DECEMBER 1, 2011 – 7:30 PM
ST. JOHNS RED STORM (4-3)
RUPP ARENA – LEXINGTON, KY
TV: ESPN 2
KENTUCKY LEADS SERIES 10-5
11/9/2000: St Johns 62 KENTUCKY 61
Don’t feel bad if you need a program to name the members of the St. Johns Red Storm basketball team. Hell, even the most ardent of Red Storm fan had to suffer identity confusion when this team took the court this season. Gone are all five starters from last season’s 21-12 team which finished third in the Big East and made the NCAA basketball tournament. Also gone is head coach Steve Lavin, who has taken an indefinite leave of absence while recovering from prostate cancer surgery on October 6.
Taking Lavin’s place will be assistant Mike Dunlap, who has won two Division II National Titles at Metropolitan State. Dunlap will be coaching his fourth game in Lavin’s absence. The Red Storm are replacing their top seven scorers from last season with seven freshmen/JUCO players, which is a daunting task for anyone, and while Dunlap is a capable coach, this team really needs Lavin who put it together. St. Johns had three players declared academically ineligible this year and as a result, are down to just eight scholarship players.
It’s not a shock to say that the Red Storm have been an inconsistent team this year. They have very respectable losses to then #16 Arizona (81-72) and #18 Texas A&M 58-57. St. Johns is coming off a 78-64 loss to Colonial League Northeastern. Let’s meet the Red Storm.
#10 – G – LINDSEY NURIDEEN - SO, 6’3, 185
14.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.6 APG
#11 – G – D’ANGELO HARRISON - FR, 6’3, 186
14.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.4 APG
#31 – G – MALIK STITH - JR – 5’11, 184
4.4 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
#4 – G/F – MOE HARKLESS - FR, 6’8, 190
14.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.9 BPG
#3 – F – GOD’S GIFT ACHIUWA - JR, 6’8, 236
11.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 0.3 APG
#15 – G/F – SIR DOMINIC POINTER – FR, 6’6, 205
5.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 0.9 BPG
#1 – G – PHIL GREENE - FR, 6’2, 170
5.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1/3 APG
NATIONAL STAT RANKINGS
POINTS PER GAME
KENTUCKY: 84.2 (13th)
ST. JOHNS: 70.0 (161st)
REBOUNDS PER GAME
KENTUCKY: 43.7 (2nd)
ST. JOHNS: 33.4 (252nd)
ASSISTS PER GAME
KENTUCKY: 16.3 (34th)
ST. JOHNS: 10.6 (297th)
KENTUCKY: 51.4% (10th)
ST. JOHNS: 47.0% (72nd)
KENTUCKY: 37-90 (41.1%)
ST.JOHNS: 26-94 (27.7%)
It’s easy to see that this is not the season that the Red Storm expected this season. They come into this game a very thin team without their head coach and four star freshmen Dom Painter and Amir Garrett. Yet, the season has to go on, and St. Johns is still a work in progress, going just seven players deep. All of the players have started multiple games, but this is the lineup I think they will go with for Kentucky.
The big advantage for Kentucky is with their size and length. St. Johns has just two players 6’8 or taller, Kentucky has five. And the players they have simply are not going to be able to play physical and try to make the Wildcat’s uncomfortable. Former Wildcat recruit God’s Gift Achiwua played at Erie Community College last year and is not ready physically to do battle with the likes of Davis and Jones.
This is not to say St. Johns is without talent. Steve Lavin had the third ranked recruiting class last year, but that included Painter and Garrett. Nurideen, Harrison, and Harkless are going to be fun to watch play, but unfortunately for the Red Storm, you can’t beat Kentucky with just three players.
St. Johns likes to play a harassing man to man pressure defense to create points on transition. This would play right into Kentucky’s hands as the Wildcats simply have too much speed, length, and athleticism for the Red Storm to have a valid chance of pulling the upset. This is not a good rebounding team either and Kentucky should have their way on the boards. It should be noted that Kentucky outrebounded Portland by just one and I would not expect a similar lax performance by Kentucky tomorrow night.
St Johns should come in ready to battle however. This game has been circled on their calendar for a while and there is nothing more they would like than to win one for Lavin. In addition, they will not be in awe of Rupp Arena as they have played two games at Madison Square Garden this year. That said, this is St. John’s first true road game and their first game outside the state of New York this year. You never know how a team this young will play in that scenario, and there is always the chance Kentucky can come out flat, looking ahead to North Carolina on Saturday.
In the end, it all comes down to the athleticism of Kentucky. UK wants to send a statement heading into the North Carolina game and it looks like the Red Storm will be that statement. KENTUCKY 88 St. Johns 67