Max Hooper - called a "YouTube star" by the Newsday's Greg Logan - has a lot to live up to. His shooting exploits and practice hype are legend among die-hard St. John's fans as he lights up the shooting machine in practice. In two preseason games, he shot 4/10 from beyond the arc.
The Red Storm, meanwhile, are a team bereft of three-point scoring ability. The team was in the bottom five nationally in three-pointers taken and percentage of three-pointers made.
The Johnnies need help. A weapon is needed to expand the court beyond mid-60s dimensions, where the mid-range jump shot (and far less athleticism) ruled.
How essential is Max Hooper?
From the review of St. John's European games:
After a middling season from Marc-Antoine Bourgault last year (29% from beyond the three-point arc), the excitement and hype about Max Hooper has been at "new season of Arrested Development" levels (or "new Kanye West/ Jay-Z album" levels perhaps?) in the St. John's twittosphere. While not every game was quite so spectacular, Hooper exploded for 31 points against a younger version of Italy's Stella Azzura squad, nailing 10/13 from beyond the arc. That kind of shooting in any game competition is a strong, skilled performance.
Hooper's big game explosion and the fact that he seems to have enjoyed heavy minutes indicate that he's a big part of the staff's plans.
Can he match the needs of St. John's?
The transfer from Harvard will see minutes early. His stroke is quick. But can he be successful against Division I athletes who know what he's on the court to do? They don't need a scouting report to realize that the fellow with the buzzcut calling for the ball in the corner must be "designated shooter".
The other issue, along with being able to shoot effectively in games, is the question of whether the Red Storm find him in the corner?
Given the changes at guard, with Jamal Branch and Rysheed Jordan slated to spend much of the time on the court, there will be a willing passer/ playmaker on the floor. And with Orlando Sanchez' vision in the high and low post (so far), the team looks better able to take advantage of an open shooter.
Whether Hooper can make enough of the shots to elevate the Red Storm offense is a huge question.
If he can, and if there is no regression in other players, the Johnnies won't just have to scrape out defensive wins - they'll be able to put teams away, and they'll be able to mount comebacks.
More from Rumble In The Garden:
- St. John's vs Humboldt State Lumberjacks photos
- Player preview: God'sgift Achiuwa is back, looking ready to contribute for Johnnies
- St. John's vs Humboldt State stats: gaudy numbers all around
- Men's Soccer tops Butler & Georgetown, 1-0
- Women's Soccer faces Butler in Big East Tournament tonight; beats Seton Hall, DePaul at home