Aug. 13, 2009
QUEENS, N.Y. - The St. John's men's basketball team will get a preseason test as head coach Norm Roberts and the squad take a trip to Montreal and Ottawa, Canada, this coming Labor Day weekend. The Red Storm will take on four Canadian university squads across a two-day stretch as the team continues its offseason preparation for the 2009-10 season.
St. John's will face an ambitious Canadian schedule, meeting McGill University (1 p.m.) and the University of Quebec at Montreal (8 p.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 5, at the teams' home venues. The Red Storm heads to Ottawa, Canada's capital city, to meet Carleton University (1 p.m.) and the University of Ottawa (8:30 p.m.) on Sunday, Sept. 6.
Red Storm fans will be able to follow all of the action north of the border via RedStormSports.com, the online home of St. John's Athletics, and @STJ_Basketball on Twitter.com. The websites will feature game recaps, daily blog entries, features and photos from Friday, Sept. 4 through Monday, Sept. 7.
"Canada and the time leading up to the trip gives us a chance to work out together early, and form a bond with each other as teammates," said Roberts. "It is a time also for us to work on some things that will give us a jumpstart to the season. Our guys are excited about getting together early and getting this season started, after everyone worked so hard this summer at preparing their bodies and improving their games."
In its Labor Day weekend visit to Canada, St. John's makes its first foreign tour of the Roberts Era, as collegiate teams are allowed one international trip every four years. The Red Storm had planned a similar Labor Day trip to Cancun prior to the 2008-09 season, but was forced to canceled due to severe weather in the area of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula as a result of Hurricane Gustav. Hall of Fame Coach Lou Carnesecca was the last mentor to lead St. John's on an international trip, as the squad traveled to Spain in the summer of 1991 in advance of All-American Malik Sealy's senior year.
The Red Storm was granted 10 days of team practice in advance of its foreign travel, as per NCAA rules, and will begin weekday sessions on Monday, Aug. 24. Junior transfers Justin Brownlee and Dwight Hardy and freshmen Omari Lawrence and Malik Stith will practice for the first time with their teammates on Wednesday, Sept. 2, as the fall semester officially begins in Queens. The rookies will be eligible to participate in the Red Storm's Canadian contests.
The four-man class of newcomers will be added to the 13 letterwinners returning to the court for the Red Storm in 2009-10, comprising Roberts' most experienced squad as he heads into his sixth season on the STJ bench. The 2009-10 Red Storm boasts six returnees with significant starting experience, and returns 97.2 percent of its scoring and 95.1 percent of its rebounding from a 2008-09 squad that won 16 games, including St. John's first BIG EAST Tournament victory since 2003.