Russ Smith, Chris Obekpa

St. John’s sophomore center Chris Obekpa suspended for both exhibition games

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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.

PHOTO: Ohio State’s new LeBron James shoe display

during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.
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Ohio State has capitalized on its close relationship with NBA superstar LeBron James over the years and now has a new shoe display that should come in handy during recruiting.

The Buckeyes put out a tweet late this week with the display, calling themselves “THE LeBron school.” While this is something small, recruits like that the Buckeyes are tied into the best player in the world and it’s cool to them that Ohio State gets some exclusive gear.

Rutgers hoping new duo can bring a spark

of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during their Big Ten conference game at Rutgers Athletic Center on February 8, 2015 in Piscataway, New Jersey.
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Rutgers has struggled to achieve success on the floor the last few years and head coach Eddie Jordan is hoping that some talented newcomers can help start a turnaround. With the start of practice, local media saw some of the Scarlet Knights’ early practice and Jerry Carino of the Asbury Park Press noted that the duo of freshman point guard Corey Sanders and junior college forward Deshawn Freeman were getting a lot of burn together.

With both incoming players being four-star prospects, it’s hardly a surprise that Jordan would see what the two were capable of. According to Carino, it meant a lot of Sanders driving and forcing the defense to collapse before finding Freeman.

“It seems like coach always has us on the same team,” Freeman said to Carino. “Ever since we’ve gotten here, he’s trying to get us to play together.”

Carino also notes that since Rutgers is deeper, longer and more athletic in general this season, the team could do more with a pressing defense to help create turnovers.

While Rutgers still faces an uphill climb in the Big Ten, they at least have some exciting pieces that will be in place for a few seasons.