Tag Archives: Red Storm

Four Johnnies go in first 6 rounds of MLB Draft


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John's Athletics

The Red Storm is on a roll.

As the St. John’s University baseball team swept through the NCAA Division 1 regional tournament with three straight victories, the Johnnies stormed the second day of the 2012 MLB Draft, as four players were selected within the first six rounds.

Junior outfielder Jeremy Baltz, who batted .345 this season and led the Red Storm with homeruns (eight), triples (four), RBI (51) and runs scored (63) during the regular season, was taken by the San Diego Padres in the second round; 68th overall. Baltz was followed by Matt Wessinger, who was selected in the fifth round, 168th overall, by the Colorado Rockies.

“I am very happy and excited for this group and it is a true testament to the success of the program to have four players selected in the top six rounds,” said Red Storm head coach Ed Blankmeyer.

Relief pitcher Matt Carasiti was the next Johnny selected — also by the Rockies— in the sixth round, 198th overall, and just three picks later starter Kyle Hansen (5-5), who had a 3.46 ERA and team-high 108 strikeouts over 93.2 innings, was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the sixth round; 201st overall.

“[The players] have worked hard and performed consistently at a high level and have earned this opportunity,” Blankmeyer said.

Baltz, the highest selected Johnny in this year’s draft, is the all-time leader in program history in both home runs (36) and RBI (196).

The outfielder also has a closet-full of accolades including the NCBWA National Hitter of the Year award, which he received in his first season with the Red Storm after leading the nation’s freshmen in both home runs (24) and RBI (85).

Wessinger, a senior shortstop, was drafted last year by the Kansas City Royals in the 37th round, but chose to return to school. This year he led the Red Storm in batting average (.353), on-base percentage (.442) and stolen bases (34).

“I am especially excited for Matt [Wessinger], who was drafted in the 37th round a year ago and had the courage to return to school and prove that he was a top-five rounder,” Blankmeyer said about the infielder.

Pitcher Sean Hagan was also selected in the 29th round, 880th overall by the Minnesota Twins.

The highest positioning for four draft picks prior to this year occurred in the 2005 MLB Draft when St. John’s had four selections in the top 15 rounds, according to St. John’s Athletics.

Last year the Red Storm saw three players drafted. Shortstop Joe Panik was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the first round, 29th overall, first baseman Paul Karmas was taken by the San Diego Padres 773rd overall, and Wessinger.

St. John’s baseball advances to Super Regionals for first time


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of St. John's Athletics

It’s a bird, it’s a plane— no it’s the “Super” Johnnies.

Led by sophomore Frank Schwindel’s perfect 5 for 5 day at the plate, the Red Storm knocked out No. 1 seeded University of North Carolina, 9-5, in the Chapel Hill region and knocked down the doors to its first ever Super Regional tournament.

Junior pitcher Matt Carasiti held the Tar Heels offense to four runs over 5.1 innings and juniors Sean O’Hare and Robert Case added two RBIs each to help the Red Storm in the final game of the opening bracket on Sunday, June 3.

“I’m proud of these guys,” head coach Ed Blankmeyer said about the win. “We had a tough start this year and we were trying to find ourselves, but towards the end of the season I felt that we had a chance to do something special.”

The Johnnies (40-21) stormed past the NCAA Division I regional tournament with three straight victories.

Junior outfielder Jeremy Baltz was named the Chapel Hill regional MVP batting .400 (4 for 10), slugging .900 and scoring eight runs.

Following the victory, former St. John’s standout and Mets captain, John Franco sent a message to the Red Storm on the university’s website.

“Good luck St. John’s Baseball, bring us home a winner; let’s go boys,” Franco said.

After capping the regional district wins the Johnnies will advance to play against No. 1 seed Arizona University (41-17) in a three-game series, for a chance to play in the eight-team College World Series.

A basketball player kids have to look up to


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ photo by Liam La Guerre

There’s more than one reason for kids to “look up” to 7’3” Curtis Johnson.

Johnson, a Queens resident and former Red Storm big man at St. John’s University, will perform in entertainment basketball games at York College on June 4 and 6, to amuse and mentor kids from Pre-K to eight grade.

