#53 St. John’s Red Storm: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s second annual college basketball season preview series.  Last year we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  This year, we are being slightly more aggressive and expanding to 111 teams in 111 days.  We will rank the 74 power conference teams and top 37 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

The fact that Steve Lavin and the St. John’s Red Storm were bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in the country was supposed to somewhat offset the loss of all but one player from last year’s senior dominant team.  However, with the NCAA’s recent decision that three members of that highly touted 2011 recruiting class, Norvell Pelle, JaKarr Sampson, and Amir Garrett have been ruled ineligible, it is a HUGE hit for St. John’s hopes this season.

ST. JOHN’S RED STORM
Last Season: T-3rd. 12-6 in Big East, 21-12 overall
Predicted Big East Finish: 10th

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: God’s Gift Achiuwa (Jr)/*Norvell Pelle (Fr)
F: Maurice Harkless (Fr)/*JaKarr Sampson (Fr)
SF: Sir’Dominic Pointer (Fr)/*Amir Garrett (Fr)
SG: D’Angelo Harrison (Fr)/Phillip Greene (Fr)/Jamal White (Jr)
PG: Nurideen Lindsey (JUCO)/Malik Stith (Jr)
(* suspended for first semester)

Gone: SF-D.J. Kennedy, SG-Paris Horne, PG-Malik Boothe, F-Justin Brownlee, F/C-Sean Evans, SG-Dwight Hardy, C-Dale Coker, F-Justin Burrell, F-Rob Thomas, F-Dwayne Polee (transfer-San Diego State), SG-Quincy Roberts (transfer-Grambling)

steve lavin st. john's

2011-2012 Outlook:
Pelle, Sampson, and Garrett were not cleared by the NCAA for the first semester which has a significant impact on both the talent and depth of the Red Storm as it leaves Lavin with only eight scholarship players for the beginning of the season.  There is hope that trio could become eligible for the second semester and return for Big East play.  If not, St. John’s will struggle to make it through the rigors of the Big East Conference schedule especially with the up-and-down, hard nosed, aggressive style of ball they played last season.

No team loses as much as the Johnnies.  The only returning player is 5-11 guard Malik Stithe who played just 12 minutes a game last season and only averaged 3.3 points per contrast.  He will likely re-assume his role off the bench with JUCO transfer Nurideen Lindsey and D’Angelo Harrison expected to make up the starting backcourt.

Lindsey is a complete point guard who can score the rock and also distribute it.  He will need to be the center piece of this year’s Red Storm squad.  Harrison is a combo guard and one of the better shooters in the 2011 class.  He is also more than capable of taking defenders off the dribble as well.  Phillip Greene is another combo guard who will now take on a much bigger role than originally anticipated.  Walk-on Jamal White was given a scholarship and could see decent minutes early in the year since Lavin will be desperate for depth.

Newcomers God’s Gift Achiuwa, Maurice Harkless, and Sir’Dominic Pointer make up the frontcourt and will have to play heavy minutes for at least the first semester.  Achiuwa is the lone, true post player now for the Red Storm.  His combination of size, athleticism, and strength makes him the perfect big man for Lavin’s aggressive, up-tempo style.

Pointer has a similar game to that of D.J. Kennedy.  He is well-rounded on the offensive end, has great athleticism, and the potential to be a defensive stopper.  With literally no depth up-front for at least the first semester, Pointer will need to play some power forward early on.  Harkless is in the mold of a Justin Brownlee in that his size, athleticism, and inside/outside ability alow him to play multiple positions.

The addition of God’s Gift Achiuwa and Sir’Dominic Pointer also means St. John’s now competes with Baylor as the basketball programs with the coolest named players.

If Garrett, Sampson, and Pelle are declared eligible for the second semester, the Storm become a potential top 40 team.  Pelle is another active big man who runs the floor well while Sampson is a switchable and should be able to play either forward spot.  Garrett brings great energy to the floor and fits perfectly into St. John’s style of play since he excels in the open court.  He was also a 22nd round pick by the Reds and will play minor league baseball for Cincinnati next summer.

With so many young players, Lavin knew he would be faced with a major challenge this season.  His job becomes exponentially more difficult now that the roster has been crippled with the NCAA’s ruling.  Even if the trio becomes eligible for the second semester, it will be trial by fire as Lavin tries to work Garrett, Sampson, and Pelle into the mix right before conference play tips-off.

Player to Watch: God’s Gift Achiuwa
I cannot stress enough how vital God’s Gift will be this to the success of the team, specifically early in the year.  Being the lone true big man, he will have to play major minutes meaning he must stay out of foul trouble or else the Storm will get killed on the glass.  By the way, God’s Gift has five siblings named Promise, God’s Will, Precious, Grace, and Peace.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/17 vs. Arizona (2K Sports Classic)
11/18 vs. Texas A&M/Mississippi State (2K Sports Classic)
12/1 at Kentucky
12/5 at Detroit
1/28 at Duke
2/18 vs. UCLA

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#53 St. John’s Red Storm
#54 Northwestern Wildcats
#55 Georgetown Hoyas
#56 Miami Hurricanes
#57 Nevada Wolfpack
#58 Detroit Titans
#59 UCF Knights
#60 Long Beach State 49ers
#61 Virginia Tech Hokies
#62 Clemson Tigers
#63 New Mexico State Aggies
#64 Tennessee Volunteers
#65 Iona Gaels
#66 Murray State Racers
#67 N.C. State Wolfpack
#68 Fairfield Stags
#69 George Washingon Colonials
#70 Indiana State Sycamores
#71 Oklahoma State Cowboys
#72 Indiana Hoosiers
#73 UAB Blazers
#74 Iowa State Cyclones
#75 Creighton Bluejays
#76 USC Trojans
#77 Weber State Wildcats
#78 Maryland Terrapins
#79 Tulsa Golden Hurricane
#80 Minnesota Golden Gophers
#81 Western Michigan Broncos
#82 Dayton Flyers
#83 Stanford Cardinal
#84 Yale Bulldogs

#85 Georgia Bulldogs
#86 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#87 Richmond Spiders
#88 Ball State Cardinals
#89 Utah State Aggies
#90 Arizona State Sun Devils
#91 Marshall Thundering Herd
#92 Oregon State Beavers
#93 Washington State Cougars
#94 Iowa Hawkeyes
#95 Ole Miss Rebels
#96 Nebraska Cornhuskers
#97 Oklahoma Sooners
#98 South Florida Bulls
#99 LSU Tigers
#100 Colorado Buffaloes
#101 DePaul Blue Demons
#102 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#103 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#104 Seton Hall Pirates
#105 Providence Friars
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 South Carolina Gamecocks
#108 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#109 Penn State Nittany Lions
#110 Boston College Eagles
#111 Utah Utes

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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