After a disappointing finish last season, St. John's celebrated the beginning of this year's hoops season with Red Storm Tip-Off, with Steve Lavin and the players offering insight into why a team that finished poorly has a chance to make the NCAA Tournament this year.
Many questions surround this St. John's team. With the departure of Jakarr Sampson and Orlando Sanchez, how far can they go in 2014-15 with the returnees and Rysheed Jordan?
Will this group of seniors, including defensive stalwart Sir`Dominic Pointer finally be able to put it all together?
Which Chris Obekpa can we expect to show up?
Steve Lavin did offer some insight into these and many more uncertainties during the media session before Red Storm Tip-Off.
The development of Chris Obekpa
Lavin couldn't have been any higher on Obekpa, commenting that Chris had shown better development in the offseason than any other player he had ever coached.
What that means? An expanded offensive game with a score-first attitude, according to the head coach. He also said that Obekpa's leadership abilities, positive attitude, and readiness have all shown incredible improvement and would have great impact on his success.
Such an impact that we should expect him to average a double-double according to Lavin.
[Also see: The Rumble discusses Chris Obekpa's breakout potential.]
The silence of Rysheed Jordan
He was not made available to the media and Lavin doesn't expect that to change until December at the very earliest, so he can concentrate on academics - although he is not in danger of losing eligibility.
In a year where Jordan could vault himself into a possible lottery pick it will be interesting to see if can show he has matured enough to take his game to the next level.
This is due to academic reasons, although he is not in danger of losing eligibility. In a year where Jordan could vault himself into a possible lottery pick it will be interesting to see if can show he has matured enough to take his game to the next level.
The factor that is Sir`Dominic Pointer
Is Sir`Dominic Pointer going to be a starter at last? (Or, again?)
Lavin told the media it would be "tough to keep Dom out of the starting lineup."
His defensive prowess and athletic ability always made Pointer an interesting player; but his decision making and offense have seemed to hold him back. With a proclaimed improved shooting touch and a commitment to play smarter can Pointer be the factor that turns the tide this season?
The variability of starting lineups
But how committed will Lavin be to a regular starting lineup that he seemed to avoid last season?
When asked if there would be a group of regular starters Lavin responded that he believes there are eight players that have distanced themselves from the rest. He also commented that they would always consider matchups and other variables such as recent performances and results in practice when constructing starting lineups.
Many fans bemoaned the lack of rhyme or reason to the teams rotation. How much of this season hinges on Lavin's coaching and having or not having regular assigned player roles? Or will the adjustments to matchups serve the Red Storm well this year?
Questions, comments, concerns? Get involved and let us know what your feeling about this upcoming year.