DePaul enjoyed a successful run in nonconference play with victories over Louisville and Rutgers before losing consecutive Big East games to Butler and Providence.
St. John’s also was feeling good about itself until a loss without star Julian Champagnie (COVID-19 protocol) and then a lengthy shutdown because of the virus.
The two programs are scheduled to play Wednesday at New York, with either DePaul (9-3, 0-2 Big East) or St. John’s (8-3, 0-0) getting back to its winning ways.
“We didn’t come out with the intensity that you need to come out with to beat a team like Providence,” first-year DePaul coach Tony Stubblefield said after a 70-53 loss to Providence on Saturday. The Blue Demons trailed by 25 at halftime and shot 29.8 percent from the floor overall.
Stubblefield said his team had many defensive issues.
“(It’s) knowing where guys are at on the floor, being connected defensively and just being tough enough that once we do get the stop defensively, to come up with the rebound,” Stubblefield said. “We’ve just got to do a better job in all aspects, defensively and offensively.”
St. John’s hasn’t played since a 59-57 loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 18. The Red Storm have seen their first four Big East games postponed because of COVID-19 issues.
“We found out a few days ago (that Champagnie tested positive),” St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson said recently. “Then, of course, the protocols began. That’s the adjustment for a team. That’s one of your leading scorers (out), but I told our guys someone else has to step up.”
Prior to that, Anderson had made a change in the starting lineup, inserting Dylan Addae-Wusu at point guard and shifting Posh Alexander (15.9 points, 5.1 assists) off the ball.
Addae-Wusu is averaging 12.0 points and 5.2 assists in his last five games, but the competition hasn’t been strong outside of Pittsburgh and Kansas.
The Red Storm’s defense likely will focus on DePaul’s Javon Freeman-Liberty, who averages team-best totals in points (20.3) and assists (3.7). He scored 22 points against Providence.
–Field Level Media