Contain Joel Soriano
This past summer in Queens was a season filled with new beginnings.
Rick Pitino replaced Mike Anderson to lead the program. The 2022-23 roster that failed to break into the NCAA tournament was replaced with a new cast ready to rejuvenate this team.
But the Red Storm still needed a captain.
Senior center Joel Soriano, one of the only remaining members of last year’s squad, has been crucial for this new-look roster. The Yonkers native leads the Big East in field goal percentage (.631), rebounds per game (10.0), and ranks sixth points per game (16.6), all while averaging 1.8 blocks.
Despite all these eye-popping numbers, the key statistic is hidden above the rim. On the offensive glass, Soriano ranks ninth in the nation with four per game. Given the struggles for St. John’s guards beyond the arc (.327), Soriano’s ability to create second chances has been key for this offence.
In his first matchup with the Huskies this season, Soriano was matched up against Samson Johnson, who held the senior to just five shots and two offensive boards. That performance, paired with his team’s 4-for-18 long-range shooting, spelled disaster for the Johnnies’ offence.
But how will things change with Donovan Clingan back in the lineup?
Clingan made his return to the starting five on January 28 against Xavier after watching seven games from the sidelines. The 7’2” center wasted no time getting up to speed, tallying 18 points on 8-for-9 shots from the floor, with 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks. His opposition in the paint, Abou Ousmane, was held to just two points.
Who Clingan will be play alongside is still in question after starting forward Alex Karaban left Wednesday's game with an ankle injury. Karaban was able to check back in later in the game, but his status remains questionable ahead of Saturday’s matchup. On the season, the sophomore is averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game
Even if Karaban suits up this weekend, there's no guarantee he will be 100 percent. Clingan will need to step up on both ends of the floor to keep Soriano at bay.