St. John's held its annual preseason media day on Thursday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena -- 23 days before its first exhibition game versus San Francisco State, and 29 days before its regular-season opener against Wisconsin.
The players sounded very confident, and coach Steve Lavin was cautiously optimistic -- click here to read my main story from the event.
Here are some other newsworthy items:
Injury roundup: D'Angelo Harrison is sitting out practice right now with a hamstring injury, but neither he nor Lavin sounded very concerned about it. Harrison said he expects to return to practice next week.
On the bright side, fellow junior guard Phil Greene said he feels 100 percent, after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip in the spring. Greene played through the hip injury all of last season. And junior guard Jamal Branch said he feels 100 percent as well, after suffering a knee injury in February that caused him to miss four games.
When asked what returning player or players have improved the most during the offseason, Lavin immediately singled out Branch, and mentioned Greene as well.
Speaking of Lavin: The head coach said he feels great, and he sounded fired up as he gets ready to begin his fourth season at the helm of the Red Storm.
This is a pivotal season for Lavin in his tenure at St. John's -- more on that in the coming weeks.
Where's Rysheed? It was a little disappointing that St. John's did not make freshman Rysheed Jordan available to the media Thursday.
Lavin is clearly being protective of his prize freshman. "When you have a player as special as a Rysheed Jordan, who went through some tough times here, just on a personal level, with some issues his mother has faced, in terms of her health, and some other personal items -- it's a little like with your children," Lavin said. "You have a sense, you have a feel, it's instinct, like teaching and coaching, similar to managing people, you know what's best for them in a given situation. So we're just gonna wait."
"He's in a really good place with his academics, his health and his maturation," the coach added. Lavin said he plans to keep Jordan under wraps, mediawise, until around Christmas, right before conference play begins.
Mad Max? St. John's was one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country last season, ranked No. 338 out of 345 Division I schools in 3-point field goals made per game (3.6).
Transfer Max Hooper, a 6-foot-6 sharpshooter from Carmel Valley, Calif., was brought in to change that.
Hooper barely got off the bench as a freshman at Harvard two years ago, playing just four minutes in two games. But he's confident he can make a significant impact with the Red Storm.
"I set my bar for what I want to achieve on a daily basis, and as a whole, very high," Hooper said. "But I feel like playing against guys like the roster we have here, guys who are so athletic and talented, I just have gotten so much better on a daily basis. ... I've put in a lot of work, and I'm just excited for the lights to finally be on, and ready to perform."
Encore? Sophomore center Chris Obekpa led the nation in blocked shots per game as a freshman (4.03 BPG). I asked him how he was going to improve on that this year.
His answer? Win the national defensive player of the year award.
He said he's also been working hard on his offensive game, including adding a hook shot to his repertoire. We'll see how much he's improved come November.