Will all the hype and excitement surrounding the St. John's men's basketball team, it's time get started... kinda.
The Johnnies will open up their season tomorrow afternoon with an exhibition against the San Francisco State Gators.
College basketball and St. John's opening night against the Wisconsin Badgers in South Dakota is exactly one week from today. These moments have been patiently waited upon by Red Storm fans, ever since freshman Rysheed Jordan signed his letter of intent in April. The game will tip off at 3:00 p.m. at Carnesecca Arena, and is the first of two exhibitions; the Red Storm are back in action on Monday against Humboldt State.
The Johnnies, obviously, are expected to win. So the main story for the Johnnies in their exhibition opener will be to see who will be starting and how the minutes will be managed. It is only an exhibition, but it will be quite interesting how fourth-year head coach, Steve Lavin, starts this process.
Fans saw a small taste of of the team's versatility when they went on their "Taking Europe by Storm" tour. But those games were played without guards Phil Greene IV (hip), and Felix Balamou (ankle) - and with a limited Rysheed Jordan (back). The management of minutes at guard will absolutely be something to watch not only now but throughout the whole year as well.
As those three guards will play on Saturday, it turns out sophomore defensive sensation Chris Obekpa will not. Lavin suspended the shot blocking "Gamechanger" for the two exhibitions for violating university policy.
Lavin told the media, "We expect our student-athletes to conduct themselves in a responsible manner in representing St. John's University." He also went on to say that Chris understands the suspension and will use it as a learning experience. So don't expect to see "Oblockpa" tomorrow.
St. John's will open its Carnesecca Arena doors to the Division II San Francisco State Gators. Johnnies head coach Steve Lavin went there in 1982 and played basketball for two years, before transferring to Chapman University in Orange County.
The Division II SF State Gators last year finished with a 16-12 overall record and a very impressive 10-2 record at their home court in The Swamp. The Gators are led by coach Paul Trevor in his fourth season at the helm of the men's basketball program, and he will have a ton of experience heading into this year.
They have a total of ten upperclassmen (seven of them being seniors) this year that could lead to some post-season success in March. They advanced to the CCAA Basketball Championship semi-finals and finished in fourth place in the CCAA and in ninth in the Region.
San Francisco State had three All-CCAA selections including a First Team member, then-junior Calvin Otiono. Of those 16 wins, two were against top 10 nationally ranked teams in #4 Cal Poly Pomona and #7 Seattle Pacific by Cal Poly Pomona. The point guard, Nefi Perdomo, missed last season but is expected to have a strong impact in his return. 6'6" Brandon Tatum is the team's best returning rebounder at 5.4 per game.
"We are looking to come together as a team this weekend," coach Trevor said . "I would like our team play hard and enjoy the journey."
What will you be watching for? Which player do you most want to see after the long offseason?