A few recent St. John's men's basketball links. The players are getting ready to start practice, to have fun at Storm Fest on October 22nd, and are preparing for an important season, trying to get the Red Storm back on the map. Links below the fold.
College Hoops Net has a Big East High-Low Preview. The preview is to create a range where a specific team might finish - a best-case and worst-case scenario, if you will. They have St. John's finishing between 10th and 14th in the Big East. I could see an 8th place finish if some of the other squads fall on their face. College Hoops Net also did a preview of St. John's, listing them as the 74th best team in the country.
Vol Nation has an interview with Peter Robert Casey. He touches upon the lack of success New York City coaches (specifically Norm Roberts and Bobby Gonzalez) have had in securing top talent, especially after that talent leaves for a suburban/ nearby prep school. New York can be a bit of a tough bubble to play in, but will those coaches recruit better with more on-court success? (Casey also thinks JayVaughn Pinkston will go to Villanova).
On Anthony Mason Jr.: Writing for Bleacher Report and the Examiner websites, Tim Sullivan posts about how Anthony Mason Jr's return gives the Red Storm a chance to improve, and 5 reasons St. John's will reach the NCAA Tournament. The five reasons are Mason's return; a weaker Big East; development of the backcourt; depth and experience; and favorable conference schedule. I think the demise of the league is greatly exaggerated, considering the number of top-level recruits who have simply sat on benches or are just coming into the league.
SportsNet New York (SNY) has a wide-ranging interview with St. John's head coach Norm Roberts. The most interesting thing, outside of the talk of versatility - and wishing the team was a little bit taller like Skee Lo - is as follows:
What about Mason now that he's back?
Anthony Mason, Jr. has a great impact. He gives us a lot of versatility. He has the ability to score and to rebound. He adds a lot to our team. The thing with Mason is he's going to have to find a way to re-connect with the team and get involved. He's been out for a whole year. It's like any other situation where an individual goes away to the army or to school and he leaves his younger brothers. While he's gone his younger brothers grow up. And while he [Mason] was gone, his younger brothers have gotten better. So now we need to try to fit Mason into that. Once we do that our team will grow even more.
Two years ago, I had an opinion of the head coach as a stubborn coach who just has "his guys"; but he benched the hard-working but less talented Tomas Jasiulionis to put Evans and Burrell on the court together. By the end of Eugene Lawrence's last season, he was below 30 minutes per game. With depth, Coach Roberts might just surprise everyone and not use Mase as a go-to player.
Mason's offensive ratings and turnover numbers are not where they need to be for the number/ percentage of the team's shots he takes. And his propensity to shoot off-balance jumpers inside the arc... well, it's a nice skill, but a low-percentage emergency skill unless he can hit upwards of 50%. And it's important to note that he shot a bit less in his three games last year.
If you have not looked at them yet, check out the Big East Roundtable discussion on this blog. And check out the St. John's Red Storm player reviews from earlier this summer.