New NCAA practice rule in place, yet Europe trip limits Johnnies' schedule

USA TODAY Sports

Official practices can begin two weeks earlier this season.

NCAA basketball teams are allowed to begin practice earlier this season than in previous years due to a rule change approved by the NCAA Legislative Council in the spring. Teams can start installing their full team offense and diving for loose balls today - Friday, September 27th - a full two weeks earlier than previously, similar to the existing rule for women's teams.

But St. John's won't be able to capitalize with official practice on Friday, due to the recent trip to Europe.  The Johnnies' summer trip, in which Steve Lavin's squad played five exhibitions, came with 10 practices that count towards the total number of preseason practices.

The Red Storm's first permissible day to practice will not be until Sunday, September 29th, a source confirmed, and the team will have 20 days left to practice before the first game - and the season - begin in earnest.  St. John's typically holds early morning practices at the start of the season.

Under the new NCAA rule, coaches can hold up to 30 team practices during the six-week period (42 days) before the first scheduled game, which cannot take place before the second Friday in November.  St. John's participation in the hands-on summer trip creates a stipulation in which the coaching staff must now designate 12 off-days between Sunday and the official season opener.  Exhibitions do not count and can be played during this 42-day window.

St. John's will play two exhibitions on November 2nd and 5th, followed by the Storm's first game three days later.

In recent years, teams marked the official start of the basketball season - usually celebrated with a Midnight Madness or "Tip-Off" event - with the first practice in mid-October.  The rule had allowed coaches to begin the first team practice after 5 pm on the Friday closest to October 15.

Some coaches have criticized the new rule, as it minimizes time of individual fall workouts and extends an already-lengthy season.  Now, the season essentially lasts the length of the academic school year, with the exception of the final six or seven weeks before finals and around four weeks in the beginning of the semester.

Many others see the benefits of the change and like the ability to have more time to prepare on an individual and collective level.

This is likely where Steve Lavin and the Johnnies would fit in, as the Red Storm seeks to integrate new talent (Rysheed Jordan, Orlando Sanchez, Max Hooper) and re-integrate pieces who didn't finish or play last season for various reasons (D`Angelo Harrison, Felix Balamou, God`sgift Achiuwa).

St. John's is expected to be an NCAA Tournament contender in 2013-14, and the new practice rules grant all teams an ability to work out more of the kinks more quickly, hopefully improving the quality of play.  The August sojourn through Europe was merely an early start for the Johnnies - and means a few more days off for the players in the early going.

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