The biggest question surrounding St. John's has nothing to do with its next opponent. That's mostly due to Longwood, which comes to Carnesecca Arena tonight, sporting a 2-3 record and being fresh off a beat-down from Penn State. Fans may be somewhat apathetic toward the Lancers.
Which is why so many of those Red Storm (3-1) followers are wondering about the plight of Big East Preseason Rookie of the Year, Rysheed Jordan. That's because the kid from Philadelphia was suspended for violating team rules prior to St. John's ugly victory against Monmouth. Sure, Jordan has struggled in the early going, but there is little question he will be a major factor for the Johnnies, for better or worse.
So will the highly touted frosh be in the lineup against Longwood? Well, that won't be known until game time. But, given that Jordan was back at practice Monday, it's looking more and more likely he'll be out on the floor against the Lancers.
Barclays Center Classic
- Where: Carnesecca Arena
- Time: 7 p.m.
Television: Fox Sports 1
So what about opponent number five for St. John's in 2013-14? When last we saw Longwood (2-3), it was getting pounded to the tune of 67-93 against the Nittany Lions. The Lancers have sounds-better-than-it-actually-is win at TCU (82-79) and a win over something called "Mars Hill" (88-70). Otherwise, this team from Virginia is mostly seen getting run out of gyms.
Now that's not to say St. John's won't need to be on the lookout for a few Lancers in particular. In fact, Tristan Carey is leading Longwood with 18 points per game, to go along with 5.2 rebounds per, too. And three Lancers are averaging just over nine points a game, that includes junior forward Jeylani Dublin who scored 16 on 7-of-10 shooting against Penn State.
But, as the old saying goes, Longwood is what its record says it is. And a major reason why its below .500 is because of turnovers and rebounds. The Lancers are averaging 14.2 turnovers a game and getting out-rebounded by an average of 12.2 per outing. For an undersized and inexperienced team, Longwood starts two sophomores, committing that many mistakes a game is a winning recipe if your goal is to lose a lot of games.
Which just so happens to be music to the Red Storm, especially after their lackluster player against lowly Monmouth last Friday. St. John's has goals of not only returning to the madness of March, it has hopes of sticking around for a while. But with closer-than-expected games so far this early season, and with some off-court drama (Chris Obekpa was suspended for the preseason coupled with Jordan's missing last game), the Red Storm has not looked anything like March material.
Sure, D'Angelo Harrison is scoring in buckets, with an average of 19.8 points per game, and last season's Big East Rookie of the Year, Jakarr Sampson, is proving to be an even bigger force. Oh, and Phil Greene IV is fresh off being selected to the Big East weekly Honor Roll -- a nice honor for the junior but an even bigger relief for Steve Lavin, who has been searching for another reliable scoring option.
Yet, struggling with Monmouth and even needing a comeback against average Bucknell are reasons for concern in Queens. Penn State is looming and Marshall Henderson and Ole Miss could also be out there for St. John's. And that doesn't even take into account the likes of Georgetown or Marquette.
Of course, as for Longwood, win or lose tonight, the Red Storm will still "advance" to play Penn State at the Barclays Center Friday. But St. John's, at full strength with Jordan likely back in the fold as starting point guard, needs to take care of business against the Longwoods for a full forty minutes before anyone can start thinking about the Dance.