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Monday, November 12, 2012
W2W4: St. John's vs. Detroit

By Kieran Darcy

Here are three things to watch for when St. John's (0-0) faces Detroit (1-0) Tuesday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena.

Tip-off is at 2 p.m., and you can watch the game on ESPN (and ESPN3). Why the unusual start time? The game is part of the network's 24-hour College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.

Steve Lavin
Steve Lavin's bunch will attempt to avenge last season's loss to Detroit.
OPENING TIP: You won't see St. John's best player, guard D'Angelo Harrison, on the floor when the ball goes up Tuesday. Coach Steve Lavin is going to bring him off the bench, after disciplining him during the preseason.

Lavin said Monday that he's been pleased with Harrison's response to the benching, and that he'll receive "starter's minutes" against Detroit. Harrison said he's OK with not starting, and will be ready whenever called upon. Still, this bears watching.

St. John's needs Harrison to score, and score big, to be successful. He is also the emotional center of the team. Is he aggressive offensively once he enters the game, or passive? Does he maintain his composure, as the coaching staff has asked him to do, or does he lose his cool with the referees, or even his teammates? We'll see what happens.

YOUTH MOVEMENT: The five players Lavin will put on the floor at the start are guard Phil Greene, swingmen Sir'Dominic Pointer and Amir Garrett, and forwards Jakarr Sampson and Christian Jones. That's three sophomores and two freshmen, for those of you scoring at home.

Detroit, meanwhile, is expected to start two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore.

To be fair though, the St. John's sophs got loads of experience last season, and the home crowd and cozy confines of Carnesecca will help, too. This should be a close game.

St. John's should look to push the tempo with this bunch, since this isn't a great group when it comes to perimeter shooting (that's where Harrison comes in). If the Red Storm get bogged down playing half-court offense, that's not good. Sampson in particular has shown signs of being an electric finisher, and should become a fan favorite.

REMEMBER THE TITANS: St. John's is very familiar with Detroit, losing to the Titans 69-63 last December in the Motor City.

Detroit went on to the NCAA tournament, and is picked to finish second in the Horizon League this year. They opened their regular season with an 88-53 victory over Division II Northern Michigan on Friday.

Doug Anderson, a 6-foot-6 junior forward, led the Titans with 25 points in the season opener. But Detroit's best player is 6-foot-3 junior guard Ray McCallum Jr., son of head coach Ray McCallum Sr., who scored 22.

McCallum is not a great perimeter shooter -- he made just 24 percent of his 3-point attempts last season. But he can fill it up nonetheless. St. John's will likely put Pointer -- a Detroit native, and arguably the Red Storm's best defender -- on McCallum if they play man-to-man. If St. John's goes zone, McCallum will get plenty of attention, too. And rightfully so. Let the lesser players beat you.