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St. John's basketball: Pregame Articles + Malik Stith, Omari Lawrence

The Daily News reports the bad news - point guard Malik Stith won't be coming to St. John's:

A third letter of intent was expected, from point guard Malik Stith of Bridgton (Maine) Academy, who verbally accepted a scholarship offer in June.

Over the last two weeks that arrangement has unraveled. Stith is said to be questioning St. John's potential to succeed. The Storm is said to have withdrawn its offer.

Oh well. Another short-ish point guard bites the dust.

Meanwhile, Coach Norm Roberts is excited about Omari Lawrence. Apparently Justin Burrell swayed Omari's interest from "none" to "stay home with St. John's." And Roberts is excited about a player who can score in Dwight Hardy. Shaping up to be a good recruiting class.

Omari Lawrence signs with St. John'sThe photo here is courtesy of the Daily News - look at that nattily dressed recruit in the argyle sweater. Stylish, young man, stylish.

Lenn Robbins has more on the precarious place both St. John's basketball and its coach are in, saying the coach can't wait for tip off against Long Island University tonight (see our preview) in a short preview of the Big East:

"It's like one of those Halloween movies that they make over and over again," said Rutgers coach Fred Hill. "Everyone has a chainsaw."

Does St. John's? Anthony Mason Jr. should put up All-Big East numbers if he can stay healthy. Power forward Justin Burrell could be looking at a double-double season. Malik Boothe is a small but tenacious point guard.

D.J. Kennedy and Paris Horne provide versatility at the wing while Sean Evans and Dele Coker give St. John's a couple of big-bodied post-players who can score.

"I think we're long and athletic, that will be our strength," said Roberts.

The weakness, however, is depth behind the Boothe, a 5-foot-7 point guard from Christ the King who is utterly fearless. Freshmen Quincy Roberts and TyShawn Edmondson will battle for the back spot.

Roberts said he believes his team can finish around .500 in the league and with a winning record overall. The non-conference schedule is softer than dove feathers, but the league is brutal.

"We have the right foundation," said Roberts. "This is the future of St. John's."

The NY Newsday on the early schedule and the promise of the season:

The Red Storm should know not to overlook these early-season visits from lesser local schools - St. Francis of Brooklyn defeated Roberts' team in his first season, 2004-05, and Hofstra (not on the schedule this year) beat the Red Storm three years straight - but St. John's is branching out early. It will head to Boston to participate in the NIT season tip-off, facing NCAA Tournament qualifier Cornell on Monday and possibly host Boston College on Tuesday.

For tonight, it's a chance to unveil some changes in the home arena and beat up a young, game LIU squad led by junior guard Jaytornah Wisseh of Queens.

"We've been eager to get out there on the court for a while," Red Storm senior Anthony Mason Jr. said. "We're ready to get after it."

The Big Beast blog has some Big East basketball predictions, with the writers picking the Red Storm 12th and 13th.