2007-08 St John's Basketball Preview
St. John’s Red Storm
Overall Rank: #131
Conference Rank: #14 Big East
2006-07: 16-15, 7-9, 11th
2006-07 postseason: none
St. John’s was not supposed to be good last year, but they sure had a lot more potential than a 16-15 overall record. But it did not happen and this year’s team has just as many questions. Eugene Lawrence is a decent point guard, but there needs to be some improvement for him to reach the level of a Big East point guard. The rest of the backcourt is no better, in fact it is worse. Larry Wright, who only averaged 4.0 points per game, is the best returning option at shooting guard. Wright has a smooth shot and could develop into a solid contributor this year now that he will get the chance to make an impact.
Guards Avery Patterson and Ricky Torres have opted to transfer. Patterson averaged 10.4 points per game and was by far the best long range shooter on the team. Torres averaged 2.3 points in limited playing time. Daryll Hill was a solid scorer when he was healthy, but unfortunately that was rarely the case. Little used Devin Mayo and Adam Laitsas have run out of eligibility. Lamont Hamilton led the team with 13.4 points and 6.5 rebounds and his absence will force the frontcourt to take a step back. Aaron Spears, who earned 11 starts as a senior, was a solid big man coming mostly off the bench.
The Red Storm will need quite a few of the incoming freshmen to not act like freshmen. The most important may be point guard Malik Boothe. A talent upgrade at the position is a necessity if St. John’s hopes for a postseason berth. The 5-7 Boothe is quick and tough and will immediately put himself into a position of leadership. His hustle will make up for his size and with a little consistency on the jumper Boothe could be very productive this season. Shooting guard Paris Horne will attack the basket and play above the rim and it would be very beneficial if he can find some quality minutes off the bench. Small forwards D.J. Kennedy and Mike Cavataio will battle for minutes. Kennedy has the most potential and, in spurts, can be a big-time scorer. The most talent is up front. Power forwards Justin Burrell and Sean Evans and center Dele Coker will be a quality Big East frontcourt in a few years. Burrell is a great athlete and the best player in this class, but needs to develop an offensive game in the paint or on the perimeter. Coker, at 6-10 and 245 pounds, is a presence under the basket. He is tough and strong and once the offensive game catches up to his defense, Coker will be good.
Who to Watch:
With Anthony Mason, Jr. at small forward and Qa’rraan Calhoun under the basket, St. John’s is developing a potent frontcourt. Mason will likely be the team’s leading scorer after averaging 11.9 points per game last year. The 6-7 junior can do a little bit of everything and will hit the glass hard and is the best returning shooter from long range and the charity stripe. Mason will have to carry this team and he has enough skills to do so. Calhoun spent his freshman campaign learning the ropes and is expected to start living up to his potential starting in 2007-2008. His 5.1 points and 4.0 rebounds are just scratching the surface and the super athlete is ready to join Mason as on of the best forward duos in the conference.
The backcourt is a big problem. Lawrence did average 5.6 assists per game and may be getting a bad rap as the team leader of a group that underachieved, but even getting a little help from Boothe would be helpful. The building process is going well with a quality group of incoming freshmen, but the lack of experience will hamper any hopes of a postseason for at least a couple more years.
Projected Post-season Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Eugene Lawrence, Senior, Guard, 7.2 points per game
Larry Wright, Sophomore, Guard, 4.0 points per game
Anthony Mason, Junior, Forward, 11.9 points per game
Qa’rraan Calhoun, Sophomore, Forward, 5.9 points per game
Justin Burrell, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season