by Pico Dulce of the St. John’s blog “The East Coast Bias”
St. John’s has improved since last year with respect to scoring and turning over the ball. Having multiple ballhandlers, a 3-point shooter from junior college, and the emergence of DJ Kennedy as a playmaker has helped. Some of the starters have lost confidence or effectiveness; Sean Evans isn’t scoring at last year’s efficiency, Paris Horne has struggled with his shot, and Malik Boothe’s passing has not led to assisted shots. On defense, there are some holes, especially when the forwards come out to slow the progress of a perimeter ballhandler, but the team has managed to put together enough defense to win 10 games and suppress interior scoring. They could be better, but they have certainly been worse.
St. John’s leaves some exploitable gaps in their defense and not generating a lot of turnovers with their token pressure. They have been a bit reliant on outside shooting, and haven’t had a steady post presence. Sean Evans leaves half of his “free” points off the scoreboard. The return of Justin Burrell against Georgetown brought in a better post defender and a player; and he got offensive opportunities – even passes into the post – and did fairly well with those. Justin Brownlee had a nice streak of plays against the Hoyas, but he gets some bad ideas as well… he needs to drive and dunk more often. Dele Coker has improved as a defender and provides valuable minutes.
So far, DJ Kennedy has been solid from all over the court. Dwight Hardy has been a player, driving more than one would think for a baller advertised as a 3-point shooter. Paris Horne is getting his confidence back in his shot. And Anthony Mason practiced and warmed up for the Hoya game… his return will make the Red Storm a much more dangerous team offensively and perhaps defensively.
Boothe has been the team’s most capable ballhandler, though Stith has better per-minute assist rates and turnover rates. Malik Boothe hurt his groin during the Hoya game… no word on whether he will be ok to play on Sunday.