St. John’s Red Storm: Why They Are A Legitimate NCAA Tournament Team
Believe it or not, the St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball team is a legitimate NCAA Tournament team. Their record is currently 13-8 but they’ve been hot recently, winning seven of their last nine games.
Prior to their tough overtime loss to the Butler Bulldogs last Tuesday, the Johnnies won 6 games in a row. During their six-game winning streak, they defeated a couple of ranked teams in college basketball. They beat No. 23 ranked UConn Huskies and then a week after that they shocked the entire college basketball world by upsetting the No.3 ranked Villanova Wildcats by double-digit points. They have done it with strong, hard-nosed defense and also with an improved offense especially from the perimeter.
Right now, St. John’s is slated to be the first four teams to fall short of making it to the NCAA Tournament in March. So the NCAA tourney is certainly not out of reach and if the Red Storm continue their winning ways, playing deeper into March would certainly be inevitable.
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Looking at this current St. John’s roster, this team has enough talent and grit to be playing in March. They play good pressurized defense and with Coach Mike Anderson and his constant trap defense in his system, St. John’s will always be a tough team to score on. After a slow start defensively, the Red Storm has reverted back to their hard-nosed defensive showing in 2021 and it’s showing in the win column.
But St. John’s has also improved offensively. They have improved their perimeter game and are hitting their free throws on a more consistent basis. There are two players that have really stood out.
One is sophomore Julian Champagnie, who is currently leading the Big East in scoring at 19.7 points per game. He’s shooting 43% from three-point range which is a huge improvement from his 31% from downtown in his freshman season. He’s also shooting 86% from the free-throw line this season which is also a big improvement from the year before when he shot 75% from the charity stripe. Along with his improved perimeter game, he continues to score inside, cutting and driving into lanes, making him a tougher player to defend against. He’s contributing in the rebounding department as well, grabbing 7.4 rebounds a game.
Another St. John’s player that has raised eyebrows is freshman Posh Alexander. He’s currently averaging 11.6 points per game. However, over the last five games, he’s averaging over 15 points per game and he’s been shooting around 50% from three-point land. He’s been distributing better as a point guard and getting his teammates more involved. He had six assists in the upset win over Villanova. Posh has also been a pest on the defensive end. He had six steals in a 1/31 win over the Marquette Golden Eagles. His game has been improving each week and he can be the next best Red Storm player in the near future.
Other players that have stood out. Rasheem Dunn has also provided some offense at point guard. Vince Cole has provided perimeter shooting. Marcellus Earlington and Greg Williams have provided inside and outside offense. Isaih Moore has provided some low post scoring and Josh Roberts has been the team’s best shot blocker.
There are five games left in the St. John’s schedule and three of their opponents are also legitimate NCAA tourney teams in Villanova, Xavier Musketeers, and Seton Hall Pirates. So the schedule won’t get any easier for the Johnnies. But if St. John’s continues their stellar defense along with continuing to provide consistent perimeter offense and if they can beat at least two of those three opponents in Villanova, Xavier, or Seton Hall, that could possibly be enough to earn them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Based on how St. John’s has played over the last month, with their grit and that they are well-coached, this could be a serious team come tourney time.
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