“I just want to teach them to respect each other, respect themselves and each other and just to have fun,” Johnson said about the show’s purpose.

Johnson also wants to spread positive thinking to the kids by letting them know of his philosophy that life has unlimited possibilities – a message he lives every day.

Johnson had big dreams after graduating St. John’s with a Bachelor’s degree in theology.

He went to try out for various professional basketball teams, even as far as Fujian, China, hoping to make his way through the system and hit the hardwood of the NBA.

Although he can dunk without leaving his feet, injuries plagued the 7-footer.

“I thought I would be an NBA player and maybe a pastor someday, but life didn’t turn out that way,” he said, adding “but I didn’t get stuck there.”

When basketball was a no-go, Johnson began seeking professions he believed would give him stable hours and keep him away from the doctor’s office — like jobs on Wall Street.

He was already working part-time as a clerk for Morgan Stanley, but in 2005 he became a financial analyst, re-reading contracts for Lehman Brothers.

His time in the financial sector came to an end in 2008, just before the company filed for bankruptcy, but he enjoyed it, he said.

“I always had a deep interest in business,” Johnson said. “It’s always interesting to me how you could start off with a small investment and end up with a large return. It’s really ‘the sky is the limit.’”

Next he landed a job delivering various newspapers for several months in Westchester and then after that he began working in security.

While working as a bouncer at a Korean nightclub last year, he was given a unique opportunity to compete in a traditional Korean Ssireum wrestling tournament.

One day the club owner asked Johnson if he was interested, to which Johnson replied “Yeah, you only live once.”

“I realize that for me basketball is a tool,” Johnson said about his worldly adventures and various jobs. “You can do whatever you want in life. There are no limitations.”

During his time away from professional basketball Johnson played part-time for the entertainment basketball group, Harlem MagicMasters, and now he wants to do it full-time.

“Entertainment basketball is something a guy like me could do for the rest of his life,” he said. “We make a lot of kids happy. It’s very emotionally rewarding.”

The basketball group also thinks that Johnson will help convince kids to focus on positive thoughts.

“If people like [Johnson] come into the gym and they talk to the kids and tell them do not attempt to use any type of drugs or alcohol, don’t bully or tease your fellow classmates, then the lessons resonate,” said Jay Bryant, Vice President of the Harlem MagicMasters.

Johnson enjoys traveling up and down the east coast and sometimes the mid-west with his teammates, spreading their message to kids, but also personally motivating them with his own life.

“I’ve always wanted to help motivate and help other people,” he said. “I realize that even though I’m not an NBA basketball player I could still promote what we do — and do it well.”

Congrats grads!


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of St. John’s University

St. John’s University graduated nearly 3,000 students on Mother’s Day, May 13, for its 142nd Commencement festivities.

“Today is one of my favorite days of the year, when we get to celebrate the accomplishments of our students,” said Rev. Donald Harrington, president of the university. “And, I have to say that in my 23 years as president, each year I’m more proud of the students who walk across that stage.”

Red Storm head basketball coach Steve Lavin, who recently completed his second year with the team, delivered the commencement address in front of an estimated crowd of about 19,000 graduates, family members and friends.

Lavin, a cancer survivor, told the sea of red robes to enjoy life and look forward to the future.

“Life is precious and fragile. Don’t take it for granted,” Lavin said. “You can take pride in knowing that you’ve prepared at St. John’s for the challenges ahead, and you’re capable of striving for excellence and blazing your own trail as St. Vincent de Paul did.”

Queens native and St. John’s freshman Moe Harkless declares for NBA Draft


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Harkless2

After an award-winning freshman season, Moe Harkless has decided to test the waters of the NBA draft.

The Queens native announced his decision on Monday, March 19 at Madison Square Garden alongside his mother Rosa and Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin.

“It has been my lifelong dream to play in the NBA, and I am excited to have that opportunity to make the jump,” said Harkless. “I am grateful to my teammates and coaches at St. John’s. I would like to thank Coach Lavin, our staff and my teammates for being there for me throughout the whole season.”

Draft projections have the 6-foot-8-inch small forward being picked in the middle of the first round.

