Big East Summer Capsules: St. John’s Red StormPosted by mlemaire on July 25th, 2012
While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is St. John’s.
1. It’s probably time to fill out the coaching staff.
Former assistant and interim coach Mike Dunlap took the head gig with the Charlotte Bobcats and he left a giant hole on Coach Steve Lavin’s staff that still hasn’t been filled. Dunlap was considered an excellent tactician with a knack for developing young players and rumors are that the Red Storm will hire De La Salle (CA) High School coach Frank Allocco to fill the same role. Allocco has known Lavin since the latter’s days at UCLA and he has New Jersey roots, so the move makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons, but Lavin has said he won’t make a final decision until August. The Red Storm have dealt with plenty of upheaval in the last two years, so an absent assistant coach won’t faze them, but Lavin would be wise to get the deal done as soon as he feels comfortable so that whomever he hires can start recruiting and coaching.
2. Looking good Steve! Feeling good team!
If you don’t get the reference, go rent Trading Places and thank me later. Lavin went through prostate cancer surgery last season and despite his attempts to return to the bench, fatigue and treatment got the best of him so that he spent most of the season away from the sidelines. Now Lavin is healthy, tearing up the recruiting trail like only he can, and preparing to patrol the sideline for a St. John’s team that should engender a lot of optimism from their fan base thanks to the amount of returning talent on the roster. Now the question becomes exactly how healthy is Lavin? He already proved that he can overcome the nagging questions about his health on the recruiting trail, but if the questions come back he may not be able to overcome the uncertainty again. More importantly, he needs to be on the sideline. The players on his team committed to the program in large part because of Lavin and his personality; one can assume they would like to play for the coach who recruited them.
3. New faces mean lots of opportunities
After spending most of last season looking for anybody with a pulse who would be willing to suit up, Lavin and his staff made sure to find some reinforcements for next season and reinforcements is exactly what he found. The most important fresh faces will be big men JaKarr Sampson, Chris Obekpa and Orlando Sanchez, and Texas A&M transfer Jamal Branch, who will be eligible in the mid-December. The other incoming recruits are junior college transfer Marco Bourgault and Guinea native Felix Balamou, who will add depth to the roster. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Lavin has plenty of playing time to offer their newcomers, and it will be a matter of who wants to seize the opportunity. The Red Storm faithful are counting on a few of these players to step up and help the program contend for another NCAA Tournament berth and they will be hoping that a few of the fresh faces can see the opportunity in front of them and not squander it.