St. Johns guard Phil Greene has been thrown into a new role in his freshman season in Queens. He came to Steve Lavin's program as an attacker, only to find himself in a facilitating position.
When you read Greene's scouting reports from his recruiting profiles, you uncover some of his natural on-court skills. He's quick. He's shifty. He never stops attacking. His mid-range jumper is lethal.
Where are the "tremendous passer" accolades? Out of all the qualities that Phil's high school game allowed him to become a high-level collegiate prospect, his distribution abilities never floated to the surface.
But, on December 17th, just nine games into his young career at St. John's, Phil Greene was forced to modify his style. The departure of Nurideen Lindsey, accompanied by an already desolate roster, tied Mike Dunlap's hands. Phil was the point guard, whether you liked it or not.
Through some growing pains and a process of discovery, Greene's proficiency has improved exponentially in recent games. On Wednesday, he'll get the chance to show off that new-game-smell (like a new car smell) to family and friends in Chicago.
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Sir'Dom made sure he didn't disappoint. He scored 10 points and pulled down 8 rebounds in what eventually turned out to be a 69-63 loss to the Titans of the University of Detroit.
Now, it's Phil's turn to experience the feeling. When the Johnnies travel to Allstate Arena for a tilt with the DePaul Blue Demons on Wednesday, he'll be returning to where it all started.
"I'm looking forward to going to play DePaul back in Chicago," Greene told the Rumble earlier this season at St. John's Media Day. "Back home, I'll have a lot of family members coming to the game to support."
It isn't as if we had to specifically ask Phil about his homecoming. He had already ranked Wednesday's road trip to Chicago with the privileges of travelling to Cameron Indoor Stadium and Rupp Arena.
It will be interesting to see if Greene's childhood friends are surprised to see his new pass-first mentality. His transition into the role as the Red Storm's point guard hasn't been easy.
"By necessity, it has to be rapid fire. He's understated, but he's very intelligent and a good player," Mike Dunlap mentioned. "Back in Chicago, he played a lot of two. So learning the front door will take some time."
That was remarks from Coach Dunlap following the Johnnies' win over Fordham - Greene's first game running the offense. Weeks later, the freshman's development has progressed significantly.
In Greene's first few games after Lindsey's decision to transfer, he struggled to adapt. There were nights he was scoring, but not distributing. There were others where his performance was the exact opposite.
More recently, most notably in the Red Storm's games against USF, Villanova, and West Virginia, Greene has found a way to balance his natural abilities with his necessary responsibilities. In those three games, he averaged 11.6 points and 5.3 assists per game. In the previous eight appearances, his averages were only 5.3 and 3.1.
"Phil has a way of giving way to everyone else," Dunlap said after the loss to Villanova. "We're trying to get him to reclaim his own game. He has come alive."
Maybe when Greene steps on the Allstate Arena floor, his friends won't be surprised because of how different his game has become.
They'll be surprised of how much more of a well-rounded player he has become.