Friars at St. John’s: Battle for Big East survival & NCAA play
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Game time: 2:30 pm
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York
Television: Fox Sports 1
Radio: WEEI 103.7 FM
The Last Game
Providence lost to St. John's 86-76 on February 4th at the Dunkin Donuts Center. D'Angelo Harrison led the Red Storm with 22 points and JaKarr Sampson added 21. Bryce Cotton led the Friars in scoring with 32 points. Earlier in the year PC defeated St. John's 84-83 in two overtimes at St. John's Carnesecca Arena behind Cotton's 21 points.
Keys to the Game
Look for the Friars to try and play a lot of zone defense against the Johnnies. St. John's is not a great outside shooting team and if the Friars can contain Harrison from the three point line the zone defense should be effective. PC had a lot of success using the zone against Marquette (another below average outside shooting team) in their last meeting.
It will be imperative that PC controls the boards. St. John's is at its best when it can get out on the fast break. Keeping them off the class will significantly limit the Red Storm's fast break opportunities. If the Friars do indeed play a lot of zone they will need to concentrate that much harder on the offensive and defensive boards.
Slowing the Pace of the Game
St. John's is easily the most athletic team in the Big East. One of the keys to beating the them is to slow down the pace of the game and make it a half court contest. If PC can keep this game in the 60s they will have a good chance of winning. On the other hand if Harrison, Sampson, and Rysheed Jordan are allowed to get out on the fast break and the game is in the 80's it will be very difficult for the Friars to prevail.
Contributions from Everyone
PC is at its best when all five starters are contributing. Josh Fortune has turned the corner on offense the past couple of games and will once again need to have a solid game against St. John's. Cotton will need to be Bryce Cotton and have his normal 20 plus points and five plus assists. LaDontae Henton and Kadeem Batts will need to have their normal solid games. Tyler Harris may be the key for the Friars. If he can provide 15 points and limit his turnovers PC should be in good shape.
This is a major key for every Friar game. All five Friar starters need to stay on the floor. If anyone on the bench other than Carson Desrosiers needs to play meaningful minutes the Friars may be in trouble.
Keep it Close
With this game being played at Madison Square Garden it will be just like a home game for St. John's. The Friars can't let the Johnnies get out to an early double digit lead and let the home crowd get involved. If they keep the game close they will have a decent chance of winning down the stretch, particularly with the way the Friars shoot free throws.
What This Game Means
This game means everything for both teams. The loser of this game will most likely wind up in the NIT. The winner will still be alive for the NCAA tournament and may just very well punch their ticket to the field of 68. At a minimum the winner will be firmly entrenched on the bubble heading into the semi-finals with a potential matchup against regular season champion Villanova.