How will D`Angelo Harrison start the season?
Ever since his suspension in February of 2013, D'Angelo Harrison has been nothing short of spectacular. He averaged 17.5 points a game last year and was the third leading scorer in the conference last year behind Bryce Cotton and the legendary Doug McDermott. It's likely that he will lead the conference in scoring this coming season, and was named to the preseason All-Big East first team back on October 22 at Big East Media Day. St. John's was also selected to finish third in the conference by the preseason poll, and Harrison will have to a great season in order to live up to the expectation.
Against NJIT, D'Angelo doesn't even need to play that much, but he does need to have a good start to the season. Last year, he had his season high with 27 points in his first gam of the season against the Wisconsin Badgers. Obviously, there is not a chance NJIT will make it to the Final Four,, but once any player has a good game, their confidence will begin to rise. If Harrison has a terrific performance to start the year, it sets him up to have a tremendous stretch through nonconference match ups.
Will the absence of Jakarr Sampson significantly impact this year's team?
A lot of people were surprised when Jakarr Sampson entered the 2014 NBA Draft. He is extremely athletic and has a lot of potential, but has not developed a good enough jump shot to succeed at the NBA level. He arguably would have accomplished more by staying at St. John's another year, and ultimately, it left an NBA prospect undrafted and a program without one of its best players.
Sampson pulled in about 13 points and seven rebounds per game last year, and also contributed on the defensive end, and was athletic as anyone in the conference. Fans are curious to see if the absence of JaKarr would significantly hurt this team. Other members of the team, a la Rysheed Jordan and Chris Obekpa, will find themselves with much more pressure on them this coming year. The NJIT game will provide a way for fans to see if other members of the team can fill the shoes of one of the most athletic players in the conference a year ago.
Will Chris Obekpa live up to expectations?
Chris Obekpa was ranked as one of the best centers in the country back in high school when he signed his letter of intent to play at St. John's. He was well built, and was the second best shot blocker in the country behind future Kentucky Wildcat Nerlens Noel. Since he has arrived at St. John's, it's fair to say he has not lived up to the hype. He led the nation in blocks as a freshman with four per game, but he dropped to three last year while averaging roughly four points and four rebounds.
Obekpa simply needs to have a good year if the Johnnies have a chance of wining the conference or making the NCAA Tournament, especially with a rapidly thinning frontcourt. St. John's tied Xavier and Providence last year, and if Obekpa was that great player that lived up to the expectation, the Johnnies would have had quite the case to enter the field of 68.
If he in any way exceeds expectation, it would be a big weight off of head coach Steve Lavin's shoulders, and he could possibly be the Big East Defensive Player of the Year.