When St. John’s took the court for their Red Storm Tip-Off tonight they were without an important piece. Earlier Friday the school announced that sophomore center Chris Obekpa has been suspended for two games due to a violation of university policy.
The two games will be the Red Storm’s exhibitions against San Francisco State and Humboldt State, meaning that Obekpa won’t miss any regular season action as a result. As a result of the suspension Obekpa was also held out of tonight’s event.
“We expect our student-athletes to conduct themselves in a responsible manner in representing St. John’s University,” head coach Steve Lavin said in the release. “Chris understands this suspension can serve as a learning experience.”
As a freshman Obekpa was the nation’s best shot blocker, leading the country in rejections with an average of 4.0 blocks per game. His 133 for the season set records for both the school and the Big East. The good news for the Red Storm is that they will have him back when they open the regular season against Wisconsin on November 8.
The Red Storm were picked to finish 5th in the Big East this season, but with the return of all five starters (including guard D’Angelo Harrison, who was suspended for the remainder of the 2012-13 season in early March) and the addition of freshman guard Rysheed Jordan and senior forward Orlando Sanchez they have the pieces needed to outperform that prognostication.
When it comes to discussing some of the game of basketball’s best players, specifically those who went directly from high school to the NBA, a question that’s often asked is where said player would have attended college if forced (by rule) to do so. Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are among those who have been discussed in this manner, and in the case of LeBron he’s got connections to two programs within his home state of Ohio.
LeBron’s connected with the Ohio State program, which is outfitted by the Nike’s LeBron signature line, but there’s another program with an even closer connection. That would be Akron, which is led by head coach Keith Dambrot, and all he did was serve as LeBron’s high school coach at St. Vincent/St. Mary’s HS in Akron during the player’s freshman and sophomore years at the school. Also on those teams were two future Akron Zips in guard Dru Joyce and forward Romeo Travis.
Thursday the school announced that it would be honoring James, Joyce and Travis with bobble head dolls to be given out before Akron’s home games against Buffalo (February 16; Joyce’s bobble head), Bowling Green (February 26; Travis) and Ohio (March 1; James).
All three bobble head dolls are wearing Akron uniforms, which in the case of LeBron allows fans to think back and imagine what could have been. Season ticket holders guaranteed one bobble head per account (on each of the three giveaway days), with the first 750 fans in attendance to receive one as well.
The gang is back together again for another episode of the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk Podcast, with Rob Dauster hosting and Raphielle Johnson and Scott Phillips joining him. Today’s episode touched on big wins picked up Thursday night by California and Indiana, discussing the performances of those teams and also touching on their prospects down the line.
Also discussed were the recent performances of Iowa State, Providence and Texas A&M (which are you more worried about?), and some of the top games on this weekend’s schedule headlined by Kansas visiting Oklahoma. And if you’re a fan of seafood, you may take umbrage with some of Rob’s comments at the beginning of the podcast.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast on either iTunes or Stitcher, and there’s also a link to listen to this podcast below. Thanks for listening.