Next three games could define season for Men’s Basketball team

Tonight the men’s basketball team plays at Connecticut.

Saturday the team returns home to take on Villanova, and after that the Red Storm draw Pittsburgh. Three of the

conference’s best. A “murderer’s row” of sorts.

To this point, the Storm have played one ranked team, Georgetown, and despite playing with a heavy confidence, struggled to remain afloat against the likes of Chris Wright and Greg Monroe. The Storm then committed 23 turnovers in a home loss to Providence and, though they contained Louisville’s stars days later, they could not stop the Cardinals’ supporting cast and started the season 0-3 in conference play.

The Johnnies won their next two games, over Cincinnati and DePaul, and currently stand at 2-3 and in the middle of the conference. But these next three games, each against ranked opponents, will be the biggest test for the Red Storm all year, and could easily define what kind of impact, if any, St. John’s makes in the Big East.

In each game so far, the Red Storm has shown its prowess as both a tight defensive team and a tough force to stop on fast break possessions, developing into the kind of team head coach Norm Roberts envisioned at the season’s start. However, St. John’s has not played the same game each night out, struggling to handle the basketball at times and stagnating within the half-court offense.

The consistency at all aspects of the game has not become apparent yet, and that is why these next few games will be a true litmus test. Forget for a minute that Connecticut, conference-leading Villanova, and Pittsburgh are each ranked in the Top 25. Each team, perennially, is fundamentally sound and extremely well-coached. The Johnnies will have to effectively utilize their game plans and match these teams pass for pass, shot for shot, night in and night out.

The most obvious improvement in this year’s Red Storm team is its ability to recognize their opponent’s strengths and counter with an even stronger defense. That will be especially challenging against a Connecticut team with three of the nation’s best players, a Villanova team that runs up-tempo better than anyone else in the nation, and a

Pittsburgh team that has overcome the losses it endured to the NBA following last season. The Red Storm will have to be even more resourceful over the course of these three games and play their best all-around game to have any chance at success.

The funny thing about resourcefulness is that it’s a wild-card trait, a double-edged sword. Playing a different game each night means you are conforming to your opponent, rather than having your opponent adjust to you.

Momentum, if any, will inevitably be established later in the game because you are still unfamiliar with your

opponent. Wait too long to get comfortable and the game may already be out of reach.

The biggest difference between the Red Storm and their three upcoming opponents? These teams do not play anyone else’s game. They establish themselves early and run their game down their opponents’ throats. The best teams in the nation play this way.

If the Red Storm are to have any success in these games, they’ll need to start playing the same way.