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St. John's ready to step up this season, beginning Tuesday night

St. John's Red Storm guard Julian Champagnie reacts

St. John's Red Storm guard Julian Champagnie reacts after sinking a three-point basket against the Utah Valley Wolverines during the second half an NCAA non-conference men's basketball game at Carnesecca Arena on Jan. 23. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

A year ago the Red Storm was one of the biggest surprises in the Big East. Behind the strong play of All-Big East first-teamer Julian Champagnie and conference Freshman of the Year Posh Alexander, St. John’s finished in fourth place in the conference for the first time since 2000.

The Red Storm will try to take the next step this season and it begins Tuesday night at 7:45 when it faces Mississippi Valley State at Carnesecca Arena.

"The next level is obviously you want to be playing in March and on into March," Storm coach Mike Anderson said. "You want to win conference championships. That’s the next step and that’s what I came here for. So as we jump into the season, that’s going to be the idea."

One big difference will be playing in front of fans, something the coronavirus pandemic limited while St. John’s went 16-11 overall and 10-9 in the Big East last season.

"Let’s see if we get a full year, get fans in the stands and we can get this team to play at the highest level they can play," Anderson said. "I think we have a chance to be one of the better teams in our league, no question about it. And we want to be playing some of our best basketball going down the stretch. We want to be in the hunt for something."

Fans may want to heed Anderson’s call on Tuesday and attend the game. It is being broadcast on Fox Sports 1. However, the network plans to look in on all of Tuesday’s Big East games during the course of St. John’s contest. The only way to see the entire Red Storm game will be on the network’s app.

Asked about this unusual broadcast plan, Anderson replied, "Come on down to Carnesecca Arena and you’ll see the whole game."

Champagnie and Alexander will be playing alongside an almost entirely new roster, one that includes five impact transfers and a pair of touted freshmen, including 6-6 combo guard Rafael Pinzon from Long Island Lutheran.

"I think we’ve done extremely well at gaining chemistry — we get along really well," Champagnie said. "It’ll take time obviously on the court. The little kinks that [Anderson] sees will get worked out. I know we’re going to be better later in the season. But I think we’ve done a pretty good job already.

"I am excited for this season."

Addae-Wusu practices. Dylan Addae-Wusu, the third returning player from last season, has returned to practice after recovering from minor ankle surgery. Anderson said it would be a game-time decision as to whether he plays.

New York Sports