On Thursday, the St. John’s Red Storm announced their non-conference schedule for 2018-19 and there aren’t many challenges on it.
The St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball team is less than three months away from starting their 2018-19 season. This team that will have high expectations as most of their core from last year returns to the court. The excitement for the team is very high compared to what is on their non-conference schedule.
Thursday afternoon, the school released the 2018-19 non-conference schedule and there is not that signature game on the slate that would provide an opportunity for a quality win before Big East play. You can find the full schedule at RedStormSports.com.
In fact, St. John’s will play four Northeast Conference schools in the month of December (Mount St. Mary’s, Wagner, St. Francis Brooklyn, and Sacred Heart). The game that is sandwiched in between those NEC contests is a matchup with Princeton at Madison Square Garden on December 9 in the MSG Holiday Festival.
Their opponent in the Gavitt Games is the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on November 16 in Piscataway, New Jersey. Rutgers did have a surprising run in the Big Ten Tournament and they did beat St. John’s in an exhibition last year, but the Scarlet Knights will probably be near the bottom of the Big Ten this season.
After that Rutgers matchup, St. John’s will take part in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center on November 19-20. They will play Cal in their first game and then either Temple or VCU. Cal went 8-24 last year, so that is a game St. John’s should win.
Outside of a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play Duke on February 2 and a neutral-court game with Georgia Tech in Miami on December 1 (Hoophall Miami Invitational), there isn’t much traveling outside of the Tri-State area for Chris Mullin’s squad.
Now, if there is a positive to playing a weak non-conference schedule, it is the fact that it allows the coaching staff to try different lineup combinations and see what works in the early stages of the season. While Shamorie Ponds, Justin Simon, and Marvin Clark II are back from last year, there are many new players on the roster this year.
Some of those new players include freshmen such as Marcellus Earlington and Josh Roberts and transfers such as LJ Figueroa, Sedee Keita, Mikey Dixon, and potentially Mustapha Heron.
At the same time, any loss on the non-conference schedule can severely hurt St. John’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament. Plus, it decreases the margin of error that the Red Storm will have once the Big East schedule begins in late December.
While St. John’s may be one of the more intriguing teams to watch in the Big East this year, it may take until later in the year to find out how good this team can be. If they can take care of their competition before Big East play, then it will only increase the excitement around the area.
At the same time, one bad loss can severely hurt the chances of punching their ticket to the Big Dance in March, which should be the goal and the expectation for this season.