Sleeping With The Enemy: The Red Storm of St. John's

Georgetown.  St. John's.  Madison Square Garden.  Concrete jungle where dreams are made of.  It just doesn't get much bigger for an early conference play measuring stick than Hoyas-Johnnies on Big Monday, and as usual we here at THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON are bringing you everything you need to know about Georgetown's next opponent.  Special thanks to The East Coast Bias for providing answers to our always intriguing questions.  ECB, this Blue Moon is for you. 


That guy's back probably hurts when he's finished. (via Creative Commons license) 

On a scale of 1-10, how happy were you when Steve Lavin was hired?

Somewhere around 8 or 9. I don't get excited about coaching hires; there are few coaches that make me go "dang, that man's going to take team so & so to a national championship." But nothing irks me more than a stupid hire; and St. John's rumor mill made it seem that the administration was leaning towards a stupid hire, or not spending money on a coach. And when the name Paul Hewitt came up... and Tom Pecora's mediocrity was looming... and it seemed that the school might consider Mark Jackson... well, after that, Steve Lavin is a great, great hire.

More fun with fun people after The Jump:

We were very high on St. John's coming into the year. Then you lost to Saint Mary's, St. Bonaventure and Fordham. What's going on? Can these guys right the ship?

Something I came around to over the summer while reading Brian Curtis' "The Men of March," which follows Lavin, along with Mike Brey and two other coaches - is that Steve Lavin likes to tinker, try out a few different things, and see what works. Hence the ability of his teams to be tough late in the season, tougher than they are when the season starts. What folks forget is that none of the Red Storm's losses were blowouts. Two of them shouldn't have happened. St. Mary's was winnable. But they are great lessons for the coaching staff to know what they need to teach. And the losses are great lessons for the players - to remind them to pay attention to all the little aspects of the game they haven't in the past.

Do you think the team gets freaked out when playing other schools named after a saint? Isn't St. John the most famous saint?

I think St. Mary is more famous, but I haven't checked the various saints' Q-scores recently. And I think the team gets freaked out, but does all their screaming and crying in the locker room.

Steve Lavin's wife is really hot. Do you think there is a chance she has a foot fetish similar to Rex Ryan's not unattractive wife?

Quite possibly. But Steve Lavin is media savvy and will keep it on the down low.

Who are the team's best scorers and rebounders?

Best scorers: Dwight Hardy from the perimeter and Justin Brownlee in the paint. Brownlee has a lot of versatility, like a big mobile forward. Justin Burrell has been sticking to shots deep in the paint, though, and has been very efficient.

Best rebounders: Justin Burrell, especially on the defensive glass. DJ Kennedy can fill in with rebounds; he's aggressive and crafty.

How do you think St. John's will do in the Big East? The conference seems to be loaded again in what was supposed to be a down year.

I am sticking with my middle-pack prediction from early in the year, but revise it to say 7-10 position. I like their early start, and if they can win the games they're currently predicted to win, I think 7 is very possible - even if the next two weeks are a string of losses.

Who does St. John's consider its biggest basketball rival?

Depending on who you talk to... probably Georgetown for the 80s and John Thompson the Elder.

What is your reaction to Ron Artest? Was he that crazy in college? Was there writing on the wall even back then that said "This is the craziest man on the planet"?

Ron Ron was always known as a guy who marched to the beat of his own DJ. And sometimes his attention... it waned. But there was no Twitter then, just stories and news about the erratic, passionate, overly honest, unbelievably driven Artest. he was a little different even back then.

I am a high school senior applying to St. John's and Seton Hall, why do I go to St. John's?

I can't help with this one. I'm from Queens, and I would much prefer Queens to Jersey.

The Knicks have had a resurgence of late, and could land Carmelo Anthony this year. Do you think that will help the school recruit? Feels like when the Knicks are good, so too are the Johnnies, and vice versa.

For most schools I'd say no. For St. John's, if Madison Square Garden feels like it has a real buzz, if people are really excited about hoops in New York, then maybe - gives the Arena more of a hallowed feeling, like going to St. John's is like being plugged into the pros and part of the scene.

 

What are your initial impressions of Lavin? We've always believed he is a stellar recruiter but a mediocre coach. Is it too early to tell?

Fantastic recruiter. Interesting coach - I mean that in a mostly good way. Thoughtful, talkative, great with the media, smart. I thought his mediocrity was overstated; he was too young/ unheralded to get away with bad losses early, but Rick Pitino (among others) pull that every year, some loss to some cruddy no-name while the coach is figuring out their team/ system. Lavin needs more signature styles; his lack of an offensive/ defensive style (like the 2-3 zone or "Princeton" offense) makes people think he's an awful coach. But talent or no, that many Sweet Sixteens, often from lower-seeded positions, means the guy does something right. St. John's has been sharp in second halves, better than they were last year.

Do you think Duke will be the best team you face all year? Do you think Coach K strangles puppies?

Coach K gets puppies to fall in line and slap their bowls when they're hungry. Duke will be the best team St. John's faces this year, but some others will be almost as good.

If the St. John's men's baseball team took on the Mets, who would win a best of five series?

Har, har. The Mets. (Casual note: Why not say "Hardy har har"?)

Do the Johnnies finally make the NCAA tournament this year? What's the deal with those early season hiccups against Fordham and St. Bonaventure?

Can't say. St. John's needs to win the games they should win against the bottom of the league, steal some in the next month (against your Hoyas, and Notre Dame), and then I think they can make the dance. I don't know that the Bonnies and Fordham wins would tilt the balance much either way; if the Red Storm get to .500 in conference play and beat at least some mid-pack teams, they should be ok.

How do you see this game playing out and what is your final score prediction?

No predictions yet... wait! I've consulted my magic 8-ball (still drunk from New Year's) and it says it wants to go for a drink at Kramerbooks, have a burger at 5 Guys, and that St. John's will win 68-64.

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