Welcome to the latest edition of “Inside the Enemy Ship”, once again featuring our rivals from across the river, St. John’s Red Storm! Our friend Carmine Carcieri was generous enough to share his thoughts on the upcoming game with us; keep on reading below!
BBA: How big was it for the team to get their first Big East win earlier this week? Does it matter that it was against DePaul?
CARCIERI: It was a very big win just for this young team to gain confidence down the stretch and build momentum for what should be a more competitive season next year. Even though DePaul is only ninth in the Big East, the Johnnies had to be pleased with their performance. They won by 15, played strong defense for the majority of the night, moved the ball successfully offensively and hit the glass. The Red Storm held Tommy Hamilton IV and Myke Henry to just 10 points and Billy Garrett Jr. struggled against the likes of Malik Ellison and Felix Balamou.
BBA: Does their one win during Big East play match your expectations for this team when the season started?
CARCIERI: At the beginning of the year, I knew this was going to be a rebuilding year and I certainly knew that playing a balanced league schedule would be too difficult for the Red Storm to be higher than ninth in the standings. But I did expect them to earn more than one conference victory and I still believe they will achieve that. St. John’s has Seton Hall (MSG), DePaul (on the road), Creighton (on the road) and Providence (MSG) to close out the season and honestly none of those teams are unbeatable. I’m not expecting the Red Storm to go on a winning streak but I do think they get at least one more victory.
BBA: Clearly the last game against Seton Hall didn’t go as the Johnnies planned. What went wrong?
CARCIERI: Seton Hall dominated the interior. Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo were unstoppable. The Johnnies don’t have physical big men to match up with those two. Kassoum Yakwe is developing his strength, Christian Jones is undersized and Yankuba Sima didn’t play in the first match-up due to a broken hand.
BBA: What will St. John’s have to do differently this time around?
CARCIERI: St. John’s fell apart after halftime at the Prudential Center so this time around they must focus on playing a full 40 minutes. They will have to knock down some perimeter shots, move the ball (similar to how they did against DePaul), get easy buckets in transition and most importantly, gang rebound.
BBA: This time around, who should Seton Hall be most worried about meeting on the court? Why?
CARCIERI: I think it’s either Kassoum Yakwe or Malik Ellison. Both players have improved drastically during conference play. Yakwe has always been an excellent shot blocker but he’s gaining feel around the rim and playing better offensively. Ellison is playing with aggressiveness/confidence, doing a better job of finishing around the rim and his size has been a huge plus for the Red Storm. His steady ball handling and shooting touch from the perimeter gives the Johnnies a better option at lead guard than Federico Mussini.
BBA: What kind of crowd are you expecting at MSG for the game against Seton Hall? Will the recent win help?
CARCIERI: The crowd has been surprisingly excellent all season long. The last two games at Carnesecca Arena were near sell-outs and while I don’t expect that to be the case tomorrow at MSG, there should be a solid presence of St. John’s fans in the house. There should also be a good amount of Seton Hall fans in attendance as well with this being a very important game for their NCAA Tournament hopes (basically they cannot afford to lose).
BBA: Final score prediction?
CARCIERI: Seton Hall 68 St. John’s 65. I’m expecting this to be a lot closer than the first meeting.
Once again, we’d like to thank Mr. Carcieri for taking the time to talk to us; his insight is always appreciated! Tip-off is Noon at MSG, and you can bet Blue Beard Army will be there. As always, Hazard Zet Forward.