St. John’s basketball leaves New York for first major test of season

St. John's basketball forward Julian Champagnie (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball forward Julian Champagnie (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /

A major test awaits the St. John’s basketball program on Monday evening.

Two games against mid-majors are in the rearview mirror for the St. John’s basketball (2-0) program but the Johnnies now await its first true tests.

Yes, a comeback win over St. Peter’s provided the young squad with a challenge, but now power conference opponents await the Red Storm, first with the Boston College Eagles (1-1) inside “Bubbleville” at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Boston College took No. 3 Villanova to the brink of an upset on opening night, but couldn’t solve the Wildcats down the stretch, ultimately falling 76-67, but responded with a 69-64 victory over Rhode Island.

However, the big blow for the Eagles was the foot injury suffered to star guard Jay Heath in its loss against Villanova and he was held out in the win over the Rams as the standout remains questionable for Monday’s matchup with St. John’s.

The Johnnies also have injury concerns of their own as Rasheem Dunn will not play due to a concussion suffered in that opening win over St. Peter’s and sophomore forward Julian Champagnie is questionable as he missed the first two games of the season because of an ankle injury.

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Champagnie is trending in the right direction to make his 2020-21 debut against Boston College, but head coach Mike Anderson still lists his rising star as a game-time decision.

Despite not having two of its returning players, St. John’s has benefited from the play of freshman point guard Posh Alexander and junior college standout Vince Cole, who impressed in their first two collegiate games.

It wast tale of two games for the returning players, such as Greg Williams Jr., Marcellus Earlington, and Josh Roberts who struggled against the Peacocks but surged against La Salle.

St. John’s does have experience playing at Mohegan Sun as the Johnnies competed in the Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Tipoff last season, falling to Arizona State and defeating Massachusetts.

David Caraher and Roberts were the stars in the Red Storm’s lone victory in the event.

How St. John’s basketball matches up with Boston College.

St. John’s could potentially exploit some matchup problems against the Eagles, namely with Isaih Moore, who proved he can defend multiple positions and run the floor at high and effective rate when in transition.

Senior forward Steffon Mitchell is the rebounding force for the Eagles at 6-foot-8, but the Johnnies need to own the glass in order to come away with a victory, specifically Moore at 6-foot-10 and Roberts at 6-foot-9.

Mitchell is averaging 9.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

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Boston College does not have true big man like the Johnnies do, but head coach Jim Christian loves to play a guard-centric lineup headlined by Wynston Tabbs, who is averaging 13.5 points per game for the Eagles.

The Red Storm will remember guard Makai Ashton-Langford who transferred to Boston College from Providence and the former Friar is averaging 9.5 points per contest.

It’ll be matchup No. 73 between these two old Big East foes and the first meeting since 2008 as St. John’s holds a 45-27 advantage over Boston College in the all-time series.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00pm EST on ESPNU.

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