Harkless capped his celebrated first season at St. John’s — he was sixth nationally among freshmen in scoring and third in rebounding — by being named the Big East Rookie of the Year.

A stat-sheet filler, Harkless finished with per game averages of 15.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks.

While many fans were excited about the direction the team was headed behind this year’s “Fresh 5,” Lavin has said that players leaving early for the NBA helps the program gain traction on the recruiting trail.

“We are proud of what Moe and our young group accomplished this season — Moe is an example that St. John’s is once again a destination for top-caliber talent and we look forward to following his progress,” Lavin said.

Speaking about his teammates, Harkless said, “We have been through a lot together and I know everyone is excited for me. I know if we all keep working hard, a lot of us will be playing together in the league someday. I believe this is only the beginning for Coach Lavin and his successful legacy at St. John’s.”

Next year’s team should return five of the six players in the Johnnies’ rotation and add Texas A&M transfer Jamal Branch. JaKarr Sampson has recommitted to the Red Storm after being declared academically ineligible before the season and the team also received a verbal commitment from Felix Balamou.

“I really enjoyed playing with Moe,” said D’Angelo Harrison who set the St. John’s record for points by a freshman. “He is a great player and I wish him luck and success in the NBA. I hope to join him in the league in a few years.”

The last Red Storm player to be drafted was Omar Cook in 2001. Cook, who was also a freshman when he entered the draft, is often touted as an example of college players leaving too early. He was taken in the second round and played in only 22 NBA games in his career.

Harkless can still return to St. John’s if he does not sign with an agent, though he is in the process of finding one. Players have until May 8 to withdraw from the draft which will be held on June 28.

 

Moe Harkless named Big East Rookie of the Week


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of St. John's University

St. John’s freshmen continue to rack up accolades as Moe Harkless was named the Big East’s Rookie of the Week, the conference announced.

This is Harkless’ second Rookie of the Week honor and the third time a Red Storm player has taken home the award this year.

The Queens native averaged 18 points per game and 9.5 rebounds while playing every minute of the Johnnies’ two wins last week, including their first victory over a top 25 team this season.

St. John’s (13-16, 6-10 Big East) had lost their first 10 games against ranked opponents this year before besting 18th-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday 61-58 at Madison Square Garden. Earlier in the week the Johnnies defeated DePaul 79-72 at Carnesecca Arena during Senior Night.

For the Johnnies this year, though, it has been almost all freshmen. The team plays only one junior and starts five freshmen — the “Fresh Five.”

Harkless was not the only “Fresh Five” member to have a big week. D’Angelo Harrison played all but one minute over the team’s two games, averaging 19 points, and is now within six points of the Johnnies freshmen scoring record set by Erick Barkley in 1999.

Harrison will most likely not be the only freshmen to surpass the mark, as Harkless is just 40 points shy of the record with two games and the Big East tournament to go.

Harrison and Harkless are first and second in the conference in freshmen scoring, respectively, and Harkless leads all Big East freshmen in rebounding.

The Red Storm finish up their conference slate at Pittsburgh on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. and at Rutgers on Saturday at 8 p.m.

 

Malik Stith leaves St. John’s basketball program


| brennison@queenscourier.com


St. John’s already thin rotation is down another man, as the team’s only returning player — Malik Stith — decided to leave the program.

Stith’s departure leaves the Johnnies with six first-year players in the rotation — five freshmen and a junior college transfer.

Citing personal reasons, Stith chose to step aside as a member of the team. He will continue at the university.

“Right now, I feel that I need to do what is best for my family. I am grateful for the opportunities given to me at St. John’s and pleased to be able to continue to make progress toward my degree,” Stith said. “Coach [Steve] Lavin and I have met and talked over the past couple days about my future and the interest I have in contributing to the team as a student.”

“We’ll miss Malik’s contributions on the court but we are pleased he will continue as a member of our basketball program in his new capacity with the Johnnies,” Lavin said.

The Head Coach added that Stith will continue to add value to St. John’s basketball family.

Stith had played in all 23 Red Storm games going into last night, starting five. He averaged 14.6 minutes and 2.6 points per game.

The young Red Storm have experienced much tumult since arriving on campus: Steve Lavin underwent surgery to treat his prostate cancer and has been on the sidelines for only two games, three players were declared academically ineligible and Stith is the second player to leave the program — Nurideen Lindsay left the team in December.

