Good Morning V5ers! Your USF Bulls head up to Queens to face the rejuvenated Red Storm of St. John;s in the regular season finale for both teams. Tipoff tonight is at 8 PM, and will be aired locally on WFTS and nationally on MSG and the Big East Network. If you're screwed like me, ESPN3.com will have a live stream. For those even more desperate or out with your significant other, Jim Lighthall and Todd Kalas will take care of you on 1250 WHNZ.
Coach Steve Lavin has taken an athletic and experienced St. John's team and turned them into the darlings of the Big East. They play fast, they play hard, and they put pressure on you the whole game. Since it's Senior Night for the Johnnies, I wouldn't be surprised if we see this lineup out there tonight:
G 6'2" Sr. Dwight Hardy (18.1 PTS/3.1 REB/1.9 AST/1.4 STL)
G 6'3" Sr. Paris Horne (7.7 PTS/2.9 REB/1.6 AST/1.0 STL)
F 6'5" Sr. D.J. Kennedy (10.6 PTS/5.9 REB/2.2 AST/1.9 STL)
F 6'7" Sr. Justin Brownlee (12.1 PTS/5.2 REB/2.0 AST)
F 6'8" Sr. Justin Burrell (6.6 PTS/5.2 REB)
Normally 6'7" Fr. Dwayne Polee II (4.5 PTS/2.5 REB) starts in Burrell's position, but they split the minutes pretty evenly. The only guard off the bench is 5'9 Sr. Malik Boothe (4.5 PTS/1.6 REB/2.8 REB), and he is more of a pass-first point guard. The only other player getting regular minutes off the bench is 6'7" Sr. Sean Evans (2.7 PTS/1.8 REB). He's there to give Brownlee a rest and keep everything in order down in the post.
As you read in our Q&A with Pico at Rumble In The Garden, Coach Lavin likes to utilize pressure to create turnovers. He has to be licking his lips about our inability to consistently beat the press, and we're guessing will use it for all 40 minutes against us to create easy baskets for the Johnnies. If for some reason we break the press, Lavin likes to trap and pressure with his matchup zone to create mismatches with our posts in high-pressure situations. (If you aren't 100% sure what a matchup zone is, here is a basic overview.) This is an athletic, albeit small team, and the zone works right in their wheelhouse. D.J. Kennedy in particular likes playing in the 2 position in the diagram, clogging up lanes, intercepting passes and going into the fast break.
On offense, this is an attack-the-basket offense led by Hardy and Kennedy. They both use their athleticism to beat their man off the ball and create contact in the lane. Combined they average 10 trips to the line a game, and you might as well count them when they get there. Kennedy shoots 78% from the charity stripe, and Hardy is even better at 85%.
St. Johns doesn't shoot a lot of threes, and Hardy is the only one who shoots the three more than twice a game. He accounts for almost half of the team's attempts, making 36% from three-point range. Paris Horne is the best shooter on the team at 39% from behind the arc.
I'm really not looking forward to this one. This is an angry St. John's team that just got embarrassed on national television by Seton Hall, and the Bulls are the ones that they will take it out on. Add the fact that it's Senior Night, they're competing for a double bye in the Big East tournament, and our lack of execution against zone defenses, and this one has DOOM written all over it.
If USF have any hope, it's that St. John's is getting ready for A BLACKOUT!!! I'm feeling pretty good now, actually.
Onto the predictions:
- St. Johns looks horrible in their black alts.
- Steve Lavin will have his hair slicked back.
- We will lose big.