More notes from yesterday's Big East Media Day (also see NYC Buckets' Three Questions for Seton Hall and St. John's), where the theme was that the Red Storm had talent, but need to prove it on the court:
Dalí might not have conjured a more surrealistic vision than the layout of Wednesday’s Big East basketball media day, which pinned Creighton’s table next to Georgetown’s, Butler’s next to that of St. John’s, and Xavier’s across from Villanova’s, perhaps so they could all introduce each other.
[The dedication to basketball as a flagship sport] is what made the new Big East distinct, bonding a Creighton with a Georgetown. The conference’s 10 programs bleed basketball.
"It’s not like a ‘Sesame Street’ deal — which one doesn’t belong," St. John’s Coach Steve Lavin said. "You’ve got a tree, a bush, some seaweed and then a truck. It just didn’t fit. I think now we have a league that’s more similar."
As commissioner Val Ackerman said, "This is a return to the roots of the old and a season of new beginnings. That is what makes it so exciting. We're doing everything Dave Gavitt set out to do when he brought the league into being in 1979. We are going to make this basketball conference a force."
In terms of sheer numbers, the ACC has supplanted the old Big East at the top of the NCAA food chain. But the seven basketball-first Big East members that announced plans to form their own league last December -- St. John's, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Providence and DePaul -- and three prominent newcomers -- Creighton, Xavier and Butler -- have a rich history that commands immediate respect.
Notes on St. John's
St. John's earned a league-best four BIG EAST Preseason honors, including a Preseason First Team selection for Harrison and Preseason Rookie of the Year accolades for Rysheed Jordan. Sampson, the reigning BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, earned Preseason Second Team honors and Obekpa was a Preseason Honorable Mention.
"I'd say we're probably a year ahead of our recruiting and personnel. But we lost a year when I was out a year with the cancer. So we're probably right where we should be." -- Lavin on where the team stands.
"I’ll say that at this stage or juncture of Rysheed’s college basketball career, he’s as impressive as any that I’ve coached when it comes to decision making, poise, toughness and his ability to learn," St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said. "At this stage, and it’s early–he hasn’t played his first Division I basketball game–but he makes good reads, good judgements, good choices, winning play after winning play and that bodes well."
On the Johnnies being picked fifth
NY Daily News // St. John's takes fifth spot in preseason poll - NY Daily News
The Red Storm was tabbed fifth in the preseason poll of coaches with 56 points, a shade behind third pick Creighton (61) and fourth pick Villanova (58). More to their liking is that they received two of the 10 first-place votes. Only first pick Marquette (76) had more with five. Second pick Georgetown (70) also got two first-place votes.
"Those are two smart coaches," Johnnies junior Sir’Dominic Pointer said. "They’ve seen our group. They’ve watched us get better. Now it’s on us to prove it."
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel // MU picked to claim crown in revamped league
St. John's: The Red Storm will benefit from the defections of some of the Big East's traditional powers, but it is about time St. John's stood on its own with coach Steve Lavin. St. John's has four returning starters from a team that underachieved on its way to the NIT last season.
5. St. John's (17-16, 8-10 BE)
The Red Storm return nearly their entire roster and add preseason Rookie of the Year Rysheed Jordan. The Johnnies made the NIT last year, but with the experience and depth being touted by coach Steve Lavin, an NCAA berth is well within reach.