After last night’s game, a 76-54 loss at home to Cincinnati, Stith’s former teammates spoke about losing a member of the family.

“He was one of the leaders on the team, so it definitely hurts,” freshmen guard D’Angelo Harrison said. “It means other players have to step up and fill his role.”

On numerous occasions throughout the season Harrison has credited Stith with helping him keep his emotions in check and his head in the game.

“That’s our brother,” said Moe Harkless. “To lose him is tough, but we’ve just got to stick together and play with what we’ve got.”

Ten players saw action in last night’s game, though the playing time came after the game was out of reach.

St. John’s  (10-14, 4-8 BIG EAST) heads to Washington, D.C. to face the #11/#12 Georgetown Hoyas on Sunday, February 18.

 

St. John’s trounced by Syracuse 95-70


| brennison@queenscourier.com


St. John’s-Syracuse games at MadisonSquareGarden often have a buzz as both squads’ lay claim to being New York’s team. This day though belonged to second-ranked Syracuse as the Orange (23-1, 10-1 Big East) trounced the Red Storm (10-13, 4-7) 95-70.  Throughout the game – especially in the second half – the sold-out Garden sounded more like the Carrier Dome –Syracuse’s home court.

Chants of “Let’s go Orange” filled Syracuse’s “second home” as the team increased their lead, continually getting easy baskets.

St. John’s has now played nine ranked teams this year – including the number one and number two teams in the nation – losing each game. The Johnnies beat six ranked opponents last year.

The Johnnies fell behind early and could never claw their way back into the game. Confronted with the same situation they faced against Duke a week prior – trailing by more than 20 points against a top 10 team – St. John’s could not make the stops they needed to go on a sustained run. 

Syracuse’s size allowed them to play above the rim and get the shots they wanted all game – the team shot 56 percent from the field and had 52 points in the paint.

“We moved the ball really well,” said Jim Boeheim, who tied Dean Smith for third place on the all-time wins list with 879. “We got really good shots every time down the court.”

 “Beginning, middle and end, they dominated us on the boards and they converted off of those second chance points,” said assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who continues to fill in for Steve Lavin as he recovers from prostate cancer surgery.

The Orange grabbed 16 of their 31 misses converting many second chance scoring opportunities.

Any hopes of a Red Storm comeback were squelched within the second half’s first two and a half minutes as the Orange went on a 9-0 run and Moe Harkless picked up his third and fourth fouls forcing him to the bench.

The Johnnies were never able to get within 20 after the Orange’s early second half run.

St. John’s all-freshmen starting lineup – the “Fresh Five” – was not on the court at the opening tip for the first time in four games as D’Angelo Harrison was late for the bus and sat out the opening 2 minutes.

After being held scoreless over the game’s first three minutes and thirty seconds, Syracuse went on a 12-2 run to take a lead they never relinquished.  A 6-0 run to end the first half pushed the Orange’s lead into double digits and then their 9-0 run to open the second half put the game out of reach.

The 95 points was the most St. John’s has given up all year and the most a Big East team has scored in a conference game this season.

Harrison led the Johnnies with 23 points and added five assists and four rebounds.

Fab Melo – in his first game back from suspension – Dion Waiters and C.J. Fair led 10 Orange in the scoring column with 14 points

St. John’s next faces Cincinnati (15-7, 5-4) on Wednesday, February 8 at MSG.  The Johnnies defeated the Bearcats earlier this year 57-55 atCincinnati.

St.John’s ends skid, beats West Virginia 78-62


| brennison@queenscourier.com


The youth movement – which had been in effect all season for St. John’s– might now need a nickname.

Playing possibly their most complete game of the season, St. John’s (9-11, 3-6 Big East) defeated West Virginia (15-6, 5-3), 78-62.

Halfway through the Big East schedule, the young team –St. John’s starting lineup consisted of all freshman – learned losses could quickly pile up during conference play.  The team had lost four in a row and six of seven.

“You have to play have to play hard for 40 minutes in the Big East,” said Harrison.  “No game is safe.”

