St. John’s basketball season preview ahead of 2020-21 campaign

St. John's basketball (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
St. John's basketball (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

A new day is rising for the St. John’s basketball program, one of which might never be seen again.

The 2020-21 college basketball season is here and it’s one that has never been seen before, not even in the illustrious history of the St. John’s basketball program, and hopefully it will never been seen again.

Already over 150 games have been canceled or postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and as the last team to take the floor in the 2019-20 season, the Red Storm will be looking to pickup where it left off.

Despite losing its top two scorers from last season, LJ Figueroa and Mustapha Heron, St. John’s outlook appears promising in the second season under head coach Mike Anderson, who took a barren team to a winning record and playing its best basketball in March.

With a returning core and handful of impact newcomers entering Queens, the Red Storm, internally, have high expectations for the team entering 2020-21 but that same idea isn’t held by many others around the conference, as the Johnnies were picked to finish 9th in the Big East Preseason Coaches Poll.

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Anderson will be able to further implement his style of play, specifically his pressing defense, with a deeper and more experienced team.

In order to have success the offense has to become more consistent, especially when facing a zone, which caused the team more problems than one could imagine, given the issues shooting the basketball from the perimeter.

Rasheem Dunn, Julian Champagnie, and Greg Williams Jr. have to be the consistent forces for this team while freshman Posh Alexander will certainly bring the fireworks and explosive plays he showed he was capable of in high school.

The Red Storm also will have more depth in its front court with returners Josh Roberts and Marcellus Earlington, but adding graduate transfer Arnaldo Toro and junior college standouts Vince Cole and Isaih Moore.

What is a successful season for the St. John’s basketball program?

Reaching the NCAA Tournament is a achievable goal for this Red Storm team, but it will not be easy.

With no March Madness in the 2019-20 season, the Johnnies will be looking to make back-to-back NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 1999 and 2000.

St. John’s was a bubble team until late-January and with its winning streak late in the season, the Johnnies were trying to play its way back on the NCAA Tournament bubble in the Big East Tournament.

However, St. John’s can only lose a maximum of two games in non-conference play and it’s only losable games would be against Boston College and Texas Tech.

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If the Red Storm want to have a season that ends up with an NCAA Tournament berth, the Johnnies must win one of those games and the more winnable game would be against the Eagles on a neutral floor at Mohegan Sun Arena rather than a road game in Lubbock against a Top-20 team.

A 5-1 non-conference record coupled with a .500 record in Big East play should get the Johnnies into the NCAA Tournament, but wins will be needed against the projected “upper tier” of the conference such as Creighton, UConn, and Seton Hall.

Villanova is always a tough task for any team in the conference to defeat and this year will be even more difficult to knock off Jay Wright’s squad given their depth and returning players.

Look for St. John’s to play fast, tough, hard-nosed basketball in 2020-21 and Mike Anderson to captivate a city in which fans will be glued to their televisions all season long.

Season Prediction: St. John’s makes First Four in the NCAA Tournament and falls in the Round of 64. 

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