Countdown to College Basketball: #37 Saint John’s Red Storm

Previews

Coming into this season, the Red Storm have high expectations as they return one of the best duos in all of College Basketball, as they return potential Big East Player of the year, Julian Champagnie, and reigning defensive player of the year Posh Alexander. After a somewhat interesting offseason where they essentially flipped their whole roster, and they will bring in a collection of pieces that look to help put the Red Storm in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019. While team chemistry may be in question, the Red Storm has a roster built for success heading into this season. 

Julian Champagnie will need to be great for this team to achieve high levels of success, his decision to come back for another season was key for the Johnnies. Champagnie is a good shooter, who uses his size to his advantage, he is long enough to score over guards, while his speed and athleticism are oftentimes too much for big men, allowing him to drive to the rim. Ideally, on offense, he plays the five, as he’s too athletic for bigs, while defensively the four spot will be probably his best fit, so it will be interesting to see what position he plays. 

Posh Alexander will continue to be a menace defensively, he’s one of the premier on-ball defenders in the sport, as he uses his junkyard dog mentality to pester opposing point guards. Offensively Alexander is still not a major threat due to his lacking ability to shoot, but he’s a good true point guard and that should bring him high-assist numbers. 

The Johnnies will then turn to a collection of transfers to fill in at the other spots in the lineup. Montez Mathis comes in from Rutgers to provide length, shooting, and defensive upside, which will likely lead him into starting this season. Tareq Coburn comes in and looks to be a good secondary scorer next to Champagnie, he was a bucket-getter at Hofstra and will thrive now that he’s not the primary option on offense. Joel Soriano will provide this team with size, athleticism, and rebounding toughness inside, which should fit well for Champagnie avoiding foul trouble. 

Stef Smith was solid at Vermont as a secondary scorer, and will likely move into a bench role this season, he provides point guard depth should Alexander get in foul trouble. Aaron Wheeler was inconsistent but he is a good three-point shooter, who could work well in super small lineups where the Red Storm will try to space the floor. Dylan Addae-Wusu provides this team with more defensive versatility, although he’s most likely a liability on the offensive side of the ball. Esahia Nyiwe will provide some additional size and rim protection, although will likely do so in a bench role. 

Defensively this team is set to be pretty good on that end of the ball, just with how good Posh Alexander is on that end, while Mike Anderson will rotate guys into the lineup and try to force turnovers by just having more bodies than their opponents and wearing them out. You can pretty much count on this team to be one of the best defensive teams in their conference and one that should get offense through their defense. Their offense is extremely Julian Champagnie dependant, which is of some concern, especially if he has an off game.

While Champagnie is a great scorer and should eclipse a 20 point-per-game threshold, this team will struggle at times. Coburn provides some additional scoring pop but how does he adjust to the Big East level of competition is a question. Mathis, Smith, and Wheeler can provide some additional offense but aren’t really to be relied upon on a consistent basis, while as mentioned previously, Posh Alexander isn’t a good shooter. 

In the end, I think Champagnie and a solid core of pieces will be enough to get this team to the NCAA Tournament, but there is always a chance that this team heads back to being a .500 basketball team as they were over the past couple of seasons.

Projected Rotation

PG: Posh Alexander

SG: Tareq Coburn

SF: Montez Mathis

PF: Julian Champagnie

C: Joel Soriano

B1: Stef Smith

B2: Aaron Wheeler

B3: Dylan Addae-Wusu

B4: Esahia Nyiwe 

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