St. John’s Red Storm:
Head Coach: Steve Lavin
Preseason Big East Coaches’ Poll: #3
Big East and Beyond Poll: #3
Last Year’s Record: 20-13 (10-8, t-3rd in Big East)
Last Year’s Result: St. John’s had an extremely disappointing season last year. Constantly praised as “the most talented team” in the Big East, the Red Storm couldn’t find their way into the Big Dance. After a nonconference slate that featured no resume boosting wins, Steve Lavin’s team flopped to start conference play by losing their first five games. They then kicked it into gear by finishing two games over 500, but it was too little too late. Falling 79 to 74 at the hands of Providence in the Big East quarterfinal and the Johnnie’s got sent to the NIT where they lost to the Robert Morris Colonials in the first round.
No Longer Here (1 Starter: JaKarr Sampson, 3 Contributors: Orlando Sanchez, God’sgift Achiuwa, and Max Hooper [transfer]): Besides Max Hooper, who transferred to Oakland, all of the losses for St. John’s came in the front court this off season. Orlando Sanchez proved to be an extremely productive piece for the Red Storm playing 22.3 minutes a game and logging 7.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. God’sgift Achiuwa still has an outstanding name, but he saw his playing time completely reduce from the 2012. He only played 9 minutes a game and didn’t contribute all that much during his final year in the Big Apple.
The biggest and most surprising loss for this team was JaKarr Sampson. After only two years for the Red Storm he received some bad advice and decided to enter the NBA Draft. Although Sampson did end up making the Philadelphia 76ers final roster, he went undrafted and could have definitely used at least one more year in college. The 6’9” wingman averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 boards a night for St. John’s.
Who is back (4 Starters: D’Angelo Harrison, Rysheed Jordan, Phil Greene IV, Chris Obekpa, 2 contributors: Jamal Branch, Sir’Dominic Pointer): The host of talent coming back is the reasoning behind the high expectations for St. John’s. D’Angelo Harrison leads the way as the talented, high-volume scorer. He averaged 17.5 points on roughly 13.4 field goal attempts per game last year. He is joined in the back court by Rysheed Jordan, Phil Greene IV, and Jamal Branch. Jordan is uber talented and can prove to be the driving force behind the Red Storm’s success. If he delivers the sky is the limit for the backcourt pairing of him and Harrison. Sir’Dominic Pointer is a wing player that will need to take a big step forward in his senior year due to the lack of experienced front court players on this roster. The lone returning interior threat is Chris Obekpa, who has become a household name from his shot blocking (he averaged 2.9 in 2013-14). Rumor has it Obekpa has improved his offensive game during the offseason, but that remains to be seen.
Who is new (Amar Alibegovic, Adonis Delarosa, Joey Delarosa [transfer], Jay Henderson, Myles Stewart): For the most part, the incoming players for St. John’s are an attempt to bolster their post presence. Adonis Delarosa is the biggest name on the list (both rankings wise and weight wise); he is a 3 star recruit from Christ the King High School in NYC. He is listed at seven feet tall, 322 pounds, but he missed the first scrimmage because Steve Lavin said he wasn’t in game shape. His older brother Joey is a transfer from FIU, while Amar Alibegovic is a stretch four from Bosnia. Henderson and Stewart are both guards that round out the recruiting class. Keith Thomas was a JUCO star that was going to play a major role this year, but he was deemed academically ineligible. This could prove to be a big hit.
Why they will succeed: Experience and talent will drive the Johnnies to a successful campaign and a return to the NCAA Tournament. The Big East needs more really good teams and this can definitely be one of them. Harrison and Jordan can prove to be one of the best backcourts nationwide, not just in the Big East. If Obekpa’s offensive game does in fact make a jump then he can be a dominant force on both sides of the court. If the rest of the roster provides enough support this will be a fun winter to be a St. John’s fan.
Why there should be concern: Depth is the biggest issue lurking for St. John’s. The top of the roster is clearly strong enough to get the job done, but will the rest of it be able to hold its weight? It’s not a good sign that Adonis Delarosa is not in shape this close to the season. If the Red Storm are solely depending on Obekpa inside it could be costly putting all of the eggs in one basket. The loss of Thomas is definitely a blow, but who knows how successful he would’ve been transferring into the Big East anyhow.