St. John's: Getting to Know Central Connecticut State
CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03: Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to his team during the game against the Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

After winning their season opener on Friday, St. John’s is back in action tonight against Central Connecticut State

Despite being outrebounded by New Orleans last Friday, St. John’s was able to lead for most of the game in their 77-61 win over the Privateers. Marcus LoVett had a game-high 23 points, Shamorie Ponds led the team in rebounds (six) and assists (seven), and four players scored in double figures.

In their first of two games at Carnesecca Arena this week, St. John’s will be taking on Central Connecticut State (0-2) from the Northeast Conference. You can watch the game on FS2 at 6:30 p.m ET. The Blue Devils lost their first two games to Hartford (85-84 in overtime) and Rutgers (71-67).

For Central Connecticut State, they are still without Donyell Marshall as their head coach in 2017 after going 6-25 last year. The former NBA veteran has been suspended, along with assistant coach Anthony Anderson, due to a “personnel matter.”

In the NEC preseason standings, Central Connecticut St. was picked to finish ninth in the ten team league as they only have two seniors on their roster. But, one name who has made an early first impression with back-to-back games of 20 or more points is guard/forward Tyler Kohl.

Kohl, who is a JUCO transfer from Mineral Area College, has also had eight rebounds in each game to go with seven assists. His eight rebounds per game are 2.5 more than the team’s second-leading rebounder (forward Mustafa Jones at 5.5), so rebounding might be better for St. John’s tonight compared to Friday.

Looking at this game, turnovers could be a deciding factor. Friday night, St. John’s was able to force 21 turnovers (ten steals) and get 36 points off those mistakes. Meanwhile, Central Connecticut St. has turned it over 35 times (11 of them by Kohl).

As for Jones, he is their leading scorer returning from last season (10.5 points per game). The senior from Harlem has been 12-for-19 from the floor so far this year, so he will look to have a good game from the interior for the Blue Devils.

For St. John’s, it’s going to be about the frontcourt and their ability to defend without fouling. That will be tested against a Blue Devils team that has 38 free throw attempts this year (most in the NEC). With that being said, that is only good enough for a tie for 64th in the entire country. Both of those stats are as of November 13.

In the first game, we saw the impact that the two transfers (Justin Simon and Marvin Clark Jr.) are going to have on this St. John’s roster. The one player to look from a bounce-back game tonight is Bashir Ahmed.

Ahmed did have ten points in the win over New Orleans (3-for-9 shooting), but he also had four of St. John’s ten turnovers and just two rebounds. Last year, he was their leading rebounder, so that could explain why the rebounding margin was so lopsided in favor of New Orleans.

All the attention this week will be on the Gavitt Games, which begin Thursday night, when St. John’s hosts Nebraska and plays their first school from a Power 5 conference. With that being said, it is important they keep close attention to this game and try to dominate from start-to-finish.

I graduated from St. John's University with a degree in sports management. I previously wrote about the Johnnies at Rumble In the Garden.