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Status of St. John’s Guard Jamal Branch Remains Uncertain

Evan Habeeb-USA Today Sports

Over the weekend, St. John’s guard Jamal Branch went down with an apparent knee injury as part of the Red Storm’s 68-56 loss to Georgetown.

Upon the team’s return to New York City, Branch had his knee re-examined on Monday and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Tuesday. The early diagnosis for Branch’s injury is a sprained MCL.

In his first season for the Johnnies since becoming eligible at the conclusion of the fall semester, Branch has been a bright spot for a Red Storm squad that continues its pursuit of a berth within the NCAA Tournament. On the year, Branch is averaging 8.3 points, 2.5 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game.

The loss on Saturday snapped a five-game winning streak for the Red Storm, a stretch that had flipped the script on the season and catapulted them back within the conference mix. On Wednesday, the team will play host to Connecticut in their efforts to get back on track following the weekend loss, although it remains unclear if Branch will be able to play.

“Because we’re so young, we need to be as close to full strength as we can be,” St. John’s coach Steve Lavin told ESPN New York. “We hope he’s gonna be OK. We don’t have enough information at this point from the trainers and the doctors, other than the sprained knee.”

Branch has emerged as the team’s leader on the floor during the Johnnies’ recent success, so if he is determined to be out for a specific amount of time then St. John’s will certainly miss his production.

St. John’s is 5-1 since Branch was inserted into the starting lineup by Lavin.

 

Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS

 

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NCAA Tournament Profile: St. John's Red Storm

Record: 21-11

RPI: 37

BPI: 51

Conference: Big East Conference

How They Qualified: At-Large Berth

Region: No. 9 seed in South

 

The St. John’s Red Storm have been a tough puzzle to solve ever since Steve Lavin took over as head coach. Lavin has recruited like a boss, but his teams simply have not met expectations. Well, his team didn’t blow us all away this year, but it will be partaking in the 2015 NCAA tournament. It is all about those baby steps.

This is the Red Storm’s first appearance since 2011. Needless to say, the team was well overdue.

 

What You Need to Know:

Leading Scorer: D’Angelo Harrison (17.5 PPG)

Leading Rebounder: Sir’Dominic Pointer (7.6 RPG)

Leading Passer: Rysheed Jordan (3.1 APG)

Bad Losses: DePaul, Creighton, Seton Hall

Good Wins: Providence (twice), Xavier (twice), Syracuse, Georgetown

 

If everything comes together, St. John’s could be one of the biggest surprises of the tournament. That may be asking for a lot, though. This team did lose 11 times on the season.

If you are looking for a player who can score at will, look no further than D’Angelo Harrison. Harrison is a senior, so you better believe he will be playing every game like it is his last because … well, every game could realistically be his last. Fun fact: Harrison has averaged over 16 points per game all four years at St. John’s — he is the real deal, folks.

St. John’s wasn’t the most consistent team in the country, so it will be interesting to see which Red Storm team shows up — the one that lost three in a row at one point, or the one that started the season off with an 11-1 record.

The St. John’s Red Storm are dancing!

Trevor Lowry is a Content Associate at RantSports.com. If you’re a tweeter feel free to follow him @TheTrevorLowry, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

Will this finally be the year that Steve Lavin coaches his St. John's Red Storm on a deep run? Whether the case, they enter the dance with some talent.

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