How to Watch
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 2
Watch Online: Fox Sports Go
St. John’s kicks off the season on Tuesday against Loyola Maryland at Carnesecca Arena. The Johnnies hope to improve after last season in what is the 4th year of Chris Mullin running the show.
St.Johns returns Justin Simon, Marvin Clark and Shamorie Ponds. Gone is Marcus Lovett, but adding Auburn transfer Mustapha Heron should give the Red Storm more than a fighting chance for the future. Something huge (the man is very tall) in the form of Sedee Keita will also suit up this year, and he should contribute nicely.
When St. John’s steps in tomorrow to play, they need to set the tone. Last season, they were great at altering shots as well as keeping opponents out of the paint. But they need to defend the perimeter. Loyola (MD) does not shoot the ball well from deep, so expect them to have trouble. Regarding rebounding at the defensive end, St. John’s should also have an advantage thanks to Keita, who is 6-foot-9 with grown man strength. So it’s likely that he will be carrying the load for rebounding.
Offensively, St. John’s needs to improve on a lot to win. While Loyola (MD) was not a great defensive team, Shamorie Ponds needs to make shots. Last season he shot 25 percent from deep in Big East play, while taking 30 percent of the team’s shots. As it stands, the potential Big East Player of the Year needs to lead the team as best he can.
Clark and Simon will be key contributors and are always fun to watch. For the first time, we will see Heron suit up for the Johnnies. I expect a lot of drives and hard takes, but I also expect there to be errors. St. John’s wont have perfect cohesion, but this should be a huge tuneup beyond the secret scrimmages and a secret exhibition.
Some key guys to watch for on Loyola are Isaiah Hart and Chuck Champion. They are two key returning players and will challenge St. John’s on defense. These two are effective slashers. Andrew Kostecka was an member of the Patriot League All-Defensive Team, and he will challenge Simon and Ponds.