Johnnies Travel West without Marcus LoVett to Arizona
(Photo taken by Anthony Gruppuso-USA Today Sports/St. John's University Athletics)
Phoenix, AZ--When consistent offense isn't there from your number one scorer, you need to look at other options. Marcus LoVett figures to be the number two option for Chris Mullin, but for the near future, it will need to be Justin Simon and the rest of the Red Storm to be his #2 behind Ponds. The St. John's Red Storm (7-1) travel to Phoenix to face the Grand Canyon Lopes (5-1) in the BBVA Compass Valley of the Sun Shootout at Talking Stick Resort Arena, the home of the NBA's Phoenix Suns.
Redshirt sophomore Marcus LoVett was diagnosed with a sprained knee, more specifically according to sources, a sprained MCL. LoVett, will be out for "a few games" according to Chris Mullin in a previous press conference.
Prior to heading to the desert, St. John's defeated Sacred Heart 90-55 on Saturday, and exploded on offense in the second half. The first half, was not one to remember. The Red Storm begin 7-1 for the first time since the final season of the Steve Lavin-era in 2014-15, when the team won the first 11 of 12 games to begin the year.
The bright spot for the Johnnies without Marcus LoVett has been his partner in crime, Shamorie Ponds, where he has lit the lamp, by knocking down 22 points, seven assists, and four boards to lead the Johnnies to a 35 point victory against the Northeastern Conference opponent, Sacred Heart. The brightest spot for the Red Storm has been the defense, where they have held their opponents to 60.0 points-per-game, which is remarkable so far. In all seven victories, the Johnnies have held the opposition to a whopping 55.7 points-per-game. Chris Mullin's Red Storm have fixed the defense up to the point where they are in the national ranking for defensive categories such as: steals, blocks, and forced turnovers.
The Johnnies will need to be on their A-game when they face the Lopes, as they rank 13th in NCAA Division I by holding teams to 26.4% from distance.
Potential Starting Lineup for St. John's Red Storm
G- Shamorie Ponds
G- Justin Simon
G- Bashir Ahmed
F- Marvin Clark II
F- Tariq Owens
Looking to the Grand Canyon Lopes. A team who once was not NCAA tournament eligible, has officially become tournament eligible this season, and taking this year by storm up to date. Head Coach and former NBA all star Dan Majerle, has led his Lopes team to averaging roughly the same statistics as the Johnnies, but play in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC)
The Grand Canyon team led by former Oregon standout, Casey Benson, has sent his team to five victories so far, and came off the most recent victory against UC Riverside 68-56, this past Saturday. Through five games, the Lopes rank fifth in Division I in opposition points allowed with 58.5 PPG. This will be similar to a home game for the Lopes, as they play roughly 10 miles away from Talking Stick Resort Arena.
Potential Starting Lineup for Grand Canyon Lopes
G- Casey Benson
G- Joshua Braun
F- Keonta Vernon
F- Roberts Blumbergs
F- Oscar Frayer
The BBVA Compass Valley of the Sun Shootout at Talking Stick Resort Arena can be seen tomorrow night on ESPNU at 11:30pm EST.