Last season saw St. John’s fare reasonably well in their thirteen nonconference games. Over that stretch the Red Storm went 11-2 with some memorable results such as the upset win over Duke late in the season that sparked a miniature revival for the Johnnies..
How will they fare this season?
Who will they be playing in nonconference play this season?
Well reader, with the season just around the corner let’s take a look a who the Red Storm will see in nonconference play this season.
Loyola Maryland (November 6)
Loyola Maryland is first on the docket for the Red Storm as the 2018-19 season gets underway Carnesecca Arena. This will be the first time that St. John’s and Loyola Maryland will be playing in their respective histories, and for the Greyhounds will also the first game for head coach Tavaras Hardy. Hardy has the task now of figuring the best way to patch the Greyhounds’ issues this season, considering that Loyola were among the worst in the Patriot League last season, going 9-22. They have some bright spots in returning players such as the amazingly-named Chuck Champion (11.5 ppg) and Andrew Kostecka (11.0 ppg). All things considered this game should be a relatively easy affair for the Red Storm to start off their season.
Bowling Green (November 9)
Friday night action awaits some, but for St. John’s Friday night MAC-tion is next up, as they play host to the Bowling Green Falcons. Bowling Green are an intriguing mid-major wild card match-up for St. John’s. They may have lost three key contributors from last season, but the Falcons heading into this season still boast quite an offensive threat that the Johnnies should not tread lightly on. At the core for Bowling Green is the All-MAC double-double machine Demajeo Wiggins, leading scorer Justin Turner (15.9 ppg) and three point threat Dylan Frye. It is an interesting test just two games into the regular season but nothing like hitting the ground running early to assess and test the areas where St. John’s may have issues. This game will the third time that both schools are playing each other with the last two times being in 1963 and 1994. Bowling Green won the first game and St. John’s the second, so may the best team win the third.
At Rutgers (November 18)
For this year’s rendition of the Gavitt Tip-off Games, the Red Storm head on down to Piscataway, New Jersey to take on the Scarlet Knights. This game will be also be the forty-second time that both schools have faced each other. Their last meeting was in 2015 for the first ever Gavitt Tip-off Games where St. John’s won 61-59. This time around should be another win for the Johnnies as Rutgers are not looking like the sharpest of teams in the Big Ten. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Rutgers has lost three of its four best players and are heading into the season with a young roster that needs a bit of time to garner experience and will take a few lumps along the way. Still though, these games between the two schools have been cagey affairs with close scorelines so it is a intriguing game to keep an eye on.
California (November 19)
Midway through November, the Red Storm will be shifting gears to the Barclays Center for the Legends Classic, which will be home to two of the three neutral site games that St. John’s will play this season. First up in these two Legends Classic games will be against the Golden Bears of California. This might not be a season to remember for the Golden Bears , as second year head coach Wyking Jones will be looking to find ways to cover their issues on court, namely a lack of size in the front court and finding ways to be more productive on offense which was a pressing issue all last season as the Golden Bears averaged 67.7 points per game. Jones has stressed patience, as this could be another long season for California but the Golden Bears do have two four star wings coming into the fold in Matt Bradley and Jacobi Gordon. Both could provide interesting options for the California if given the chance. This could be a interesting game for St. John’s as a test against opposition from another major conference.
Temple or VCU (November 20)
Following their game against California, and depending on the result of Temple and VCU, St. John’s will play either the Owls or the Rams. So here’s a preview for both:
The Owls are an interesting proposition for St. John’s to face if they do so in the second Legends Classic game. On paper, this is technically a season of transition for the Owls as Fran Dunphy is retiring at the end of this season and assistant coach Aaron McKie taking over in 2019-20. In spite of that there is a decent mix of experience and young talent for the Owls to make strides this season after last season’s 17-16 finish. The backcourt is the area to watch for Temple with Shizz Alston being the starting point for the Owls on offense but complimented by the play of Quinton Rose and Nate Pierre-Louis. Rose is an interesting prospect to watch this season with a natural scoring touch that could help him break out. In all this could be a fun game for the neutral fan to watch, both teams have a shot to carry this one and can go either way.
The other option for St. John’s in their second Legends Classic game is against the Rams of Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams are an interesting team this season that could either make strides in their second season under Mike Rhoades or go through a bit of growing pains in figuring out their play. They have a steady dose of talent on the roster with returnees Sean Mobley and Marcus Santos-Silva and transfer Marcus Evans from Rice. Evens is an interesting player whose scoring prowess of 20.1 ppg in two seasons with the Owls could prove handy for the Rams. It will be interesting to see him set up shop especially after coming off his second Achilles tendon injury and whether or not that has removed or altered certain facets of his game. In all, this game may be much more manageable for St. John’s compared to the prospect of Temple but could still very much be a fun game to watch.
Maryland-Eastern Shore (November 27)
Coming off the Legends Classic, St. John’s closes out of the month of November at home against Maryland-Eastern Shore before jetting off for Miami. In a way, this game is a bit of a palate cleanser for the Red Storm as it should be a pretty straightforward affair This might sound like a discredit to UMES, but the Hawks are not exactly the toughest to take to task at the moment. Last season as a team they averaged 62.2 points per game on offense while allowing 77.3. On top of this, the team at the moment is in a period of transition as Clifford Reed takes over the head coach position for the interim basis. In the end, this most likely will be a easy game for St. John’s but a long night for Eastern Shore.
Georgia Tech (December 1)
Following their game against Maryland-Eastern Shore, St. John’s are off to Miami to take part in the Hoophall Miami Invitational and a game against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are entering into their third season under Josh Pastner. It can only get better from here for the Yellow Jackets as this most likely will be another season of trying to improve while trying to maintain some semblance of being competitive, though in the end this could mean another season of adversity and growing pains for a young squad who may be a season or two away from being at the races. One mark of intrigue for Georgia Tech though will be how incoming four-star Michael Devoe adapts to play. In all this should a fun game to watch against ACC competition and most likely should end up as a St. John’s win.
Mount St. Mary’s (December 5)
One of four NEC schools that St. John’s has on the schedule for this season and if it were not for the Holiday Festival game against Princeton following this game it also be four straight games against NEC opponents. First up in the four games are the Mountaineers of Mount St. Mary’s. This should be a pretty straightforward game for the Red Storm as Mount St. Mary’s will be entering into the season with a young team under new head coach Dan Engelstad. Though it could be chalked up as a straightforward game for the Red Storm, The Mount has a knack for making things interesting and over the last two or so seasons have been a steady competitive team that makes the most out of its roster.
Princeton (December 9)
For this season’s rendition of the Holiday Festival, St. John’s will be taking on Princeton at Madison Square Garden. This will be the twelfth time that the Red Storm will be taking on the Tigers and the first time since 1982. Princeton are an interesting team this season that could either find themselves at the top of the Ivy League or languish mid-tier. The two focal points for the Tigers will be the play of seniors Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens. Cannady is an excellent offensive threat and among the best in the Ivy League, averaging 16.7 ppg and 5.4 rpg, while Stephens is an all around talent on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Last season Stephens averaged 15.3 ppg and 6.3 rpg. St. John’s will have to be mindful of how they set up on defense as the Tigers are a team that loves to shoot the three ball. It will be a fun game as Holiday Festival games usually are and well worth the watch if you are a fan of either team or a neutral spectator.
Wagner (December 16)
The Seahawks will be looking to be in the mix at the top of the conference this season especially after taking home their second regular-season title last season. It will be interesting to season how they set up shop for this season as they were one of the best defensive and rebounding teams in the conference last season. They will be doing it though with the loss of their two best players in JoJo Cooper and Blake Francis. Leading scorer Romone Saunders is still here as is defensive stalwart AJ Sumbury. St. John’s has the talent to carry this game, but Wagner does present an interesting defensive puzzle to be taken apart.
St. Francis Brooklyn (December 19)
Much like Rutgers earlier this season, this game against the St. Francis Brooklyn will be the 42nd time both teams will be playing each other. Though 41 times so far have steadily been in favor of St. John’s winning 38 out of 41 times played, the 42nd time most likely again will be in favor of St. John’s. Even with the loss of Rasheem Dunn transferring to Cleveland State, the Terriers still boast a talented backcourt that does provide a variety of options among them Glenn Sanabria and Jalen Jordan, both of whom combined for a 130 three-pointers a season ago. St. Francis does have talent to stay in this game but at the end of the day and given the history of this match-up, it most likely would be a pretty straightforward event for the Red Storm.
Sacred Heart (December 22)
The fourth and final game in the brief tour of the NEC and the final game for St. John’s before they set sail for Big East play comes against Sacred Heart. This will be the fourth time that these two will be facing off against each other. So far it has been all St. John’s in this match-up going 3-0 against the Pioneers.. Last season, the Johnnies beat Sacred Heart by a score of 90 to 55. This season should be no different as the Pioneers are heading into this season with just two returning starters and a lot of fresh faces on the roster. This one should be a easy affair for the Red Storm, certainly much easier than their next game which will come against Marquette.
At Duke (February 2)
You may have thought the Sacred Heart game was the last nonconference game on the docket for St. John’s. Well reader. do we have a surprise for you! Midway through Big East play, St. John’s once again will take a short pause to close out their nonconference slate against the Blue Devils of Duke in a rematch of last season’s stunning upset. If you remember last season, St. John’s came into this game fresh off of losing 11 straight games in Big East play and all signs pointing that this would be loss number 12. As fortune would have it, St. John’s won with a rousing 81 to 77 upset in Madison Square Garden. The win sparked a mini-revival of St. John’s season winning the next three games, including another upset against Villanova in the next game.
This time around St. John’s makes the trip down to North Carolina to play Duke at Cameron Indoor Arena in what should be a thrilling affair. By all accounts though this should be a Duke win as the Blue Devils will be coming into this season with another strong roster that is among the favorites to win not only the ACC but also be in contention for the National Championship as well.Could St. John’s seize the horns of chaos and ride with the Blue Devil once more? It is possible, but this is a game that is tough to make an easy prediction, but if St. John’s can stay in the game then they have a shot once more.
Overall this season’s slate of nonconference games for St. John’s is entirely manageable, and offers a mixed bag of talent and opposition for the Red Storm to play against. There are games against programs at different levels of both major and mid-major conferences. In all, its not entirely out of the realm of possibility for the St. John’s to have a decent run through these games ending with a record in the range of 9 to 11 wins.. The curious trick though will be how does this team manage and adapt to the transition of going from nonconference play to Big East play, as that has been a glaring issue in recent seasons.