Allow me to be clear about this:
The loss of Sylven “Syl” Landesberg hurts St. John’s. Any team, especially a St. John’s team that has not seen the NCAA Tournament since 1999, would benefit from a blue-chip prospect.
Landesberg would have made the Johnnies better on the court as well as off, since he would have been liable to induce recruits to play with a star.
But right now, it’s over and done with. Norm Roberts and his coaching staff gave it their best effort, and it just wasn’t enough. Sometimes that happens. However, it seems as though over the last couple of years, Roberts has faced a lot of bad luck.
Regardless of Landesberg’s statements that last Wednesday’s rifleman incident didn’t affect his decision, it certainly didn’t help. That incident, coupled with Derwin Kitchen’s academic ineligibility last season and Rob Thomas’ academic problems and knee injury, has led to a rough road for St. John’sRoberts has brought in a solid class for the upcoming season, though. While a seven-man freshman class may make NIT hopes lofty, the groundwork is being set for what could become a very solid group in the future.
Highly-touted recruit Justin Burrell and big-man Dele Coker should expect to see big minutes this season as the Johnnies will look to go further than just the Big East Tournament. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Roberts and Johnnies fans alike hope that over the next four years, the group will be able to gel.
Landesberg may have only been in the red and white for two years anyway, so it is not the end of the world for St. John’s. His decision to attend Virginia was a stab in the heart for not only St. John’s fans, but likely Roberts and his staff as well.
The silver lining, if you want to see it, is that Norm Roberts may be getting St. John’s back on the New York City recruiting map. After the program fell apart in 2004, recruiting from the city has been shaky at best.
Of the seven recruits coming in this season, four of them are from New York and three are from within the five boroughs. Two years ago Roberts had three scholarships to work with, but was only able to land one city recruit.
Roberts looks like he may be renewing interest in city recruits to St. John’s. Even though Landesberg may appear to be a loss, the future for St. John’s still looks very bright indeed.