Patrick Ewing’s squad comes fresh off of beating Butler at Hinkle, 84-76, behind a career-high effort from Greg Malinowski who had 26 points, including hitting 6-of-7 from three.
Chris Mullin’s team has split the two BIG EAST games they have played in getting robbed against Seton Hall last Saturday and “pummeling” #16 Marquette on New Year’s Day at Carnesecca Arena. Even with only one loss this year, St. John’s was reminded that the Red Storm have not beaten Georgetown in D.C. since 2003. Last year’s home matchup with the “Johnnies” led to a double-overtime win for the Hoyas.
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It has the rich history dating to when Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing — now the programs’ coaches — starred for two of the best teams in the country. Since then, it has remained one of the most passionately waged contests, even when one or the other was having an off year.
After a game in 2013, St. John’s Amir Garrett tussled with the Hoyas’ Jabril Trawick in the handshake line. On March 9, 2017, second-year coach Mullin and then-Georgetown coach John Thompson III screamed at each other as the benches started to empty after a flagrant foul...
Just as St. John’s is vastly improved this season, so are the Hoyas. Forward Jessie Govan remains one of the conference’s best frontcourt players and Ewing has brought in an excellent freshman class. James Akino and Mac McClung are the starting backcourt and average 14.0 points and 12.3, respectively.
Shamorie Ponds led five St. John’s scorers in double figures against Marquette, marking the fourth time in the team’s last seven games that five Johnnies finished with 10 or more points. Marvin Clark II tallied 22 points and seven rebounds for his second 20-point effort in his last three outings. Over his last seven games, the redshirt senior from Kansas City, Mo., is shooting 64.4 percent from the floor, including a 57.5 percent effort from three-point range, and averaging a team-best 17.3 points per contest.
Mustapha Heron, the team’s second leading scorer at 15.9 points per game, netted all 16 of his points in the second half of Tuesday’s win in addition to grabbing a game-high eight boards. On the year, Heron is shooting 49.1 percent from three-point range, good enough for third in the BIG EAST. As a team, the Johnnies rank second in the league and 12th nationally through games played on Tuesday with a three-point success rate of 40.2 percent.
[Mullin on] their upcoming matchup with Georgetown: “I watched them last night. They had a great road win at Butler. They’re courageous. They play aggressive. They’re much like Georgetown teams of the past. We’re going to have to keep playing better and better as each game goes along. It’s only going to get tougher as we go along.”
On the how the players and fans treat the rivalry with Georgetown: “I can speak for myself. I don’t know about the people, but it’s always the ultimate respect. It was always a huge, heated rivalry. Intense. I probably would say it’s a healthy hatred, in a good way, just from a competitive standpoint. Obviously Patrick [Ewing] and I go way, way back, going back to high school together so there’s a long history.”
On [6’9”] Sedee Keita’s role against Georgetown: “We hope to increase him as his physical ability increases [knee]. I wouldn’t say he’s on a minutes restriction, but we have to monitor where he is physically. As we go into each game, it will hopefully increase but it will depend on how he is physically that day.”
As a team, the Johnnies shot 53.6 percent from the floor and made 11 of their 24 attempts from beyond the arc (45.8%). Defensively, the Red Storm held Marquette (11-3, 0-1 BIG EAST) to 41.9 percent shooting from the field and 28.6 percent from three-point range, well below their season averages of 46.0 percent and 38.8 percent, respectively.
St. John’s snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Golden Eagles that included three victories over ranked opponents. After an off-night in the Red Storm’s season opener on Saturday, Shamorie Ponds responded in a big way against the Marquette. The junior guard from Brooklyn tallied a game-high 26 points, 20 of which came in the first half, on 8-of-15 shooting. The southpaw made four of his seven tries from beyond the arc in addition to grabbing seven boards and dishing out a game-high five assists.
I'm a sucker for guys who can just go get buckets. Shamorie Ponds is one of those guys. Averaging 19.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. Much more efficient so far this season. 50% FG, 37% 3P.— Nick Neppach (@NickNeppach) January 3, 2019
He dropped 20 in the 1st half Tuesday against Marquette. pic.twitter.com/J7EtZfxtNx
The Johnnies win with defense which springs the offense The Red Storm consistently picked up their defensive assignment 30 feet from the basket. Justin Simon blanketed Markus Howard making him work hard to even get the ball. When Howard worked around screens, the Johnnie defenders picked him & traded coverage, leaving him very few easy looks at the basket. The Johnnies held the Golden Eagles to 29 percent on their three-point attempts as compared to the 39 percent they were shooting coming into the game.
Mullin was not pleased with the inbounds call, but lamented other opportunities his team missed out on to put Seton Hall away earlier. “We just never really created any separation,” Mullin said. “It was a heck of a game. Their kid made a heck of a shot.” St. John’s had gotten off to a near-perfect start, racing out to a 13-2 lead just 2:45 into the game. The Johnnies’ biggest lead of the night came with 3:15 left in the first half, 39-25, even without Ponds entering the scoring column until there was 10:25 left in the game.
