After a bad loss to Providence on Thursday, St. John’s will look to get their first Big East win on New Year’s Eve against Angel Delgado and Seton Hall.
Thursday night was a rough Big East opener for the St. John’s Red Storm (10-3, 0-1 Big East). Not only did they lose by 24 to Providence at home, but their star point guard, Shamorie Ponds, left the game with a knee injury.
Fortunately, for the Red Storm, it sounds like they got a lucky break as the injury does not sound serious. According to Adam Zagoria of SNY.TV and Zags Blog, the MRI Ponds had on his knee came back with no structural damage. However, his status is unclear for a big game Sunday afternoon against #23 Seton Hall (12-2, 1-0) at the Prudential Center.
After being down 11 in the first half against Creighton on Thursday, the Pirates rallied back for a 90-84 win as they scored the final seven points of the game. Kevin Willard’s squad has wins over Texas Tech and Louisville on its resume to cancel out a loss at Rutgers on December 16.
If St. John’s wants to win at the Prudential Center for the first time since 2013-14, they will need to find a way to slow down center Angel Delgado. Of course, that is easier said than done as Delgado is one of the best big men in the country.
Delgado, who has 62 career double-doubles, is averaging 13.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. He has ten or more rebounds in seven straight games. The senior has dominated on the boards against St. John’s in his career, pulling down 78 rebounds in six career meetings.
The Red Storm don’t have much depth in the frontcourt, so they will need Tariq Owens to avoid the early foul trouble that he had against Providence. If Owens gets in foul trouble, it will be up to Marvin Clark II and Kassoum Yakwe to try to prevent Delgado from having a great game.
As for Clark II, he is coming off one of his best games in a St. John’s uniform. On Thursday, he had a career-high 20 points and had eight rebounds. The Michigan State transfer has hit multiple threes in four of his last five games and he continues to be a key offensive piece when he isn’t in foul trouble.
When you talk about this Seton Hall squad, it is a veteran team that has three seniors in their starting lineup. Forward Desi Rodriguez is the team’s leading scorer (18.3 points per game) and had 23 points against Creighton. Another senior, guard Khadeen Carrington, is the team’s leader in assists (3.9 per game).
Depending on the playing status of Ponds and LoVett, St. John’s will need a big game out of Justin Simon in the backcourt. Simon had just six points on Thursday and when he’s not driving to the basket, he isn’t the best perimeter shooter. Teams are going to try to get him to shoot the three rather than go for the layup or dunk.
For St. John’s, they need to find a way to win one of the next two road games against the Pirates and #25 Creighton on January 3. If they don’t win those games. their chances at an NCAA Tournament berth will continue to decrease.
Right now, Seton Hall is a top three team in the Big East and their senior leadership plus the dominance of Delgado down low should lead to a convincing win on New Year’s Eve. If St. John’s can’t make their three-point shots consistently, it will be a long night before the ball drops in Times Square.