So no witty title for our exchange of questions with Rumble in the Garden and definitely not as witty as questions as you'll likely find over at Casual (since I believe they are exchanging with Rumble as well). That said, we have different questions, and if it is one thing that internet has proven, it's that sports fans will read anything about their favorite team, no matter the author or quality. (To that point, Rumble will post my answers to their questions sometime soon).
So without further ado, here's the answers Pico Dulce of Rumble sent over to our astute questions:
HP: How happy are you that Nuri Lindsey is gone? (Editor's Note: I don't have much use for high usage, poor shooting ballhogs.)
RitG: Nurideen Lindsey's departure is bittersweet. On one hand, St. John's is a team with seven scholarship players, most of whom struggle to get their shot. And they aren't as impressive at drawing fouls, which is a major component of what St. John's was doing well early on. With his on-court production added to the knee-jerk fan (and opponent fan) reaction whenever a player of note transfers - "what's goin' on over there?!" - it's not the most positive news.
On the other hand, Nuri's offense often had a go-for-self quality. The offense was a Nuri fast break, and then either a turnover or being backed out into an indecisive possession with Nuri clapping his hands for the ball on the perimeter, where he never hit a shot. (That's not hyperbole.) For the health of the team, for the young players' development, and for the general sense of cohesiveness, Nuri's departure ends up being a slight plus.
But an eight-man roster would have been awesome.
HP: It's been a long since a SJU team could shoot well from the perimeter. This team doesn't look like the one that breaks the streak (though I'm sure someone will shoot 60% on Sunday) -- can the Johnnies be a real contender if they can't exploit the 3 ball?
RitG: In a year or two, yes. What you'll likely see is a team that has some okay shooters and one designated bomber from outside. And it'll be a team that chooses to score in transition or by driving the ball instead of waiting for perimeter jump shots. The three is nice. But drawing a foul and making a two-point shot is pretty damaging to the other team.
This year? No.The team's inability to make twos (including the easy ones) and score through traffic will hurt their win/ loss total.
HP: This year feels like a rebuilding year for SJU. Will the players stick around long enough for it to take? Is there another strong class coming in to bolster the strong (but weakened) class that is playing now?
RitG: You've got that right. It's a complete rebuild. Only two players were around last year - one was a walk-on who has played in one game this season named Jamal White. Malik Stith, the other player, averaged 8.5 minutes per game in conference play in 2011, logged 4 DNPs, and is a low-impact, low-usage player who now averages 13.6 minutes in conference play, despite there being only 6 other options.
So yes, it's a rebuilding year.
The current class of players seem like they're in it for the long haul. One is a junior college transfer, so he won't be around much longer. The others are likely 3-4 year players, though Moe Harkless has pro potential/ pro interest. Generally, having 4 top-100 players is enough to compete with most of the league.
The 2012 recruiting class has blown away like powdery snow. So no, there is no class waiting in the wings; but the Red Storm are recruiting (and re-recruiting) the players who had decommitted in the wake of Steve Lavin's absence. The Johnnies stand a good chance with most of the players besides Norvel Pelle, one of the players deemed ineligible in the fall.
HP: I haven't seen SJU since Lindsey left. Compare Moe Harkless and D'Angelo Harrison to similar players for me. Are either of them NBA players at some point?
RitG: Harkless is a fairly unique player. A comparison should be to the line of long U Conn small forwards - Rudy Gay, Stanley Robinson - with length and skills, but he's not there yet in terms of completing the shots he can get off. He's skinny, long, can run, blocks shots but shows the ability to get some good shots from all over the court. I think he gets to the NBA, but he has to nail more jumpers, especially with a hand in his face in the mid-range.
D`Angelo Harrison is also hard to pin down, but I'd invoke Ben Hansbrough and Dominique Jones in comparison - high usage guards who can also pass, play tough, draw charges. I don't know that he's an NBA player - he's not a point guard but is heady. He may be a better shooter next year, but at 6'2/6'3, that's not something the NBA falls in love with except in spectacular cases. I think he'll be one of those four year players that opponents just HATE, and announcers keep telling you should get a look from the NBA. He's not as unathletic as Ashton Gibbs, though.
HP: Does Lavin recruit entirely on how cool a kid's name sounds? C'mon, you can admit it. (Editor's Note: Seriously, look at their roster. Just awesome.)
RitG: Yes. I'm hoping for a baller named Du'Swain at some point. There's actually a Raekwon out there, class of 2013 or 2014 I believe.
HP: How do you feel about the general long term state of the program? Given the relative upheaval in the Big East, it would be extremely advantageous for a non-football school to be very good in basketball if and when this thing falls apart. What are the chances SJU is ready for that?
RitG: I think the future is bright.
The Big East's future is tenuous, for sure, but the program has a real leader, an urbane fellow who wins games and plays a fun style, a guy who is great at communicating with kids and bringing in recruits. Is St. John's ready for the breakup of the league? I don't think any program is. It's impossible to predict what that would look like, where the money flows come from, and what investments programs would make in their hoops.