I am all aboard the thought that Steve Lavin is going to lead a veteran St. John’s team back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in almost a decade. But Rick Pitino had to be smoking something fierce when he picked the Red Storm to win the Big East this season.
The Sports Bank’s 99 team college basketball preview in 99 days ranks the 72 power conference teams and top 27 mid-majors. Click here if you missed teams #31-#99.
By: David Kay
St. John’s Red Storm (13th, 6-12, 17-16)
Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Sean Evans (Sr)/Dale Coker (Sr)
F: Justin Brownlee (Sr)/Justin Burrell (Sr)/Rob Thomas (Sr)
G/F: D.J. Kennedy (Sr)/Dwayne Polee (Fr)
SG: Paris Horne (Sr)/Dwight Hardy (Sr)/Quincy Roberts (So)
PG: Malik Booth (Sr)/Malik Stith (So)
Gone: G/F-Anthony Mason Jr, G/F-Omari Lawrence (transfer-Kansas State)
Some people felt it was unfair for St. John’s to fire Norm Roberts after the end of last season. The Red Storm was returning a ton of talent and this up-coming year was going to prove Roberts’ worth. However, when you look at the splash hire of Steve Lavin and what he has already accomplished in just a few months on the job, you can understand why the university made the decision they did.
The Johnnies bring back nine of the eleven players who were part of the rotation last season. Leading that group is versatile swingman D.J. Kennedy who led the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks a year ago.
Fellow seniors Sean Evans, Paris Horne, and Malik Boothe should regain their spots in the starting line-up. The fifth starting position is a bit up for grabs but will probably go to Justin Brownlee who will bring some more size up-front. Justin Burrell would definitely be in contention as well but he will miss first couple weeks of the season with a broken bone in his left hand.
It is uncertain how Lavin will form his rotations but he has plenty of options as all 12 scholarship players could see minutes this year. Dwight Hardy was the team’s second leading scorer despite coming off the bench last season. Seniors Dale Coker and Rob Thomas add depth up-front. Malik Stith will back-up Booth at the point while Quincy Roberts returns from a redshirt year to give the Storm even more depth on the wing along with freshman Dwayne Polee.
For the first time in several years, the buzz is back about St. John’s basketball and for good reason. The Red Storm should finish with an above five-hundred Big East record which has not happened since the 2001-2002 season. They will rely on their versatility and length, and should try to run at every chance possible since they are not a great shooting team.
Expect to see the Johnnies in the NCAA Tournament but if you are in Rick Pitino’s camp of thinking they are going to win the conference crown, you are shooting way too high.
Player to Watch: D.J. Kennedy, G/F
Besides looking like a mix between Josh Smith and Styles from The LOX, Kennedy will do it all for St. John’s this season. The lefty can slash, create his own shot, defend, play physical and bigger than his 6-5 height, find his teammates, and also hit a very respectable 38.3% from distance last season. He has league potential and will be the glue that keeps the Johnnies together this season.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/16 at St. Mary’s
11/27 vs. Arizona State/Weber State (Great Alaska Shootout)
12/20 vs. Davidson (MSG Holiday Classic)
12/21 vs. Northwestern/St. Francis (MSG Holiday Classic)
1/30 vs. Duke
2/5 at UCLA
Other 99 in 99’s:
#31 N.C. State
#32 Florida State
#37 Murray State
#39 Notre Dame
#40 Mississippi State
#41 Utah State
#45 Seton Hall
#46 Wichita State
#47 Washington State
#48 St. Louis
#49 Old Dominion
#51 New Mexico
#55 Southern Mississippi
#56 St. Mary’s
#57 Texas A&M
#59 Arizona State
#60 Northern Iowa
#64 Texas Tech
#65 Miami, FL
#68 Ole Miss
#69 George Mason
#71 Weber State
#74 Central Florida
#75 Wake Forest
#76 Georgia Tech
#78 Oklahoma State
#82 South Carolina
#86 Penn State
#87 South Florida
#89 Boston College
#93 Oregon State
#97. Iowa State