Well, I’m not gonna lie… they did it again. They made me fucking believe. Does it looka lot different from years past? Absolutely not. If anything a bit worse. We don’t have the league’s leading scorer this year, and in my opinion… I’ll stand by it, the best shooter in the league. BUT! I must say the roster is looking so promising, and if we can stay healthy, we might have a shot.
The fact of the matter is we have the best defending guard in the country in Posh… someone argue that with me I dare you. He’s the best defender in the country. Then we have another top 5 defending guard coming in form Illinois… Andre Curbelo took a step back last year there’s no questioning that but the kid was concussed and hurt for most of the year, I think those are some tough conditions to play under, not to mention there’s a lot more competition for finding minutes at a powerhouse like Illinois. So, the kid’s healthy, not in a tough competition for minutes, lets give him another chance. If anyone remembers this kid was tearing it up with Ayo Dosunmo the year before and was a huge help in their run in the tournament. If you don’t think this kid is gonna flourish under Anderson’s system you’re mistaken. The energy this team is gonna have is damn well unbeatable in my opinion.
Apart from this, they’ve got chemistry out the ass. Curbelo, Pinzon, and Drissa all went to high school together, how much better does it get than that? We’ve got quite a few spanish speakers on the team in those three, Soriano, and another new transfer David Jones.
Another great thing about this squad is that they’re so young. A lot of juniors, that have been playing together for a few years now at least, there’s still a lot of time for these guys to gel. It’s a pretty young team which might be a bit of a concern but they’ve been around the league before and have been getting minutes for a while, it’s not like they’re rookies, these guys have some serious minutes under their belts.
The real thing that I think is gonna be the strong part for this team is our depth. WE’re a little bare at the center position once again in terms of size, Soriano is our biggest body at 6’11 260 LBs, I think with a year of experience in the Big East under his belt, he’s hopefully made some leaps. I just want more rebounds form the kid, honestly, learn how to box out. He’s not the biggest, he blocks some shots, not a ton and isn’t the best defender but if we can get him to be a board machine, that’s all I need. As for Omar Stanley, I think this kid has a ton of potential, I thought he should’ve gotten a lot more minutes last year. Thekid plays with so much hear and effort, I can’t wait to see what else he’s got left. I think he’s gonna make a huge jump this year. Same with Esiah NYiwe, I thought he was arguably the bst big last year, so hopefully he put a little more weight on and is set to make even more of an impact this year. The key for me with Nyiwe and Soriano is really getting boards. Their defense isn’t terrible, could be worse, but there’s only so much they can do when they’re going against these giants down low going against their lighter frames. But, the other guy I’m really excited for is the freshman Mohamed Keita, from Guinea. This kid has looked really good in preseason so far and seems like a true shot blocker, exactly what we need, he is crazy skinny but from what I’ve heard so far he’s a lot more talented than anyone thought, I guess they found him on the NBA africa circuit… go figure.
So, I think with the bigs we’ve got right now… Soriano, Stanley, Keita, Nyiwe, and Keita that’s a good start. The one I also didn’t mention is Drissa Traore… I feel like after his red shirt year he’s kind of flown under the radar but he was pretty highly recruited out of high school, had offers from Illinois, Umass, and others… He also looks like and has said he put on a lot of muscle over the summer… He’s another guy who could really add some nice depth to the team, 6’8 and some speed, who knows his ceiling… I won’t lie, I don’t know much about the kid’s game but I’m excited to see it, hopefully he can give us quality defense at the minimum.
The other thing impressive about this team is that we really aren’t that small… Posh and Curbelo aren’t the biggest guys on the planet but to me their size really doesn’t matter, they’re going to get the job done and size certainly hasn’t stopped Posh by any means yet this year. With those two the real thing we need to see them improve is their 3 point shooting, if Posh can find even some consistency from outside… it’s gonna be rough for anyone trying to guard that kid. He already finishes at the rim just as good as anyone so say a prayer if he figures it out behind the arc.
The other options that I think are going to be our real shooters are Pinzon who really did show that he could shoot at a good clip last year, just watching you could tell he had a nice shot, it’s just too bad the kid kept getting hurt, and it’s tough to shoot when you’ve got a hand injury…duh. So, Pinzon, alongside two of his high school teammates, should be in line for a good sophomore season, should he be able to stay healthy.
The other one who is going to be a key part is AJ Storr, a big time recruit. I think he should be able to help right away, obviously I think it will take him a bit of time to adjust to Mike Anderson’s system but I think if you commit to St. Jon’s you’ve got to know what you’re getting yourself into. But regardless I think this kid is a big time player, ready to shine in the Garden. There’s not a ton of highlights of him out there but from what I’ve seen, the things I could tell are.. He’s a great athlete, can be great on defense if he puts the effort in, has hops, can get up for a lob, has a good shot, something we need plenty of, and can finish at the rim. He’s just what we need, an athletic guy we can dump it off to when we need a bucket… I might be a little too confident but getting a recruit like this, with this style of play isn’t something I’ve seen a ton of at St. John’s… I think if this kid can slowly get adjusted, not have too much pressure put on him at first, he can really excel and he;p the team a ton down the stretch, it’s just a matter of us not relying on him too much in the beginning, letting the experienced players give him good opportunities and not forcing too much on him.
Apart from the newcomers, and guys we haven’t seen much of, the returners I haven’t covered yet are Dylan Addae Wusu and Montez Mathis, both are so athletic and great forces on defense I can’t wait to see how much they’ve improved over one offseason. They showed a lot of potential last year, but just needed to figure out how to shoot more consistently, as is the case with a few of the guys on this team, if they could just knock down the gimmes, the easy jumpers, they would be so lethal. Sounds a lot easier than it actually is, but you’ve gotta think about the potential. All of the kids on this team, with Anderson at the helm, are gonna know how to play elite defense. It’s just really once again a matter of the offense and the ability to get easy buckets, if we cut down on the missed layups, from everyone on the team, the depth will take care of itself and the team will be primed for success.
As it seems like we’ve said for a few seasons in a row… If the Johnnies can figure out rebounds and taking advantage of the easy opportunities, and can figure out how to knock down a decent amount of 3’s from more than one or two guys, a team with this much depth is destined for success. If we can filter in the new guys well enough and our shooters actually shoot, I think we’ve got a great shot at finally making it into March.