falls to Providence in Big East rumble
On Thursday night, the St. John’s Red Storm hosted the Providence Friars in the team’s Big East opener. The Red Storm, who had a 10-2 record heading into the game, took on the Friars without their second best scorer, Marcus LoVett. Keeping the game close through the first half, Providence really took it at St. John’s in the second, pulling away in the last minutes of the game. St. John’s would ultimately fall to Providence in a 94–72 blowout.
Shamorie Ponds was solid in the first half for the Red Storm. As St. John’s primary scorer, especially with LoVett out, Ponds was expected to have a big game. By the end of the first he had 14 points on 6-of-9 from the field and 2-of-4 from behind the 3-point line. He also grabbed four rebounds and stole the ball three times. However, the second half had a different story with Ponds suffering some kind of injury after a lay up. He only managed to drop two points in the second half before head coach Chris Mullin had to bench him. In his absence Marvin Clark II stepped up with 20 points to end the game. Even still, it was clear that without Ponds the Red Storm wouldn’t be able to get it done.
One area the Red Storm failed to excel in during the game was 3-point shooting. In the first half the team shot 7-of-18 from behind for a steady 38.9%. However the Red Storm were unable to keep it up as they went 0-for-10 through the second half. The Red Storm ultimately would end the game shooting a measly 25% from behind the line. After the game, guard Justin Simon said that the plan “was to attack and if the defense collapsed, kick it out” for an open three. However, the Red Storm simply could not get their shot to fall from deep and at times even looked like they were settling for those kind of shots. Obviously a team wants to stay competitive and play its brand of basketball. However, going 0-for-10 is a good indication that the Red Storm needed to drive the ball more to stay in the game.
Defense wins games, and St John’s lack of it caused them to fall on Thursday night. Initially, the Red Storm guarded the perimeter well with Ponds getting some of his steals at the top of the key and the Friars only shooting 35.7 % from deep in the first half. Yet, the Red Storm let perimeter defense slip through their fingers, allowing the Friars to shoot a whopping 68.8% from three in the second half and 53.3% overall. Notably Kyron Cartwright, who only recorded four points in the first half, ended up scoring 17 in the second with 15 of those points coming from behind the 3-point line. He would end the game with 21 points and 15 assists. On top of the poor perimeter defense, the Red Storm only managed to steel the ball five times. Additionally the team allowed the Friars to dish out 24 assists. Simply put, St. John’s wasn’t able to get it done defensively and ended up losing because of it. As Coach Mullin and Marvin Clark II put it, the Friars were just too comfortable.
On Sunday St. John’s looks to take on Seton Hall and move on from this loss. Obviously they were dealt a bit of bad hand with Ponds going down and LoVett unable to play. Coach Mullin may look to adjust the offense in spite of the injuries, but insists that the team will look to “go through everybody.” He’ll likely also look to adjust the team’s defense prior to Sunday, but (as he jokingly remarked) he’s not keen on sharing that plan with the media.