Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
The 2011-12 college basketball season tips off with the regional rounds of the 2KSports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. We will not see a full slate of games until Friday but if you are starved for college hoops like we are, there are two games tonight that should whet your appetite.
William & Mary @ St. John’s – 7 pm EST on ESPNU (**) (RTC Live coverage begins at 6:45 pm)
- With the exception of a few holdovers, St. John’s brings an entirely new squad into the 2011-12 season. The Red Storm will rely heavily on freshman like Maurice Harkless, Dom Pointer, and D’Angelo Harrison. Although young, SJU should be able to shoot on a William & Mary squad that allowed opponents to shoot an eFG of 50.1% last season. It will take Steve Lavin’s team some time to jell over the coarse of the season, especially with three highly touted recruits being ruled ineligible for the fall semester. However, this game may be a case where overall talent outduels experience.
- William & Mary essentially brings back its entire 2010-11 team that went 10-22 overall. Tony Shaver’s squad returns its two leading scorers, Quinn McDowell (15.5 PPG) and Brandon Britt (10.9 PPG). Although a relatively solid shooting team last year (52.1% eFG), the Tribe struggles with scoring beyond those two players. If W&M can get scoring from another player and continue to shoot the ball well, they may be able to keep it close on the road against an incredibly inexperienced St. John’s team. However, if either of those two players gets into foul trouble or is cold from the floor, it will make for a challenging night for the Tribe.
- This game probably will not be a defensive clinic. William & Mary ranked 254th in the nation last year in adjusted defensive efficiency and a young team like St. John’s will probably take time to develop on that end. If either team can create any turnovers at all, they will have a clear advantage. Unfortunately, only three teams in the country were worse than the Tribe last year at causing turnovers. However, with many of the St. John’s players seeing their first action at the Division I level, turnovers should be expected. Look for William & Mary to take advantage of SJU’s freshmen mistakes to keep this one close. It will then come down to McDowell and Britt’s ability to convert points off turnovers.