Friday, January 22, 2010

Preview of St. John's - Guest Blogger Pico Dulce of the East Coast Bias on the Red Storm

To the Wildcat faithful-

I am grateful to say that a specialist on St. John's, Pico Dulce of the East Coast Bias, has graciously agreed to share his observations on the Red Storm, in advance of tomorrow's high noon contest at Madison Square Garden.

At his suggestion, we arranged for a mutual exchange of questions.  He asked the initial set, which I answered, and which he's reprinted in this post on the East Coast Bias.   And so, in turn, I've adapted his questions on Villanova, to be redirected to him for St. John's...

If you go to the East Coast Bias, you'll see that Pico requested analysis from us Villanova bloggers.  The link above is only to my version.  But I'd like to recommend the East Coast Bias version from greyCat at Villanova by the Numbers, as well as my own.  As always, greyCat brings the number-crunching to the preview.

So, without further ado-  

Pico Dulce of The East Coast Bias, on St. John's:

Question - St. John's enters tomorrow's contest with a 12-6 record overall, 2-4 in the Big East (11th place)... why does the Red Storm have that record, and are they likely to improve, or deteriorate, as the season continues?

Pico Dulce:  St. John's is 12-6, and the offense has been mediocre.  The defense is pretty decent against Big East foes, but it's not translating into wins.  Being a tough out is nice, but tough outs don't get a team to the NCAA Tournament.  The team can get better, yes, but will they?  

I think some players can be better individual performers; certain players can be put in better positions; but it's late in the season to expect sudden explosions of talent and play.

Question - What will be the downfall for St. John's, if they lose?  What are their weaknesses?

Pico Dulce - St. John's bugaboos are 1) offense and 2) sustaining defensive effort for the complete game.  If one of those factors were better, the team would be closer to winning more games.  The team comes out defensively sharp, but finds themselves losing control in the second half.  Whether it's poor halftime adjustments or players who simply cannot sustain the same intensity for the whole game, it's a problem.  

And overall, the team's offense is easy to prepare for and not always effective; the team depends on DJ Kennedy and Dwight Hardy for points.  Others attempt to step into the scoring role, and may emerge as late-season threats, including Justin Burrell, Anthony Mason, Jr. and Paris Horne.  

But at this point, it's a 2-person offense coupled with occasionally sloppy defense... which is vulnerable to quick attacking guards.

Question - 3- Defensively, who is the best Red Storm player?  Who are the weak links?

Pico Dulce: Defensively, stopping opponents is a team effort; but Paris Horne often gets the other team's best perimeter defender.  

Malik Boothe is good at sticking with his man and bodying up, but can be beaten off the dribble.  The post players give good effort; the team tends to play defense based on their opponent, so prepare to see a smaller team.

Weak links:  

Sean Evans can sometimes miss his rotation assignments in the post defense, and sometimes the perimeter players fin themselves flatfooted in their attempt to make plays.

History and the odds would favor us in this one - but the bottom line remains, this is a road game for us in the Big East, and we have a big target on our backs, so we never know...

Thanks to Pico Dulce for his fine idea and for suggesting the exchange... I've learned a lot about St. John's, and I hope that this was helpful for you, as you prepare to enjoy Saturday's contest at Madison Square Garden...

Go Wildcats!



Anonymous said...

Really nice exchange between VU Viewpoint and East Coast Bias. Thoughtful questions and respectful answers.

Regarding your comments: I worried that we weren't really a #4 team too, certainly a Top 10, but perhaps not #4. Now I think we deserve the ranking when we're playing at our best, because we have so so much depth, so many different ways of winning, and because I'm not sure the other Top 5 teams are up to the caliber of the Kansas's, Carolina's, Duke's and even UNLV's of the past. They just don't look that dominant.

I believe we will be much better entering BET play than we are today. Mouph has virtually no experience (and no game legs) and he seems to be coming along nicely. He'll progress. Sutton runs the floor well, blocks well and can give us five serviceable minutes a game--no small factor in rough BE play. And the three freshmen will effectively be sophomores by season's end, all of them with solid minutes, good experience, growing confidence and even some highlight moments.

I like our team. Time to worry about next year when it arrives, but Scotty's leadership, toughness and passion for the game are going to be very hard to replace.


Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...

Hello, Seamus -

Thanks for your observation. It's good to hear that you enjoyed the dialogue between the East Coast Bias and myself. I thought it worked out well...

My two cents:

Certainly, being top-five doesn't mean what it did 20 years ago. But the key with polls, certainly, is relative standing, and I think that we are in the top five, by that standard.

And I concur that things should only get better as the freshmen get more minutes, particularly Mouph...

Go Wildcats!