St. John's Basketball: Malik Boothe Is the X-Factor Who Sets the Red Storm Apart

Chris Dela RosaContributor IFebruary 17, 2011

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 08:  Malik Boothe #3 of St John's Red Storm dives to keep the ball in bounds against the Louisville Cardinals  on February 8, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

He's no John Wall or even Dwight Hardy, but Malik Boothe is definitely an asset to St. John's revamped team led by Steve Lavin.

If one is going by the stats, they'll jump to the conclusion that Hardy is the true senior guard who is the major contributor when the team does well or when they do poorly, and they'll assume that Malik Boothe is just some bench player who does nothing.

Boothe is only averaging 4.6 points, 2.9 assists and 0.8 steals per game, while Hardy is averaging 17 points and two assists a game.

Against Marquette, Boothe only scored four points with three steals and six assists. What the stats don't show is how much of an impact Boothe's effort has on the court. Boothe is a small guy, but the presence he makes on defense is enormous.

Lavin's defensive strategy after the offense scores is to pressure on the player inbounding the ball and the players who may receive the pass. With this defensive strategy, Boothe’s speed is a great asset.

He can slip into small spaces to try to poke the ball out when the ball is inbounded, and if he lets his man receive the pass, he is able to quickly move his feet. By doing so, it allows his teammates to help him trap the player with the ball, draw a hefty amount of time off the shot clock or even draw a 10-second violation (which does not happen often, but against Cincinnati, he was able to draw one).

He’s talented on defense and has a great ability to pass the ball and produce easy scoring opportunities for his teammates, but there is always room for improvement. This improvement would be in the shooting category. In order for Boothe to be a complete basketball player, he needs to work on his shot.

Since the start of the season, Boothe has only reached double digits in points twice. He's an average free throw shooter, with his free throw percentage at 68.6 percent, while his field goal percentage is at 42.5 percent. Boothe's worst games came against Columbia when he shot 1-of-7, and against Syracuse, Providence and Fordham, when he did not take a single shot.

Look for Boothe's remaining time at St. John's to be filled with bright moments as the Red Storm look to make a big splash in the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament with the nine other seniors who will graduate after this season.