St. John’s basketball players focused on team, ignoring outside noise

The St. John’s basketball team is ignoring the outside noise entering the 2020-21 college basketball season.

Much like their head coach Mike Anderson, Julian Champagnie, Raheem Dunn, and Greg Williams Jr. are not paying any attention to the outside noise, or at least that’s what they are saying.

In meeting with the media on Wednesday afternoon, the trio of Johnnies did not put much stock into the 9th place finish the team was slotted in the Preseason Big East Coaches Poll.

“Everyone has an opinion. We’re not into the polls, the politics, nothing like that. We’re just working to be a better team,” Dunn said.

St. John’s, only projected to finish above DePaul and Georgetown in the conference, knows they have the returning players to compete near the top of the conference entering the second year in Anderson’s system.

“Just having that year of experience with Coach Mike [Anderson] and what he wants from us, we stepped into the leadership role with the transfers and the freshmen, and just bringing them up to speed with what we want,” Greg Williams Jr. said.

ALSO READ: St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson in love with 2020-21 team

The newcomers the junior speaks about are freshmen Posh Alexander and Dylan Wusu, junior college standouts Vince Cole and Isaih Moore, and George Washington graduate transfer Arnaldo Toro.

“I wouldn’t put anybody over anyone else,” Champagnie said when asked to rank the freshmen and transfers, “they’ve all come in and done what they had to do, and they’ve all impressed me a lot. I’d say [Arnaldo] Toro surprised me [the most].”

Julian Champagnie, a sophomore, expressed a strong sense of leadership and accountability for this Red Storm team all afternoon.

All three Red Storm players sounded like bonafide leaders entering the 2020-21 season and without Mustapha Heron or LJ Figueroa around, Anderson is going to need his upperclassmen to take the next step.

Rasheem Dunn is ready for the challenge.

“Me being experienced and in college for a long time, I feel like I can relate to a lot of the skills Coach Mike [Anderson] is teaching us,” Dunn explained.

Dunn will be entering his fifth year in college and thanks to the new eligibility rule passed by the NCAA, the Brooklyn native will have the option to return to Queens for next season.

ALSO READ: St. John’s snubbed from Big East Preseason rankings, honors

The 6-foot-2 guard says its not something he’s thought about yet, but he called the rule “dope” (which means good) and says he would consider the option of coming back to St. John’s after the season.

With a truncated schedule as a real possibility and the daunting task of a 20-game, 10-team conference slate, Williams thinks the way in which Anderson prepares the team will pay off and the team will learn from its close game mistakes last season.

“It definitely plays to our advantage being a deep team. We just have to protect the team, take care of ourselves. We can beat any team if we play 11-12 guys.”

It will not be much longer until St. John’s is able to take the lessons in practice and apply them to game action as the Red Storm open its season in Queens on November 25 against an opponent to be named later.