Daryll Hill

Daryll Hill is sick of the naysayers.

He’s heard the criticisms since he was a high school star at Cardozo in Bayside, N.Y. Hill isn’t a point guard, they said. He can’t work within the confines of an organized offense, they said. He’s too out of control, too undisciplined to run a team at the college level, they said.

Well, this Daryll Hill is not the same person that had the nickname “Showtime” bestowed upon him. He isn’t the same high school whirlwind who ran things at Rucker Park.

Sure, the St. John’s junior guard still has all of that ability and more. But now he’s not just out for the highlights, around-the-back passes and monster alley oops. He’s out to prove something.

The presence of St. John’s coach Norm Roberts has changed his mindset with a little something that maybe other authority figures never had in Hill: confidence.

“I know that Coach has confidence in me,” Hill said. “He wants me to run the show. It makes me want to just prove everybody wrong, everybody who thinks I can’t run the point, that I’m a two-guard.”

Truth is, Hill does have something to prove. He was the Red Storm’s point guard the past two seasons and the Big East’s top returning scorer was undoubtedly a shoot-first player.

But could you blame him? We’re talking about two St. John’s teams that had a maximum of eight scholarship players both seasons, a team that had a total of 15 wins combined those two years. We’re talking about a Red Storm program that hit total rock bottom in 2003-2004 after coach Mike Jarvis was fired and the team was involved in the infamous sex scandal.

Hill was not involved in the incident which left the team with six players either suspended from the team or expelled from the school. No surprise for the soft-spoken Queens product though.

“Daryll was a great leader for us last year and I think he’ll take more of that role this year,” Roberts said. “Daryll is not ever a really vocal, vocal guy. That’s not him. But he does it a lot in his attitude and what he does on the court and what he brings to practice and games everyday-I think Daryll is a very mature young man, very serious about his game. I think he’s very serious about winning.”

And things are different now. Hill has help. Who was going to score last season besides Hill and junior forward Lamont Hamilton? The team was 9-18. Without Hill taking on the scoring burden, it could have been much, much worse.

Hill, a 6-foot slasher, knows now that he won’t have to score 20.7 points per game as he did last year. He gushes about the team’s newcomers and new possibilities.

“Ricky (Torres), when I [see] him open [for] the three, I know he can knock it down,” Hill said of the freshman.

How about 6-foot-10 junior college transfer Aaron Spears?

“When they get down on the block, it’s hard to stop that hook shot because he’s so big,” Hill said with a smile. “[He’s going to create] a lot of problems in the Big East.”

And they aren’t even the most impressive of the new guys. That honor Hill gave to freshman Anthony Mason Jr., the 6-foot-5 son of Anthony Mason, the former Knick, who can shoot, drive to the basket and play exceptional defense.

But all of this doesn’t mean Hill won’t be the team’s leading scorer. It doesn’t mean he won’t be the team’s best player. And it certainly doesn’t mean he won’t be the go-to guy with the game on the line.

“I feel like we can win a lot of games with the ball in my hand,” he said.

He will be that guy, of course. As far as St. John’s has come in the last calendar year, it is still a team that was picked to finish 10th in the conference by Big East coaches in the preseason. However, that is not too shabby for a squad that was 3-13 in Big East games last season, especially now that five solid teams have entered the overhauled conference. Hill knows there is more talent at St. John’s now. And no one is worried about a Roberts-coached team not working hard enough.

“Right now we’re just working on our chemistry,” Hill said. “Once we get that down, we’ll be good because everyone plays hard on this team.”

So what does Hill want to accomplish this season?

“Run the team,” Hill said. “Make everybody get touches. Make everybody happy on the team.”

Doesn’t sound like a guy nicknamed Showtime, does it?

“I read The Winner Within by Pat Riley,” Hill said. “He talked about the team aspect, how to become a great team. That right there let me get my mind ready for the season.”

Nope. This isn’t the same Daryll Hill.