The Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook is the annual publication that comprehensively compiles the thoughts of each Division I programs’s head coaches, as told to veteran area writers.
Generally, it’s a good sense of where the coaches feel their teams will be at the end of the year, and a person can learn a sense of a team that an experienced head coach is really excited for... and the teams a coach knows will have real struggles, the kind of teams that lead the coach to quietly think “next year will be better.”
Sometimes, once can get a feel of the depth of the problems by reading the previews of other programs.
This year, case in point: reading the Blue Ribbon previews of other teams, St. John's comes up a few times.
And that is not a good thing.
Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo enjoyed his best performances against St. John's. Seton Hall player Angel Delgado put up gaudy numbers. Marquette's Matt Heldt had a game against Chris Mullin's Red Storm.
So in the improvements made last year, it’s important to remember that when the dam broke, it broke damn hard.
Preview thoughts on St. John’s
The preview of the Red Storm notes the year over year improvement of six Big East games in Year Two. Mullin notes that the team had some injuries and relied on youth but they look forward to making more improvements this coming season.
St. John's returns effectively five starters (including Tariq Owens, who started eight games) - the "whole foundation of the team returning," according to Mullin.
Justin Simon and Marvin Clark add to the continuity; and Blue Ribbon remarks that the continuity outweighs the losses of the players who left - Federico Mussini and Richard Freudenberg to the pros in their native countries in western Europe and Malik Ellison, who transferred to Pittsburgh.
The "spectacular" rookie seasons of Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett are duly noted, as they combined high scoring with being "defensive pests" and passing skills; Mullin remarks that they may have been "overplayed" as the team relied on them to score.
Mullin notes that Bashir Ahmed has been learning by watching film, and is learning to play more under control.
Yakwe should split time with Marvin Clark, who adds strength and scoring.
Tariq Owens is mentioned as versatile, and Mullin disucsses his need to get stronger and rebound with quickness. Mullin talks about playing four guards around him; Justin Simon's size helps with versatility, and Amar Alibegovic remains an important role player with some scoring ability outside the arc.
Blue Ribbon Preseason Forecast, Big East
- Seton Hall
- St. John's
- Rodney Bullock (Providence)
- Angel Delgado (Seton Hall)
- Jalen Brunson (Villanova)
- Marcus Foster (Creighton)
- Trevon Bluiett (Xavier)
Player of the Year
Freshman/ newcomer of the year
- St. John's
- Seton Hall