TV, Times, and Lines:
Date: Wednesday, January 5
Time: 6:30 p.m. EST
Spread: St. John’s -5
Total: O/U 152.5
On Wednesday evening, DePaul has an opportunity to secure their first conference win of the season against the (8-3) (0-0) St. John’s Red Storm. The Blue Demons lost their first two conference games against Butler and Providence. This has perpetuated the narrative that they are solid in non-conference, but can’t ever perform well when it comes to the Big East.
Wednesday will be another chance for DePaul to somewhat abolish that narrative. St. John’s was one of the higher ranked Big East teams in the Big East preseason poll, but underperformed in its non-conference schedule. I still think that the Red Storm are one of the more underrated teams in the stacked Big East, so a win inside Carnesecca for the Blue Demons would be huge.
There would be many positives to the Blue Demons beating the Red Storm, but I think the most prevalent would be the team moral. Starting off 0-3 in conference play is not good for any team, let alone a team that has annually put themselves in the same situation. A win in New York would instantly give the Blue Demons more confidence heading back home prior to their game on Saturday against Villanova.
St. John’s is one of the more interesting teams in the Big East. The Red Storm have been on COVID pause for over a week, and as a result have not yet played any conference games. Their last game was a loss on a last second shot to Pitt in Madison Square Garden. Right now, Pitt is considered as one of the worst teams in the ACC, so this loss can be chalked up as a bad loss for the Red Storm. One thing to note though is that St. John´s star Julian Champagnie was in COVID protocols for this game and did not play. He will be returning to play on Wednesday. Since Champagnie was in protocols before the team went into a full pause, he has been out of protocols for a while now. This is important because it seems like he is fully recovered, so there will be little to no setback for the Red Storm’s star.
Another note from Twitter user @dennisstjb: Julian Champagnie said that St. John’s has been working on everyone playing different positions, since they will be shorthanded. Team has been working out, but not full practices.
This note will definitely be something to look for. Champagnie has come out and stated that St. John’s will be short handed on Wednesday. The question is, will DePaul be able to take advantage? This is looking like an early must-win game for both programs.
Henry’s Three Keys:
1. Slow it Down
- St. John’s is a high tempo team that loves to get on fast breaks. If the Blue Demons try to match that tempo, the Red Storm will pounce on them quickly. DePaul needs to take control of the game early which consists of slowing down the tempo. By doing this, the Blue Demons will take better shots, which they struggled to do on Saturday, and they will prevent the Red Storm from jumping out to an early 8+ point lead.
2. Run the Offense through JFL
- Javon Freeman-Liberty is no doubt the star player of DePaul. In the bigger games this season, though, he has not performed up to expectations. Last Saturday against Providence was the exception. Before Saturday, against good teams, Freeman-Liberty’s highest point total was 13. On Saturday, JFL scored 22 points. Not only did he score 22, he made his shots at an efficient 50% rate. There were too many times last game where Javon did not take the ball up when he was in the game. Whenever Javon is in, he needs to be the playmaker. Last game felt like if Javon did not start with the ball, a shot would not go in the basket.
3. Limit the Perimeter
- St. John’s is a very guard heavy team that takes a lot of threes. The Blue Demons need to focus more on the perimeter, and the guards like Julian Champagnie and Posh Alexander. Nick Ongenda does a great job in the paint, so if DePaul has its other 4 guys focus on the three point shot, the Red Storm will be forced to drive. This will give the Blue Demons a better chance to limit the damage as well, as said in my first key.
I thought that DePaul’s last game would be much closer than it actually was. I think this game is going to be the same. Both teams are fighting for their first conference win after a bad loss. The winner will gain back some momentum, and the loser will be set back even more. I think that whoever gets out to an early lead first will win this game. The Blue Demons have not been able to do that in the past 5 games, so look for that to be a focus for them tonight.
DePaul wins, 77-74