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.

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.

The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.

“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.

“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.

“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”

Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.