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St. John's basketball: Red Storm ready to dance

Red Storm have 10 seniors but it’s their first dance. Three storylines to watch as they face Gonzaga tonight.

1 Will inspiration actually translate into results

In the week since D.J. Kennedy went down with a torn ACL, the “Do It For D.J.” movement has taken full throttle from a Twitter campaign to T-shirt sales. While a combination of players figure to make up for the loss of the team’s top rebounder, the onus might fall squarely on his roommate, Sean Evans.

“Our approach ... has been the strength is in the pack,” coach Steve Lavin said. “It’s been different players who have stepped up at different times, whether it’s changing our starting lineups or contributions coming from someone down the stretch.”

2 Does the Storm’s strong schedule pay off

One glaring past weakness was the Storm’s lack of execution down the stretch in close games. This year, the Red Storm played one of the nation’s toughest schedules and made three cross-country trips in preparation for the postseason. St. John’s played three times in six days earlier this season and went unbeaten on the back of Dwight Hardy.

“The change in time? We’re used to that,” Justin Burrell said. “Jet lag? We’re familiar with it. We don't really think it will be an issue for us.”

3 Will rebounding finally cost them?

St. John’s up-tempo pace is lethal in the open floor, but its undersized roster leaves it vulnerable underneath. St. John’s 32.8 boards per game placed next-to-last in the Big East, while Gonzaga’s 37.4 were second in the West Coast Conference. With 7-footer Robert Sacre, freshman center Sam Dower and put-back machine Elias Harris inside, second-chance points could sink the Storm in its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2002.

 
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