Editor's Note: The BIG EAST will be previewing both the men's and women's team from each BIG EAST member each weekday from October 22 to November 9 in advance of the 2012-13 season. Use hashtag #BECountdown to join the conversation on Twitter.
St. John's Red Storm Men's Basketball
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The Big Picture:
Last season, the Red Storm had to replace virtually their entire team because of graduation. Then, coach Steve Lavin was not able to coach in most games during his recovery period from cancer surgery. Still, St. John's managed to compile a 13-19 mark overall and a 6-12 record in the BIG EAST. Lavin has brought in another large recruiting class to help rebuild the roster. The backcourt is in some experienced hands. Some fresh faces in the frontcourt will be counted on to offer some immediate help.
Guard D'Angelo Harrison was the BIG EAST's top freshman scorer with a 17.0 average last year. He was named to the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team. Phil Greene was another freshman who was thrown into the BIG EAST fire. The 6-foot-2 point guard averaged 7.6 points and 3.0 assists. Sir'Dominic Pointer started 25 games and averaged 6.6 points and 4.6 boards, playing mostly at shooting guard and small forward. Rugged 6-8 forward God'sgift Achiuwa came in as a junior college transfer and posted averages of 9.4 points and 5.8 rebounds while starting 18 games.
Forward Moe Harkless won the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year award after averaging 15.5 points and 8.6 rebounds. He was the league's second-highest scoring freshman and the top rookie rebounder. He left for the NBA and was a first-round draft choice.
The Red Storm are still young, but they should have more versatility this season. The backcourt appears stable with Harrison, Greene and Pointer. Six-foot-9 freshman Chris Obekpa is expected to make a strong run at a starting spot at center. Six-foot-8 freshman JaKarr Sampson could be a starter at power forward. He was a 2011-12 recruit, but took in another year of prep school. Six-foot-9 junior college transfer Orlando Sanchez can play either forward position. Some backcourt depth will come from 6-foot-6 Marco Bourgault, 6-foot-4 Felix Balamou and 6-foot-3 point guard Jamal Branch, a transfer from Texas A&M. Six-foot-7 freshman Christian Jones will compete for playing time at either forward position.