While the process has been slow and steady, St. John’s men’s basketball is one step closer in its journey back to relevance.
The Red Storm finished last place in the Big East in 2015-16, Chris Mullin’s first as head coach in a rebuilding year. They’ll look to move out of that slot this season, and it’s not impossible for the young squad.
Here are three keys to St. John’s season, which begins Friday against Bethune-Cookman at Carnesecca Arena, as they hope to shock everyone with a successful outing this year.
Wins, wins, wins
To put it frankly, St. John’s needs to win more games after finishing 8-24 (1-11 Big East) last season. The Johnnies were awful on the road, losing every away game.
Last season began on a good note with a 3-0 start, but SJU struggled thereafter by only winning one game after Dec. 13.
Look for St. John’s to be more competitive, as they were in their 101-93 Big East Tournament loss to Marquette at the end of the season.
The guards will play a major role in St. John’s strategy each game. Marcus LoVett redshirted last season due to NCAA regulations, but the 6-foot freshman will play this season alongside newcomer Shamorie Ponds.
Federico Mussini, a top contributor last season, is another key in the backcourt. The Italian sophomore, who averaged 10.7 points in his first season, is the Johnnies’ highest scoring returning player.
Despite last season’s losing record, Mullin remains optimistic about the Red Storm’s future. His vision is still intact.
“For me personally, it’s been a good test, a validation of what I do,” Mullin told Newsday. “Getting up each day and wiping the slate clean is what I do. If you look at how the players have responded, they’ve actually done it. I think it will be a good thing for them long-term.”