The all freshmen lineup is one Head Coach Steve Lavin has been discussing in team meetings, telling Assistant Coach Mike Dunlap to go with it when he felt it.

Dunlap has taken the reins of the team as Lavin recovers from prostate cancer surgery.

While rare for a program to start five freshmen, it is not unprecedented.

“Unfortunately, in 1992 I saw the Fab Five and I didn’t like that much,” West Virginia Head Coach Bob Huggins said after the game.  “I didn’t like this a whole lot more.”

St. John’s trotted out their own version of famed freshmen dubbed the “Wonder Five” in the late 1920s.

The still-developing team jumped out to an early lead for the third time in the last four games, but this time out was able to sustain that lead.  

Prior to the game Dunlap laid out three goals for the team: play West Virginia even on the boards, run and make adjustments during the game – the team has struggled closing out games recently.

The Red Storm out rebounded West Virginia 25-18 in the first half while jumping out to a 16-point lead; they out scored the Mountaineers 22-5 in fast break points; and after the game Dunlap said he was pleased with the team’s defensive energy in the second half.

The Johnnies held West Virginia to just three of 14 shooting over the games first 12 minutes, allowing them to take an early 21-6 lead.  The Mountaineers, who never got closer than nine in the second half, shot below 36 percent from the field for only the third time this year.

Moe Harkless led four Johnnies in double figures with 23 points.

Harkless outplayed West Virginia’s Kevin Jones, the Big East’s leading scorer and rebounder, on both ends of the floor in the first half while the Johnnies built their lead.  Jones, a favorite for the Big East Player of the Year award, did most of his damage in the second half with the game out of reach, scoring 20 of his 26 points. 

Speaking about Harkless after the game, the senior Jones said the first-year player impressed him and had a chance to develop into a really good player.

Harkless, 13 rebounds, recorded his seventh double double while adding three blocks.  Phil Greene finished with a season-high 8 assists.

“Today we just played great,” Harkless said.  “We’re getting better every game.”

The Johnnies now travel to Duke to take on the #6/8 Blue Devils Saturday at noon. St. John’s defeated Duke at MSG last season 93-78.

St. John’s falls in overtime to Villanova, 79-76


| brennison@queenscourier.com


With the clock winding down in overtime and St. John’s down three to Villanova, the number one option on the potential game-tying play – Moe Harkless – could only stand and watch.

Fans that braved the cold were rewarded with a heated Big East battle that came down to the buzzer with the Johnnies falling to Villanova, 79-76 in overtime.

St. John’s (8-11, 2-6 Big East) last possession broke down and the ensuing scramble led to Sir’Dominic Pointer – who has hit only five of 25 threes this year – taking the final shot that clanged off the front of the rim, leaving the Johnnies with their fourth straight loss and sixth in their last seven games.

“Coach [Dunlap] drew up a good play,” said guard Phil Greene, who finished with a career-high 14 points. “We didn’t come out and execute it right, but we still had an opportunity and a good look to tie the game.”

The Red Storm found themselves in overtime only after losing a double-digit lead with less than seven minutes to play and not getting a shot off on the final possession of regulation.

“The execution of the last play before the buzzer went off and overtime is my responsibility, no one else’s,” said Assistant Coach Mike Dunlap, who has stepped in for Steve Lavin as he continues to recover from October prostate cancer surgery.

With the game tied and less than 10 seconds remaining, God’sgift Achiuwa’s errant pass to Harkless was stolen forcing overtime.

Though the Johnnies failed to convert their last-second opportunities and were out rebounded by 16, Dunlap said the outcome of the game came down to foul shots.

“We left the game on the free throw line.  It’s that simple,” Dunlap said.  “You can talk about the rebounds, you can talk about the turnovers, but the bottom line is free throws are easy baskets.”

St. John’s shot 14-25 from the line, which included five misses in the extra period.

After hitting just four of their 22 three-pointers during regulation, Villanova made both attempts in overtime helping them build a seven-point lead which the Johnnies could not overcome.

The Red Storm jumped out to an early 12-4 lead on the strength of five of six shooting, including two Harrison three-pointers – which matched the team’s total from the previous two games.

The Johnnies followed that hot streak by, as has happened often this season, going cold, hitting just four of their next 22 shots.

