Should he stay or should he go?

A fourth losing season in five years hasn’t garnered many peachy feelings for Norm Roberts, with many calling for the St. John’s coach’s head in light of recent postseason losses to Marquette and Richmond.

But even though his plethora of excuses have exceeded his team’s number of double-digit losses this season, Roberts should not become the scapegoat for a St. John’s program slowly sinking into college basketball irrelevance.

Sure the fans want a big-name head coach to compete for recruits, and the rat race for a potential Bob Knight comeback has left Storm fans yearning for some Indiana magic.

Nothing against coach Knight, but handing over the reins will give credit to an undeserving coach, insulting both Roberts and the players who have worked their tails off for him.

When Knight’s assistant Mike Davis was hired as his replacement at Indiana back in 2000, he took the Hoosiers to the National Championship game with a roster made up of players Knight recruited.

While he received a whirlwind of credit for the team’s achievement, he took a huge hit when Knight’s players realized the man that put them in position to win wasn’t on the sidelines anymore.

As a result, Davis’ future Indiana teams suffered and he resigned in 2006. Indiana basketball hasn’t been the same since.

St. John’s was bitten by the injury bug this year, spending nine games of the 2008-09 season without Malik Boothe, Roberts’ ‘floor general’ of a point guard, and nearly all of it without its sharpshooting senior leader, Anthony Mason, Jr. Justin Burrell also missed significant time and played most of the year with an annoying Hannibal Lector-esque mask which limited his court vision and aggressiveness.

That the Storm were struck with such consistent bad luck is as tragic as the Red Storm’s recent attendance records.

The fact that the team was able to salvage anything of this season, as disappointing as the numbers may be, is an accomplishment in itself. Robert’s starting five, consisting exclusively of sophomores, showed flashes of brilliance at times this year.

Those sophomores are going to be juniors next year and already have two years of playing experience behind them.

And these guys have talent. Guard D.J. Kennedy averaged 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as the backbone of the Storm this season.

Burrell averaged close to 11 points and 5 rebounds per game despite looking like Anthony Hopkins. Paris Horne had a few 20-point outbursts, and forward Sean Evans impressed during tournament play.

Even Boothe, upon returning from a thumb injury in January, continued his jack-of-all-trades point guarding with noteworthy averages in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

These are all players Norm recruited to St. John’s. Despite all the players that have left the program, Norm rarely receives credit for the players he brings into the school. And this year’s signing period may bring about the crown jewel of New York high school talent, Lance Stephenson. Why would Stephenson want to play for a school whose head coach didn’t even recruit him?

The St. John’s program is on the brink of something special. Its players have a quiet confidence about them that, with a bit of Norm’s tutelage, could change the now negative culture of St. John’s basketball.

It would be a shame if those players find the man that put them in position to win no longer roamed the sidelines, either.