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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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COURTSIDE: Staff Writer Predictions 2017–18

Our Staff Writers and Editors look into the crystal ball for the 2017–18 season
COURTSIDE%3A+Staff+Writer+Predictions+2017%E2%80%9318

NICK MCCREVEN

MEN

Record: 16-14. The Red Storm will be able to grab some big wins throughout the year and I believe they will be able to improve as the season progresses, but the Big East is still one of the competitive, if not the competitive, conference in the country.

MVP: Justin Simon. Shamorie Ponds will also put together an impressive campaign and will have a higher scoring total but I see Simon coming out and surprising a lot of people with a stellar all-around season.

Most Improved Player: Marcus LoVett. LoVett put on a strong performance last season and scored at a high volume on a consistent basis, but I see his improvement coming in other areas of his game like turnover reduction, efficiency, and even rebounding.

Best Newcomer: Justin Simon.

Best Non-Conference Game: Duke. Although I think the St. Joe’s vs St. John’s game at Mohegan Sun will be an exciting one, I can’t ignore the potential for a win against the Blue Devils and just how important it would be for this up and coming team.

WOMEN’S:

Record: 20-9. The women will grab 20 wins for the fifth year in a row under Coach Tartamella.

MVP: Akina Wellere. The forward will lead the team in scoring and be their offensive catalyst. Defenders will have to give her the utmost attention on the perimeter as she will likely lead the Big East in three point percentage once again.

Most Improved Player: Alisha Kebbe. With Aaliyah Lewis gone, Kebbe will have opportunity to burst out this season at the guard position and have career highs across the board.

Best Newcomer: Qadashah Hoppie. The freshman from Staten Island was nominated for the McDonald’s All-American Game last season as a senior. She’ll be able to come in and play quality minutes even in her first year.

Best Non-Conference Game: Miami. The Hurricanes were ranked 22nd in the country in the preseason. The game in Florida will be a tough battle but this St. John’s team has the experience to nab a win.

BRENDAN MYERS

MEN’S:

Record: With two more bonafide scorers in Justin Simon and Marvin Clark added to the program, I think the team will handle the non-conference schedule much better. With most losses coming in Big East play, I think in year three of the Mullin Era this team can win 18-20 games.

MVP: I think Marvin Clark and his knowledge of what it takes to get to the Final Four can be key on the court this season. He’s not a through-and-through post player, but will be a great help in the rebounding effort

Most Improved Player: In his second and final year in playing for his city, I think Bashir Ahmed will be a whole new player. He reworked his jump shot and has said that he knows the pacing of Division I much better now.

Best Newcomer: With all the hype around Simon, Clark, Ponds and LoVett, Bryan Trimble has gone underrated. People forget he was a three-star recruit and can score in a plethora of ways.

Best Non-Conference Game: Not going out on a limb, but it’s hard not to love that February 3rd showdown with Duke. Playing against two or three potential lottery picks will be a good test of Chris Mullin’s squad can make the jump to the tournament that’s been talked about so much.

WOMEN’S:

Record: Despite being picked to finish seventh in the league, Joe Tartamella seems to have the formula to get to 20 wins. Yes, they lost Aaliyah Lewis and Jade Walker but this team has a ton of young talent to hover around that 20 win radius.

MVP: At St. John’s media day, Tartamella said Akina Wellere needs to step up as the consistent scorer to replace Lewis and Walker. Last season she shot over 45% from behind the arc, and I think will be the team’s leading scorer.

Most Improved: Tiana England didn’t get to play the entirety of last season because of an injury, but she used that year to improve. Tartamella said the team is going to go as she goes this season.

Best Newcomer: Qadashah Hoppie comes into Queens as a former McDonald’s All American and will provide crucial minutes in a backcourt that’s going to be learning on the fly.

Best Non-Conference Game: To kick December off, the Johnnies head down to South Beach to take on Miami, a team that finished 24-9 last season and returns a lot of experience.

SEAN OKULA

MEN’S:

Record: 18-13 (9-9 Big East). Call me optimistic, but if they beat up on the bottom of the Big East, Chris Mullin’s crew could be knocking on the Big Dance’s door.

MVP: Marcus LoVett. Sprinkle in some improvement on defense, and LoVett has a chance to take a leap into the nation’s upper echelon of point guards.

Most Improved: Tariq Owens. Further development of his back-to-the-basket post moves could transform Owens from a defensive specialist into a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the floor.

Best Newcomer: Justin Simon. The Arizona transfer isn’t going to light it up from downtown (he doesn’t have to with Ponds and LoVett alongside him), but his defensive prowess will work wonders in that prolific backcourt.

Best Non-Conference: 12/17 vs. Iona. Obvious choice here is the Duke game, but in terms of contests the Johnnies have a legit shot of winning, this matchup with a local foe (and perennial NCAA Tournament qualifier) should be a good early-season litmus test.

