After hot starts to begin their collective seasons, both DePaul and St. John’s have found themselves caught in a lurch in the early goings of conference play. Neither program has won a game yet in Big East play with the Blue Demons standing on an 0-2 record with their last game being a one point loss to Providence last Saturday and the Red Storm sunk to 0-3 mid-week with a blowout loss to Georgetown.
They are the last two remaining teams in the conference to be without a win and on Saturday one of these two will finally put that to rest and walk away with their first conference win while the other will still be left searching.
So far into conference play DePaul has not really had a “bad” loss relatively speaking. They held their own against Seton Hall for much of the game until a rather poor foul on Myles Powell by Romeo Weems outside of the perimeter gave the Pirates the surge to win the game. Some sloppy play and of course Myles Powell returning to form is never a good mix. In that game both Paul Reed and Charlie Moore played well with Reed with 17 points, and Moore with 13 though he also had 8 turnovers which did not help. Against Providence it came down to a final foul shot by Nate Watson to give the Friars a 66-65 win over the Blue Demons, but overall DePaul played a fairly strong game.
So far the players who have been driving play for the Blue Demons have been Paul Reed and Charlie Moore as the two focal points and Jalen Coleman-Lands and Jaylen Butz being nice options as well. Reed has been averaging a double-double so far this season with 16.1 points per game and 11.1 rebounds per game, both leading rates for DePaul. Moore has been the secondary option in points averaging 15.9 points per game and a team leading 6.4 assists per game. His ball movement has been crucial so far this season though might be coming with a price of 3.5 turnovers per game as well so he can be gotten at if needed. Rounding things out, Coleman-lands has been averaging 11.1 points per game, and Butz 10.6 points per game though is also second in rebounds per game with a mark of 6.0.
On the St. John’s side of things, its hard to say what the issue is. They had an excellent 23 point comeback albeit ending with a loss against Butler on New Years Eve that showed the fight in Mike Anderson’s team. Against Xavier cracks in their shooting began to show with the Johnnies struggling to final any form from beyond the arc going 1-for-16 over the course of the game and overall shot 35% from the field not an ideal mark. Outside of L.J. Figueroa there was not much else to be found. Against Georgetown it looks as if the issues carried over from the Xavier game but with worse results especially as Mustapha Heron who has had injury issues so far this season could not get anything going while out on the floor. A lack of a consistent secondary scoring option plus some bad shooting has lead to trouble for St. John’s. Slowly but surely though Rasheem Dunn has emerged as an option especially after a nice 18 point game against the Hoyas. If the Johnnies can find other options and spread the ball around more then that could lead to less pressure on L.J Figueroa to find space and score.
It should also be interesting to see how DePaul matches up against St. John’s press which when applied right has lead to team struggling to break down. Given the turnover issues especially in their game against Seton Hall then the Blue Demons could potentially be in trouble. Looks to St. John’s to apply pressure to Charlie Moore especially as DePaul tries to work the ball in transition on offense.
In all this should be an interesting match up between the last two win-less teams in the conference. It is still early conference play to hit the panic button, but after this a trip back to the drawing board for one of these two might be needed.
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Where: Madison Square Garden
TV: FSN (Check local listings)