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Baselines: What do you expect from Phil Greene

What are we expecting from Phil Greene? This will be the first of a series of preseason posts where we can all put down our expectations for the players and the team, and look back in March at our brilliance...

...or our incredibly cloudy crystal balls. It's also a chance to remember how this will be a year of learning for the players, and a year to get to know new impact Johnnies - a year to watch training and growth pay off. This series is comprised of early thoughts and impressions; we want to hear yours on the players as well.

Let's begin with combo guard Phil Greene.

When he officially signed, he was described as "a smooth, deft lead guard... Noted for his quickness and playmaking skills on offense and in transition... has the ability to get into the lane and pull up, or dish and create for others. A hard-nosed defender, Greene adds length and speed to "Chicago toughness" which gives him the ability to guard perimeter players."

ESPN had this to say about the Chicago guard: "Greene is a slender combo guard with good quickness and a smooth game. He attacks the rim and finishes well. A shifty ballhandler, he can either get into the lane and finish or pull up to hit mid-range jumpers.... Defensively, his length and quickness allow him to defend both guard positions equally effectively."

Flowery words. But how good should we expect him to be this year?

This offseason, he's been the occasional talk of the media, with Steve Lavin saying that he'll surprise some people. For example, via Jon Rothstein, who has a lot of contact with coaches:

"He’s got a great feel," Lavin said of Greene. "He’s got a knack for getting people involved. He may not make an immediate impact like some of our other guys but his body of work over the course of his career should be solid." Look for Greene, freshman D’Angelo Harrison, and JUCO transfer Nurideen Lindsey to take up a lot of minutes of the perimeter for the Red Storm this season along with junior Malik Stith, the only St. John’s player returning with any experience.

Let's unpack that.

"He's got a great feel" = I'll take this to mean he is a smooth basketball player, reactive instead of thinking. That's what I took away from watching him... granted, only on You Tube and live at the Chicago Hoops Classic All-Star Game.

"May not make an immediate impact..." = Wait, what? That's a strong statement to put out there early. It means don't call him crap if he has a bad game because he's got more to learn than D'Angelo Harrison. Or is that a nudge to Greene to work harder?

"His body of work over the course of his career should be solid" = Lavin thinks he can become a solid rotation player with development, but again, punts his on-court impact a little up the road.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this. As a head coach, Steve Lavin's mission is to get his whole Red Storm squad performing at a unified peak. He's a smart man with the words and seems to choose them carefully (even if he uses a lot of words).

Remember how Lavin spoke about backup guard Malik Stith last summer?: "Stith is gonna surprise people with his development and work ethic. He's training like a Green Beret or a Navy seal." In the end, it meant that Stith is a hard worker who won't take no for an answer... but didn't mean he was talented enough to supplant Malik Boothe on the floor. So I wonder about his comments on Greene.

Here's my stab at looking at Greene's future. My crystal ball says that by the end of the year:

  • Greene averages about 10 minutes per game, playing behind Nurideen Lindsey, Malik Stith, and D'Angelo Harrison.
  • Sometimes he'll look spectacular. Sometimes he'll look like he could gain a few pounds. He will look better when he's on the ball than off the ball.
  • His shooting efficiency won't be spectacular - especially outside of the arc - but sometimes, he'll be really money with drives and runners. He's a freshman, and we should expect inconsistency.
  • If it's a good year, his tempo-neutral assist rates will be solid - assisting on about 15-20% of the team's shots when he's on the floor - and his steal rate will be top-notch. Let's say about a steal per game assuming 10 minutes per.

Greene was the least-heralded of the nine Red Storm recruits. The short roster means that no matter what, he'll have time to shine on the floor. Some of the players have said he will "surprise," and Greene played very well at IMG Academy. How quickly can that translate to impact Big East play? Could he become the Red Storm's starting point guard?

It's definitely possible. What do you think?

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