St. John's Welcomes Ed Cooley and Providence in Big East Opener

(Photo taken by St. John's University Athletics)

Jamaica, NY--Last season, the Johnnies (10-2) ended their Big East schedule with a brutal loss in the Big East Tournament vs. Villanova. This season, they try and build off their 10 win non-conference schedule and bring that to Carnesecca Arena as they play host to Ed Cooley's Providence Friars (9-4).

On Thursday, the Red Storm will be playing in their white home uniforms in which the fans will be receiving a whiteout t-shirt. The game vs. Providence represents the Johnnies first home game in Queens since December 2nd vs. Sacred Heart, which resulted in a victory.

The Red Storm are attempting a feat that hasn't been completed in over three decades, having its best start. A lot rides on this game, as sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds, who was named the MVP of the National Basketball Hall of Fame's Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun, has also been named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll for the sixth straight week. Ponds, also is ranked 3rd in the Big East in scoring, where he averages 20.3 PPG.

Last week prior to the Iona contest at Madison Square Garden, head coach Chris Mullin spoke about preparing for Big East play. "Maintaining our preparation. We have a game Wednesday [against Saint Joseph's] who is a really good team. We will prep for that, and take a few days off. I think all of our preparation we have done up until now is for the Big East."

The Johnnies currently own a 6-0 record at home, where they have defeated Central Connecticut State, Nebraska, Molloy, Sacred Heart, New Orleans, Iona (MSG). They aim to go 7-0 and open up Big East play with a 1-0 record. But not so fast, because of the play from the opposition has been stellar to date, but quite inconsistent.

The play from the Red Storm cannot go unnoticed though, as transfers Marvin Clark II and Justin Simon have changed the look of this team from top to bottom, where they both rank in the top 10 in the Big East in many categories, such as FT%, and steals per game. But missing redshirt sophomore Marcus LoVett, has been an issue in all of their victories. The Red Storm have not had that comfort level with him in street clothes, and will not get any easier vs. Kyron Cartwright and company.

Potential Starting Lineup for St. John's Red Storm:

G- Shamorie Ponds

G- Justin Simon

G/F- Bashir Ahmed

F- Marvin Clark II

F- Tariq Owens

The last two meetings between the Red Storm and the Friars, resulted in splitting victories in each others' building, where the Red Storm defeated the Friars, and their three-game win streak on January 25th, 2017 at the Dunkin Donuts Center. While the Johnnies were trounced at Madison Square Garden in their last game on the season schedule.

Looking towards the opposition, the Friars have been dealing with injuries of late, as they lost senior forward from Webster, NY, Emmitt Holt for the season to an abdominal injury. Sophomore guard Maliek White has missed the last four games due to an injured leg. The last match he played in, was the beginning of December vs. cross town rival Brown University. Their biggest impact player has been Kyron Cartwright, and he comes into the game on a day-to-day basis with an injured ankle. Cartwright was in street clothes in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase vs. Houston at Mohegan Sun.

Potential Starting Lineup for Providence Friars:

G- Makai Ashton-Langford

G- Jalen Lindsey

G- Isaiah Jackson

F- Rodney Bullock

C- Nate Watson

The game can be seen on the YES Network, and the FOX regional networks at 7:00pm. The came can also be heard on WSJU St. John's University Radio Network beginning at 6:30pm, with the opening tip coming at 7:07pm.

Joseph Jarzynka