It's a new season for the St. John's Red Storm. But the team has almost the same 11-19 talent, though they are a year older and have been working out. The same coach, who hopes the team has gotten better and claims to be stepping up the pace. The same league, but with more experience, more talent, and more Final Four contenders.
Basketball season's just around the corner.
Last year's games featured too many runs from the high end and the middling teams.
Too many poor shooting performances.
Not enough offensive flow.
Not enough offense. Guys didn't get good shots off. The other teams went to the free throw line. There were very few comfortable wins - Sacred Heart, Fairleigh Dickinson, and perhaps the first Cincinnati game.
The November-December games filled folks with hope, until the beating at the hands of Miami, which was a truer sense of what was to come. Even the games against NEC foes started well, but had moments where even LIU could come close to the Red Storm.
Fans are looking for some more comfortable wins in the non-NIT games; and some good competition and a surprise win in the NIT games themselves. Madison Square Garden is the team's home; they should win the games that get them there.
14 LIU | 17 Cornell @BC | 18 NIT TIP-OFF Boston College -OR- Loyola MD @BC | 22 Howard | 24-25 NIT CONSOLATION/ 26-27 NIT CHAMPIONSHIP |
The LIU (RPI: 222) game, well, it's an opener.The Blackbirds, once a big part of the New York college basketball scene, and now a member of the NEC Conference, will come and take their beating.Then again, last year's team only lost by 12 to the Red Storm, and got within 5.Additionally, last year's game featured some poor shooting from Geno, Horne, and Mase (before he re-injured the ankle).Be nice if this game was the kind of match where the freshmen and bench players get to run.
Cornell (RPI: 65) will be a test; they were an excellent shooting Ivy League team, and played Duke closer than St. John's did last year.Ohio beat them by 12,whereas the Ohio Bobcats beat St. John's at the buzzer. Not sure if that means anything besides both teams weren't great last year.
The Boston College (RPI: 133) one man show is Tyrese Rice. The Eagles would be an excellent barometer for the young Red Storm; they're not a great team by any means, but the Johnnies need to walk in mediocrity before they start to think of competing with the nation's better teams. The squad, like St. John's, is filled with sophomores. Al Skinner is a solid game planner and teacher of athletes, has some good recruits coming in, and it will be interesting to see in Norm Roberts can adjust to what they do.
If St. John's loses their first round game, they would face Loyola-Maryland (RPI: 172). They are a decent middle of the pack team in the Metro Athletic. Last year, they might have had some good runs in games. We all hope that this year, the Storm can stomp those upset dreams out early.
Before returning to the NIT field on either the 24th (consolation rounds) or 26th (championship rounds), the Red Storm play Howard (RPI: 338). like the LIU contest, the game against the Howard Bisons a guarantee game where the major conference team gives a smaller conference team a chance (and a bunch of cash) to come to the home arena and be a confidence booster.The 6-26 Bisons (from the MEAC) will be even less of a challenge than LIU. But can't they schedule something tougher than Taco Bell mild sauce? Get to the spicy. Schedule a test team!
The rest of the Preseason NIT, by seeding, is as follows:
Purdue (RPI: 45) - last year's surprise freshman squad is a year older.
Oklahoma (RPI: 29) - freshman Willie Warren gets to play off the beast that is Blake Griffin.
Arizona (RPI: 38) - Chase Budinger leads the Lute-less Wildcats.
Davidson (RPI: 35) - Not just Stephen Curry; if St. John's faces them, expect the "we coulda had Coach McKillop" stories.
Georgia (RPI: 98) - sometime by January, the world will realize the Bulldogs are still a bad basketball team.
UAB (RPI: 56) - featuring the shooting prowess of Robert Vaden.
Loyola IL (RPI: 193) - the other Loyola, with Justin Cerasoli and a man whose last name is "Polka."
Santa Clara (RPI: 186) - 6'10", 300 pound John Bryant is a "usage alert" - he takes 36.8% of his teams's shots, good for 4th in the nation. But less than Niagara's Chatrron Fisher last year.
James Madison (RPI: 215) - Matt Brady, former Marist coach, inherits Juwann James and Terrance Carter.
Eastern Michigan (RPI: 237) - the school down the street from Michigan, in the town down the street from Ann Arbor. They're not particularly good.
Florida Atlantic (RPI: 233) - Just imagine the hell that would open up if former St. John's coach and lifelong Red Storm villain Mike Jarvis's FAU team plays St. John's?
Mississippi Valley State (RPI: 323) - At least they got into the NCAA Tournament last year.