Heading into the 2012-2013 college basketball season, one of the main concerns for the St. John’s Red Storm was other than sophomore D’Angelo Harrison, who would be able to step up for this team comprised mainly of freshmen and sophomores, most of whom have little to no experience playing together.
Well, while Harrison’s leading the way for the Johnnies to the tune of 21.2 points per game (third amongst Big East players), he certainly hasn’t been the only player carrying his weight in Queens. Most recently, it was sophomore Sir’Dominic Pointer, who scored a career-high 15 points, to go along with 8 rebounds and 6 assists in St. John’s 79-68 win over Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday. It was the Red Storm’s second straight win, after losing two straight…after opening the season 2-0 (yes mathematicians, that puts them at 4-2).
While it’s been a hectic opening season for St. John’s, head coach Steve Lavin feels great about the way his team’s coming together. “In the six games we’ve played there hasn’t been a patsy or a cupcake in the group. They may not have the blueblood names coming out of power conferences, but these are the type of teams that we watch in the first weekend of play that beat the teams from the power conferences.”
Granted, one of their two losses was to the only ranked team they’ve played, now number-24 Baylor, but it’s encouraging to see the way this up-and-coming team has matured. “We’ve just finished six games in twelve days, and while we are still a work in progress, I’m pleased with our ability to fight back,” said Lavin after Saturday’s win. “We’ve also shown an ability to stay poised and maintain our composure and find a way to win games. There are no moral victories, and we’d like to win every game, but given where we are as a program we are pleased with our gradual maturation over the course of the last twelve days.”
One of the main reasons for their maturation has been the play of point guard Phil Greene IV. Greene has upped his averages from a season ago of 7.8 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.6 rebounds to 13.8 points (on a terrific 46 percent shooting), 4.2 assists, and 4.5 rebounds. Greene and Harrison have wreaked havoc in the backcourt, while freshmen bigs JaKarr Sampson and Chris Obekpa have given the Red Storm the best frontcourt they’ve had in years.
Sampson is the team’s top rebounder, as well as their third-leading scorer, having scored in double-figures for four straight games after visibly pressing through the teams first two games. While Sampson’s shown prowess on the offensive end, Obekpa’s revealed himself as St. John’s secret weapon heading into the season, averaging an obscene 4.5 blocks, having recorded 6 or more blocks in three of the six games.
Adding to the well-rounded rotation are the other two returning sophomore guards, Amir Garrett and Pointer. While I’ve already mentioned Pointer being the latest hero for the Red Storm, it was Garrett who notched a 15 point, 11 rebound double-double in the season opener win over Detroit.
St. John’s has looked like a team that’s still a work-in-progress, but there are definitely reasons to be excited for the teams tougher games. They’ve shown resilience and camaraderie, traits that go a long way for a team whose biggest concern heading into the season was being on the same page. Well that and who could step up besides Harrison.
Looks like their concerns have been answered early on.
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