DePaul Blue Demons vs. St. John’s Red Storm – Wednesday, February 17th, 7 p.m. Central – Carnesecca Arena, Queens, New York
Television – CBS Sports Network
Radio – WSCR AM 670
Wednesday's game between DePaul and St. John's in Queens is not exactly what you would call a marquee game. The contest will pit the Big East's two worst teams against each other.
Don't tell that to DePaul and St. John's, though, as both teams will be thirsty for a win. This will be their first meeting of the season, as DePaul will welcome St. John's to Allstate Arena eight days later on February 25th.
While DePaul (8-16, 2-10) has won a couple of Big East games, the Red Storm (7-19, 0-13) under the guidance of new coach and former St. John's legend Chris Mullin have yet to breakthrough with a conference win.
DePaul will have had more than a week to prepare for the game after losing to Villanova, 86-59, last Tuesday. Meanwhile, St. John's is coming off a 73-63 loss to Villanova on Saturday. The Johnnies showed a lot of fight and grit against the No.1-ranked Wildcats in hanging around, but wilted down the stretch.
St. John's has now lost 16 games in row. Expect Mullin to view this game as an important game for his squad, as hosting the next-to-last place team in the Big East will be viewed as “winnable” for the Red Storm. The Red Storm have shown that they can play well in spurts, but their inexperience and talent deficiency gets the better of them most of the time.
In case you forgot, St. John's lost nearly everything from last season; from their coach (Steve Lavin) to practically their whole rotation.
Mullin is basically working with a clean slate. Only three players returned from last season's team (Amar Alibegovic, Felix Balamou, and Christian Jones) and neither received more than 10 minutes per game. So, St. John's can be excused for the way it has played this season.
Four newcomers (Durand Johnson, Federico Mussini, Ron Mvouika and Yankuba Sima) have been doing most of the heavy lifting for the Johnnies.
Johnson and Mvouika are grad transfers who were brought in to provide some stability for Mullin. However, it is the play of the freshmen Mussini and Sima (as well as defensive stalwart Kassoum Yakwe) who offer some hope for the future.
Mussini, an Italian Import, is a dead-eye three-point shooter and his second on the team in scoring (11.5 points per game). Although his three-point field goal percentage (.323) is not up to par, he can get hot at any moment and has a pretty stroke. As a freshman, he has had his ups and downs, while learning a lot in his first year in Queens.
Johnson, a grad transfer from Pittsburgh, leads the team in scoring with 11.8 points per game, while adding 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Mvouika, a grad transfer from Missouri State, adds 8.7 points per game, while chipping in 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
Sima has also made a nice impact in his freshman campaign, as he leads the Red Storm in both rebounding (6.3 per game) and blocks (2.7 per game), while contributing 7.4 points per game. He is just getting back into the flow of the game. Wednesday's game will be Sima's fourth game back after he sat out the previous seven games with a hand injury.
Again, on paper this game doesn't move the needed or will create any buzz, but for both teams struggling to obtain an identity under new head coaches, this will be game rife with intensity.
The Last Time
On February 11, 2015 at Carnesecca Arena, St. John's outlasted DePaul 86-78.
DePaul's defensive intensity and rebounding was clearly lacking. The Demons allowed the Red Storm to shoot 51.9 percent from the field and an even-better 57.1 percent from three-point territory. DePaul was also killed on the boards, losing the rebounding battle, 43-27.
St. John's senior guard D'Angelo Harrison was simply on fire and the Demons had absolutely no answer for him. Harrison led all scorers with 31 points on 10-14 shooting from the field and a sizzling 6-8 from three-point land, while also chipping in 10 rebounds.
Indeed that was the case, as St. John's got 19 fast-break points to DePaul's four on the night. DePaul's 25 points off the bench to St. John's two was a key neutralizer and Tommy Hamilton was a big reason why. He scored a team-high 18 points (tied with Billy Garrett Jr.) to go with a team-high nine rebounds.
Garrett (18 points), Jamee Crockett (17) and Myke Henry (13) were the other double-digit scorers for the Demons.
For St. John's, they also got good games from Phil Greene IV (18 points), Sir'Dominic Pointer (15 points, a team-high 11 rebounds and five blocks) and Rysheed Jordan (15 points, seven rebounds and four assists).
St. John’s Roster
No. Name Yr. Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/High School/Previous School
0 Malik Ellison FR Guard 6-6 205 Voorhees, N.J./Life Center Academy (N.J.)
1 Amar Alibegovic SO Forward 6-9 235 Rome, Italy/Istituto Tecnico Minerva
2 Christian Jones RS JR Forward 6-7 230 Arlington, Texas/IMG Academy (Fla.)
3 Marcus LoVett FR Guard 6-0 180 Fort Wayne, Ind./Morgan Park (Ill.)
4 Federico Mussini FR Guard 6-1 160 Reggio Emilia, Italy/Liceo Scientifico Aldo Moro
5 Durand Johnson GS Guard/Forward 6-6 210 Baltimore, Md.//Pittsburgh
10 Felix Balamou SR Guard 6-4 205 Conakry, Guinea/Our Savior New American (N.Y.)
11 Tariq Owens SO Forward 6-10 190 Odenton, Md.//Tennessee
12 Elijah Holifield FR Guard 6-2 180 Atlanta, Ga./Pace Academy
14 Kassoum Yakwe FR Forward 6-7 205 Bamako, Mali/Our Savior New American (N.Y.)
23 Abdul Dial FR Guard 6-3 195 West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman
24 Ron Mvouika GS Guard/Forward 6-6 210 Paris, France//Missouri State
35 Yankuba Sima FR Center 6-11 215 Girona, Spain/Elev8 Institute
45 Darien Williams JR Forward 6-8 225 San Francisco, Calif.//City College of San Francisco