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Schedule: St. John’s on a Western swing next season

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The Red Storm will face one team in Arizona & an Arizona team in Los Angeles.

NCAA Basketball: Grand Canyon at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Per Jon Rothstein, we have some very interesting schedule updates - which look like the Red Storm are giving themselves a very difficult set of challenges for next season - by playing a pair of games out west against emerging Grand Canyon University in Arizona and then facing Arizona in Los Angeles, both as parts of doubleheaders.

So, that’s impressive, added to the game against Duke and participating in the Advocare Invitational next season.

Why?

Two games on the road. Two games against high-end competition. Two games against teams that could beat St. John’s this season.

You may have not heard of the Grand Canyon Antelopes, playing for the only for-profit University in Division I and run by former NBA star Dan Majerle. But they gave Louisville a game this year, have won 27 and 22 games, respectively, in the last two years while transitioning to full Division-I status.

Next year - in their first year of being eligible for postseason play - they return a number of talented players and bring in some future stars, including a pair of 6’10” big men from Europe who should be physical immediately.

And GCU will be playing at home.

The second game, against the Arizona State Sun Devils three days later, will likely mean the Johnnies will remain on the road. In LA, in front of, one hopes, Justin Simon’s family and perhaps old friends/ family of Marcus LoVett’s (he spent some of his high school years in the Los Angeles area), the Johnnies take on Bobby Hurley and his Sun Devil squad, a team that hopes to make a leap in his third year in the desert.

The Pac-12 squad will have three senior guards and some decent talent coming in.

Plus, the Sun Devils are bringing in a guard named Remy Martin.

St. John’s will once again lean on the talents of LoVett, Shamorie Ponds, Federico Mussini and Bashir Ahmed, while integrating Marvin Clark, Jr. to the front court with Tariq Owens and Kassoum Yakwe; Justin Simon’s talent and Amar Alibegovic will get time as well.

Can the Johnnies land an impact big to minimize the weak spot in the middle on defense?

Can the Red Storm take out two teams out west? If they can, that will do strong work towards creating a resume that the NCAA Tournament Committee will pick for the Tournament.