Weathering the Storm
The men’s basketball team will head to Queens tonight, for a showdown against the St. John’s Red Storm, the 90th all-time meeting between the two squads.
St. John’s (10-8, 0-5) holds a 55-34 edge in head-to-head matchups, but The Hall has won six of the last 10 meetings and nine of the last 24. Since 2004, the Pirates have only lost to St. John’s on the road.
The Red Storm has found success at home this season, compiling a record of 8-3 in home games, including a 7-1 record at Carnesecca Arena.
The last time the teams squared off was in Madison Square Garden, a 71-67 victory for St. John’s. In that contest, senior Eugene Teague scored a career-high 22 points and classmate Fuquan Edwin passed the 1,000-point plateau as the Pirates rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit but were unable to complete the comeback.
After pulling to within one with 4:21 left to play, St. John’s senior D’Angelo Harrison scored the next five points for the Red Storm, which included a fade-away with the shot clock running down to push the lead to six.
A 3-pointer from senior Brian Oliver cut the lead to three, but the Pirates were unable to get any closer.
The Red Storm is led by the duo of Harrison and sophomore Jakarr Sampson. Harrison is scoring 18.2 points per game to go along with 4.2 boards per game. Sampson is scoring 11.9 points per game while pulling down 6.4 rebounds per game.
The team possesses a bunch of raw athleticism and great scorers in Harrison and Sampson, something of which Pirates head coach Kevin Willard is well aware.
“(This is an) extremely difficult matchup for us because of the athleticism, the shot-blocking and having some of the most offensively skilled guys in Harrison and Sampson,” Willard said in Wednesday’s Big East coaches’ teleconference. “We’ve been focusing on how we’re going to try to stop those guys.”
The Hall will enter this contest after a 67-57 road win at Georgetown. Teague returned to the court after missing four games with a concussion suffered on Dec. 27 against Lafayette. Teague’s return ended a 13-game spell of the Pirates were missing a player because of injury.
“They (Seton Hall) just have a real nice balanced attack now that they are back at full strength, and they’re playing a real cohesive brand of basketball,” St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin said in the teleconference. “Right now they’re in a rhythm as a team. You can see them gaining confidence with each game.”
At full strength for the first time since Nov. 22 against Oklahoma, Edwin led The Hall with a dominant second half. The swingman scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half. In the game, he also broke the program’s all-time steals record which hadn’t been touched in over 30 years.
Edwin is still getting his legs back after suffering a knee injury at the end of regulation against Providence on New Year’s Eve. A healthy Edwin gives the team energy, according to Willard.
“(Edwin) energizes our guys,” Willard said. “I call it the Fu effect. He’s so active with his hands, active off the ball. If you’re not playing as hard as he is, you’re going to stand out on film. He’s been our leader for two years now. He made some huge steals against Georgetown. It changes the way we play defensively.”
The Pirates will look for their third road win and will have a chance to even up their conference record.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org.