In the second half, the Johnnies again came out firing on all cylinders.  This time, St. John’s was able to carry the momentum through the rest of half shooting 68 percent, led by D’Angelo Harrison’s 20 points.

Harrison set a career high in points – 28 – after struggling over his previous two games, hitting just three of 19 shots over those contests.

Villanova (10-10, 3-5) was led by the Big East’s second leading scorer Maalik Wayns who scored 28 – including two game tying shots with under 70 seconds left in regulation.

St. John’s next faces West Virginia (15-5, 5-2) Wednesday night at MSG at 7 p.m.

St. John’s falls to #11 Georgetown at MSG


| brennison@queenscourier.com


After jumping out to an early 13-5 lead, St. John’s struggled to find an offensive groove and fell to the 11th ranked Georgetown Hoyas 69-49.

The Johnnies (8-9, 2-4 Big East) scored just six points over the last 12 minutes of the first half after their quick start allowing the Hoyas a chance to get take a lead they never relinquished.

Both teams struggled from the field in the first half – each squad shot under 35 percent. The Johnnies shooting troubles continued in the second half – the team shot 8-27 after hitting only 9-27 shots in the first half.

Shooting has been an issue all year for St. John’s – they came into the game second to last in the conference in field goal percentage and dead last in 3-point field goal percentage.

The length of the Hoyas did not make the Johnnies shooting struggles any easier. Georgetown played six guys over 6-foot-8-inches tall; many times having four on the court at the same time.

“They were really long,” said Moe Harkless. “I think we didn’t do a great job of attacking their zone.”

Georgetown (14-3, 4-2) discovered their shooting stroke at half time, led by Hollis Thompson who made all seven of his shots in the second half, including five three pointers, after missing all six of his shots over the game’s first 20 minutes.

Twice in the second half the Johnnies were able to climb to within three, but each time saw the Hoyas immediately answer with a sustained run. After St. John’s made it 28-25, Georgetown scored nine straight points to stretch their lead to a dozen. The Red Storm were again within one possession of tying the game with 6:36 remaining in the game before Georgetown closed the game on a 21-4 run.

A majority of the Red Storm offense came from the Queens native Harkless. The freshman had nine of the team’s 17 field goals while scoring 21 points.

The team managed just one field goal over the last 5:15 following Harkless picking up his fifth and final foul.

Reigning Big East Rookie of the Week D’Angelo Harrison suffered through the worst game of his college career scoring only five points on 1-12 shooting and committing several key turnovers on fast breaks.

“I have to do a better job of slowing down and finding the open guy,” Harrison said after the game. “Like coach says find the path that’s open, not the one you want.”

The 19 points the Johnnies scored in the first half was their lowest scoring half of the season. The game also marked the first time St. John’s was held under 50 points. The Red Storm have lost all seven games played this year against ranked opponents after beating six last year.

St. John’s now travels to South Florida (10-8, 3-2) to face the Bulls on Wednesday, January 18.

D’Angelo Harrison named Big East Rookie of the Week


| brennison@queenscourier.com


After averaging more than 20 points and seven rebounds, St. John’s freshman phenom D’Angelo Harrison was named the Big East Rookie of the Week.

The guard led the Red Storm (8-7, 3-2 Big East)  in scoring in both the team’s games last week — a loss at MSG to No. 11/10 Louisville and a win at Cincinnati, snapping the Bearcats seven-game winning streak.  Harrison played in 79 of a possible 80 minutes during last week’s action.

For the week Harrison averaged 21 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals.

The Texas native leads all Big East freshmen in scoring — 16 ppg — and is 12th overall in the conference.

Harrison is the first player to earn this honor since Cardozo graduate Daryll Hill in February 2004.

The Johnnies next play at No. 25/24 Marquette (12-4, 1-2) on Wednesday, January 11 at 7 p.m.

Steve Lavin updates his status


| brennison@queenscourier.com


St. John’s Head Coach Steve Lavin updated the status of his return to the sideline during a Big East conference call by announcing there is no update.

The timetable of Lavin’s return to the sideline has not changed and will continue to be dictated by the recuperation process and a full recovery, he said during the January 5 call with members of the media.

