Pitt game against St. John's today? Safe to say few people in the Burgh not at the game will be watching this with a close eye. Still, we've got Norman here from SB Nation blog Rumble in the Garden to help us sift through the Johnnies. Be sure to check out his site for my answers to his questions.
Cardiac Hill: Like Pitt, St. John's has had a disappointing season. The Panthers are young, but not as young as the ridiculous St. John's roster with eight of their 11 players being freshmen. Having not seen St. John's that much this season, I'm guessing the youth is the main factor there, but are there other factors?
Rumble in the Garden: Youth was going to be a factor for the team coming in, even before three players were ruled ineligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Young teams - especially those with no impact returnees and no top-10 rated players - struggle.Without those players, and without any big man depth, the season was going to be a struggle. It didn't help that the player who was most able to put up points and draw fouls in the early going, Nurideen Lindsey, left the program in a huff before the end of the first semester.The Johnnies who remained have had a great opportunity to log playing time in the Big East. And while it's not always pretty, it is experience and skill development for a team filled with players in need of both.
Not very good. The team has generally played hard and worked to maintain in games, but a number of factors have hurt the team:
- lack of depth, evident in how the Johnnies struggle in that period at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half, giving up enough points to allow the other team to cruise;
- lack of shooting and a post presence, meaning all of St. John's points have to come from crisp cutting and slashing offense;
- not enough size to rebound, so the Storm play a guard/ wing type at the 4, with predictable results (even though the players do battle);
- lack of depth to play a pressure defense, which is the team's scheme;
- lack of reliable backup ballhandling, leaving the team susceptible to offensive lulls and ball safety/ assist struggles;
- lack of a third scorer, so when Harkless and/ or Harrison struggle, the team has no fountain of scoring.All of those are getting better as the other freshmen develop, try new roles on for size, and gain confidence.
Harkless might look at going pro. His name has been mentioned by NBA scouts, and he has the size/quickness/talent for the league. I think he needs another year to work on his skill set and body. Harrison is likely a 3-4 year player. He's too small to be an NBA shooting guard who comes out early, but he handles well enough to pass as a scoring point. He definitely needs to gain more consistency with his shot and shot selection.
Well, if the team can find some bodies in the post, a body or two for depth on the perimeter, a post player who can score on occasion and draw defensive attention... maybe. Top 25 is a bit to ask of a Big East team with a losing record, but assuming most of the players develop over the summer, there is an explosive amount of raw talent in need of better skill. But the team needs size. The rebounding differentials are extreme.
It's a road game, and St. John's has two road wins. Then again... Pittsburgh seems to have lost their preseason mojo. I think Pitt has too much size for St. John's, but I also think St. John's could be bothersome with their activity and ability not to give a hot damn. I'll say Pitt since it's on the road.