Seton Hall and St. John's faced off for a New Year's Eve matchup in front of a stellar group of 9,183 fans at the Prudential Center. St. John's players remarked before the season that their team doesn't have a rivalry with Seton Hall, but after telling Seton Hall players like Sterling Gibbs that they would beat the Hall, and then after losing to the Pirates, it looks like a rivalry could be in the making.
St. John's had the lead for most of the first half, but specifically the guard play from the Pirates carried Seton Hall over the hump and gave them a 40-35 lead at the half. The Johnnies inched back numerous times in the second half, but were shut down every time because of poor shooting, and eventually were defeated 78-67.
There were only a few main contributors on St. John's side, Phil Greene IV, who scored 15, D'Angelo Harrison, who got 25, and Rysheed Jordan, who had 11. Sir'Dominic Pointer after scoring 24 points and garnering seven boards against Tulane, was held to four points and seven boards against the Hall. This differs strongly from the play of Seton Hall.
The Pirates definitely were fueled by the play of their guards, but were helped out by other players as well, five players total on the team scored in double figures. The Johnnies coming into the game against Seton Hall were ranked as one of the top teams for defensive efficiency by KenPom, but Seton Hall scored 78 points on the team, the most St. John's has given up this season. The Red Storm's defense usually forces many turnovers, but only forced nine this time around.
St. John's box:
Seton Hall box:
Both box scores courtesy of KenPom.com.
- Going into the game St. John's was holding opponents to 57 points in their last seven games.
- St. John's was well aware of Seton Hall's shooters going into the game, but could not stop them as the Pirates shot 43% from three point range and 46% in general.
- St. John's continued their streaky three point shooting, shooting 25% from three point range, overall they were shooting 43% from the floor.
- Chris Obekpa held his own underneath the basket again, garnering five of St. John's six blocks, and was third on the team in rebounds. Against Seton Hall, he was overwhelmed by the pressure the Pirates applied, particularly from Angel Delgado and Brandon Mobley.
- The lack of frontcourt depth was early on as St. John's was trying to rely more on the guard and backcourt depth to shore things up, only problem was that it gave Seton Hall's guard rotation greater range on the floor.
- The fast break and transition was never fully established, Seton Hall's half court pace effectively neutralized any fast break chances for St. John's.
- D'Angelo Harrison was once again the most effective shooter on the floor for the Johnnies, finishing with 25 points before fouling out.
What it means?
Going forward, St. John's needs to get greater point distribution from their starters and the bench. There might be a flaw in relying on Pointer, Harrison and Jordan, and it will be essential for Steve Lavin to find a way to get the bench more active. Especially at crucial points of the game.
The phrase "close but no cigar" perfectly fits St. John's play on Wednesday against Seton Hall. They had all the opportunities in both halves against Seton Hall, but lacked the necessary execution to get the job done. The takeaway from this game is St. John's might have to make a few changes to their game plan going forward. The half court pace by Seton Hall was enough to neutralize the transition play of the Johnnies.
It many ways it was a wakeup call for Steve Lavin and company going forward. After cruising through their non-conference games, they will now have to adapt to the rigors of conference play. Going forward it is not going to get any easier for the Johnnies, as the Big East is much improved from where it was last season. This game will be the one that the team will be looking back in the future.
St. John's got off to an 0-5 start in the Big East, and the Red Storm will need to make the necessary adjustments on the bench and in the frontcourt to be successful in conference play. Chris Obekpa cannot do it alone underneath the basket, nor can D'Angelo Harrison carry the weight on the scoring end.
St. John's will be back at it on Saturday at home in the Carnesecca Arena against Butler at 4 p.m. ET.