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St. John’s goes big, Joel Soriano stays home

Soriano hopes to emerge on the Big East level as an impact player; St. John’s plugs a perennial hole

Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament - First Round Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Early yesterday afternoon, Coach Mike Anderson flashed the storm-signal on Twitter, indicating impending good news in the men’s basketball program.

Soon thereafter, Fordham transfer Joel Soriano made the following announcement:

Yes, the 6’11”, 250 lb Soriano will be taking his talents across the Throgs Neck Bridge to Queens. The Yonkers native was a sophomore last season at Fordham, and will have at least two years’ eligibility if not three if he chooses.

A high-usage post player and a top offensive rebounder in the Atlantic-10 conference for struggling Fordham, Soriano will step onto St. John’s campus as the first big-bodied banger the school has seen since Sedee Keita struggled to stay healthy for the Johnnies in Chris Mullin’s final season.

For a team that that finished last in the Big East in rebounding margin and 247th in the country in the same category, having an experienced big on the team should help tremendously.

For Fordham last season, Soriano started all 14 games for the Rams, averaging 10 points, nine rebounds and just under one block per game. He grabbed 13 rebounds on three occasions. Much of his scoring was close to the rim, but he also shot 43% on shots outside of the paint. His turnover rate was a bit high, and he is a career 62% free throw shooter, but the skills to make an impact in the Big East are there.

Scouting Joel Soriano

Offensively, when Soriano gets deep post position on smaller defenders, he can capitalize.

Hoop Mixtapes

Additionally, Joel does appear to have a pretty good looking catch-and-shoot midrange shot.

Hoop Mixtapes

However, Soriano is limited to catch-and-finish situations, and likely should be confined to a one dribble max in the post.

Hoop Mixtapes

Despite the make, it follows a spin into two defenders. Soriano also has a propensity to bring the ball down unnecessarily, contributing to his turning the ball over twice as often as he records an assist.

How many minutes can Soriano play per game? Soriano is coming from a Fordham team that ranked 341st in the country in pace to a St. John’s team that ranked 14th. Playing with pace will be an adjustment; conditioning could be a factor, but also offensive opportunities will emerge in transition or will require a quick move, not always a post-up then wait then go to work opportunity.

The quickness of the offense might give him a boost, as defenses will not always be set as they were against the more deliberately-paced Fordham offense. It may also be useful to remember that Mike Anderson had great success with now-NBA centers Daniel Gafford and Bobby Portis, along with Moses Kingsley — all at Arkansas.

Secondly, Soriano averaged 5.4 fouls per 40 minutes. While his minutes will likely resemble the 26 minutes per game he average for the Rams, Joel’s defensive discipline will need to improve because at St. John’s pace, he will be participating in more defensive possessions.

St. John’s added a big man who plugs the team’s rebounding void and whose warts can be readily improved prior to graduation. The additions of Soriano and Aaron Wheeler from Purdue, in addition to the incoming freshmen O’mar Stanley and Drissa Traore, Mike Anderson will have the most front court depth he has had since he started at St. John’s.