Resurgent St. John's has 5 starters back
NEW YORK (AP)
Someone has to sit.
St. John's has 11 letterwinners, including five starters, back from last season and welcomes freshman Rysheed Jordan, one of the most highly regarded high school point guards, to the fold.
And according to coach Steve Lavin, Jordan will play.
''He's the best guard, the most explosive guard I've had in college and that includes Baron Davis,'' Lavin said of his former star at UCLA. ''He has made everybody better by the way he practices. He is going to be a very special player.''
That means somebody's minutes will be cut and all the players say that will be just fine if it means wins and an NCAA tournament bid, something none of the current roster has experienced.
''Honest, nobody cares about minutes. We want to win. We want to win bad,'' said leading scorer D'Angelo Harrison, who missed the last six games last season because of a disciplinary suspension. ''Rysheed is good but there are some other good players here - players who think we can win.''
JaKarr Sampson was the Big East rookie of the year last season averaging 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds in filling the shoes of Moe Harkless, a first-round draft pick after his freshman season with the Red Storm.
Lavin said the team can be one of those that improves all season and becomes a factor in the conference come February.
''This can be one of those teams that figures it out as it goes along,'' he said. ''This team can be a lot of fun. I know it will be fun coaching a team with depth at every position. It will give us a chance to do some things we couldn't when we were down to six players.''
The Red Storm open play on Nov. 8 against Wisconsin in The Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Here are five things to know about St. John's this season:
BLOCK PARTY: Sophomore Chris Obekpa led the nation last season with 4.03 blocks per game. He averaged 3.9 points and 6.2 rebounds in earning all-Big East rookie honors. He has to improve on his 39.1 percent free throw percentage.
SHOOTING 3S: The Red Storm shot a league-low 27.1 percent from 3-point range last season with Harrison (58), Phil Greene (25) and Marc-Antoine Bourgault (22) accounting for all but 15 of the 120 the team made. There is long-range help on the way with Harvard transfer Max Hooper, and junior college transfer Orlando Sanchez eligible this season.
NEW OLD LEAGUE: St. John's is one of the seven non-football schools who broke away to form the conference which kept the name Big East. With 10 members, the teams will play a round-robin schedule and the postseason tournament will again be played at Madison Square Garden.
NEW COACH: Lavin made a key addition to the coaching staff late in the offseason when he hired Jim Whitesell away from Saint Louis where he was the lead assistant to Jim Crews as the Billikens won the Atlantic 10 title.
HERE COMES MR. JORDAN: Jordan may be the highest profile freshman since Felipe Lopez back in the early 1990s. The 6-foot-4 Philadelphia native averaged 24.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in leading Roberts Vaux H.S. to a Class A championship. He was the No. 3 point guard and No. 17 overall prospect in ESPN's Top 100.
''Wait until you see him,'' Greene said. ''I go against him in practice. His defense is even more impressive than his offense and his offense is great.''