Five reasons to be optimistic about Storm

Justin Burrell #24 of the St. John's Red

Justin Burrell #24 of the St. John's Red Storm dunks the ball against the Duke Blue Devils at Madison Square Garden. (Jan. 30, 2011) (Credit: Getty Images)

1) The buzz is back: For the first time in forever, Madison Square Garden crackled with energy surrounding St. John's basketball program. The run of wins the Red Storm had on the MSG floor -- Holiday Festival, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Duke, Pitt, UConn -- made it tough on opponents again and boosted attendance and noise volume. 

2) The investment was worth it: St. John's had to step up its financial commitment to basketball to hire Steve Lavin, right, and provide support for his top-notch coaching staff. Their work in transforming a group of 10 seniors into a quality team was special, brought great recognition to the school and showed why it must be maintained.

3) Top-five incoming recruiting class: The incoming recruiting class is rated No. 2 by Rivals.com and by ESPN and includes six top-100 freshmen -- Amir Garrett, Maurice Harkless, D'Angelo Harrison, Norvel Pelle, Sir'Dominic Pointer and Jakarr Sampson -- plus Uniondale's Dwight Meikle and JUCO transfer Nurideen Lindsey.

4) New York City foothold restored: Success on the court and the nationwide recruiting coup St. John's scored undoubtedly had the effect of putting the Red Storm back in the game with all the top recruits in its own NYC backyard. Players who have been heading to other Big East schools and beyond now must consider staying in Queens. 

5) Revival of St. John's tradition: It's clear that pride in one of the country's historic college basketball programs has returned for the alums, from former star Chris Mullin and coach Lou Carnesecca on down. Rather than be consigned to the dustbin of history, the school is positioned to return to the power elite in the college game.

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