The Georgetown Hoyas (15-16, 5-13) will head to the Big Apple to face the St. John’s Red Storm (16-15, 5-13) at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday at 7pm ET on FS1. While both programs are desperate for a big tournament run, Georgetown fans hope to win at least one and get back to .500.
The Johnnies are currently experiencing a bit of resurgence due to some unfortunate addition-by-subtraction since Mustapha Heron’s injury ended his season a month ago. In his stead, St. John’s fans saw Julian Champagnie and Greg Williams Jr. step up and contribute in wins over Creighton and Marquette.
Georgetown, still depleted in the roster department, is hoping the “new season” this week might feature a return of one or more injured players in Mac McClung and Omer Yurtseven. It’s hard to imagine a team with only seven guys able to play will thrive in a back-to-back-style basketball tournament. But the Hoyas have a great opportunity to advance if they can build on their defensive efforts from the Villanova game.
Ewing on the state of Georgetown as they head to the Big East Tournament:— Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) March 9, 2020
"We're fighting for our lives with limited bodies."
Hoyas face St. John's on Wed in what seems like a scheduled 8/9 game at this point.
Back on January 8th, Georgetown dismantled St. John’s, 87-66, in DC on and then stole one, 73-72, at the Garden on February 2nd—the game with Mac McClung sporting loafers on the bench. The Hoyas match-up well with St. John’s press-driven pace and have typically shot the ball solidly in MSG. In the past month St. John’s has improved their miserable shooting, but still focuses on dribble drives rather than a perimeter attack. Nevertheless, beating a team thrice in a season ain’t easy, especially in this conference and this year:
"St. John's, it's going to be hard to beat them 3 straight times, I've learned that from experience." - Patrick Ewing— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 9, 2020
As a reminder, St. John’s beat the Hoyas in the BIG EAST Tournament (77-88) in 2018, Ewing’s first season, after Georgetown beat the Johnnies twice (69-66 at MSG and 93-89, 2OT, in DC) in the prior regular season. The Red Storm also knocked the Hoyas out in 2017, which ended up being John Thompson III’s final conference game. St. John’s lost in round two of the tournament the past three years, but don’t seem to dislike spoiling Georgetown’s limited postseasons. Ewing would like to see the second round, at least from a development standpoint. Me too.
Congratulations to @J_Mosely - just the second Georgetown player to earn the @BIGEASTMBB Sportsmanship Award. His hard work day in and day out defines what it means to be a Hoya. #HoyaSaxa pic.twitter.com/2DlMLSIgSk— Patrick Ewing (@CoachEwing33) March 9, 2020
Georgetown needs to limit their turnovers (which has been creeping up recently), maintain their free-throw advantage, and shoot a little bit better from the field than St. John’s to secure a second-round battle with Creighton.
Here are the links:
St. John’s faces a depleted Hoya team in the first round on Wednesday. The Hoyas are down two starters (Mac McClung and center Omer Yurtseven). In the last meeting, the Red Storm had a 17 point lead; they lost that lead with uncharacteristic turnovers and overly cautious basketball.
The Hoyas are no gimme, given their height and their tall, tough guards. But the Hoyas are losers of six straight, beating a team three times is generally difficult, and the Red Storm certainly have found some new energy on offense behind Julian Champagnie, Greg Williams, Jr., and David Caraher...
“The last time we played them,” Mike Anderson said, “we were up and they went to a pressure defense and I thought we caved in a little bit.”
St. John’s is an atrocious free throw rate team on both ends of the court... In other words, no one gets to the line on offense less than they do, and no one sends opponents to the line more than they do.  That’s not just a league play problem, as they’re sub-260 in the country per KenPom.com in FTR on both ends...
The Red Storm are a much better defensive team than they are an offensive team, right down to the fact that they are one of the 30 worst shooting teams in the country. They’re particularly bad on two-pointers, and they’ve been even worse since league play started. [Opponents] have to worry about containing LJ Figueroa behind the three-point line as he’s really the only three-point shooter that you need to worry about with Mustapha Heron apparently done for the year. However, Figueroa, SJU’s top scorer this year, is a sub-40% shooter inside the arc, so it’s a mixed bag.
Returning to the starting lineup in mid February, Champagnie has emerged as more than just a spark. He is starting to emerge as a go-to guy”. During the game against Marquette Champagnie did not score until the 6:19 mark of the first half. Even so, he led led the team with 21 points on 7/16 shooting.
Champagnie also took down 12 rebounds, which was 37.5% of the team’s rebounds while playing a team-leading 35 minutes.
