Sadly, the streak continues; and for a team already short on depth and experience, it could not have come at a worse time.
In a stunning development, St. John's point guard Nurideen Lindsey announced his intent to transfer from the Queens institution at the end of the semester, which comes next week after final exams. Lindsey's impending departure now makes this season the eighth consecutive campaign in which the Red Storm has had one of their scholarship student-athletes transfer from their basketball program, one that fields the youngest team in its 104-year history this year.
Lindsey, a Philadelphia native in his sophomore season after playing in junior college last year, cited the health of his mother as the main reason behind his decision to leave; as well as the absence of head coach Steve Lavin, which has become a much bigger factor than initially anticipated for the Red Storm, whose loss to Detroit this past Monday dropped them to 4-5 on the year. After making a triumphant return in the second game of the season against Lehigh on November 9th, Lavin was expected by most to return to full-time duties and not miss a beat; but later revealed that he may have jumped the gun on his comeback. Assistant coach Mike Dunlap, who was in a similar situation at Arizona when he helped run the Wildcats while Lute Olson dealt with health issues of his own, has been serving as the interim coach throughout the season. Lavin has not coached a game since the Red Storm's loss to Texas A&M three weeks ago at Madison Square Garden, and praised his point guard by calling him a basketball player with a "bright future." In a press release issued yesterday by senior associate athletic director for communications and men's basketball sports information director Mark Fratto, Lindsey said the following:
"I came to St. John's for a couple of reasons. One was to be close to my mom, whose health has been up and down due to some past experiences. The second was to play for Coach Lav. In both instances, it has not worked out how I envisioned. I think Coach Lav is an amazing coach and person. He could have taught me so much. "I love St. John's, and appreciate all the love and support from the staff and school. I think this team will be special. I think what I'll miss most about St. John's is my teammates. Those guys are like my brothers, so I will continue to support St. John's and my brothers. Thank you for the memories, regardless of how brief."
Through nine games, Lindsey was St. John's third-leading scorer, averaging 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game; with arguably his finest performance coming on November 13th against UMBC, when he finished one assist shy of recording the first triple-double in Red Storm history since Ron Artest accomplished the feat in 1999. In his absence, freshman Phil Greene is expected to replace Lindsey at the point, with swingman Sir'Dominic Pointer likely moving into the starting lineup at the small forward position as the Red Storm will now employ a six-man rotation. Help is on the way, however; as forward Amir Garrett is likely to join the team in the coming weeks once he is declared eligible by the NCAA. St. John's will return to the court a week from tomorrow against Fordham in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden, where they will look to avenge a bitter defeat at the hands of the Rams last year after blowing a 21-point lead and yielding two 16-0 runs in the second half at Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx.