Game Time: 9 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports GO (Where Available)
The St. John’s Red Storm embark on a new journey Friday night when they host the Bethune Cookman Wildcats of the MEAC in Jamaica, Queens. Carnesecca Arena will play host to the opening game of the 2016-17 season for both teams, as the Johnnies look to move past a dismal 8-24 season in the first year of the Chris Mullin era.
The Red Storm will be looking to maintain a lengthy streak going as they have won each of their last 12 home openers. The last time that St. John’s lost a home opener, the Marquette Golden Eagles were still part of Conference USA as the Golden Eagles struck them down 52-45 back in November 2003.
This will only be the second time ever that these two programs have squared off with each other. The Johnnies took down the Wildcats 77-59 back on December 14, 2008.
3 things to watch:
1. Big fish, big Pond(s): Shamorie Ponds makes his official debut for the Red Storm on Friday night. Ponds was tabbed as the preseason Big East Freshman of the Year, and the combo guard has plenty of hype around him. He was a former four-star recruit from the NYC area, so the Big Apple basketball mavens have already seen the type of play he can produce. Now he’ll be able to put his skills to the test at the college level.
2. Exploiting a tremendous size advantage: The Johnnies’ towering hoopers will have a major advantage in this game. Yankuba Sima, who was great in his own right in their first year on the Red Storm, will be playing with a height advantage over his foes. Bethune Cookman will be trotting out Rodney Ross and Brandon Suggs in their frontcourt, each of whom are merely 6-foot-8. Sima of course stands at 6-foot-11, and the advantage doesn’t stop there. Tariq Owens is also listed at 6-foot-11, and with 6-foot-7 forward Kassoum Yakwe and 6-foot-9 forward Amar Alibegovic around, expect the Red Storm to dominate in the paint.
3. A fresh start for Mullin: The hand that Chris Mullin was handed in his first year as the St. John’s head coach wasn’t a great one. It would likely make any high rolling gambler groan and grumble on their way off the table. Now though, Mullin has an assortment of talented players around and gets a chance to start cleanly. For his sake, he’ll be able to help St. John’s punctuate the start of year two with authority.