Red Storm Striking: St. Johns Is Back and Looking to Make a Run for The Tourney

Chris Dela RosaContributor IJanuary 17, 2011

St. Johns Gurad/Forward D.J. Kennedy (Left) Dunking
St. Johns Gurad/Forward D.J. Kennedy (Left) DunkingChris Chambers/Getty Images

New York City's college team has been revamped and is now back to life. For quite a few years, Saint John's has been off the radar as a competitive team in the Big East. With new head coach Steve Lavin, the Johnnies have been able to re-establish themselves in the Big East. Big wins over teams like West Virginia, Georgetown and their most recent upset against Notre Dame (ranked No. 11) have put their name back in the headlines. 

The star of this year's team is New York native Dwight Hardy. Born in the Bronx, Hardy has been one of the most consistent on the team this year, averaging 15.5 points a game. Meanwhile, the solid D.J. Kennedy provides about six rebounds a game for the Johnnies.  

While Hardy and Kennedy lead the Red Storm, slowly rising is Malik Boothe. The senior guard out of Queens scored double digits for the second time this season in the big win against the Irish. 

Although Boothe is averaging under four points a game and only three assists a game, his stats from his previous three years show consistent improvement. Results may not appear right away but as the season progresses his leadership and experience will help him contribute any way he can in order to get a victory.

Not only do they have the talent but they have the drive and the passion to be victorious come March. After this year, 10 seniors will be graduating. Last year's Cornell team had the vast majority of their team graduating after the 2009-2010 season, and they were able to make it all the way to the Sweet 16.

Every team has a downfall though, and for St. John's it can cripple them in big games. They cannot score on every drive; no team can. This is a reality the Red Storm have to embrace and try to work on. When St. John's scores, they have a tremendous press defense which allowed them to contain Syracuse's powerful offense early in their January 12 matchup.  

As St. John's missed shots, their transition defense was not as stellar and they allowed Syracuse to take advantage. As St. John's continued to miss, the Orange piled points upon points leading to a 76-59 Syracuse victory in what was supposed to be a Big East showdown.

As of right now, St. Johns is in sixth in the Big East standings behind Connecticut, Louisville, Villanova, Syracuse and Pittsburgh. With their win over Notre Dame, it seems many things are going in favor of the Red Storm. Because of their loss at Madison Square Garden, Notre Dame is on a two-game losing streak and may no longer be ranked. On January 15, Cincinnati lost to Syracuse and may lose their spot on the AP top 25.  

St. John's may be in the top 25 very soon, but don't expect them to just stop there. With the Big East tournament only two months away, look for them to try to make a run at Madison Square Garden in March and reestablish themselves as a college basketball powerhouse.  

Here is the Red Storm's remaining schedule:

Jan. 19 @ No. 19 Louisville
Jan. 22 vs. No. 25 Cincinnati
Jan. 26 @ No. 23 Georgetown
Jan. 30 vs. No. 4 Duke
Feb. 2 vs. Rutgers
Feb. 5 @ UCLA
Feb. 10 vs. No. 8 Connecticut
Feb. 13 @ No. 25 Cincinnati
Feb. 15 @ Marquette
Feb. 19 vs. No. 5 Pittsburgh
Feb. 23 vs. Depaul
Feb. 26 @ No. 7 Villanova
Mar. 3 @ Seton Hall
Mar.5 vs. USF