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Rothstein: Lavin, St. John's Looking To Take Next Step

By Jon Rothstein
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Steve Lavin feels it's time for St. John's to make a move.

Speaking on Thursday night in Midtown, Lavin went into detail about why he feels next season is the time when his basketball team will accelerate things to another level.

"We have size, skill, athleticism, and depth," Lavin said. "The pieces are in place for us. The biggest question is, how will we gel as a team?"

The Red Storm return their top five scorers from last season's squad that finished 17-16 and lost in the second round of the NIT. St. John's will also add blue chip freshman guard Rysheed Jordan along with skilled veteran forward Orlando Sanchez. God'sgift Achiuwa, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.6 RPG two years ago will also be available after a red shirt year.

"We're a year ahead of schedule in terms of our roster," said Lavin, whose entering his fourth season at St. John's. "But at the same time, we're a year behind because I was diagnosed with cancer and missed most of the second year. We made some strides last season, and even though we hit some rough points, I was still encouraged with some of the things I saw."

One of the reasons for the Red Storm's struggles down the stretch last season was the suspension of starting off-guard D'Angelo Harrison, who missed the teams final six games. Still, Lavin said Harrison has been "first rate" in his approach since the suspension, and expects him to return next season.

Lavin also raved about bouncy forward Sir'Dominic Pointer, who could wind up being this team's X-factor.

"His ability to affect the game at both ends is immense," Lavin said of the 6-foot-5 Pointer, who averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season. "He can play four positions. He's extremely versatile."

In an effort to accelerate team chemistry, Lavin said St. John's will take a trip to Europe in August where they'll get 10 days of practice and hopefully four to five exhibition games. In a year in which the Red Storm enter the new Big East Conference, the trajectory for this team looks in one direction --- upward.

"We're looking to take the next step," Lavin said. "I think next year is the year where we'll be able to accomplish that."

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