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November 7, 2013

St. John's: First Impressions





The exhibition season for the St. John's Red Storm is over. They played two games against division II opponents, which is customary in college basketball. These games don't count, and schools in high major programs are expected to dominate there "less talented" division two opponents.

For St. John's, the first game was horrific if you only judge a team going by that rule. They escaped with an 82-80 win over San Francisco State. It wasn't supposed to be that way. I had to look at the program and make sure they were a D2 team. It wasn't supposed to be that close or that suspenseful. Thank goodness the Red Storm pulled it out. Even though it doesn't count, a loss wouldn't be a good look for the Johnnies.

The second game against Humboldt State was totally different. The score was 47-15, or something like that, at the half. I told one of the event staff that it looked like it was going to be 100-30 finish. I was a little off on that quick mathematical analysis.

They won 106-39. That's more like it. Now St. John fans can go into the season with a reasonable amount of expectation. This should be a team that wins a lot more than they lose. They have bona fide high major talent on this roster. They have experience under their belt. They have a 5 star freshman on the team this year.

And that's really the thing that stood out to me when thinking about the team and the upcoming season. Rysheed Jordan looks the part. You always are curious when a highly touted freshman takes the court for the first time. Jordan passed the eye test. I liked what I saw, and I think fans of St. John's will like what they see also. Especially since he's not going to be around here for long.

Yeah, I know, he hasn't even played D1 caliber teams yet. He hasn't played against an opposing guard that is as big and fast and strong as him at this level. But my internal instinct tells me that what I'm assuming is probably correct. Based on what the scouts said about him while in high school, I'm not saying anything that's groundbreaking.

Jordan is an NBA sized pg with a smooth jumper and good court vision that was apparent in the time that he was on the court. He played under control and looked liked he fit in seamlessly with his more experienced teammates. Jordan looked like a one and done. That's just my first impression that may or may not change as the season begins.

What else can I say about two exhibition games? What else stood out to me?

The team is talented, and I'm pretty sure a couple will be playing in the league shortly. They also have guys who may be borderline pros and at the very least will get a look from somebody willing to give them a check to hoop. One of my favorite Red Storm players to watch is Sir'Dominic Pointer.

The junior guard is capable of providing at least one highlight a game. He is a jack of all trades and during the second half of a game that needed an AAU style mercy rule, he blocked about 4 straight shots on one possession against Humboldt State. He finished with 9 blocks in the game, and most of them were followed by legitimate giggles from the crowd. It was like watching a high school senior play against his 7 yr old kid brother one on one. Pointer transformed into "Lebron James" for a few minutes because head coach Steve Lavin took out the rest of the players that will be in the rotation. Pointer played a game high 29 minutes because somebody had to play.

Pointer had two dunks late in the game over Humboldt State players that had his teammates excited on the bench and Lavin looking like he was trying to keep that "serious grown up" look on face. The dunks weren't necessary but its basketball. The game is 40 minutes long and Humboldt State wasn't going to be babied despite getting smacked the whole 40 minutes. The clock was still running.

Pointer will continue to do that all season no matter what level the other team is on. He's exciting and as I said above, he's personally one of my favorite players to watch. Maybe he will get one of those highlight worthy dunks against Wisconsin Friday night.

There is a long season ahead of us and I will share my individual thoughts on the team as it goes. So I will be able to give my insight on the entire team depending on who does or does not step up.

By the way, I also like Orlando Sanchez, a big who can do a lot of things on the floor that big men usually don't do. But I'll save that for later.

Good luck on the season. The Red Storm are supposed to be good this year.

I think they will be.




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