Pointer Ready to Make Next Step

The St. John’s men’s basketball team is at a great advantage this season thanks to a more experienced roster with 10 returning lettermen and four returning starters. They have six players who are seniors, the most they’ve had since 2010-11, coach Steve Lavin’s first season.

“We’ve been here for four years now,” said senior guard/forward Sir’Dominic Pointer. “Freshman year we had a tough year, sophomore year we had a better year, junior we had a better year but we still didn’t do what we wanted to do. This year we’ve got to get to the tournament and we’ve got to make noise. We’ve got to go out on the right note; we’ve got to win games.”

That 2010-11 season of course was their most recent NCAA tournament appearance, as they’ve fallen short in each of the previous three seasons due to a younger, less experienced roster and key losses in conference games. They had to settle for early exits in the NIT in the previous two seasons.

“We were one of the top teams in the country at stopping people, but we couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” said Pointer. “I’ve always been [defensive-minded]. I grew up a boxer, so you’ve always got to defend yourself when you’re out there. I always had quick feet and I’m always ready to go, that’s where I get that from.”

St. John’s was one of the better defensive teams in the country last year, as they held opponents to a .409 FG% and led finished second in Big East play in points per game against. However, they struggled on offense, and no returning, key perimeter player finished with a field goal percentage above .450. Only one player who averaged over 10 points per game, D’Angelo Harrison, returns this season. They also turned the ball over at a 10.69 per game rate.

“We get in our own way. We worked hard this summer to get out of our own way. Last year we went on a lot of droughts, five minutes not scoring. It wasn’t the other team stopping us from scoring, it was us missing shots. That’s our biggest obstacle right now. That’s what we’ve got to get past. We’ve got to put the ball in the basket.”

But it’s different now. This team is more mature and more experienced, and in a watered-down Big East Conference, time is ripe to make noise.

“We had to grow up ourselves, so it took a bit longer. We didn’t have senior leadership, like these [freshmen] do and we didn’t have junior leadership. We were all freshmen by ourselves, so it took a bit longer for grow up but it finally came. Leadership, us playing the role for the younger guys.”

Pointer is just one of the many guys who plan on stepping up on the court and in a leadership role.

“I say to them, play your game,” said Pointer. “Your first couple of games you’re going to be nervous, it’s natural. But once you get in the flow, you play your game. Do what you can do, don’t do nothing that you can’t do.”

St. John’s will definitely need players like Pointer and his fellow upper classmen to take the next step to finally get into the NCAA tournament. Pointer said their goal is to win the Big East, which shows how committed and how confident they are. Could be a special season just like 2010-11.