#46 St. John's: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #46
Conference Rank: #7 Big East Conference
2009-10: 17-16, 6-12
2009-10 postseason: NIT
Coach: Steve Lavin (First year at St. John’s, 145-78 overall)
Coach Norm Roberts always left St. John’s fans wanting more. Every year it seemed like next year was supposed to be the year the Red Storm made their move in the tough Big East. Instead, Coach Roberts never led his team to a better finish than 11th in the conference and just made the postseason once. That cost him his job and now Coach Steve Lavin steps into a great situation with a bevy of talented and experienced returning players.
Key Losses: G Omari Lawrence, F Anthony Mason, Jr.
Coach Lavin led UCLA to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances before having one bad year and being let go. His knack for recruiting will pay off sooner rather than later, but for now there was simply not much room on the roster for any new players. Thus, Dwayne Polee is the only incoming freshman. Polee, a Los Angeles product, is a versatile 6-7 forward who should battle for playing time despite all the seniors on this roster.
The Red Storm have a ton of great scoring options on the wings. Shooting guard Paris Horne averaged 9.2 points per game last year after averaging nearly 15 as a sophomore. Horne is a decent long range shooter, but has a great mid-range game. Dwight Hardy only started two games, partially due to knee injuries and partially due to the talent around him. Hardy did a great job as a shooter off the bench who could also attack the basket and finish around the rim. His 10.5 points per game ranked second on the team last season and he only averaged 22.2 minutes per contest. The star of the backcourt, and the team, is senior wing D.J. Kennedy. Kennedy led St. John’s in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. There is nothing Kennedy cannot do for this team. He can knock down the big shot whether it is inside the arc or outside and his rebounding ability has turned the Red Storm into a solid team on the glass.
The frontcourt is where this team may run into some problems. However, Justin Brownlee, Justin Burrell, Dele Coker and Sean Evans all have started some games and are all seniors. Burrell and Evans are the likely starters of the bunch, but all four could average around 20 minutes per game. Brownlee was a junior college transfer and played a vital role off the bench last year averaging 6.8 points and 4.5 rebounds. Like Brownlee, Burrell is a minor outside shooting threat and finished his junior campaign averaging 6.6 points and 4.4 rebounds. At 6-10 and 252 pounds, Coker is the big man who can clog the lane. He is not much of a scorer and never will be, but if he can find the minutes he will be a solid rebounder and defender. Evans started 31 games last season and is the only returning forward who averaged over 20 minutes per game as a junior. He will stay in the paint where he has developed into a capable scorer and rebounder and it seems like he just keeps getting better every year.
Who to Watch:
Malik Boothe has the job of making this team go. The 5-9 point guard headed an offense that ranked 15th in the conference in scoring and 14th in assists. The good news is Boothe did a good job of keeping the team under control and playing at the proper tempo. Like just about everybody else on the team, Boothe is a senior and he should have no problems adjusting to a slightly new system and continue to get better on both ends of the floor.
Coach Lavin could not have stepped into a better situation. The Red Storm return four starters and have a total of ten seniors on the roster. Practically any coach could take the next step with this team…and the next step is a trip to the NCAA Tournament. However, year two and three will be major rebuilding projects and that will be where Coach Lavin has his true tests.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Malik Boothe, Senior, Guard, 4.9 ppg
Paris Horne, Senior, Guard, 9.2 ppg
D.J. Kennedy, Senior, Guard, 15.1 ppg
Justin Burrell, Senior, Forward, 6.6 ppg
Sean Evans, Senior, Forward, 6.7 ppg
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