#50 St. John's Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

St. John's Red Storm

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #50
Conference Rank: #6 Big East

St. John's Team Page#50 St. John's Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy St. John's Basketball Tickets

Throw every preconceived notion about the Big East Conference out the window. In fact, ask ten of your friends who they think will win the Big East this season and at least half of them will answer Louisville or UConn. The problem is of course, that neither of those teams are members of the Big East anymore. The catholic schools from the former Big East departed and were joined by the "good mid-majors." Creighton is on board; so are Butler and Xavier. Even though some heavy hitters are gone, this should still be a rather powerful basketball nexus, which is not a good thing for St. John's. The Johnnies struggled mightily this past decade in the expanded and robust Big East, only finishing in the top half of the conference once: a fifth place finish in 2010-2011. Now, having gone through a major trimming, the Big East as a conference is prime for the taking. It just appears that St. John's may not be up to the task.

2012-13 Record: 17-16, 8-10
2012-13 Postseason: NIT
Coach: Steve Lavin
Coach Record: 40-30 at St. John's, 185-108 overall

Who’s Out:
Last year's team had zero production from seniors. The Johnnies had to be one of the youngest teams in the country. Ten players scored points for St. John's during the season. Nine were underclassmen and one was a junior. Because of the youth of that squad, mostly everyone is back this season, nine of 10 in fact. Occasionally, even underperforming teams like St. John's will have one or two underclassmen declare for the NBA draft. This happened to the Red Storm the year before when Moe Harkless left. But none of Lavin's boys from '12-'13 decided to go that route. The only player not returning is forward Amir Garrett. Garrett was a solid performer but nothing irreplaceable. He transferred to Cal State-Northridge and is also pursuing a professional baseball career. The rest of the Storm are all back, and they will be joined this season by some more contributors.

Who’s In:
Everyone who's anyone is back, as we covered. That includes the nation's leader in blocks per game, center Chris Obekpa. That includes D'Angelo Harrison, who has averaged 17 points per game both as a freshman and as a sophomore. It includes some of the best names in college basketball period: JaKarr Sampson, Phil Greene IV, Sir'Dominic Pointer and, of course, returning from a redshirt season is the immortal God'sgift Achiuwa. St. John's has the best use of apostrophes in the nation and it's not even close! Speaking of God'sgift, he was very productive as a freshman, averaging 9 points and 5.6 rebounds on 52.6% shooting. After taking a year, he should be back and ready to show everyone how his game has matured. Also making an impact this season will be five star, point guard recruit Rysheed Jordan. Rated as a top 20 player by ESPN, Jordan is a big guard who can attack and finish at the rim.

Who to Watch:
With nine returning contributors from last season's squad and two more players entering the fray (Achiuwa off a redshirt year and the freshman Jordan), the most interesting thing about this team will be how the minutes get delegated. Seven different players started double-digit games a season ago. The prior year, Achiuwa started in 18 contests himself. And Rysheed Jordan was rated as the third best point guard in the country coming out of high school. It is a good problem to have but Coach Lavin will have to tinker with lineups and minutes and units to find his best options. The man lost in all of this may be the team's best all-around player. As a freshman, JaKarr Sampson led the Red Storm in field goals, rebounds, finished second in points per game and averaged 1+ steal and 1+ block. With all of the other noteworthy players on this team, for a variety of reasons, Sampson may be the one to keep an eye on.

Final Projection:
In a reshuffled but tough Big East Conference, the elite teams are gone but the second tier teams seem deeper. It remains to be seen who win will this conference but St. John's may not have any easier of a time escaping the bottom half of the conference. With the additions of Creighton and Butler especially, the Red Storm will have their hands full competing to stay near the middle of the Big East, let alone battling for the top spot. The roster is certainly deep with talent but it may be another year away as far as experience and game maturity goes. This team was excellent at certain things (blocking shots, taking care of the ball) but was absolutely brutal in so many others.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
D'Angelo Harrison, Junior, Guard, 17.8 points per game
Phil Greene IV, Junior, Guard, 10.1 points per game
JaKarr Sampson, Sophomore, Forward, 14.9 points per game
Sir'Dominic Pointer, Junior, Forward, 6.9 points per game
Chris Obekpa, Sophomore, Center, 3.9 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 64.8 (240th in nation, 12th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.2 (159, 13)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.5 (260, 12)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.1 (51, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 3.6 (338, 15)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: did not qualify
Free-Throw Percentage: 64.0 (315, 15)
Rebound Margin: -3.7 (295, 14)
Assists Per Game: 12.3 (205, 12)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (38, 4)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#79 Jakarr Sampson

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#37 Rysheed Jordan


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews