The long offseason is over. Fans have been waiting a long time to watch the (entirely) new team of St. John's ballers put on the red and white and represent basketball in Queens. Tonight, they'll give a taste of what they are all about in the Red Storm Tip Off, the Red Storm's "Midnight Madness" event/ hype show tonight at Carnesecca Arena (or online at ESPN3.com, on the "College Studio" tab).
For Steve Lavin, recovering from last week's cancer surgery, the chance to start officially molding the Red Storm squad in practices has to be a welcome change from the second-guessing that came from the ineligible recruits and from the conference alignment/ team defection mess that swirls around the Big East. The Johnnies will be young, but will put more raw talent on the floor than the program has seen in years.
The fans are fired up. The players are fired up. Musical entertainment will be provided by Harlem rapper Vado among others. Rumble in the Garden will attend and provide updates; seeing the players in action, even in such a controlled setting, will be illuminating. For some of what we will be looking form read up on the Baselines series, our look at each incoming player.
St. John's basketball is on the upswing. But becoming nationally relevant may still be a year or two away. Can the Red Storm buck the odds and make it to postseason play despite being so very young?
USA Today, along with Lindy's and the Sporting News, all have St. John's in the 10-12 range in the Big East, meaning they predict the Johnnies qualifying (probably) for the NIT. That would be a good year, considering the youth. And it would be a springboard for an explosive 2012-13.
In the next week and a half, look out for more analysis of youth, short rosters, the Red Storm's chances, and more looks around the Big East, as the preseason begins and college basketball takes over.