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Shamorie Ponds, Marcus LoVett aim to lead St. John’s revival

St. John’s sophomore backcourt hopes this season will the be one that returns the Red Storm men’s basketball to a winning program.

St. John's guard Shamorie Ponds averaged 17.9 points

St. John's guard Shamorie Ponds averaged 17.9 points as a true freshman last season. Photo Credit: Steven Ryan

Sifting through all the experiences Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett shared through their first season together in St. John’s backcourt, it doesn’t take long to figure out what piled up the fastest — losses.

“We were both coming from winning situations, so it was tough for us losing a lot of games,” Ponds said of the Johnnies’ 14-19 campaign. “We just had to get past it.”

This year could be that threshold for the Red Storm, and the sophomore guard duo could be the engine to make a winning season and even an NCAA tournament berth a reality. Ponds averaged 17.4 points, while LoVett had 15.9 coming off a redshirt season. Both were named to the Big East all-freshman team and the preseason all-conference second team before Wednesday’s media day at Madison Square Garden.

“It’s just being around each other,” LoVett said. “This is the second year, so we’re more used to each other, off the court. Some of that has a lot to with it on the court, and I think it’s going to continue getting better.”

Ponds and LoVett have found ways to dazzle despite their lack of size. At 6-1, Ponds is a sharpshooter that the Red Storm lacked in the past. LoVett, listed at 6-feet, is a go-to option at the point. They each said it’s only going to get better from here.

“We’ve been working so hard, so I see him more in shape, getting bigger and stronger,” Ponds said. “Chemistry-wise, we’re on a different level from last year.”

Third-year head coach Chris Mullin said he’s seen the subtle changes that have come over time together, including a better understanding of each other and confidence.

“Maturity, some physically, getting stronger will help them,” Mullin said. “Also mentally understanding what we need from them and what we expect from them to win in the Big East.”

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