Game Preview: St. Johns vs. Bucknell

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

The Johnnies return to Carnesecca Arena to take on the Bucknell Bison. Steve Lavin's crew better be ready for a battle.

If you look up the word "erratic" in the dictionary...wait, who uses a dictionary anymore? Okay, so if you Google the definition of the word "erratic," I'm sure a lot of descriptive words will show up. I'm also certain you won't find a single reference to the St. John's Red Storm.

But through two games of the 2013-14 season, there may not be a more apropos word for the Red Storm. Erratic. An 11 point loss to Wisconsin was followed up last Friday with a mostly forgettable 16 point win over Wagner. Sure, in both games St. John's briefly flexed its collective muscles, with D'Angelo Harrison averaging an astounding 26 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, and Jakarr Sampson recording 17 and seven.

But other than Sir'Dominic Pointer (six points and five rebounds per game), there's been inconsistency and some all around general malaise in St. John's game. The Badgers toyed with St. John's at times. Against Wagner, the Red Storm (1-1) allowed a lesser opponent to stick around far too long. In fact, the Seahawks actually closed to within six points late in the game. Luckily for the home team, St. John's hit some free throws and shut the door.

That was Wagner, Bucknell is no Wagner. This whole "checking out" of games, like when Wisconsin got up 18 or those Seahawks clawed back in the second half, is a perfect way to drop this game.

Game Details:

  • When: Tuesday
  • Where: Carnesecca Arena
  • Time: 8:30 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports1

The Bison (2-1) come into Carnesecca Arena an already battled tested team. Road games at Stanford (losing 72-68) and at Penn State (a massive 90-80 victory) should be experience enough to have Bucknell feeling right at home in Queens.

Experience is actually one of the key characteristics for the Bison, with the three leading scorers on the team being upperclassman. Senior guard Cameron Ayers leads the pack, scoring 15.3 per game. But junior guard Steven Kaspar isn't far behind Ayers, averaging 14.3 points per game. It was Kaspar who tallied 25 points in the big win at Happy Valley. The sharpshooter followed up that performance with 16 points against St. Francis (Pa.), drilling four 3-pointers.

Against the Red Flash, Bucknell hit 8-of-17 3-pointers and shot 54.4 percent from the field. Which is really becoming a theme this early season for the Bison: hitting shots. They're shooting just over 52 percent from the floor through the first three games. Ayers and senior guard Ben Brackney are on fire from distance, too. Ayers has made 10 of his first 18 from 3-point land; Hoffman has made 9-of-16 shots from deep.

And of all that means one thing: St. John's will have to drop the erratic from its play if it intends on winning. And really, that probably puts more of an onus on frosh Rysheed Jordan. In two games, Jordan has accumulated more fouls (seven) than points (six). Shooting just under 13 percent from the field while not being able to stay in front of your man is a recipe for disaster for Steve Lavin's crew.

It's just two games of case study, but, be it Jordan or any one else, someone is going to have to step up and make shots other than Harrison or Sampson. And really, while those two are doing work at the rim, the team is still struggling mightily from distance. Unlike Bucknell's hot shooting, the Red Storm are hitting .087 percent from 3-point land. That's not a typo. 2-of-23 equates to strange-but-true statistics.

Is that just a part of shaking off the early season cobwebs? Is Jordan, the highly touted rook, eventually going to get comfortable enough on the court?

I'd bet the answer to both of those questions is yes. Yes, the Johnnies will eventually start hitting somewhat regularly from deep, and yes, Jordan will eventually start looking like a starting point guard in the Big East. But when will those answers come for Lavin? When will the play look more consistent and steady and less erratic?

You won't need to use a search engine, Bucknell will provide a pretty good answer to the early season questions surrounding St. John's.

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