The countdown to the St. John’s basketball season is officially underway as fall practice begins on Friday but there are still several questions the Red Storm must answer in the early portion of its schedule.
St. John’s returns a lot of talent from a disappointing squad from a season ago that missed the postseason in its entirety, however, the Johnnies did lose Julian Champagnie and Aaron Wheeler to the professional ranks.
Returners Posh Alexander and Joel Soriano should step into leadership roles this year as the program looks to win its first NCAA Tournament game since 2000. Head coach Mike Anderson was very active in the transfer portal landing two impact players in Illinois point guard Andre Curbelo and DePaul wing David Jones.
The Johnnies have had practice time on the court together this offseason as St. John’s was allotted ten approved practices by the NCAA before its foreign tour to the Dominican Republic in August.
St. John’s won two of its games this summer while dropping the finale to the Dominican Republic Senior National team, which was aided on the night by Indiana Pacers shooting guard Chis Duarte.
The foreign tour provided some early answers as to how St. John’s could navigate this season with a deep roster and only so many minutes to be distributed, although the team still has plenty to work through in the preseason.
Biggest remaining St. John’s basketball questions this offseason
How does Andre Curbelo fit?
Andre Curbelo was the flashiest addition for St. John’s this offseason and how could you blame the Red Storm for going after the 6-foot-1 point guard?
Named as the Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year as a freshman, Curbelo struggled during his sophomore year at Illinois with concussions that nearly sidelined him for two months and was never the same player upon his return in February.
The Long Island Lutheran (NY) product was limited to just ten minutes in the Illini’s season ending loss to Houston in the NCAA Tournament after he was a combined 2-for-18 from the floor in the postseason for Illinois.
However, Curbelo is looking for a fresh start in Queens but a big problem, on paper, is that St. John’s already has its star point guard on the roster with Posh Alexander.
Alexander and Curbelo have very similar games in that both like to push the pace offensively, tenacious on defense, and struggle shooting the basketball from the perimeter.
How can both fit on the same roster?
Well, if the Dominican Republic games prove anything its that Alexander will be a vastly improved shooter this season and could see most of his time on the court at the shooting guard position and playing off the ball, something St. John’s desperately needs entering 2022.
This would free up Curbelo to orchestrate the offense and showoff his flashy playmaking skills in the open floor, but it could be in best interest of the team to have Andre Curbelo coming off the bench.
Curbelo is used to coming off the bench and played his best basketball while doing so, starting just four games in two years at Illinois.
St. John’s was in no position to deny talent from the roster this offseason and at his best Andre Curbelo is one of the most electric players in college basketball.
Now, the task rests on the shoulders of the coaching staff to find the proper spot for Curbelo on the court and use his skillset in the correct manner.