Posts Tagged ‘Marcus Lovett’

One word that fans shutter to hear is when their beloved team is rebuilding. That one word is usually used to describe a team that will not be able to claim many victories in the current season. So far the St. John’s Red Storm has had a difficult time since their upset victory over Syracuse at Madison Square Garden on December 13th 2015. Since that day the Red Storm have been unable to obtain another victory and had setbacks against Incarnate Word and NJIT. While many fans are trudging through a challenging season, the dark days will not last and success is on the horizon.

Certain programs need to obtain certain achievements or benchmarks to be considered a success. Blue blood programs would demand a Final Four appearance to be successful while certain mid-majors would be exalted winning a conference title. At St. John’s a fair annual goal would be to obtain an invitation to the NCAA tournament which was done 18 out of 24 times with Lou Carnasseca at the helm.

The roster projection currently has eight members who are projected to have eligibility for the next two seasons. Reinforcements will also come from within with Marcus Lovett and Tariq Owens being eligible starting in the fall of 2016. Darrien Williams, the JUCO transfer, should also be healthy enough to add depth and size for the Johnnies. There are also two prized recruits heading to Jamaica Queens in the fall with Shamorie Ponds and Bashir Ahmed joining the Red Storm. The recruiting class in expected to grow too with Mullin and staff honing in on other high-caliber athletes and hopes to secure their talents.

Now when will Chris Mullin lead his alma mater to the big dance? The 2016-17 season will be an improvement over this current season and it will most likely be an NIT bid for the Red Storm. The team as a whole will be more experienced, tougher, and deeper. There will be upgrade at the point guard position with Lovett being eligible and Ponds being able to handle the ball in Lovett’s absence. Federico Mussini will be able to play off the ball which will allow him to focus on shooting threes and not acting as the primary facilitator. Yankuba Sima should be physically stronger which would improve his post scoring and rebounding.

When the 2018 NCAA field is announced the St. John’s Red Storm should be in the field of 68. The current freshman class will be upperclassmen and should have gone through their growing pains and start receiving dividends from the obstacles they have faced. At that time the gloom and doom should be removed from the faithful followers who have persevered through tumultuous times.

A week ago St John’s fans were basking in the euphoria of handily defeating former Big East arch-rival Syracuse at the World Most Famous Arena. After a tumultuous 48 hours where the Red Storm lost to Incarnate Word and NJIT at Carnesecca Arena feelings of trepidation started to develop. Not only did two programs that do not have grandiose name recognition but the daunting Big East schedule has not started yet. A loss to #25 South Carolina at Mohegan Sun did not ease any feelings of angst either. While it might look bleak for this season at this moment for the Johnnies there are four comforting thoughts that should help ease the stress for the Red Storm faithful.

1. There will be upsets pulled off by St. John’s this season.

When you are picked to finish dead last in your conference it is more likely than not that the Red Storm will be underdogs in most if not all their Big East games this year. It should also be noted that every basketball game starts out with the score being 0-0. No matter how good Villanova or Xavier are this year when they match-up with the Red Storm neither team will start out with a 20 point lead. As illustrated in the Syracuse game there will be games where everything clicks for St. John’s. While it might be hard to predict when this will happen, keep faith because it will happen.

2. The team will improve as the season progresses.

With the high turnover from last year’s roster nine new players enrolled at St. John’s and just like everyone is saying, it will take time for the team to gel and improve. Current issues the team has are turnovers and defending the three-point shot. While the turnover issue could be corrected if Marcus Lovett is deemed eligible and is able to be an efficient point guard but the Red Storm should still devise a corrective action to have better offensive possessions. With defending the three-point shooting Mullin should show footage of the Red Storm upset over Duke at Madison Square Garden in 2011. What Dwight Hardy and company did to the Dukies was having ferocious close-outs and turned the jump shooters to drivers. On that day the Blue Devils shot an uncharacteristic 3-21 (14.2%) from deep which enabled the Red Storm to pick up the momentous upset.

3. The last 10 games of the season will show growth

Up to several years ago the NCAA selection committee would look at how a team’s win-loss record in their last 10 games to determine if the team should make it to the NCAA tournament and where they should be seeded. To determine how far the Red Storm developed this season Red Storm fans should do the same. It is a cliché but there reaches a point in the season when freshmen are not freshmen anymore. The freshmen have gone into hostile territory and have played under bright lights in front of national TV audiences. By gaining this key experience the new players will not be afraid and should have hopefully improved on their weaknesses and be able to play much better as an individual and as a unit.

4. Anticipate the 2016-2017 season.

While it is projected to be a challenging year for St. John’s many of the key components will be returning in 2016. From redshirt junior Christian Jones to forward Kassoum Yakwe all are expected to return. More help is on the way in the form of much heralded guard Shamorie Ponds who has already committed to matriculate at St. John’s and Mullin and his staff are expected to gain more key prospects before the start of the 2016-17 season. And when the final net is cut down in April all the bumps and bruises from this season will just symbolize lessons learned. The lessons learned this season could help lead the Red Storm towards their ascent in the Big East and potentially turning into a national power.