Preview: DePaul looks to right the ship against St. John’s

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Preview: DePaul looks to right the ship against St. John’s

Charlie Moore drives in against a Providence defender during the game on Jan. 4. DePaul lost 66-65 to drop to 0-2 in conference play.

Charlie Moore drives in against a Providence defender during the game on Jan. 4. DePaul lost 66-65 to drop to 0-2 in conference play.

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Charlie Moore drives in against a Providence defender during the game on Jan. 4. DePaul lost 66-65 to drop to 0-2 in conference play.

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Alexa Sandler | The DePaulia

Charlie Moore drives in against a Providence defender during the game on Jan. 4. DePaul lost 66-65 to drop to 0-2 in conference play.

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It’s the fourth year that the men’s basketball team has started 0-2 in Big East play, but in year’s past, they didn’t have the cushion of a one-loss non-conference campaign. DePaul will look to avoid an 0-3 start in the competitive conference as they travel to Madison Square Garden to take on St. John’s at noon on Saturday. 

St. John’s is right at the bottom of the standings with the Blue Demons as the lone teams without a conference win. Both teams are in a sort of must-win situation on Saturday as nobody wants to dig themselves further into a hole. 

DePaul has won games off of grit and physicality this season. Players like Paul Reed and Jaylen Butz have cemented their presence under the basket. Romeo Weems has made an instant impact as a freshman on the wing and the backcourt starters Charlie Moore and Jalen Coleman-Lands have been forces on both sides of the ball.

The past two losses have been competitive until the end. Against Seton Hall, the Pirates outscored DePaul for the last three minutes despite a tight game throughout. Providence won off of a foul called with 1.1 seconds left on the clock. DePaul is only a few possessions away from being 14-1. 

Regardless, dwelling on the past isn’t going to beat St. John’s. The Red Storm has a “40 minutes in hell” approach to basketball where they press and put constant pressure on opponents. They average 10.6 steals per game as a team. DePaul has been having trouble with keeping the ball in their hands this season. 

One weak spot for St. John’s is 3-point shooting. 28.8 percent from deep doesn’t cut it against a lot of teams. If they want to go inside, they’ll be met by Reed and Butz down low. These types of games don’t always go by the books though, conference-play is a whole new beast.

Only a few players on DePaul have spent two years playing high minutes against the Big East. The level of competition rises significantly come January. Getting a win against St. John’s would help the confidence level get back up after the two-game slide.  

The past two games DePaul has played were foul heavy. 41 fouls combined against Seton Hall as well as 37 fouls in the game against Providence. It isn’t a pace that anyone wants to play at, and with free throw woes through the season for DePaul, problems can arise there. A 12-for-18 performance against Providence leaves much to be desired. 

St. John’s is paced by LJ Figueroa who is averaging 15.1 points well adding defensive help. Mustapha Heron also has the ability to take over a game, as he has had a renaissance year. Signature wins include a 70-68 win over West Virginia and a 70-67 win over no. 16 Arizona. They fought no. 6 Butler to the end, losing by a small margin of 60-58. 

St. John’s is fourth in the nation with 10.4 steals per game, DePaul is just behind with 9.5. Taking care of the ball will be key for either team. 

DePaul’s impact player could be Paul Reed. A double-double threat, Reed has the speed to guard just about any player on the court as well as an innate sense for scoring from deep and inside alike. 

It may seem silly to call the best player the impact player, but Reed could take over and put up a career day, it just feels like it’s coming.

The game will be broadcasted on Fox Sports Nation and can be heard on 670 AM. DePaul will then travel to Villanova on Tuesday night.