D'Angelo Harrison is nervous for his first college game action... but ready.
St. John's fans have waited exactly 427 days to finally see the program's six newcomers play in person. Whether that amount is factual or completely made up has no bearing on the message. It has been long enough. It has seemed like forever.
Don't worry - good news has arrived.
The Red Storm is set to host Division II C.W. Post on Tuesday night at Carnesecca Arena. For most, the reality that Nurideen Lindsey, God'sGift Achiuwa, D'Angelo Harrison, Phil Greene, Moe Harkless, and Sir'Dom Pointer are actually real-life athletes will be uncovered for the first time.
It's just an exhibition game. It means nothing, right? Think again.
The new-look Johnnies will certainly use this opportunity to become acclimated with one another. It takes time for such a youthful group to develop chemistry, both on and off the court. The public will observe this progression all year long. This non-record-bearing contest will be its initial installment.
Though any statistics he accumulates will be eradicated immediately after the buzzer, Harrison refuses to take the match-up lightly. "I'll treat it like it's the last game I'll ever play," the freshman said. "As far as I'm concerned, we approach tomorrow like we're playing Syracuse."
Sure, the Pioneers can't say they hail from the Carrier Dome. But they won't say they don't know how to win either. Guided by former St. John's assistant Chris Casey, CW Post enters the second season of its newest regime coming off a successful campaign. Of its four double-digit scorers from the 21-win squad a year ago, two will be seen on the Carnesecca Arena floor Tuesday.
The motives for the Red Storm were made clear by Harrison on Monday evening. "No doubt that we want to win tomorrow," he reiterated. "All the coaching staff told us to do is have fun, execute, and just try to win."
But for a player and personality defined by confidence, he didn't try to deny all of his feelings. "Am I nervous? It's my first college game. Yeah, of course I am." It's official. D'Angelo Harrison isn't made of pure steel.
Expectations for this year's Johnnies team vary among almost anyone you come across. Though he wouldn't back up Lindsey's expectation of a National Championship, assistant coach Tony Chiles sees something special. He said that "the main difference between this group and last year's team is that [the team] now has more offensive weapons. These guys can really score."
Sitting in for still-recovering head coach Steve Lavin, the St. John's assistant wasn't lacking for honesty. When asked how he anticipates the team to fare on Tuesday, Chiles simply responded: "Do you want the truth? I have no idea. I wish I could tell you." There's the assurance we were looking for!
There's one thing that is certain. The roster looks a whole lot different than it did last year. We've got a 180-degree turn on our hands. Whether you're in the house or watching on SNY, I'll guarantee you that you'll struggle identifying these guys. Names? Sure. Faces? Good luck. Uniform numbers? Forget it.
Chiles says that he is interested to see how the entire team, including lone returnee Malik Stith, reacts to a real game situation.
As long as we're talking about honesty, I'll be just as interested to see how the few thousand draped in red will react.
Based on all the buzz, you can bet that it will be warm.
See the Baselines series - preseason looks at this year's roster