2013-14 College Basketball Season Preview: St. John’s

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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St. John’s Red Storm (Last Year: 17-16, 8-10 in Big East)

2013-14 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Chris Obekpa (Soph)/God’sgift Achiuwa (Sr)

F: Jakarr Sampson (Soph)/Orlando Sanchez (Sr)/Christian Jones (Soph)

SF: Sir’Dominic Pointer (Jr)/Max Hooper (Soph)/Marc-Antoine Bourgault (Jr)

SG: D’Angelo Harrison (Jr)/Rysheed Jordan (Fr)/Felix Balamou (Soph)

PG: Phil Greene (Jr) or Jamal Branch (Jr)

Gone: SF-Amir Garrett (transfer- Cal State-Northridge)

2013-14 Outlook:
With pretty much everybody returning from last year and a few key additions, the St. John’s Red Storm appear ready to make a move in the Big East.

One of the keys for St. John’s is shooting guard D’Angelo Harrison who was suspended late last season due to off-the-court issues. Harrison is a dangerous scorer, though very much a volume shooter who forces way too many shots. Steve Lavin needs him to mature this year if the Red Storm is going to take a step in the right direction.

After sharing the point guard position for last season as well as playing plenty of minutes together in the backcourt, Phil Greene and Jamal Branch will compete for minutes at the one. Neither guy shoots it exceptionally well from the outside, which is a concern since St. John’s had one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country last season. Freshman Rysheed Jordan should also factor into the equation and is capable of playing either guard position.

Sir’Dominic Pointer is the glue guy in the starting lineup as his versatility and athleticism allow him to be a valuable contributor in multiple aspects of the game. There is quality depth on the wing with Harvard transfer Max Hooper, Marc-Antoine Bourgault, and Felx Balamou each competing for any leftover minutes.

There is more versatility at forward with reigning Big East Rookie of the Year, Jakarr Sampson. He is a long, athletic and a talented all-around scorer who can play either forward position. JUCO transfer Orlando Sanchez has finally been cleared to play by the NCAA and is another forward who can do a little bit of everything on the floor. Christian Jones gives Lavin even more depth up front, which was another weakness last year.

Up front, Chris Obekpa anchors the middle and is one of the top shot-blocking bigs in college basketball. He doesn’t bring much on the offensive end, but Lavin will rely on the 6-9 sophomore to protect the rim defensively and clean up the boards. God’sgift Achiuwa redshirted last year and adds some physicality off the bench. He was the primary big man for the Red Storm in 2011-12 and is a more capable low post option than Obekpa.

With its depth, experience, and athleticism, there is a lot to like about this St. John’s team. This squad will play at a fast pace and put a lot of pressure on the ball defensively. If the team can knock down outside shots with more consistency, there is plenty of upside for the Red Storm.

Player to Watch: D’Angelo Harrison, SG
His cockiness on the court the past two seasons and disregard for acting like a proper student athlete gave him the reputation of being a “punk,” and certainly played into Lavin’s decision to suspend; Harrison was becoming a distraction to the team. Maybe that was the wakeup call he needed. If not, Lavin has added depth and won’t hesitate to put Harrison on the bench or perhaps even kick him off the team if he doesn’t pull it together this year.

Key Non-Conference Games:
  • 11/8 vs. Wisconsin (in Sioux Falls, SD)
  • 11/19 vs. Bucknell
  • 11/29 vs. Penn State (Barclays Center Classic)
  • 11/30 vs. Ole Miss/Georgia Tech (Barclays Center Classic)
  • 12/15 vs. Syracuse

  • Predicted Big East Finish: 4th

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