St. John’s basketball not concerned about lofty preseason expectations

The preseason polls are out and the St. John’s basketball program is focused on the court. 

Expectations are high for the St. John’s basketball program this season, and rightly so.

Head coach Mike Anderson returns two of the best players in the Big East Conference, Julian Champagnie and Posh Alexander, as well as bringing in a slew of veteran players thanks to the transfer portal.

However, the Red Storm are not focused on what accolades they receive in the preseason, rather than trying to get things to mesh together on the court.

Champagnie was named as an unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big East First Team while Alexander was named to the Second Team.

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St. John’s was picked to finish fourth in the conference in the Preseason Coaches Poll, trailing Villanova, UConn, and Xavier and receiving five votes in the Preseason Associated Press Top-25 Poll.

The projected fourth place finish in the Big East is the highest preseason ranking for the Johnnies in the conference since the 2018-19 season, when the program was also projected to finish fourth before a disappointing seven place finish.

It was the same year in which the Red Storm last earned votes in the preseason AP Poll, the final season under head coach Chris Mullin.

“We have a lot of questions,” Anderson said at Big East Media Day on Tuesday morning, “and we’ll have those answers when we start playing games.”

Another question for the Johnnies is regarding the health of Dylan Addae-Wusu, who has yet to practice since undergoing ankle surgery this offseason.

“It’ll be close,” Anderson said of Addae-Wusu’s availability on opening night against Mississippi Valley State.

St. John’s basketball proud of quick culture shift

Mike Anderson had no idea what was coming for him when he accepted the job at St. John’s.

His first season, already chaotic getting acclimated to a new setting, was cut short due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

His second season, in which he had very little of an offseason because of the pandemic, was wait-and-see each day due to testing and protocols as no fans were able to attend games.

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“If you asked me if I knew [what was coming] two years ago, I did not know. But to be where we are, I think its is a great statement. There is a culture shift going on, and the shift is all about winning,” Anderson said.

St. John’s has outplayed its preseason expectations in each of Anderson’s first two years and things all get underway in his third season in Queens on November 9 as the Johnnies begin the quest to win its first NCAA Tournament game since 2000.