St. John’s vs Wisconsin game preview


The St. John’s Red Storm are going to be tested early. How early? I am glad you asked. Like, game one of the season early — as St. John’s is opening their season against the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday night.

Wisconsin is, well, Wisconsin. You can expect the same basketball as usual from the Bo Ryan coached program. Defense, methodical but effective offense and the implementation of physical play. The physical play from both sides, however, will be interesting and will be something worth monitoring with the new hand-check rules in place. Expect the referees to call it early, often and to the point of using it to set an example so the “style” of play the NCAA would prefer might be functional by the time conference play begins.

The good news for St. John’s, Wisconsin lost three starters from a team that went 23-12 last season. That is a wealth of experience and talent gone from the Badgers. Still, Ryan usually gets the most from whoever is on his roster and explains Wisconsin’s annual trips to the NCAA Tournament.

The Badgers are going to be inexperienced in their frontcourt. Guys like seven-footer Frank Kaminsky, junior Duje Dukan and senior Zach Bohannon are all expected to have increased roles for Wisconsin. None of them, though, were world-beaters last season or the type of players that should strike bear in their opponents. Kaminsky, however, is a legitimate seven-footer — so it will be interesting to see how St. John’s does defending him and — more importantly — if they can keep him away from the block and off the glass.

St. John’s is going to need their star players to act like they are stars. D’Angelo Harrison is going to have to do his usual scoring in bunches. As will JaKarr Sampson. It is pretty safe to assume that Ryan will do his best to take those two away, but with some of the newer guys on St. John’s (Rysheed Jordan, Max Hooper, Orlando Sanchez) still acclimating themselves with Steve Lavin’s system, it will be paramount for the two of them to be productive, but in a very efficient way. Primarily, the efficiency aspect applies more to Sampson than Harrison. Sampson needs to attack the basket, get to the line and needs to not continuously settle for mid or long range jumpers.

Obviously, Jordan and Sanchez are going to play vital roles if the Red Storm were to be successful. Even if St. John’s two “stars” had big games, offense is going to have to come elsewhere as well. Sanchez — the do-it-all wonder — will have to create some of his own buckets and do his best to create second chance opportunities for the entire team. Jordan will need to live up to some level of the hype if St. John’s wants to win the game. Neither of them have to go 20-5-5, but it would be nice if they were productive and — maybe more importantly — limited their turnovers and played solid defense. Really, play like they have been at this level of college hoops for more than just a few minutes, which neither have.

Chris Obekpa is coming off his suspension as well. He did play starter-type minutes last season, so his re-acclimation to the team should not be hard. His defense and ability on the glass will be as important to St. John’s as Harrion’s ability to hit 24-foot bombs.

All-in-all, being that it is the first game of the year it is pretty tough to give a detailed account of these two teams. Both programs don’t have a set rotation yet. Figuring out which match-ups or benches will be more effective would be like determining the quality of the Ghostbusters 3 script — we just don’t know what is in it or what versions of each team will be thrown on the court.

Our lack of knowledge of both teams, though, won’t stop me from


predicting the outcome.

Factoring in Wisconsin’s constant ability of being more than competitive, but having a slew of new faces with St. John’s looking to be apparently on the rise, but also having some new talent on their team:

St. John’s 73, Wisconsin 69

I mean, did you really think I was going to pick against the Johnnies in their season opener?