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The Dons Are Facing A Red Storm

After last Thursday night’s tougher than expected win over Manhattan College, the Red Storm close out early season play by facing the San Francisco Dons. Both teams have struggled this season with high expectations. You all know about the inconsistent play of St. John’s, but you may not know about the struggles of the Dons.

After finishing fifth in the West Coast Conference last season, the Dons were expected to finish second this season. However, injuries and inconsistent play has hampered San Francisco (6-6).

The Dons are led by sophmore Darrell Tucker. Tucker, a 6-9, 240 pound forward, was the WCC Freshman of the year last season, and this season leads the Dons with a 17.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game average. But, according to Head Coach Phil Mathews, Tucker needs to improve.

“Potentially he’s our best player, but he’s not playing like out best player potentially,” said Mathews. St. John’s Head Coach Mike Jarvis, respecting Tucker’s talent, said he would be defended by “a couple of different players.”

San Francisco is an experienced team with four returning seniors, that plays a fast break, pressing game like St. John’s. Both coaches respect the athleticism that the other team possesses and believe that the team that defends and excells offensively in the half court will win the game.

During the Jarvis era, the Red Storm have struggled against shot blocking centers (see: Ken Johnson of Ohio State ). San Francisco has just such a center in Hondre Brewer.

Brewer leads the Dons with 43 blocks, and the second leading shot blockers have three each. But Jarvis doesn’t seem fazed by this. “I’m worried about us being as good as we can be. I’m not going to lose sleep {about Brewer’s shot blocking prowess).”

Against Manhattan, Jarvis benched senior captain Reggie Jessie. Since Jessie’s benching, Jarvis has been impressed with the senior’s maturity. “Reggie has been fine, been working hard. He will get more minutes, but probably will not start,” said Jarvis.

The last time these two teams played was five years ago, during the Fran Fraschilla era, at San Francisco. Mathews is optimistic about his team’s chances on Saturday. “Playing at Alumni Hall is going to be tough, but we have traveled. We’ve played at Seton Hall, at Fairfield. We will not be intimidated walking into Alumni Hall,” he said.

Both coaches believe that the Red Storm will not be caught looking ahead to the start of the Big East play (Wednesday, Jan. 3, 7:30 pm against Virginia Tech at Alumni Hall), but Jarvis added that “if you asked me a couple of weeks ago, I would’ve said maybe. But you can’t take anybody lightly.”

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