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Close to the ballin' hour - St. John's Media Day roundup

Yesterday was St. John's Media Day - and the team is ramping up for the first exhibition contest, which should be available on Storm Tracker All-Access this Saturday evening.

Of course, there is coverage and video from St. John's Sports. From the media day quotes, there are insights into the rotation.

On D.J. Kennedy:

He's put up big numbers clearly with the ball in his hands. He can create his own shot. But we've talked about the John Havlicek princip[le]: the perpetual motion and getting better conditioning and stamina working without the ball, coming off a screen, being harder to guard and not being a sitting duck. We want him be a better moving target, tougher to guard and helping us on the boards.

On Dwight Hardy:

"Dwight Hardy is as good a shooter as I've ever coached. Jason Kapono, from long range obviously had Reggie Miller range. But I'd say Hardy is right there with Kapono, if not better in certain ways off the bounce and creating... Hardy's not just a great shooter, but he's also playmaking well for us and can play some point guard at certain times when we go to different combinations."

"Hardy we knew was an excellent shooter, but his playmaking skills and the leadership he's providing of being more vocal in practices, talking and asserting himself on the game at both ends of the floor, defensively in our press and in our matchup zone, he's been very active and working hard and providing a lot of leadership for this team."

Coach is also impressed with Malik Boothe's ball pressure, thinks Justin Brownlee can have a breakout season, and likes Dwayne Polee's special talents. And "matchup zone?"

My takeaways: DJ is going to still be the alpha-male in the group. But Hardy might get a lot of time. And rightfully so. He's not the shooter that Kapono was, in part because Kapono's size made it easier for him to get off any shot he wanted. But Hardy is a better dribbler, even if he doesn't have point guard creativity with respect to passing. But he can score off the bounce - but he needs to get better at that aspect of the game.

The credit given to Brownlee is interesting and telling. JB2 has a wealth of talent, but needs to take the right shots. But more interestingly is how Sean Evans and Dele Coker didn't factor into the conversation. I always hoped that the staff would make a player out of Coker, but so far, he is not emerging as a factor.

And I would love it if this team can play some competent non-man defenses to mix things up. The 1-3-1 against Georgetown in 2009's Big East Tournament and in the regular season game was pretty inventive, I have to say.

Also from Media Day:

NY Post: New era for Lavin, St. John's

Great quote here:

...Gene Keady... roared to Lavin in a recent practice that the players had such lousy spacing, one grenade could kill them all.

Also of interest:

"It's a very professional approach with these guys," Kennedy told The Post. "They're about winning. Playing hard, that's expected. Winning needs to be expected."

Lavin loves Boothe's toughness, but laments the lack of a true backup point guard and wonders if any other player has his 5-foot-8 floor leader's steel.

What happened to "Malik Stith is training like a Green Beret or a Navy Seal" from this summer? Is he not cutting mustard as a backup? Is Stith a combo guard? With Boothe's occasional injuries and offensive limitations... a backup would be nice.

NY Daily News: St. John's must get all it can from D.J. Kennedy, Dwayne Polee, others to reach NCAAs: Steve Lavin

"I see the progress. I've watched the film of last year's games," the 6-7 Polee said. "The players I am practicing with are much better than those I see on the film."

That means the two assistants with NBA backgrounds - tactical expert Mike Dunlap worked with the Nuggets and workout guru Rico Hines worked with the Warriors - are being heard.

Lavin likes the team's speed and experience although he is quick to point out "we finished tied for 13th (in the Big East) and there's no positive spin to put on that." He is proud that the group is "galvanized" in its quest to reach the NCAA and calls it "a realistic goal."....

"We're going to win a lot more," [Kennedy] said. "Last year we were good enough to get leads on almost everyone and (bad) enough to lose them. You will see a team that digs deeper this year and doesn't give it up. You can't when it's your last shot."

AP (via Zagsblog, which has video):
Lavin Nearing First Game as Johnnies Coach

CBS New York: The New Face Of The Storm

After speaking with some players and the coaching staff, there are many qualities that have made Lavin a hit so far in the St. John’s community. So what are they?

* Enthusiasm and work ethic is at an all time high in practice. Lavin can yell with the best of them but mostly chooses the positive route.

* Lavin’s mantra has been about staying focused. He never gets too high and never gets too low. Remaining level headed has been a theme for his veterans.

* Practices are supposedly scheduled down to the second and resemble the organization and detail of an NFL practice.

* There is as much teaching going on in the film room as there is on the basketball court this preseason.

* The constant salesman, Lavin has been a hit at alumni events and in a short amount of time and has won over a slew of NYC recruits and coaches already.