WOMEN’S:

Record: 17-12 (8-10 Big East). Jade Walker and Aaliyah Lewis are gone, and even with eight returnees from last year’s NIT-bound squad, a step back seems inevitable.

MVP: Akina Wellere. The Red Storm’s second-leading scorer from a year ago will take on a large chunk of the scoring burden in the coming campaign.

Most Improved: Maya Singleton.  Leading the defensive front, Singleton is going to be swatting shots left-and-right in the paint, and has a chance to up her scoring totals after a productive first season in Queens.

Best Newcomer: Kayla Charles. The 6-foot-3 freshman forward is going to created a formidable frontcourt pairing with Singleton, bringing size and a knack for keeping the ball away from the rim.

Best Non-Conference: 12/3 at Miami (FL). A potential showdown with defending-champion South Carolina looms in the second round of the Gulf Coast Showcase, but this matchup with the Hurricanes could prove to be a statement-game against a tournament team from a year ago.

JOHN CAVANAGH

MEN’S:

Record (20-12): The Johnnies think they can be a tournament team, and hit the 20 game win mark. I think they hit that goal by taking care of business early on and in the big east.

MVP: Shamorie Ponds: The team’s best pure scorer will look even better getting good looks from new guard Justin Simon.

Most Improved Player: Kassoum Yakwe: The 6’7 forward came in raw, but will use his third year in

Queens to round out his game and be a force down low.

Best Newcomer: Marvin Clark: St. John’s gets much needed rebounding help, and scoring prowess down low.

Best Non-Conference Game: Duke at Madison Square Garden. What a big-time match-up.

WOMEN’S:

Record (21-12): The Johnnies have a much younger team, but they won’t miss a beat from last season.

MVP: Akina Wellere: Ranked second on the team last year averaging 11.3 points per game, and is only getting better.

Most Improved Player: Maya Singleton: The 6’0 forward played in all 34 games last year, and will be key under the glass.

Best Newcomer: Tiana England: The red-shirt freshman guard missed the entire season last year due to injury, and is ready to make a big impact.

Best Non-Conference Game: A mid-December game where the Red Storm battles the Kansas Jayhawks.

DERRELL BOUKNIGHT

MEN’S:

Record: The Red Storm should win at least nine non-conference games, and with a stronger roster, Chris Mullin’s first winning season should come with at least 19-21 wins.

MVP: Shamorie Ponds. Adding some more muscle over the offseason should complement the valuable experience he gained from his freshman year.

Most Improved Player: Bashir Ahmed’s jumper looks smoother, and in brief glimpses, he seems more comfortable and confident.

Best Newcomer: Tough one, but I’m going with Marvin Clark Jr. He gives St. John’s a physical presence they’ve lacked, bringing versatility and interior toughness.

Best Non-Conference Game: Duke is the obvious choice, but if the Johnnies play Missouri in the AdvoCare Invitational, facing off against Michael Porter Jr. would be a great early test.

WOMEN’S:

RECORD: Tartamella will get at least 18 wins, possibly 20, extending his streak of 20-win seasons to five.

MVP: Akina Wellere is an All Big-East Preseason selection, and for good reason. Look for her to build upon her breakout year from last year.

Most Improved Player: Alisha Kebbe made the Big East All-Freshman Team, and the sophomore is more than capable of averaging double figures.

Best Newcomer: Tiana England missed the entire 2016-2017 season with an injury, but she’ll come back to show the Big East why so much anticipation surrounded her.

Best Non-Conference Game: Energy should be high as Coach Tartamella faces his Alma Mater, James Madison, on Dec. 9. Pair that with the Dec. 3 game in Miami and the team could get two huge early wins.

DYLAN HORNIK

MEN’S

Record: With a deeper roster and another year of experience for Shamorie Ponds and Marcus LoVett, I think the Red Storm will hover around the 20-win mark and vie for a postseason berth.

MVP: Ponds and LoVett are obviously key factors, but Marvin Clark’s versatility will lift the team to new heights.

Most Improved: After a down sophomore year, Kassoum Yakwe will benefit from a strong offseason and revive his collegiate career.

Best Newcomer: Besides Clark, the only logical choice is Justin Simon, who will take on a significant amount of responsibility in the frontcourt.

Best Non-Conference Game: It’s easy to say Duke, but there’s nothing like playing against old rival Iona in the MSG Holiday Festival.

WOMEN’S

Record: Tartamella’s stellar coaching career will continue with another season of more than 20 wins and a trip to the postseason for the 11th consecutive season.

MVP: Akina Wellere is the unquestioned star of this team.

Most Improved: Tamesha Alexander will take on a much more significant role than last year and thrive for the Red Storm.

Best Newcomer: Tartamella has boasted about freshman Kayla Charles all offseason long. Look for Tiana England to make impact after an ACL injury derailed her freshman season, as well.

Best Non-Conference Game: Matchups with Fordham Miami are intriguing, but Tartamella’s alma mater, James Madison, will play hard in front of their old coach.

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