St. John’s Red Storm (4-0)
- Head Coach: Chris Mullin (3rd Season)
- Top Performer: Shamorie Ponds (18.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG)
- Points For: 78.7 PPG (T-146th)
- Points Against: 57.3 PPG (T-17th)
- Last Game/Streak: 71-43 Win v. Molloy (4W)
After a letdown game against Wyoming, Oregon State found their groove again in their latest match-up against Long Beach State.
With help from another strong offensive output, the Beavers picked up their second win of the season to move to 2-1 overall on the year. It was the type of result that head coach Wayne Tinkle knew they needed, as some of their toughest non-conference clashes in the Advocare Invitational currently sit on the horizon.
The first of those contests will begin on Thursday, with an early morning (Pacific Time) match-up against St. John’s.
The Red Storm, who have looked like a potential NCAA Tournament team during every step of their 4-0 start, are expected to “take the leap” in the third season under head coach Chris Mullin into legitimate contenders in the Big East. And two of the biggest proponents in that potential jump for St. John’s are sophomore guards Shamorie Ponds (18.3 PPG) and Marcus LoVett (17.3 PPG), the Red Storm’s highly-touted back-court duo.
A combo of ruthless play-making guards who can both operate with or without the ball in their hands, Ponds and LoVett have found unique chemistry alongside one another, despite having exceedingly similar styles of play. But what has helped the duo the most during the early start of the 2017-2018 campaign, is the multitude of improved options surrounding them, which includes senior swingman Bashir Ahmed (12.7 PPG), Arizona transfer Justin Simon (11.3 PPG) and Michigan State transfer Marvin Clark II (9.0 PPG).
While St. John’s offense is always a feared part of their dynamic, considering the depth and versatility of their talents playing in an open and un-hinged style, it’s actually been the Red Storm’s defense that has anchored their early success more than anything, as they’ve held opponents to just 57.3 points per contest through four games. It’s that type of steady balance that could have an inconsistent team like Oregon State worried.
The Beavers will need to not only find ways to score the ball with ease against St. John’s, but they’ll also have their work cut out for them on the defensive side of things as well, where Oregon State has looked worse for wear through their first three games.
Currently, Wayne Tinkle’s squad is allowing 79.3 points per game to opponents, a mark that ties them for 279th overall in the country.
That type of defensive effort must change against an electric St. John’s team.
Players To Watch
Shamorie Ponds (SO - Guard): One half of arguably the Big East’s most gifted young back-court, sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds has been a high-impact player for the Red Storm since the day he stepped on the Queens campus. A Brooklyn native with a New York toughness ingrained in his game, Ponds is one of the hardest “bucket-getters” to contain in all of college basketball.
Marcus LoVett (SO - Guard): The second half of the aforementioned star-studded St. John’s guard duo, fellow sophomore guard Marcus LoVett is in that same upper-tier category as Ponds, as one of the country’s best all-around play-makers. If Oregon State wants to have a chance against the Red Storm, they’ll have to pick their poison (carefully) against the Ponds-LoVett combo.
Bashir Ahmed (SR - Forward): It was unknown if 6’ 7” forward Bashir Ahmed would be able to continue to perform at the high-level he did a season ago, when transfers Justin Simon (Arizona) and Marvin Clark II (Michigan State) both became eligible for St. John’s this season. Four games into the 2017-2018 campaign, Ahmed has proved that he hasn’t missed a beat yet, scoring in double-digits in all four contests thus far.
- Date: Thursday, November 23rd
- Time: 11:00 AM PT
- Location: HP Field House (Orlando, FL)
- Coverage: ESPNU