St. John’s is a team filled with mostly teenagers, but by listening to the thoughts that they portray about the future of the St. John’s program – you would think they were assistant coaches.
The Red Storm had just suffered a 30-point loss to their cross river rival Seton Hall Pirates, bringing the losing streak up to four games. Fans may react one way to a loss like this, throwing in the towel, but this team keeps it all in perspective. They gaze off into the future and to what this team can become.
“It hurts, but we know it’s going to pay off sooner or later,” said guard D’Angelo Harrison after Sunday’s loss at Georgetown. “It might not be next game, it might not be the rest of the season, but we know it’s coming. It’s going to come out. (Like against West Virginia)”
One might look at that quote and think about how a player’s thought process might change between a close game against the #12/11 team in the country and a blowout loss against an unranked opponent. When it comes to this team, the resolve doesn’t waiver.
“It’s going to pay off in the long run,” said guard Phil Greene. ”We’re getting better and better each game. We’re growing up. That’s what we have to do now.”
The confidence permeates through this young squad with everyone showing quiet confidence in their ability to grow and succeed as a team.
“We’re freshmen, we have the rest of the season and next year,” said forward Sir’Dominic Pointer. ”We have the whole summer to get better. This is our first year together, so we’re just really learning (to play with) each other. I believe we’ll get better.”
While the players are the ones displaying the end product of months of work, the coaching staff is the facet that pushes the players forward. Successful coaches give them the confidence to continue through the period of tough results and see the bright future as this team is doing.
“It’s never tough to motivate them,” said assistant coach Mike Dunlap. “They can get discouraged, but we never really allow ourselves anything but great energy with them. We’re very honest with those things that we need to be honest with them about.”
Nobody, players and coaches included, know when these freshmen will turn the corner for sure. Whether it’s this March or when Steve Lavin brings in the necessary pieces. What Dunlap sees is a team that will eventually turn that corner and benefit from the struggles they endured.
“The future is bright, these guys are coming to come through this and reflect on this. I guarantee you they’ll play with a harder edge.”
When that time comes, from what these players have said day after day, it’ll be an edge that all New Yorkers can be proud of.
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