Greg Williams, Jr. did not begin the season in the starting lineup but moved into this role around the time Mustapha Heron went out with an injury. Williams consistently played good defense and rebounded well for a guard.
Over the past three games Williams has averaged 16.3 points per game.
For the second time in as many tries, Julian Champagnie and Greg Williams Jr. have been honored by the BIG EAST for their stellar play. Champagnie garnered his second straight BIG EAST Freshman of the Week accolade while Williams earned a spot on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the second time in six days.
In a 1-1 week for the Red Storm, Champagnie averaged 22.0 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor (16-for-30) and 54.5 percent from three-point range (6-for-11). The Brooklyn native entered the critical week averaging 9.2 points and 6.3 rebounds in 29 appearances...
Williams, who earned his first honor roll nod last week after scoring a career-high 21 points against then-No. 10/11 Creighton, proved vital once again in a crucial week for the Red Storm. The sophomore guard from Lafayette, La., averaged 14.0 points on 10-of-19 (52.6%) shooting, including a 3-for-7 (42.9%) showing from long distance. Williams also chipped in 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per contest in the Red Storm’s 1-1 week.
Despite Champagnie’s great half, the Red Storm left several points on the table by only shooting 7 of 13 at the rim with a majority of the misses being layups capable of conversion...
St. John’s struggles at the end of the first half bled over into the second half, with Butler going on a 9-0 run six minutes into the half to take an nine-point lead. Butler’s Sean McDermott hit a couple of threes early in the half putting St. John’s in that second half hole.
Not only was Butler getting things rolling on offense, but St. John’s went ice cold on offense. The ball both stopped moving and going through the net, and which caused which is certainly up for debate. Regardless, the Johnnies went nearly eight minute without converting a field goal. By the time St. John’s made a shot, it was too late as the Red Storm were down 14 with less than nine minutes remaining...
St. John’s is led in scoring by LJ Figueroa at 14.4 points per game. Figueroa can burn you from three-point range, as he’s 61-for-173 from deep this year (35.3%). But at 6’6″, 200 pounds, he’s athletic enough to put the ball on the floor and create shots inside the arc for himself too. Offensively, he’s their most versatile weapon. Defensively, he’s the catalyst for their press. He scored 12 points in the first game — but only took seven shots. Creighton would be thrilled to have a repeat of that...
6’8″ freshman Julian Champagnie had supplanted Heron in the starting lineup even before the injury, and had a solid game in the first meeting with nine points, eight rebounds and three assists. He’s scored in double figures in four straight games, and is now averaging 9.1 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the year...
St. John’s averages 10 steals a game, ripping away a steal on 13.5% of opponent’s possessions (fourth-best in D1).
Injury News: Per his social media, @StJohnsBBall sophomore Big Man Josh Roberts (@j0shua015) is officially out (shoulder) for the remainder of the season.— BIG EAST BUCKETS (@BIGEAST_BUCKETS) March 10, 2020
Wishing him a complete recovery & ready for action in November.
The Jays were willing to live with the Red Storm taking jump shots, especially when it was secondary scorers taking them. They packed the paint to take away driving lanes from St. John’s guards and paint touches from their big men. It’s an imperfect strategy despite the fact that it’s been successful far more often than not this year.
“They’ve got some guys that are electric off the dribble that you’ve got to provide a little bit of help or they’re going to get to the rim,” Greg McDermott said. “There was a couple of guys we were okay stepping off of and daring them to shoot the shot, that’s kind of what we did at our place. It was successful there. Our plan today was to press up on those guys a little bit better. Obviously, we failed miserably in that regard.”
The Big East is a perfect turf war among friends. The Garden, the `World’s Most Famous Arena,′ is by far the best venue for such an event. Just ask Jim Boeheim if you see the Hall of Famer dining at Chick-fil-A in Greensboro this week. “There’s no value in playing in Greensboro. None,” Boeheim said a few years back.
The Garden may be St. John’s home court but ask the fans at Villanova, Providence, Seton Hall and Georgetown. They all feel like they can take over Seventh Avenue after a few wins. The Big East — and the Big Ten — are battling it out for the meaningless title of the deepest conference in the country. Both appear set to put 70 percent of their teams into the NCAA’s, a few of which will be seeded as high as a two (Creighton? Michigan State?) and others who are fighting to remain one of the last few
Could inclusion of the kente lane in the BIG EAST’s coronavirus warning announcement be yet another sign of a jinx in the Hoyas’ fortunes? Let’s hope not.