Mon, 18 Jan 2021

St. John's to open with stern test in Saint Peter's

Field Level Media
23 Nov 2020, 15:40 GMT+10

For the first time since halftime of the second round of the Big East Tournament on March 12, the St. John's Red Storm are set to play basketball.

St. John's was leading Creighton 38-35 in New York when the game was halted due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Storm will playhost to the Saint Peter's Peacocks in the season opener for both teams.

The Storm - picked to finish ninth in the 11-team Big East Conference -- will be without their leading scorer from last season as 6-foot-6 forward LJ Figueroa transferred to Oregon after averaging 14.5 points. He also led the Big East with 1.9 steals per game.

Julian Champagnie, a 6-8 sophomore wing, is now one of the focal points of the Storm offense. He averaged 9.9 points last season and made the Big East All-Freshmen team. Champagne, whose twin brother (Justin) plays for Pittsburgh, also led the Storm with 6.5 rebounds per game.

The Storm added Arnaldo Toro, a 6-8, 240-pound graduate transfer. Last season at George Washington, he averaged 6.1 points and a team-high 7.0 rebounds in 24 games.

"Toro is a guy I'm really excited about," Storm coach Mike Anderson said. "He's an older guy with more experience."

Anderson is eager to see what he gets from Posh Alexander, a true freshman combo guard from New York City. In high school, Alexander broke a league record last season with a 60-point game, making 24 of 40 shots while adding eight assists and seven rebounds.

Among the veteran Storm guards, look for 6-2 senior Rasheem Dunn and 6-3 junior Greg Williams Jr. to play major minutes. Dunn averaged 11.9 points last season, and Williams averaged 5.7 as they combined to start 25 games. Dunn also led the team in assists (3.4).

Up front, the Storm will rely on 6-9 junior Josh Roberts, who reportedly has recovered from shoulder surgery, and junior college transfers Vince Cole and Isaih Moore.

Roberts averaged 5.0 points and 5.8 rebounds last season. Cole averaged 21.4 points and shot 44.6 percent on 3-pointers as a first-team junior college All-American, but he has been slowed of late by a knee injury. Moore, who is 6-10 with a 7-6 wingspan, is a sleeper prospect.

The Peacocks were picked to finish third in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Saint Peter's finished 18-12 last season and advanced to the semifinals of their conference tournament when the pandemic ended their campaign.

KC Ndefo -- the MAAC's reigning Defensive Player of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year -- is the team's top returner. The 6-7 junior led the league with 2.4 blocks per game last season while also scoring 8.5 points with 5.3 rebounds.

While Ndefo is on the MAAC's preseason first team, two of his teammates made the third squad: Daryl Banks III and Doug Edert.

Banks played every game last season and averaged 7.6 points. His big moment was a 25-point game against Iona in which he won the game with a coast-to-coast buzzer-beater.

Edert led the Peacocks in 3-pointers made and was second in the league in 3-point percentage (44.2). He also averaged 7.8 points per game.

--Field Level Media

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