Busting Brackets

Big East Basketball Power Rankings: Should Villanova remain No. 1?

Dec 12, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; The Seton Hall Pirates at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 12, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; The Seton Hall Pirates at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /
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NBA Draft
Big East Basketball Julian Champagnie St. John’s Red Storm (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

. Previous: 3rd. Red Storm . 6. team. 478.

Record: 8-2

KenPom Rank: 65

NET Ranking: 83 (Q1: 0-2, Q2: 1-0, Q3: 0-0, Q4: 7-0)

Best non-conference win(s): None

Bad loss(es): None

What happened to St. John’s? They are still 8-2, but the team has been frustrating in the non-conference portion of the season. Early on, they dominated two cupcakes at home and just missed taking down Indiana on the road. SJU played poorly against Indiana and still barely lost. Fans had to be feeling good after that, right?

After the Indiana game, SJU has struggled to put away what should have been easy wins and lost by 20 to Kansas. At one point in the second half, Champagnie helped cut the Jayhawks lead to 64-61. The final score was 95-75. How does that happen in what was essentially a home game for the Red Storm?

Mike Anderson and St. John’s are still searching for answers. You don’t have to be playing your best basketball at the start of conference play, but St. John’s has some work to do. They have one final non-conference matchup against Pittsburgh, a matchup they will be heavily favored to win. Are they on the right track?

The good news for St. John’s. The Redstorm are led by the dynamic duo of Posh Alexander (16.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.1 apg, 2.3 spg) and Julian Champagnie (20.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.1 spg, 1.5 bpg). As you can see, Champagnie does it all. He is never in a rush, waiting for the game to come to him, but always makes an impact. If Alexander can slow things down, just sometimes, and cut down on turnovers, that will go along way for the Johnnies. He’s a crafty passer and scorer but takes unnecessary risks at times which can kill momentum.

The rest of the backcourt has been serviceable and interchangeable, but I’m not sure that’s how you want to describe having depth. Anderson is clearly still trying to figure some things out. This is what happens when you have essentially a brand-new team entering the season. I will say that freshmen Rafael Pinzon (4.0 ppg) has shown real promise and is not afraid of the moment. I think we will see a lot more of Pinzon in conference play.

What about the frontcourt? I honestly don’t even know who to talk about when discussing the St. John’s frontcourt? Is anyone going to take the minutes? Mike Anderson seems to have a revolving door in the frontcourt, giving different guys run from game to game. I expected bigger roles from Fordham transfer Joel Soriano (6.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Purdue transfer Aaron Wheeler (4.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg), but we’ve yet to see it. The Johnnies are in a precarious spot heading into conference play.

All that said, the Johnnies are still 8-2 and have gutted out wins even when they didn’t have their best. It could be a lot worse. The team has talent and depth, and put on one of their best performances in a dominant win over Colgate. Was this the real St. John’s?

Anderson and company need to figure things out because this team has NCAA tournament-caliber talent, but they need to show some serious improvement.