Posts Tagged ‘Yankuba Sima’

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.

Entering the Big East clash between St John’s and Xavier the Red Storm found themselves in a similar position by being 15 point underdogs on their home court. Being picked as underdogs will be a recurring theme as the season progress for St. John’s since they were picked to finish in the cellar of the Big East this season. Xavier came in boasting a ranking of 10 in the AP poll and a ranking of 1 in the RPI upon their visit to the Queens campus. The Red Storm demonstrated certain characteristics that should be lauded when playing against one of the best teams in the nation. Yet as this young and malleable team moves forward for the program to reach its zenith St John’s should not accept moral victories.

The Red Storm proved to be very resilient against the Musketeers by being able to fight through two specific forms of adversity. Unfortunately the first form of adversity was self-inflicted mainly because of the horrid shooting performance by the Red Storm. Out of the gate St. John’s converted 1 of their first 13 shots and closed the first half with an atrocious 10 of 37 ( 27%) from the field.

The second form of adversity came at the start of the 2nd half when it was announced freshman sensation Yankuba Sima would be unable to play the rest of the game. Now against a very big and talented front court of Xavier the Red Storm line up became smaller. Many young and inexperienced teams would just roll over and watch as the more experienced and more talented team imposed their will on the weaker opponent. The Red Storm did not fold and quit but fought back and almost had a momentous victory at Carnesecca Arena.

While the effort and fortitude was there the victory did not come for the home team. The end objective for Chris Mullin and his staff is to build a fearsome program that is among the best in the country. Blue blood programs like Duke and Kentucky do not accept or want moral victories and only achieve their goal when they raise a banner in their respective home arena. To reach the upper echelon of basketball programs the Red Storm should adopt the same goals and the expectation should alter from having a strong effort in games to defeating any team at any time in any location.