Team: St. John’s Red Storm
2015-16 Record: 8-24, 1-17 in the Big East
2015-16 Big East Finish: 10th, aka DFL
Final 2015-16 KenPom Ranking: #222, the worst finish by a Big East team in the KenPom era and the first sub-200 finish by a Big East team since 0-18 DePaul landed at #213 in 2008-09.
Key Departures: Durand Johnson (12.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists); Ron Mvouika (8.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists); Christian Jones (8.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists)
Key Returners: Federico Mussini (10.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists); Yankuba Sima (7.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 blocks); Kassoum Yakwe (7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 blocks)
Key Additions: Marcus LoVett (sat out freshman season as a partial qualifier, ranked #95 by 247 Sports Composite for the class of 2015); Sharmorie Ponds (5’11”, 160 lb combo guard, 247 Sports Class of 2016 Composite #45); Richard Freudenberg (6’8”, 190 lb. small forward, 247 Sports Class of 2016 Composite #109); Bashir Ahmed (6’7”, 215 lb small foward, JUCO transfer, averaged 20.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, & 2.2 assists for Hutchinson CC)
Side Note: I am going to lose my damn mind if the Big East decides to make Rookie of the Week/Year an award this year just so they can throw awards at Marcus LoVett. Three years ago, the Big East allowed the women’s soccer coaches to vote SJU’s Rachel Daly Rookie of the Year as a sophomore when she had to sit out a year because of eligibility issues as she came over from England. She won no Rookie of the Week awards because, y’know, she was a sophomore, but there she was at the end of the year with the Rookie of the Year award. That’s garbage. LoVett had to burn a year of eligibility because the NCAA said he wasn’t eligible to play. That doesn’t allow him to suddenly get lavished with newcomer awards in 2016-17.
Coach: Chris Mullin, in his second season. (8-24 at St. John’s and overall)
Outlook: St. John’s was 7-3 at one point last season. The losses were on a neutral court to Vanderbilt and Indiana (no big deal), and on the road against Fordham (they weren’t favored to win in the first place). Win #7 on the season came when they hosted the same Syracuse team that ended up in the Final Four when April rolled around.
And then they went 1-21 the rest of the season, with only an 80-65 victory at home over DePaul breaking up the tidal wave of defeat.
That’s weird, right?
Chris Mullin enters his second season of coaching ever at any level looking to shed the remnants of whatever the hell that was in the first season. For whatever it’s worth towards that end, Mullin will be doing it with a team that really isn’t going to look anything like his first Red Storm squad. They lose three of their top four scorers, but replace them with a trio of top 100 recruits (I’m rounding up on Freudenberg, work with me here) and a highly talented JUCO transfer.
Mix all those guys up with a talented guard like Mussini who can shift to more of a scoring mode with Ponds and LoVett in the line up, as well as two dominant shot blockers in Yakwe and Sima? Man, that’s pretty tantalizing. If you want to be pretty high on St. John’s chances this season, I can see where you’re coming from. You are still depending heavily on guys playing their first season of Division 1 basketball to get there, and as Marquette fans, I think we’re all aware of the limitations of that.