The St. John’s Red Storm are heading into the 2012-13 campaign very young and may be missing some key components come the regular season. God’sgift Achiuwa as well as Felix Balamou might get red-shirted this season and Orlando Sanchez and Marc-Antoine Bourgault might be unavailable early on due to some eligibility issues. Topple all that off with one one of the youngest Red Storm teams to ever get ready to play and head coach Steve Lavin already has his hands full.
Lavin knows this and that’s why early season success is paramount. The Johnnies open up their non-conference schedule set to play 9 of their first 10 games against non-BCS schools.
It’s a tricky game that the St. John’s coaching staff is going to have to balance early on. Working on setting a set rotation, figuring out who’s going to be the second and third option on offense(obviously D’Angelo Harrison is the main guy), and having the team form some chemistry. While doing all of that, because of playing in the difficult Big East, the Red Storm need to come out of that stretch with 8 wins to make a run at the NCAA Tournament.
Defensive stoppers Amir Garrett and Phil Greene will be asked to pick up some of the offensive slack, and if Achiuwa isn’t playing, have to play multiple positions on the floor. Thankfully the Red Storm do have “Super Freshman” JaKarr Sampson whose offensive game seems to be mid-range jumpers but he also has the ability to grab rebounds. Those 3 players are definitely just behind the sharpshooter Harrison as far as importance to the teams success.
The Red Storm finish their stretch of “cupcake” games against St. Francis (NY) Terriers(at the new fancy Barclays Center) December 15th.
Imagine the momentum a young team can have if they come into that game 9-0 and playing in front of a packed house in a brand new arena. It could be just the thing that helps a really young team build confidence going into conference play. On the other hand, if the Red Storm get off to a shaky start, the game at the Barclays could be a public nail in the coffin.
St. John’s is going to be young, have a never-ending slew of rotations, and erratic play seems certain. The key to the season lays in those first 10 games. After that they go knee deep in conference play, and with a young team having early success, the sky will be the limit.
I don’t want to fathom the other scenario.
Joe covers the Big East for Rant Sports. You can follow him on the Twitter machine @JosephNardone