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Offseason work means improvements for St. John’s returnees

How have returning Red Storm players taken strides forward this offseason?

Yakwe, Ahmed, Mussini, Mullin and hats Wendell Cruz/FinishFirstPhotos.com

Federico Mussini, Kassoum Yakwe, and Bashir Ahmed stole the show on Tuesday morning, showing up to Big East Media in matching suits and black top hats.

Chris Mullin can only hope this is the first of many bold statements his Red Storm make on the hardwood.

Before St. John’s can move on from their tough 2015-16 campaign, it is imperative that they take serious strides forward prior to this season’s initial tip-off.

Sophomore forward Kassoum Yakwe looks to improve upon his game by becoming a versatile offensive threat. He ultimately is seeking the consistent ability to shoot the basketball.

“My shot got a lot better,” Yakwe told us when asked about his offseason development. “I’ve been in the lab working with Chris Mullin, one of the best shooters ever to play the game. I’ve been working on my form, trying to make it better.”

One thing Yakwe mentioned is that because he likes to drive, opponents give him more space. This season he wants to make defenders pay for leaving such a cushion. He also told us that he doesn’t want to force up errant shots; he would rather consistently hit open jump shots when he gets them.

On the other hand, guard Federico Mussini is improving on different areas in his game.

When asked what he did this offseason Mussini told us, “I worked a lot in the weight room to get my body right, to get a little bit stronger. I worked on my handles, my shot, and I also had the chance to compete on my national team. It was good competing against some the best players in Europe.”

Mussini is listed on RedStormSports.com now as 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds; last season, he was listed as significantly skinnier, and given the obvious weakness in handling contact, additional bulk on Mussini’s frame should help.

In regards to his jump shot, Mussini certainly needs more consistency. Despite being the player who hit the most threes among the returnees (he sunk a team-high 56 three-point shots), last season he shot 28% from inside the arc and 28% outside the arc in conference play.

Overall, head coach Chris Mullin expressed to reporters his satisfaction towards his players improving over the summer.

“That's something we didn't have last year,” Mullin said of the offseason training and practice time. “The offseason is really where you become better individuals."

Success for the Johnnies this season hinges on the returning players developing their skills, inching towards reaching their maximum potential.

In speaking with Yakwe and Mussini, it is clear these Red Storm players are putting their failure last year behind them by working harder.