Big East Basketball Tournament - Second Round - St John's v Villanova

Deeper St. John’s squad to be without three players for European trip

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With their top six scorers from last season’s team back for another season in Queens, the St. John’s Red Storm have the talent needed to hit the ground running in the Big East this coming season. Steve Lavin’s program will hit the road later this month, leaving on August 19 to play games and take in the sights in France, Italy and Spain before returning on September 1.

Unfortunately for the Red Storm, three of the players expected to have spots in the rotation are unlikely to play in Europe for health reasons. Veterans Phil Greene IV (torn left hip labrum) and Felix Balamou (sprained left ankle) are both recovering from injuries suffered late last season, and freshman Rysheed Jordan has been dealing with back spasms. Those injuries certainly won’t help coach Lavin, especially when it comes to Jordan.

The Philadelphia native is seen by many as the missing piece for the Red Storm, who struggled last season (17-16, 8-10 Big East) due in large part to instability at the point. Adding the talented Jordan to the mix makes the Johnnies a better team at the point from a talent standpoint, but not having him available for the trip is less than ideal. Luckily for the Red Storm, they don’t lack for depth as they approach the start of their summer trip.

“It’s definitely less than ideal to not have Rysheed Jordan, Phil Greene and Felix Balamou’s services. On the flip-side, unlike previous seasons, we now have the depth to absorb some injuries or foul trouble in a game,” Lavin said during the team’s media availability Thursday.

“In the past, the combination of a thin bench and our inexperience made it difficult to overcome injuries. Now we’re at a point where we finally have a more seasoned roster and deeper bench. Naturally, it’s less than ideal to have injuries yet we feel optimistic about the quality and depth of our personnel.”

One of the returnees is junior guard D’Angelo Harrison, whose disciplinary issues didn’t help matters for the Red Storm last season. With a new lease on his basketball career, the high-scoring shooting guard returns with an improved attitude. The task now is to continue to build on the strides made during the offseason, which included spending time with John Lucas in Houston.

“Obviously I didn’t want to be suspended, but I made it the best situation I could,” said Harrison. “I was around the guys constantly. I went home and worked out with John Lucas. I was a part of this wellness program, I attended anger management sessions and pretty much came back a different person. I can honestly say that.”

Also returning for the Red Storm are forwards Sir’Dominic Pointer and JaKarr Sampson and center Chris Obekpa, and they’ll also gain the services of big man Orlando Sanchez and Harvard transfer Max Hooper. After a one-year absence from the NCAA tournament can St. John’s return to the field of 68? They’ll take the next step towards a return when they board the plane Monday.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady improving after being hospitalized

James Woodard, Anton Grady, Ron Baker
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Wichita State senior forward Anton Grady received some positive news on Saturday as a neurosurgeon reviewed MRI results, which are negative for spinal cord trauma.

According to a release from Wichita State, doctors believed Grady suffered a spinal cord concussion during a collision on Friday after he was taken off the floor in a stretcher and taken to a hospital in an ambulance. CT and MRI scans on Friday both turned up negative, but the news of Saturday’s results are an even more encouraging sign for Grady.

The injury for Grady occurred during a Friday loss to Alabama during the AdvoCare Invitational as the senior’s condition has improved since the collision. Grady will receive physical therapy over the next few days and doctors will check his progress before he is released from the hospital.

Grady has been alert and responsive to questions and had feeling in his extremities on Friday, but the use of his arms and legs was limited. By Saturday morning, Grady had improved the use of his extremities.

The 6-foot-8 Grady has averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds per game this season in his first season with the Shockers. The Cleveland State transfer is shooting 39 percent from the field.

Colorado’s Tory Miller reprimanded by Pac-12 after biting opponent

Dusan Ristic, Tory Miller
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Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.

During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.

In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.

“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”

Miller also released his apology in the same release.

“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.

For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?