NCAA basketball countdown: No. 32 St. John’s
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
The first word: St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said he suspended leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison from the team last season with the hope that he would “earn his way back.”
The 6-4 guard, who averaged 17.8 points, missed the final six games with the suspension that Lavin described as conduct detrimental to the team. In turn, the Red Storm lost the rest of their regular-season games and bowed out early in the Big East tournament to quickly slip off the NCAA tournament bubble.
The good news for St. John’s in 2013-14: All indications suggest Harrison’s earned his way back.
“There were hurdles he had to clear in order to come back. We provided a road map or checklist,” Lavin said. “To D’Angelo’s credit he has gone right down the list and checked them all off. Now the key is, and what is most important, is sustaining this positive momentum through April. To this point every indication is Dee will have an outstanding junior year and help us win.”
Harrison’s return isn’t the only good news for the Red Storm. St. John’s brings back 91.6% of his scoring and 88.3% of its rebounding from last year’s NIT squad, including top big man JaKarr Sampson and guard Phil Greene IV.
2012-13 in review: 17-16 overall (8-10 Big East), lost in second round of NIT.
Tournament projection: At-large bid, No. 8 seed.
Conference outlook: There are many questions for the upcoming season in the new Big East, now a 10-team basketball-focused league made up of the seven Catholic schools that departed the traditional Big East (Marquette, Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall and DePaul) and newcomers Butler, Xavier and Creighton. The league race appears to be wide open, and the Red Storm would have to beat out four other NCAA tournament-caliber teams in Marquette, Creighton, Georgetown and Villanova.
Coach’s corner: “When we came here three-plus years ago this was the goal: to get our roster and personnel to a point where we could be a more competitive team game to game and year to year. That’s really the goal, to be a sustainable … [For more on College basketball countdown: No. 32 St. John's, click here.]