St. John's Red Storm Season Resting on "Ifs"

By Joseph Nardone
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Reports of the St. John’s Red Storm death may have been wildly exaggerated, or maybe the Big East Conference isn’t as good as it has been in the past. Either way, St. John’s has had a nice run to put themselves back in the mix for March. That’s not to say they’re any good, it’s just to say they have had a very nice three game winning streak.

Just a week ago I called it a season for the Johnnies. I claimed their youth, offensive woes, and refusal to move away from isolation offense, ended their season early. So obviously, after such a daring shot at the Red Storm, they ran off those three wins, one against a good Notre Dame Fighting Irish team.

But sometimes you have to dig deeper than just the record. Beating the DePaul Blue Demons as well as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights isn’t exactly wins that make you think team of destiny. However, it’s that same youth that has caused the majority of their problems, that now can be their savior. And while the isolation offense is still running a muck in New York, it seems the lesser cogs in the Red Storm wheel are starting to find their niche in the offense.

D’Angelo Harrison and JaKarr Sampson are clearly the Red Storm’s two best offensive players. The two players are the same two I’m talking about while I complain of the isolation hoops the Red Storm clearly feel comfortable running. But it’s not those two players who have helped the Johnnies “figure it out” on offense, it’s Jamal Branch.

Branch has been somewhat of a revelation for head coach Steve Lavin. Most expected the Horace Grant vision protector spokesmen to be a backup point guard, behind Phil Greene. Then something weird happened, Greene got worse as the season went on. In came Branch, who for all intents and purposes may have helped save any chance the Red Storm had to dance when the snow is still fresh on the ground but the birds can be heard chirping.

I’m still not convinced this Red Storm team is really good, but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s not because of a lack of talent.

The next two games are huge for the Red Storm, after that it’s a rematch against the Georgetown Hoyas(Who put an extra kind of swell but whooping on the Johnnies on January 12th). If St. John’s can come out of that stretch with three more victories, maybe it’ll change my tune and I’ll jump on the Johnnies bandwagon.

If is a big word, however. If I was any good at predicting games I’d make millions in Vegas. If Manti Te’o had any logic, we wouldn’t be forced to watch something called Katie today. If Rant Sports knew any better, I wouldn’t have a job. If Ray Lewis didn’t hang out with some bad dudes in 2000 maybe there would be no need for redemption. If I was a little bit taller I’d be a baller, if I had a girl I would call…

Okay, you get it. The St. John’s Red Storm’s season rests on a lot of “ifs”, at least it’s not a “what could have been” situation.

Joe covers the Catholic Seven for Rant Sports. IF you want to follow him on the Twitter Machine, you can do so @JosephNardone

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