2008-09 St. John's Basketball Preview: #142

June 30th, 2008

St. John’s Red Storm

Overall Rank: #142
Conference Rank: #14 Big East

2007-08: 11-19, 5-13, 14th
2007-08 postseason: none

The youth and inexperience excuses are not going to fly this year at St. John’s. Well, at least not as much. This is still a team that only has three upperclassmen on the roster, but a large group of freshmen saw a lot of playing time last season. Anthony Mason Jr. is one of those senior leaders and the forward is a game changer when he is healthy. During Big East play in 2008, when he was almost at full strength, Mason Jr. performed very well and ended the year averaging 14.0 points and 4.4 rebounds.

Who’s Out:
Replacing Eugene Lawrence at the point guard spot is a concern. Lawrence’s turnovers might have been a little high and his scoring was inconsistent, but he was a good team leader. Backcourt mate Larry Wright was the most consistent outside shooter on the team, but will not be suiting up for the Red Storm in 2008. Little used wing Mike Cavataio has also left the program after his freshman campaign.

Who’s In:
With so few losses on the team, this year’s group of freshmen will not be asked to contribute nearly as much as 2007’s class of newcomers. But the backcourt certainly needs some more depth and Quincy Roberts and TyShawn Edmondson will provide just that. Roberts, a 6-5 shooting guard, is a decent shooter and could fill a role off the bench right away. Edmondson will fill a couple needs for the Johnnies. He is really a point guard, but he has enough scoring prowess to play off the ball as well and that is what this team really needs right now, but a back-up point guard is nice to have too. Phil Wait, a 7-1 center, will need some time to develop his game, but he could be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on in the upcoming years.

Who to Watch:
Malik Boothe, D.J. Kennedy and Paris Horne saw plenty of action as freshmen in the backcourt, but are they ready to take over a majority of the minutes? The biggest issue is Boothe replacing Lawrence at the point. He showed plenty of potential and poise as a freshman and even had a better assist-to-turnover ratio than Lawrence, but fitting in a new point guard is always a concern. Kennedy started nearly every game last season and proved to be a capable scorer getting to the basket. Finding somebody who could consistently hit the three-pointer besides Mason Jr. would be nice though.

Final Projection:
Just like in the backcourt, the frontcourt is full of talented youngsters who need to start turning potential into production if St. John’s wants to have a successful season. Sophomore Justin Burrell is the best of the bunch after averaging 10.8 points and a team high 5.9 rebounds as a freshman. Dele Coker started a handful of games and the 6-10 center was starting to look more comfortable around the basket by the end of his freshman capamign. Add fellow sophomores Sean Evans and Rob Thomas, who might finally be healthy, and experienced senior Tomas Jasiulionis to the mix and the Red Storm’s frontcourt is suddenly looking pretty good. However, the team looked pretty good last year too and still ended with a disappointing 5-13 conference record.

Projected Post-season Tournament: none

Projected Starting Five:
Malik Boothe, Sophomore, Guard, 3.0 points per game
D.J. Kennedy, Sophomore, Guard, 7.8 points per game
Anthony Mason, Jr., Senior, Forward, 14.0 points per game
Justin Burrell, Sophomore, Forward, 10.8 points per game
Tomas Jasiulionis, Senior, Center, 2.0 points per game