With new head coach Chris Mullin at the helm and nine new players joining the program, St. John's was picked to finish in last place out of 10 teams in the Preseason Big East Conference Coaches Poll.
"No," Chris Mullin said when he was asked if he cared about the projection at Big East Media Day on Wednesday. "No offense, but I never really paid attention to all that preseason stuff. Quite frankly, it really won't change what we will do tomorrow in practice."
Despite all the hype of Mullin returning to the New York City area, the resumes of his staff members and the success the Johnnies have had on the recruiting trail in his short time on the job, the Basketball Hall of Famer knows that the team isn't going to turn the corner right away.
"We're rebuilding and we have nine new players," Mullin said. That's really where we're at right now. Preparation is everything because the results are going to vary."
Amar Alibegovic, Christian Jones and Felix Balamou are the lone returnees for the Red Storm, but none of three averaged more than 10 minutes per game last season. Meanwhile, a solid mix of graduate transfers and highly impressive freshman must get acclimated in a new environment in a matter of months as the Johnnies will face a difficult non-conference slate, including a trip to the Maui Invitational and a match-up against Syracuse at Madison Square Garden.
But all players are human and this could provide a little spark for a team that has plenty of versatility, quickness and solid depth.
"It might," Mullin said when asked if the last place prediction would motivate his group of guys. "We have ways of motivating them too. I guess you could use it as bulletin board material but again I wouldn't use it to change my practice routine tomorrow."
While finishing in the top half of the conference will prove to be difficult, the Johnnies are sticking to their goals with the opportunity to possibly challenge the likes of Marquette, DePaul, Creighton and Seton Hall.
"We want to win this year," Pittsburgh transfer Durand Johnson said. "That's everyone's main focus and we're just ready to go."
Regardless of the success level of this season, St. John's is taking a step in the right direction with a new style of play and a new atmosphere surrounding what has the potential to be one of the best programs in the Big East Conference.
"I'm really focused on coming every single day and leaving everything on the court," Ron Mvouika said. "Everything else will take care of itself. I don't really like to do too much talking but every time you see us Johnnies on the court we're going to play like we have something to lose. We're going to come to war. If we do what we're supposed to do the result will take care of itself."