No, I didn’t think I’d be writing this article this soon either.
The St. John’s Red Storm have had what could best be described as a uninspiring season. Not many experts expected them to light the Big East on fire, but I doubt any of them thought they would be this inept as well. The Johnnies are currently sporting a 9-7 overall record, with bad losses to the San Francisco Dons, UNC-Asheville Bulldogs, and a blowout loss to the Georgetown Hoyas.
Despite beating a ranked Cincinnati Bearcats just to lure you in for false hope, the Red Storm have been a disaster this season. An optimist would just lay blame on the Johnnies’ youth. A smarter person would know there is enough blame to go around and youth is the least of their issues.
Sharing is caring, remember that? Well apparently the Johnnies don’t care about one another. The Red Storm don’t have a single player averaging over 3 assists per game and their offense revolves around the worst form of isolation basketball this side of Joe Johnson. To run that form of offense, you need a group of specific skilled players, good ones. While the argument can be made that D’Angelo Harrison fits the bill, his inefficiency and lack of consistency is driving folks wild. Don’t get me wrong, Harrison is clearly the Johnnies’ best player(and the isolation is likely out of “having to” rather than “wanting to”) but some form of ball movement has to be formed.
Then there is freshman JaKarr Sampson. While Sampson’s stats look great for a freshman, it’s the way he’s getting the stat-line stuffed that has me worried. Sampson plays reckless offensively, forcing up shots and driving to the hole with his head firmly staring at the ground. Miraculously, he still finds a way to have the bucket go in the basket, albeit to the detriment of offensive flow.
Sampson as well as Harrison feel like “Stat Stars”. Guys whose box score looks great but aren’t really having a positive impact for the team. If you didn’t watch any of the Red Storm’s games thus far, you would assume that these two players are literally carrying this team on their back. Maybe there are, but it’s clearly in the wrong direction.
Phil Greene IV has magically regressed from his impressive start to the season. The “point guard” of the Red Storm is starting to form the habit of over-dribbling, especially at the end of close games. He, along with Amir Garrett, seem disinterested with their Stat Star buddies and always find a way to dribble away from them while setting up for their half-court offense.
Garrett continues his trend of looking aloof out on the court. Drawing bad fouls, trying to play above the rim when he clearly can’t, are starting to be the norm for the sophomore. Garrett’s ability to cost the Red Storm valuable possessions are starting to take a wear on his teammates. While nobody is reporting on it, take notice of Harrison during free-throws after Garrett makes a bad foul, standing there just shaking his head in disbelief.
But this isn’t the NBA, you can’t release and sign or trade for new players, the Johnnies are stuck with these youngsters(I’m hip). So even though, like most of you, I’m a big fan of Steve Lavin, he carries the biggest burden of blame.
Lavin has to find an offense more suitable than isolation hoops. In the waning moments of their loss against the Hoyas, the Red Storm looked most efficient getting points from good defensive stands. Getting their offense from good defense, what a noble idea. But Lavin seems glued to this isolation philosophy, to the point of losses, where a change in offense might come as to drastic of a move to the third year coach.
I didn’t expect St. John’s to be world beaters. However, I didn’t expect them to be this bad either. It’s a (another) sad day, when on January 13th, you’re sticking a fork in the season.
Or what St. John’s fans have come to known over the last decade, Sunday.
Joe covers the Catholic Seven for Rant Sports while dabbling in some others. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the social media device( You can even use you’re cellular device) on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone