W2W4: St. John's vs. San Francisco State

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
10:45
AM ET
Here are three things to watch when St. John's plays host to San Francisco State on Saturday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena.

Tip-off is at 3 p.m., and you can watch the game via ESPN3.

GAME ON: After a long offseason, the Red Storm finally tip off 2013-14 with the first of two exhibition games in Queens.

All eyes will be on the trio of newcomers who will be making their St. John's debuts: 6-foot-4 freshman guard Rysheed Jordan, 6-foot-9 senior forward Orlando Sanchez and 6-foot-6 sophomore swingman Max Hooper.

Jordan -- ranked the No. 17 high school senior in the country, and No. 3 point guard, by ESPN -- was voted the preseason Big East Rookie of the Year. Just how good is he? We begin finding out Saturday.

Sanchez and Hooper could be key contributors this year, too. Can Sanchez be the low-post scorer St. John's sorely needs? Can Hooper, a transfer from Harvard, get shots off, and make them, at this level? Answers forthcoming.

BALANCING ACT: It's only an exhibition game, but this will be our first glimpse at how coach Steve Lavin may distribute playing time this season. Two years ago, St. John's had barely enough scholarship players to put five on the floor. Now the cupboard is suddenly very, very full.

In particular, there appears to be a logjam at guard. D'Angelo Harrison, voted first-team All-Big East, should play a ton of minutes. And Jordan should get plenty of run, too.

But what does that mean for Jamal Branch, who Lavin said is the returning player who has improved the most from a season ago? And what about Phil Greene, who has started 60 of 65 games in his first two years with the program?

Lavin could go with a three-guard lineup. But he has plenty of options in the front court as well. Keeping everyone happy won't be easy.

One more personnel note: sophomore center Chris Obekpa, who led the nation in blocked shots per game (4.03) as a freshman, is suspended for this game for an unspecified violation of university policy.

THE GATORS: San Francisco State, a Division II program, finished with a 16-12 record last season. It was ranked No. 9 in the Division II West Region rankings.

Why did they get the opportunity to travel cross-country and face St. John's? Well, Lavin went to San Francisco State and played for the Gators from 1982 to 1984.

The Gators were picked to finish third in the California Collegiate Athletic Association preseason poll, behind Cal State San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona.

San Francisco State, led by fourth-year coach Paul Trevor, has seven seniors. Fifth-year senior Nefi Perdomo, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound guard from Oakland, is already fifth in school history with 1,160 career points.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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