Justin Burrell - Red Storm in Review 2011: star crossed or big tease?

Justin Burrell found a niche as St. John's big rebounder and all-around tough guy.

Around these parts, we love Justin Burrell. He's funny on Twitter, occasionally gets picked up on in-arena microphones, and when he's on, he's a very good big man. But this review is hard to write, because when Justin Burrell came to St. John's, he was looked at as such a savior.

So big.

So powerful.

Such a tease.

Over the course of four years, Justin has been a lightning rod for criticism from the Red Storm fans - a player who should have been better, who made some mistakes. But he also did some nice things on the court. Some would say he didn't see the ball enough. This season, Justin got a good amount of time, but didn't become a double-double player.

But Burrell did become an impact player for the Red Storm on defense, the Big East's Sixth Man of the Year, and ended his Red Storm career on a high note. He's gotten free agent looks from the Lakers, and stands a chance of breaking camp with them when the NBA lockout ends. Hopefully, Justin Burrell will get a chance in the D-League, where he'll show how he can be an excellent role player.

More below the fold, as we continue the Red Storm in Review series.

The biggest improvements in Justin's game were his aggressiveness - indicated by the uptick in his offensive rebounding and free throw rates - and his increased accuracy on 2-point shots.

He took his shots closer to the rim, despite having a nascent ability to be a pick and pop forward. And that was a good look; Burrell's hops and power are reminiscent of the game's better dunkers at forward. A physique like his should convince players to just step out of the way when he's coming into the lane.

Justin Burrell - All Games
All
G
GS
MPG
Poss%
ORtg
2p%
3pA
3p%
FT%
FTR
ORb%
DRb%
TO%
Blk%
Fl/G
FlOut
2010-11
33
1
20.9
19.0
98.7
50.7
1
0.0
61.1
63.7
10.2
18.7
22.0
2.8
2.7
6
Justin Burrell - Big East Games only
Big East
G
GS
MPG
Poss%
ORtg
2p%
3pA
3p%
FT%
FTR
ORb%
DRb%
TO%
Blk%
Fl/G
FlOut
2010-11
18
0
22.8
19.2
99.0
50.5
1
0.0
68.0
54.3
9.0
16.3
23.0
2.8
2.8
6


But the usual bugaboos still bugged. For a player who doesn't dribble much (or at least, shouldn't dribble much), his turnover rate was terribly high - it was only below 20% of his possessions his junior year. And the errors aren't just having loose hands where the ball is stolen, though that is a culprit; Burrell also included offensive fouls and bad footwork/ travels as well.

So despite his increased accuracy, Burrell was still not an efficient player. Despite getting to the line more frequently (as a percentage of his shots) than in the past, he only shot 61.1% from the line. As my wife likes to say "how do you miss that? They're FREE!"

Also, did you know Justin Burrell fouled out 6 times? It's like he really liked his new role as physical enforcer for Steve Lavin's Red Storm. On occasion, Justin liked his role a little too much, like when he clobbered Seton Hall's Anali Okoloji with seven seconds left in the loss to the Pirates. But every team needs a guy that the other team knows is a little emphatic, and is willing to pick up a foul to make a point.

With those negatives out of the way - Burrell had some nice games. He scored 17 against Northwestern, with 9 rebounds. Burrell started the season hot on the defensive glass, and was a solid defensive rebounder all year. And his athleticism and activity wore out Gary McGhee and also earned him 15 points (on 9 shots - efficient) and 8 rebounds in the dramatic win against Pittsburgh.

And that level of respect and redemption was a long time coming. From being seen as a go-to guy, but with few creators around him his freshman year, to breaking a bone in his face in his sophomore year back in 2008, to seeing his time cut into by Justin Brownlee and Sean Evans his junior year, along with another injury in the Duke game, it's been a star-crossed four seasons.

But in the end, he finds a role. And becomes a better positional defender. Rebounds well. Plays an important complementary role to Dwight Hardy's scoring prowess. Anchors a surprising run to the NCAA Tournament. And he gets looks from the Lakers, representation from the sports agency BDA Sports International, a St. John's education, and some love for the fans for coming to the program in its dark days.

Was it a great career for St. John's? For Justin?

Will you remember Justin Burrell fondly? Give your thoughts in the comments.

Justin Burrell - All Games
All
G
GS
MPG
Poss%
ORtg
2p%
3pA
3p%
FT%
FTR
ORb%
DRb%
TO%
Blk%
Fl/G
FlOut
2007-08
30
30
31.5
22.4
84.7
43.0
1
0.0
73.5
33.3
6.5
15.8
24.0
2.3
2.9
4
2008-09
32
28
25.8
21.1
91.1
45.0
22
36.4
65.0
50.6
5.4
14.8
23.9
3.1
3.0
2
2009-10
28
8
19.8
19.3
101.1
48.5
19
26.3
74.5
35.9
6.5
19.3
18.8
2.4
2.9
6
2010-11
33
1
20.9
19.0
98.7
50.7
1
0.0
61.1
63.7
10.2
18.7
22.0
2.8
2.7
6
Justin Burrell - Big East Games only
Big East
G
GS
MPG
Poss%
ORtg
2p%
3pA
3p%
FT%
FTR
ORb%
DRb%
TO%
Blk%
Fl/G
FlOut
2007-08
18
18
31.3
23.9
81.3
41.1
1
0.0
75.9
31.1
5.9
14.5
24.1
2.0
3.0
2
2008-09
18
15
27.9
21.7
85.1
40.0
15
33.3
62.5
49.6
5.8
14.2
23.7
2.4
3.1
1
2009-10
18
1
21.0
21.3
103.5
47.0
11
27.3
75.5
44.1
7.0
21.9
16.1
1.9
3.0
4
2010-11
18
0
22.8
19.2
99.0
50.5
1
0.0
68.0
54.3
9.0
16.3
23.0
2.8
2.8
6

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Previous St. John's Red Storm in Review posts: offense/ defense | dele coker | dwayne polee | malik stith | sean evans | the risky coaching pick | the roster shakeup | malik boothe

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