The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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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Anderson’s Deepest Roster Yet Prepares To “Leave Everything On The Floor”

The Johnnies have everything it takes to forge a quality roster. Now, all that’s left is to put it all together on the court. 
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

“We left here with an empty feeling,” St. John’s Men’s Basketball head coach Mike Anderson told reporters on the court of Madison Square Garden at Big East Media Day, referencing the team’s loss in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinals on the very same court seven months earlier. “We didn’t get the chance to leave it all on the floor.”

For the better part of that game, the Johnnies seemed destined to snap a 22-year Big East Tournament Semifinals drought. Destined to finally realize the potential they’ve displayed since Anderson was hired in 2019. 

Instead, last year’s squad let a 17-point lead slip, ending their season. But to Anderson, the coach that has guided eight returning players from that team as they prepare for the 2022-23 season, this team is different.

“With the team this year,” Anderson said, “you’ll see them leave everything on the floor.”

Those eight returning players represent the highest roster retention since Anderson took over as head coach three seasons ago. It’s a stark turnaround from last year, which saw just three players return for the campaign. More importantly, it’s a sign that the program Anderson is building is headed in the right direction. 

Anderson knows these players better than anyone, and he predicts that this squad won’t let up easily. “The feeling that they left in the locker room against Villanova at the last game,” Anderson recalled. “I think that will propel them to some good things this year.”

The Johnnies have two standouts returning from that team, guard Posh Alexander and center Joel Soriano. Both have cemented themselves as disruptors on offense and defense, capable of making key plays in a competitive league. 

They’re joined by notable transfers David Jones and Andre Curbelo, who played at DePaul University and the University of Illinois, respectively. “They know the expectation,” Anderson said of Jones and Curbelo, who both come to Queens after playing for established Division I schools.

Jones is a particularly interesting addition, as he made a name for himself playing for Big East conference rival DePaul. When Jones and the Blue Demons faced the Red Storm in February last season, he scored 24 points and grabbed ten rebounds. “He’s proven himself,” Anderson said. “Now he’s got to prove it with this basketball team.” 

Two highly-touted freshmen, Kolby King and AJ Storr, join the already-crowded roster for the upcoming season. They don’t have to feel the pressure of providing quality minutes, at least not at first, but the potential is there. “Physically, he’s got a body for college already,” Anderson said of Storr. “Every day he’s grasping all of the little nuances about what it takes to play at this level.” 

Due to the evolution of NCAA transfer rules, roster retention is harder than ever. Pair that with NIL prospects that reward players financially for playing for big-name schools, and it’s difficult to put together a quality basketball team in 2022. 

Players are buying into Anderson’s system, centered around high-intensity basketball on defense. “We’re going to try to hang our hats on our defense,” Anderson said. “Defense is going to be the difference with this basketball team.”

As more players buy into the program Anderson is building, more will want to become a part of it. “I think great players like to play with great players,” said Anderson, who thinks he could have more than eight players on the roster capable of starting games. 

Though the roster might seem congested, especially at the guard position, Anderson isn’t worried. “I think the guys have figured it out,” he said when asked about which guards might play on and off the ball. 

“My best teams have been [ones] where there’s been competition for playing time,” Anderson added. “I think what you end up getting is more efficient play from your team.” 

Anderson, respected among the industry as a successful Division I head coach, has high expectations for this year’s basketball team. The Johnnies have everything it takes to forge a quality roster: experienced returners, key additions and freshmen with upside. Now, all that’s left is to put it all together on the court. 

“At the end of the day, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” Anderson concluded. “We want to be one of the top teams, not only in this league, but in the country. That is our goal.”

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About the Contributor
Brady Snyder
Brady Snyder, Editor-in-Chief
Brady is a senior journalism student currently serving as Editor-in-Chief. He joined The Torch in 2021, and previously served as Sports Editor. Outside of The Torch, Brady covers consumer technology and new innovations for ScreenRant, where he has nearly 100 published articles. When he isn’t writing, Brady is usually running or catching a sporting event. Brady can be reached at [email protected]
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