After nearly eight months, the honeymoon comes to an end tomorrow night.
That's because St. John's University opens the curtain for its 104th season of men's basketball with the youngest team in program history less than one year removed from one of the most memorable campaigns to hit the corner of Union and Utopia in recent years, thanks in large part to head coach Steve Lavin and his ten-man senior class captivating the fan base en route to taking down one Top 25 opponent after another on the way to the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years. Fans have had the opportunity to get to know this year's Red Storm unit through two exhibition games that have undoubtedly prepared this young bunch for what lies ahead, but many questions still remain unanswered as we enter the time of the year where the games now count in the standings; and the progress levels of each player will be evaluated under even more of a microscope than in weeks and months past. William and Mary will be the first official opponent for all but one of the Johnnies at the Division I level, and you'll find out a little more about them here as well. Ladies and gentlemen, at long last, it is finally here.
St. John's Red Storm (2010-11 Record: 21-12, 12-6 Big East)
Head Coach: Steve Lavin (2nd season, 21-12; 166-90 overall)
Projected Starting Lineup: (Stats reflect two preseason games against C.W. Post and St. Mary's [Md.])
G Nurideen Lindsey (6-3 So., 15.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 52% FG, 22% FT, 5.5 APG, 2.5 SPG)
G Malik Stith (5-11 Jr., 4.0 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 38% FG, 50% FT, 4.0 APG, 1.5 SPG)
G D'Angelo Harrison (6-3 Fr., 16.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 41% FG, 83% FT, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG)
F God'sgift Achiuwa (6-8 Jr., 18.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 77% FG, 22% FT, 1.5 BPG, 1.0 SPG)
F Moe Harkless (6-8 Fr., 17.0 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 63% FG, 83% FT, 2.0 APG, 1.5 SPG)
F Sir'Dominic Pointer (6-5 Fr., 10.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 69% FG, 38% FT, 1.5 APG, 2.5 SPG)
G Phil Greene (6-2 Fr., 12.0 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 56% FG, 50% 3pt, 50% FT, 1.5 APG, 2.5 SPG)
Keys To Victory:
- Play smart.
Being that this is the first official game for nearly everyone on this team, the potential for St. John's to get caught up in the moment is higher than ever before. Even though most of this team seems mature and emotionally grounded going into tomorrow night's matchup, the atmosphere at Carnesecca Arena 24 hours from now will be something that this team has, by and large, never experienced. Therefore, don't be surprised to see assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who will fill in for a still recovering Steve Lavin, to make that a critical part of his preparation for William & Mary.
- Dictate the pace.
- Guard the lines.
And, their opponents across the court...
William & Mary Tribe (2010-11 Record: 10-22, 4-14 CAA)
Head Coach: Tony Shaver (9th season, 97-146; 455-267 overall)
Projected Starting Lineup: (Stats reflect 2010-11 season)
G Brandon Britt (6-1 So., 10.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 38% FG, 72% FT, 2.2 APG)
G Julian Boatner (6-2 So., 6.8 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 40% FG, 40% 3pt, 83% FT)
G Kendrix Brown (6-3 Sr., 3.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 39% FG, 62% FT, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG)
F Quinn McDowell (6-6 Sr., 15.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 48% FG, 46% 3pt, 87% FT, 2.1 APG)
F JohnMark Ludwick (6-8 Sr., 3.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 39% FG, 38% 3pt, 60% FT)
F Kyle Gaillard (6-8 Jr., 5.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 48% FG, 35% 3pt, 46% FT, 1.4 APG)
F Tim Rusthoven (6-9 So., 5.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 57% FG, 84% FT)
G Matt Rum (6-4 Jr., 5.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 35% FG, 80% FT, 2.1 APG)
Keys To Victory:
- Win with Quinn.
- Bombs away.
- Use the big men.
So, Who Wins?
In one corner you have a team many critics are lauding as a sleeper just two years removed from a 22-win season and NIT appearance that is trying to return to the upper echelon of one of the strongest mid-major leagues in the nation. In the other lies the reigning national media darling, now starting over while simultaneously keeping the national attention on their side. This will be a telling game for both sides. For the Johnnies, it will be a matchup in which the team gets some much-needed experience that will prepare them for bigger opponents the likes of Arizona and Kentucky; while for William & Mary, it's a chance to prove that they are just as much a part of the mix for a CAA title as conference brethren George Mason and VCU. The Tribe will also get the benefit of having a BCS opponent, something that will serve them well for future matchups against Missouri and Iona among others. Although this game will be close, don't count on it to be the trap that some analysts are suspecting it may be. The Tribe may have the experience, but the Johnnies have the superior talent that will get them over the hump in this one.
Your Final: St. John's 82, William & Mary 71