For New York's team, their long-awaited opportunity to show the world what they will do for an encore has finally arrived.
Now just 24 hours away from an exhibition contest against C.W. Post that will serve as the first chance for the public to see the new-look Red Storm, the mantra around practice is that this game will be treated like a Big East affair against powerhouses such as Syracuse and Connecticut. Leading the charge is a freshman who has exuded a swagger without being pretentious about it, one who could become the best player on the team in a short amount of time. "We're going to treat them like they're Syracuse, UConn or Duke," said shooting guard D'Angelo Harrison. "We want to win this game."
To call Harrison "ready" would be an understatement, especially after what the native Texan has already accomplished prior to signing with Steve Lavin this summer and taking his talents to the corner of Union and Utopia. Following a senior year in which Harrison averaged 31 points per game in high school, the reputed shooter with a long-range game sure to conjure up memories of now-departed Red Storm legend Dwight Hardy is a soft-spoken prodigy who backs up his statements on the court in a manner reminiscent of another quiet man who eventually blossomed into the best of Norm Roberts' seven-man recruiting class back in 2007; a swingman from the streets of Pittsburgh named David Joseph Kennedy.
Much like Kennedy simply became the team leader through his on-court accomplishments, Harrison is on the same path to greatness. Assistant coach Rico Hines is among the guard's biggest fans as well. "I tell him every day that he could be the best shooter in America," said Hines at the Red Storm's midnight madness event two weeks ago. "I really believe that."
Already shooting for greatness both on and off the hardwood, Harrison was asked today of how his new team will play to the country's largest media market without the presence of the other residents of Madison Square Garden. "We'll create a spark," Harrison calmly stated in regard to how St. John's will capture the public's attention as life without the Knicks becomes more of a reality by the day. We want to continue what last year's guys did and bring New York back."
Harrison may not be the one who infamously guaranteed a national championship for the Johnnies, (backcourt partner Nurideen Lindsey did) but he has elevated his game accordingly since arriving in the Big Apple. "We've got to grow because we're about to play Duke and Kentucky," said Harrison when he met the media for the first time at St. John's midnight madness. "It's crazy, it didn't hit me until I got here. I'm actually going to be a part of this."
The next step in his young career begins tomorrow night, when fans around the world will get to see just how far St. John's has come since playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 2002.