The St. John’s Red Storm finally seem like they are determined to be major players in the race for relevancy in the Big East Conference. While everyone knew the Johnnies would have an extremely up and down season, thanks to their youth, I don’t think anyone expected them to apparently turn the ship in the right direction so fast.
A large portion of the credit should go to freshman beast JaKarr Sampson and the emergence of Jamal Branch as a calming force to the Red Storm offense. However, the majority of it is going to head to amateur bucket-maker D’Angelo Harrison.
Harrison is a sophomore guard who was overshadowed much of last year by now NBA hoopster Maurice Harkless. Not only has Harrison stepped out of Harkless’ shadow, “3′Angelo” is starting to cast one of his own. For the year, Harrison is averaging just a shade under 20 points per game(19.8 to be exact) and while the rest of the stat sheet isn’t necessarily stuffed, he more than makes up for it with huge shots in big time situations.
Harrison also possesses something most college players don’t, the ability to create his own shot or score coming off the dribble. Isolation hoops might be a dirty word(I think so), but it’s all swell in the land of New York when it’s working(Just ask Carmelo Anthony or Joe Johnson. Wait, does that make New York the home of Isolation Hoops?). Whether it be when the shot clock is winding down, the half coming to an end, or late in the game with a win on the line, Harrison continues to come up huge for the Red Storm.
With other Big East preseason POY candidates falling quickly to the wayside, looking at you Peyton Siva, or upstart man-beasts getting benched during critical moments in a close game, poor Jack Cooley, nobody is making a stronger push than Harrison. However, while those guys might be slipping away from POY talk, Harrison is not alone in becoming his team’s driving force. Sean Kilpatrick of the Cincinnati Bearcats continues his push as not only the Big East POY but possibly the nation’s top player. Averaging 18-5 is a pretty good way to stay in the mix while your team continues to shine.
Siva, Cooly, Kilpatrick, and Harrison, all know that to be rewarded something like the Big East POY(In the last year that award will mean anything) doesn’t just mean individual stats. Each player has to lead their teams to some big-time victories down the stretch or it’s bye bye POY time for all of the potential candidates.
As for Harrison though, with his team on the verge of making a push within the conference, his time to show how great he can be is now. Not like now, but now, as no other player in the Big East is relied upon for team success like Harrison.
Dwight Hardy 2.0? Nah, I don’t think that’s fair to either player. But I’m sure all the Red Storm faithful wouldn’t mind if Harrison pulled a Hardy and carried the Johnnies to a place where it’s okay for grown men to dance wearing shorts in March.
Joe covers the Catholic Seven for Rant Sports. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone