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The Time is Now for Norm and the Storm

November 9, 2009

 

 

As one of the elite programs in college basketball history, it has been both depressing and strange to see St. John’s struggle near the bottom of the Big East over the past several seasons.  Gone are the days of Lou Carnesecca and his sweater.  There are no more Chris Mullin’s, Mark Jackson’s, Ron Artest’s, or even Top JUCO transfers such as Bootsy Thornton and Marcus Hatten.  Now, a SJU-Syracuse ticket on a Saturday night at the Garden can be had for a mere $20. The Red Storm are on an up-hill climb back to the top of the Big East and the College Basketball world.  Despite past transgressions, the time is now for Coach Norm Roberts and his veteran Red Storm team as the Johnnies are well equipped to make some noise.  

Since Norm Roberts took over the program over five years ago, the Redmen, I mean Red Storm (Ugh!) have yet to qualify for the NCAA tournament.  In NYC, a sub-.500 record or a berth in the meaningless NIT tournament will not cut it.   While Mike Jarvis did leave the program in shambles, Norm has yet to show why he was regarded as the top recruiter in the country while serving as Bill Self’s assistant in Kansas.  However, with all the major contributors from last years squad returning, and a heralded recruiting class coming in, the Johnnies are poised to make a run at the Big Dance this season. 

Working in the Red Storm’s favor is undoubtedly their depth.  An 18-game Big East season is not for the weak of heart, and few teams in the conference will be able to match the athletic bodies SJU will be able to throw on the court.  Anthony Mason Jr., the Red Storm’s most talented and most experienced player, returns from a right foot tendon injury that sidelined him for almost the entire 08-09 season.  Although Mason Jr. suffered a minor setback in October with a hamstring injury, he is clearly the key to the Red Storm’s season.  The fifth year senior has averaged 12.43 PPG during his time at St. John’s and will be looked upon as the leader of the team, both on and off the court.

 “We’re obviously very happy and excited to get Anthony back. He is such a versatile scorer, and his ability to be our main scorer on any given night makes our team that much deeper.  We just want him to get fully healthy, and hopefully he’ll be ready by the end of November”

I think late November is a slight reach by Norm.  I’ll say he’ll be back by the Holiday Festival in late December. 

 

Evans and BurrelleAlso returning is a very formidable front court that has both size and athleticism.   Junior forwards Sean Evans (10.30 PPG, 7.50 RPG) and Justin Burrell (9.00 PPG, 4.5 RPG) wreaked havoc on teams last season both offensively and on the boards, but must be more consistent if the Red Storm want to compete with the upper echelon teams in the Big East.  Joining them this season will be JUCO transfer Justin Brownlee who is a versatile forward with the ability to face up or play his back to the basket.  Red Shirt Junior Rob Thomas rounds out the impressive front court that will be tough for any team to handle.

 

Whereas the fight and toughness resides with the forwards, the scoring and most talent live in the St. John’s backcourt.  Junior Shooting Guard, and last year’s leading scorer (14.6 PPG) Paris Horne returns and looks to continue his impressive maturation process.  Seldomlly used as a freshman, Paris lit it up his Sophomore season increasing his Paris HornePPG by 9.5.  Joining him will be Junior DJ Kennedy (13.0 PPG), a combo Guard who at 6’6 can shoot the three and post up smaller guards.  The point guard duties will mostly be handled by 5’8 Junior Malik Boothe who will have to improve his assist/turnover ratio for the Storm to succeed.  Joining this explosive backcourt will be the highly touted Freshman Omari Lawrence out of St. Raymond’s who passed up Kentucky and UCONN to play for Norm Roberts.  Lawrence is a swingman that has been rated a top 25 prospect with the ability to play the Shooting Guard, Small Forward, or Power Forward position.  With the injury to Mason, Omari will most likely start at the Forward position and will make an immediate impact in the Big East this season.   Also joining the team this year will be JUCO-transfer Dwight Hardy.  A 6’2 Shooting Guard out of the Bronx, Hardy is a tremendous outside shooter that averaged 39.0 PPG in High School.  He will likely come off the bench for the Red Storm. 

There is no place to go but up for this talented and experienced Red Storm team.  While the Big East coaches think St. John’s will finish in the lower half of the conference (picked 11 out of 16 teams pre-season), I believe this team has enough talent, toughness, and experience to contend for a trip to the NCAA Tournament in March.  Norm Roberts has never had this much athleticism and experience in his five years with the program and it is do-or-die for the head coach.  Another disappointing season, and Norm will be packing his bags. 

 

Projected Starting Lineup:

F- Sean Evans (Jr., 6’8)

F- Omari Lawrence (Fr., 6’5)

F/G- DJ Kennedy (Jr., 6’6)

G- Paris Horne (Jr., 6’4)

G- Malik Boothe (Jr., 5’8)

 

2009-2010 Marquee Matchups

11/27 @ Siena (Palestra, Philadelphia- Philly Hoops Classic)

12/05 @ Duke

12/06 vs. Georgia (SEC-Big East Challenge)

12/31 @ Georgetown

1/09 @ Louisville

1/20 @ UCONN

1/23 vs. Villanova

1/28 @ Pittsburgh

2/06  vs. West Virginia

2/11 vs. Louisville

2/14 @ Notre Dame

2/27 vs. Pittsburgh

3/02 @ Syracuse

3/09 Big East Tournament Begins

 

1st Game:  11/13 vs. Long Island University (Carnesecca Arena)

 

Projected Big East Standings:

1. Villanova

2. UCONN

3. West Virginia

4. Louisville

5. Georgetown

6. Cincinnati

7. Notre Dame

8. Syracuse

9. St. John’s

10. Seton Hall

11. Pittsburgh

12. Marquette

13. Providence

14. South Florida

15. Rutgers

16. Depaul

 

– Ill Will
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One comment

  1. dope article WG



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