In early November, just days before the start of the season, Red Storm Head Coach Steve Lavin said “this is a team, by mid-January, early February, I expect to be clicking and hitting on all cylinders.”
The offense arrived as an early holiday present for Lavin, with a 96-87 win over Youngstown State last Saturday. It was the third time in the last four games that St. John’s scored more than 80 points.
The Red Storm are now 8-3, with just one game to go before conference play starts. One big reason is the return of D’Angelo Harrison. After missing the end of last season due to a suspension, Harrison has been the scoring leader in eight games this season.
“He’s as gifted an offensive player as I’ve coached,” said Lavin after the team’s first win of the season, against Wagner. “He has a knack for scoring and can put points up in a variety of ways.”
Harrison set the school record for three-pointers on Saturday, passing Willie Shaw, who connected on 151 between 2000 and 2003. Even the individual milestone fits in with more of a team-effort this year.
“It’s good to have it and hopefully I hold onto it for awhile, but I couldn’t have done it without these guys,” Harrison said, acknowledging his teammates.
Sir’Dominic Pointer said that “over the last two years, we depended on two people to score the ball.”
Twice when Harrison did not lead the team in scoring, it has been Phil Greene IV.
Chris Obekpa has anchored the defense, leading the NCAA with almost five blocks per game. It’s an impressive encore for the big man who set St. John’s and Big East freshman records with 133 blocks last season.
St. John’s seems to have the balance between talent and maturity that at times has been absent, and look to prove their coach’s prediction of peaking later in the year correct.
“Steve Lavin put together a really athletic and talented team,” said Monmouth Head Coach King Rice, whose Hawks were a Red Storm casualty. “Later in the season, they are going to be better.”
– David Russell