On Monday Night, the former St. Mary's associate head coach won his first game as a head coach of the Columbia Lions with a 108-74 romping of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
Seven hours and 20 minutes later, new coach Steve Lavin and the St. John's Red Storm lost their first game to, ironically, St. Mary's, 76-71. Tonight in Queens, Columbia will take on St. John's in a battle of the new coaches of New York City.
A lot has been said of the new St. John's team with Steve Lavin and his amazing recruiting ability. However, Columbia may feel a bit overlooked. The Lions are hoping to compete for an Ivy League title this season and are sporting a new, high-powered offense led by first-team All-Ivy League Noruwa Agho.
The 108 points against UMES were the most scored against a division one team at home in their history.
St. John's believes that they will be at the top of the pack in the Big East this season. Returning many of their starters and also bringing in a couple of new faces, the Red Storm will definitely be in the mix come March.
Freshman Dwayne Polee led SJU in scoring with 16 against St. Mary's. St. John's, however, will be led by their 10 seniors, who are hoping to make their last season in Queen's a special one. Tonight will be the first regular season game at home.
The keys to the game for Columbia is to stay hot from three. The scouting report for many teams when playing Columbia is to defend Agho, who was one of the leaders in 3-point shooting in the NCAA. Now, Columbia has a few other outside threats, with freshmen Steve Frankoski and Dyami Starks. Agho has also developed an ability to create plays off the dribble.
Senior big men Max Craig, Zack Crimmins and Asenso Ampim will also need to be able to rebound the ball and play fearless on offense if the Lions hope to pull off the upset.
St. John's just needs to run their offense. They have a strong, cohesive team, and they need to stay in their game and not let Columbia run the fast-paced offense. They have a strong perimeter unit with Paris Horne, D.J. Kennedy and others.
They also need to be able to get offensive rebounds. Despite the two seven-footers for Columbia, they are a bit tentative when it comes to crashing the boards, and St. John's will have to capitalize.
Look for Columbia to put up a bigger fight than you might have expected out of them, but St. John's should be okay when it is all said and done.
Final Score Prediction: St. John's: 81 Columbia: 74.
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