Lavin coached four games in November after missing the season opener, but has not returned to the sideline since as he recovers from October surgery to treat his prostate cancer.

While the strain of manning the sidelines during games is still too taxing, Lavin has continued to undertake many of the other jobs that fall on the coach of a major college basketball program.

Attending practices, hitting the recruiting trail and meeting with his staff to prep for games and plan practices, Lavin described his new role as akin to that of a general manager.

“I’m trying to strike a balance at this stage in terms of adding value while I’m away from coaching the games,” the Johnnies coach said.  “I’m trying to burn my fuel or energy more efficiently in ways that I can move the program forward during this period of time.”

The coach credited his time as a broadcaster as helping him watch a game removed from the sideline.

“There is some value, I think also, in the time and distance to watch the game at home or watch the game up top in a box because you see things more clearly, more objectively than when you’re actually in the midst of competition on the sidelines,” Lavin said.  “So I try and bring that perspective to the staff and players at practices and meetings.”

The 7-7 (1-2 Big East) Red Storm will try to climb above .500 Saturday in Cincinnati against the Bearcats at 1 p.m.

Maurice Harkless named to Big East’s Honor Roll


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Harkless2w

One of the borough’s top hoops stars is continuing his athletic success under the bright lights of college basketball.

Maurice Harkless, a former star forward at Forest Hills High School, was named to the Big East Conference’s Weekly Honor Roll on January 2 for his high-flying efforts in St. John’s games against Providence and Connecticut.

The freshman swingman averaged 24.0 points per game and 9.5 rebounds during a 1-1 week in conference play for the Red Storm. Harkless shot 67.9 percent from the field (19-for-24), 50 percent from long range (3-for-6) and 87.5 percent from the free throw line (7-of-8) to go along with five assists, five steals and two blocks.

Harkless also entered the record books against Providence with a 32 point performance – the most ever by a freshman making his Big East debut. In the 91-67 victory, Harkless went 14-for-17 from the field, 2-for-3 from long range and had 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double in a five-game span. He also dished out four assists, picked four steals and blocked two shots.

In St. John’s game against UConn, Harkless contributed 16 points (5-of-11 field goals, 5-of-5 free throws) and grabbed six rebounds in a 83-69 loss on December 31.

Harkless’ team-best scoring average of 15.7 points per game ranks 14th among all Big East players, his team-leading 8.3 rebounds per game is tied for fifth, his 46.2 field goal percentage is 11th and his 1.6 blocked shots rates 10th in the league.

Becoming the first recruit of the Steve Lavin regime at St. John’s University, he committed to play for the Red Storm in 2011. Harkless had previously made a verbal commitment to play for the University of Connecticut (UConn), but later re-opened his recruiting.

After announcing that he had chosen UConn over Kentucky, he chose to re-examine his options after Lavin joined St. John’s. Programs throughout the country courted him, including the likes of Oregon, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Arizona, Florida, Rutgers and Maryland.

St. John’s Shenneika Smith named to Junkanoo Jam All-Tournament Team


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of St. John’s University

St. John’s junior Shenneika Smith was named to the 2011 Junkanoo Jam All-Tournament Team for her near back-to-back double-double performances against Iowa and Temple at the Junkanoo Jam at the end of November.

Smith averaged 13 points per game and 15.5 rebounds per game, helping St. John’s defeat Temple after losing to Iowa. Smith was two points shy of back-to-back double-doubles with 18 points, 21 rebounds against the Hawkeyes and 10 rebounds, eight points against the Owls.

Against Temple in the consolation game, Smith also added three steals, two assists and had no turnovers. Smith had 21 rebounds against Iowa, making her only the second player in St. John’s history to reach the 20-board plateau and the first player to do so since the 70’s. Mary Doyle holds St. John’s single game rebounding record with 24 against Brooklyn on January 29, 1976.

Smith joins, Jaime Printy and Samantha Logic of Iowa and Adaora Elonu and Sidney Carter of No. 5/4 Texas A&M on the Lucaya Division All-Tourney squad. Texas A&M were the divisional champions, defeating Iowa, 74-58, in the championship game. Carter was named the division’s MVP.