In a game @StJohnsBBall needed, the Red Storm has given its fans a taste of what could be in March. This is the most complete performance of the season, and quite arguably the Chris Mullin Era. #SJUBB— John Fanta (@John_Fanta) January 2, 2019
Looking closer, one sees a few unsightly defensive numbers. The league has no defenses in the top 30, and the best defense by the adjusted numbers is currently Butler (48th), with Marquette (50th) and Villanova (51st) close. Providence is 64th and Seton Hall is 75th. Below 90th ranked, in order are DePaul (93rd), St. John’s (95th), Xavier (107th), Georgetown (117th) and Creighton (120th). Here [see chart] are the changes in defensive rankings since the beginning of the season. Marquette has improved from their preseason ranking, by the numbers... the Golden Eagles have really stepped up on defense. But the other teams have not. St. John’s lost a shot blocker and continue to struggle stopping three-point attempts...
St. John’s hasn’t won at Georgetown since January of 2003... that’s 13 straight losses... not surprisingly, #sjubb players we spoke to weren’t concerned with that— Dan Serafin (@DanSerafin) January 3, 2019
Quite frankly, Ponds is the best player St. John’s had since Ron Artest. They haven’t had that transcendent player like him in quite some time. He is why not only St. John’s is good now, but he can take them as far as the Sweet 16.
#3 - I’m getting really sick of Shamorie Ponds in New York... At home against Marquette, Ponds is averaging 29.3 points on 54% shooting and 47% from long range along with six rebounds and four assists for giggles... To make matters worse, Marquette does a reasonable job defending him in Milwaukee. He’s averaging 16.5 points in two games while shooting just 32% from the field.
[T]he average KenPom ranking of those teams last season is 208 out of 351. That’s less than ideal in building a solid strength of schedule. Alas, there’s more to this weak lineup of opponents. There is a stark difference between Georgetown’s lackluster non-conference last season... Unlike Ewing, who was entering his inaugural campaign 12 months ago, the Johnnies are a few years deep in the Chris Mullin era. The benefit of the doubt that can be given to a first-year coach is long gone, given way to a restless fanbase yearning for the type of consistent success last witnessed when their current coach was trotting about collegiate hardwoods for SJU legend Lou Carnesecca.
"That was a big factor - Carnesecca Arena was rocking" @StJohnsBBall Head Coach Chris Mullin joined @John_Fanta postgame after the Johnnies defeated #16 Marquette #BIGEASThoops pic.twitter.com/A50jZiMF4Q— #BIGEASThoops (@BIGEASTMBB) January 2, 2019
The game was not a typical Big East postseason game. There was little defense as both teams went up and down the court with the Hoyas taking a 48-42 halftime lead with Govan scoring 20 points. Ponds had 13 for the Red Storm…The Hoyas needed more scoring help from their three other starters. Jamorko Pickett (two points), Jonathan Mulmore (four) and Kaleb Johnson combined for six points on 1-of-11 shooting. They were averaging a combined 23.7 points.
Eight of the 13 players on scholarship this season, including [Marvin Clark II], are transfers from other Division I universities or from a junior college. Four of them are starters: Clark and L.J. Figueroa at forward and Heron and Justin Simon at guard. Against Marquette, the four combined for 61 points...
Transfers bring maturity and experience, and can quickly turn a bad program into a good one. At St. John’s, the recent emphasis represents a cultural shift from when Mullin starred at St. John’s in the 1980s. The 1984-85 team he led to the Final Four consisted almost entirely of players from New York and New Jersey who began as freshmen.
Players are free to transfer whenever they want, but transferring a second time and losing a year of eligibility is hard to understand. Especially when you're a part of a team that's 13-1. #SJUBB https://t.co/ah6qusdAHg— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 3, 2019
6. Georgetown Hoyas ... despite their low overall rating by predictive metrics, Georgetown has two major advantages over most teams in the conference. For starters, they play at a frenetic pace that very few teams can match. The Hoyas currently rate 10th in the nation in tempo and can really get out and run. Additionally, senior big man Jessie Govan is one of the most difficult players to match up against in the conference. Georgetown’s NCAA Tournament hopes may be relatively low but they will win their fair share of conference games...
1. St. John’s Red Storm ... even though they are just 1-1 in conference play, I am now a believer that head coach Chris Mullin will be able to guide this team to at least a top-three finish in the Big East.
Timothy Ighoefe: Tim’s journey began by happenstance. Within weeks of picking up a basketball, he met Godwin Owinje, a fellow Nigerian who had played college ball at Georgetown and went on to become a scout for the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. https://t.co/lXevo7W16h— YaBoyNYP (@yaboynyp) January 4, 2019