The Red Storm continue to send shock waves across college basketball improving to 5-0 against a very tough Temple squad. The Johnnies are looking the best they’ve looked since the NCAA Tournament making 2018-2019 roster. New York hoops are always thriving when the Red Storm are thriving.
St.John’s hasn’t seen a lot of success in the past decades going from one of the most prestigious programs to a program that can barely scratch the surface of March Madness. But it looks like the tides could be turning in Jamaica, Queens.
Going into the game against Temple who already has a ranked win over the #16 ranked Villanova Wildcats the Red Storm had a big task early into the season to really see if they’re for real.
One of the main reasons for the Johnnies early success is the upbringing of senior center Joel Soriano who’s currently averaging 13.2 PPG and 11.2 REB on 65% from the field after his 4th Double-Double of the season dropping 15 points, 12 Rebounds and 2 Blocks.
Soriano just has this presence now in the paint offensively and defensively that you can see through the television and can see his full potential. The local star from Stepinac didn’t have a hot start in Queens but has developed into a force on both ends and you saw that in the game against Temple.
There were multiple instances throughout the game where the bigs on Temple just couldn’t get to their spots and looks faded from Soriano’s presence and that just adds to the already really good Red Storm defensive attack.
Talking about the defensive attack, the Red Storm under Mike Anderson have been known for having a defense that will tire you out and make the other team make stupid decisions and that was clear Monday night in Brooklyn.
That can be attributed to the backcourt of Illinois transfer Andre Curbelo who has allowed under .550 PPP (Points Per Possession) and junior guard Posh Alexander who was nationally ranked as one of the best defensive guards in the country.
Talking about Andre Curbelo, the junior guard had a very slow and inefficient start with five straight misses and two turnovers before his first basket at the 8 minutes mark in the first half. But Curbelo would make it up late for the Johnnies giving fans flashbacks of 2018 Empire Classic Shamorie Ponds where he clinched the game for the Red Storm.
Curbelo would have 2 clutch layups in the last 1:30 of play to help the Red Storm. The 2020-2021 Big 10 6th Man of the Year is a dynamic playmaker who just has a knack for finding the open man. Averaging a near 10 PPG and 6 AST, Curbelo finds himself in a good spot to be that go to guy in the late stages of ball games where St.John’s struggled last season.
The Johnnies starting lineup is filled with transfers and along with Curbelo is 2021 Rutgers transfer Montez Mathis who had a 16 point performance against Temple that adds to his 12 PPG start to the season. And DePaul transfer David Jones who’s been an X-Factor so far averaging 17 PPG and 8 REB and has a sneaky chance to be All-BIG East.
Overall this Red Storm squad isn’t gonna shoot a team off the court and won’t win being offensive dominant. This team has a 2021-2022 Providence vibe to them where they aren’t dominant offensively but the defense will tear you down and create opportunities with that.
This defense is March ready ranking 45th in Adj. Defensive Efficiency and mostly all green defensive categories on KenPom. The starting lineup of Posh Alexander, Andre Curbelo, Montez Mathis, David Jones and Joel Soriano can be deadly and could cause some havoc in the Big East but that’ll be a big task with Villanova starting to get healthy, a really good offensive Xavier program, the 20th ranked UConn and a threat to win it all number #10 ranked Creighton.
There’s a spark in Queens we haven’t seen in a while and it looks like the Johnnies could make it a fun year to watch them and yet again when the Johnnies are doing good, New York Basketball is doing good. The Red Storm will be taking on another New York loved squad in Syracuse Tuesday night in which should be a very fun environment and the battle of the NY kids.