Oct. 19, 2011
NEW YORK - St. John's assistant coach Mike Dunlap was joined by Special Assistant/Advisor Gene Keady and Red Storm newcomers God'sgift Achiuwa and Moe Harkless at the BIG EAST Conference's annual Men's Basketball Media Day Wednesday. More than 200 reporters from television stations, newspapers, magazines, radio stations and websites from around the country attended the event, held at the New York Athletic Club in New York City, the home of St. John's basketball.
Dunlap and the Red Storm student-athletes were among the most-popular interview subjects as they discussed the upcoming season and touched upon an array of other BIG EAST and college basketball topics with reporters from the New York City area and the national media.
Returning just one scholarship player and sporting the youngest team in 104 years on the hardwood, St. John's was picked to finish 12th in the preseason vote of the league's head coaches, earning 71 total points. Connecticut, the 2011 NCAA National Champions, and Syracuse were elected as co-favorites to win the 2011-12 BIG EAST regular season crown. The Huskies and Orange both received 209 points, with seven and five first-place votes, respectively. Louisville came in at third with 201 points and three first-place votes, and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati rounded out the top five.
"This year, with our youth, we're going to have to be patient. We're very athletic and we can put the ball in the hoop," said Dunlap. "With only eight guys on scholarship, we're going to have to be mindful of the tempo of the game and staying out of foul trouble. That is a work in progress and we look forward to that challenge. It will be an exciting year because most people would say by being laddered at the 12th spot in the BIG EAST that we have a lot of advantages playing the underdog role, and we like that."
Pittsburgh senior guard Ashton Gibbs was named the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year, also voted upon by the league's head coaches. Connecticut freshman center Andre Drummond was chosen as the BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year.
The first year of The Steve Lavin Era included a 21-12 overall record, marking St. John's most wins since the 2002-03 season, with six Top 25 victories, four over Top 10 opponents and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. Lavin transformed a team that finished in 13th place in the BIG EAST Conference in 2009-10 at 6-12 to a squad that tied for third in 2010-11 at 12-6 - only twice before has a jump of such magnitude occurred in BIG EAST Conference history. STJ finished its season ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top 25, marking the first time it qualified for the postseason as a ranked team since 2000-01.
With one returning scholarship letterwinner in junior Malik Stith, St. John's features at least six newcomers, a group comprised of four freshmen, one sophomore and one junior. The Red Storm will look to its highly-rated 2011-12 recruiting class - featuring three recruits ranked in the Top 100 in the nation in Harkless, Sir'Dominic Pointer and D'Angelo Harrison - to assist in replacing 96.3 percent of its scoring and 97.8 percent of its rebounding in the coming season.
Fans can be a part of the 2011-12 St. John's hardwood campaign, which tips off with an exhibition matchup against C.W. Post on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. in Carnesecca Arena, by visiting www.RedStormTix.com or clicking here to order men's basketball individual game or season tickets.
2011-12 BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll Rank School Pts. 1. Connecticut (7) 209 Syracuse (5) 209 3. Louisville (3) 201 4. Pittsburgh (1) 188 5. Cincinnati 169 6. Marquette 155 7. West Virginia 132 8. Villanova 127 9. Notre Dame 114 10. Georgetown 104 11. Rutgers 75 12. ST. JOHN'S 71 13. Seton Hall 56 14. USF 43 15. Providence 40 16. DePaul 27 First-place votes in parentheses