In today's Andy Katz column, he talks all about St. John's, a prelude to their Canadian trip, with games starting on Saturday. It's a nicely done read, check it out.
The main points, below the fold.
- The team and administration think they will be a top 10 team in the Big East. They are brimming with optimism with 97% of the scoring and 95% of the rebounding coming back; the window is open with less talent returning to the Big East.
- Athletic Director Chris Monasch calls it a business decision to play more games on campus at Carnesecca Arena; but hopes to get the team back to the point where they are generating revenue by having a good crowd at Madison Square Garden - basically, strong demand for more than the 6,000 seats at the on-campus site.
- Monasch praises Norm Roberts for doing things the "right way" and not with quick fixes. How the team performs in the Big East contests is a better barometer for how the Red Storm create excitement.
- The games in Canada matter less for the scores and more for how they play defense and whether they have issues scoring.
Bringing back 97% of the NOT-scoring is actually a bit of a worry. After two years, a number of these players have not proven the ability to put the ball into the basket. The offensive reads are complex, and one can hope that greater familiarity leads to more efficient scoring.
As far as the games in Canada are concerned, I agree that I will be looking for the team to create offense from defense in the box scores. They're not shooters, they won't have an elegant well-spaced offense with many shooters to keep teams honest. The Red Storm players have to get up and down the court, rebound on the offensive glass, and get easy offense. That's been the focus; but good aggressive performances from players like Justin Burrell and low-turnover efforts all around would be welcome.
From Katz' article:
Still, the approach to this weekend has remained intense.
"I really want to get out of this trip to play aggressive defensively, to trap ball screens, to rotate and press all over the place," Roberts said. "I haven't been able to do that in the past because we haven't been as athletic or deep. We've got a great opportunity to do those things now."
Roberts is very good at positive motivation, for sure, and here is hoping that he can get a frenetic, exciting performance out of the squad. The coach for the Carleton Ravens team is certainly talking up the Red Storm in the Ottawa Sun newspaper (hat tip to the CIS blog):
"Villanova is probably the best team which has ever come here, but St. John’s is right up there," says Smart, whose Ravens won their sixth CIS title in seven seasons in March. "Kansas (which visited in 2008) had the name recognition, but it had lost a couple guys. Louisville was missing a couple guys when it came here (in ’06).
"I think this game will be great opportunity for our guys to play a team that will be ranked in the Top 25. I talked to the Villanova guys. They believe St. John’s is a top-three team in the Big East."
I'm not sure which Villanova guys he talked to... but your mouth to God's ears.