NCAA Tournament 2015: Getting to know San Diego State’s opponent #9 St. Johns
I would like to thank Rumble In The Garden for taking time to complete this interview with us. To read our interview with them please click.
How big is losing Chris Obekpa for the first couple rounds? Do you think it was a good idea that SJU/Lavin announced the suspension before brackets were released?
Norman: Against a team as big as San Diego State, Obekpa’s loss will be felt – but less so than against a team that plays through the low post as much as Duke does. That sounds like crazy talk, but size has never been a strength for the Red Storm; they’re at their best when they use their quickness, when they are flying around and getting out in transition. One drawback to having Obekpa on the floor is that on some plays, he lags behinds the transition action on offense. His offensive rebounding will be missed, as will his ability to alter shots in the post.
I think it has been said that the committee knew about the suspension the day before selection Sunday; I’m not sure the team had an option to hold that information back!
D’Angelo Harrison is a streaky player. If he is on how good is he? Could he be the key factor in this game for St. Johns.
Norman: When he finds his feet and his confidence, he can hit ridiculous, indefensible shots from outside the arc. On a good day, he can also penetrate and draw fouls. Expect him to try and attack SDSU’s height and get his defender on skates – he’s not the quickest, but he is the craftiest. He can be a key factor for the Johnnies, especially if they end up playing a half court game.
Will St. Johns play a smaller group or go with a bigger line-up that is not used to playing major minutes?
Norman: Small. Definitely small. Lavin might open up the bench… which has a number of small guys. He will play the two other bigs, Amar Alibegovic and Joey De La Rosa, but I promise you they won’t be able to play more than 15-20 minutes without fouling out.
San Diego State has the 2nd ranked scoring defense in the nation. Has St. Johns played a team that has that tough of a defense this season? If so who was the team and how did they play?
Norman: Villanova’s and Gonzaga’s defenses are the two best St. John’s have played. They lost all the games against those two; but they got very hot against Gonzaga and were within a possession of tying it in the last minutes. Against Villanova in their first matchup, the Red Storm scored well, but their defense let them down – the Wildcats had to outscore them in what was an up-and-down affair for stretches.
If St. Johns has the ball with enough time for one shot, who should take the shot and why.
Norman: “Should” –> I would think Sir`Dominic Pointer would handle the ball and dish to Harrison or, if he’s covered, Phil Greene IV for the deep jumper. “Would” –> in late game situations, Rysheed Jordan sometimes ends up with the ball. Which is good – he can drive and create off the dribble or shoot from distance – but he is a less reliable option from outside and with respect to decision-making.
San Diego State’s major defensive weakness is guarding the 3-point shot. How good are St. Johns shooters and who is your best three point shooter.
Norman: In conference play, Phil Greene IV is shooting 46% from beyond the arc, but he has cold nights; three of the four other expected starters, Harrison, Jordan and point guard Jamal Branch, are all shooting around 39% from outside the arc.
What is the Achilles heal for St. Johns.
Norman: Depth and size. The team plays a six-seven man rotation – and only because Chris Obekpa flags in energy during games. The bench of Alibegovic, Delarosa, and Felix Balamou can provide some fouls and are willing, but don’t fill up any part of the stat sheet. And beyond them are even less-impactful players.
How well do the Johnnies handle full court defense?
Norman: Better than they used to. With five players who can handle, no one gets shaken up by full court defense.
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