The Future of St. John's Basketball Begins at Home - NBC New York

The Future of St. John's Basketball Begins at Home

City school needs a city team



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    Ron Artest, Walter Berry, Mark Jackson.

    It isn't every day that the firing of a coach after six mediocre seasons is met with feelings of sadness. Norm Roberts is a good man whose team always played hard and never embarrassed the university, but, as Bruce Beck pointed out earlier on Friday, he also didn't win enough.

    Kevin Loughery, Dick McGuire, Billy Paultz.

    He also couldn't get the local kids to stay home. He did better than Mike Jarvis, by a long shot, but Kemba Walker chose Connecticut. Devin Ebanks and Kevin Jones are stars at West Virginia, while Curtis Kelly helped Kansas State to the second round on Thursday. Lance Stephenson, the kind of marquee star that would have returned the Red Storm to prominence, went to Cincinnati.

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    After restoring integrity to St. John's, Norm Roberts is dismissed with an overall record of 81-101.
    (Published Friday, March 19, 2010)

    Malik Sealy, Bill, Wennington, Chris Mullin.

    St. John's can be good again, heck, they can be great again, but it is going to come from getting names to add to the nine above that built the program to its previous heights. They never got all the New York kids, but they got enough of them to keep the pipeline flowing and keep the name on the lips of every high school boy who wanted to be a star in college.

    Roberts started the process after Jarvis turned his back on the feeder system. Many of the current Red Storm players are local products, but he could never land the one name that opened the floodgates. Some argue that the next coach has to be a big national name, but that's less important than it being a big local name.

    Fran Fraschilla didn't have a big profile when he came to Queens, but he built strong teams on the backs of the kids who grew up here. The school may need to spend more money; they're being outspent by most of the Big East right now, but it doesn't all have to go into a coach's pocket.

    Who is that coach? Not an easy question to answer, but it's worth looking at Tom Pecora from Hofstra. He's recruited here and he's done a good enough job of it over the years that it is interesting to think what he could do at the next level. There are other names, too many to list, but the skill set is more important than the name brand.

    Thinking local is a hot trend in food right now. St. John's should make it the hot trend in basketball as well.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for