Scouting St. Johns at Xavier
By Andy Mac Williams, 2/15/2022

Scouting St Johns(13-11, 5-8 BIG EAST-8th place) at Xavier(17-7, 7-6 BE-6th). Wednesday at Cintas(6:30 PM-CBSSN). BE Standings are closely packed 3 through 8 w/ UConn(8-5) Creighton(8-5) Marquette(8-6) Xavier(7-6), Seton Hall(6-7) and St Johns(5-8). Muskies hope to build off Friday's 74-68 home win over UConn w/ challenging road dates Saturday at UConn(Noon-FOX) and next Wed. at BE leader PC(7 PM-CBSSN). XU gets sharp shooting guard Adam Kunkel back. He missed UConn Friday with a non-Covid illness. Top 3 point threat Nate Johnson will be a game time decision. He bruised a leg late vs UConn after scoring 12 points. No structural damage but he is sore.

St Johns has lost two tight ones in a row at MSG(75-69 to Villanova and 63-60 last Sunday to UConn). Star PG Posh Alexander missed both of those games w/ a right ankle injury(15 PPG-7.7 assists.5 rebounds-2.5 steals). Posh keys their trapping press and drives their offense. He is out of a protective boot and may play at Xavier.

Johnnies are 1-9 in NCAA Quad 1 wins-#85 NET and looking at a 1st Round BET game at MSG unless they string some wins and get into BE Top 5 earning a Wednesday bye in NYC.

Xavier's in decent NCAA shape(#20 NET, 6-6 NET Quad 1s-4 road wins-just one NET "Bad" loss so far vs DePaul). Muskies also need wins to move into BE Top 5 and grab a BET bye. Home games are running out w/ just 3 left(ST J, Seton Hall and Georgetown).

St Johns plays a hybrid up tempo style-pressing-trapping-gambling for steals-blocking shots-grabbing-looking to speed teams up. Coach Mike Anderson(3rd season w/ Red Storm) is a Nolan Richardson disciple(player and asst coach at Arkansas. He says his St Johns team is 35 minutes of Hell and 5 minutes of What the Hell?? They can turn it over a lot-shoot just 66%FTs-and struggle at times from "3". S

till Johnnies score 78PPG despite some inefficiency. Its more about shot volume than shot quality. Quick shots-turn the bad guys over and put dynamic runs together.

St Johns plays 10 if Posh is available usually w/ one BIG(6-11 Jorl Soriano or 6-10 Esiaha Nyiwe). They play two 6-8 hybrid jump shooting stretch "4s". BE scoring leader Julian Champagnie(18PPG) and 6-9 Aaron Wheeler(Purdue transfer)(10PPG-31 recently vs Villanova-40% from"3").

Linebacker-like wing Dylan Addae-Wusu(6-4,235-played football at same HS in the Bronx as Posh Alexander) has been getting PG time w/ Posh out along w/ Vermont transfer Stef Smith.

Travis Steele on St Johns:

"They offer different challenges-unique in that they press on made shots and misses. We expect Posh to play. He gives their defense its identity. They don't trap as well without him. PGs can't be comfortable playing against him. Champagnie and Wheeler are tough covers. They just keep moving. Zach may have to guard one of them. He just has to keep his feet moving and stay in front of them(like he did vs UConn)."

Can Xavier play w/ two BIGS upwards of 30 minutes together vs an up tempo team w/ two floor spacing 6-8'6-9 guys like #2 and #1? Sure, but X has to limit live ball turnovers and run patient half "O". Slow things down and dictate game speed.

St Johns fouls and reaches a ton. Kill them at FT line ala UConn. Travis told his team to disregard their 5-8 BE record. They have been in basically every game(OT loss at UConn-4 point loss to PC etc). Color St Johns dangerous/desperate!!

BE Games Tuesday-Villanova at PC(8 PM-CBSSN). PC is 13-0 home w/ 8 straight wins(11-1 BE-1st) #8 AP Top 25-Nova is #6 NET(12-3). Later it's Butler at DePaul( 9 PM-FS1).

Wednesday-ST Johns at Xavier then Seton Hall at UConn and Georgetown at Marquette.

Xavier will play in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament in Portland this November 26-28(Muskies' exempt event for 2022-23). The field is loaded w/ Duke, Gonzaga, Purdue, Florida, West Virginia,, Oregon State, Portland State and XU.

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