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February 12, 2008As it stands right now, Red Storm head coach Norm Roberts' job is safe. Three wins in a row have generated some positive vibes around the Red Storm program. Detractors will still say that wins against South Florida, Rutgers, and Providence aren't big accomplishments for St.John's, but a three game Big East winning streak has done a lot to silence some critics.
The win against South Florida proved that St. John's could beat a team it was favored to beat. We haven't necessarily seen that this season (the loss against Niagara comes to mind). Beating Rutgers at the RAC wasn't an easy game either. Ask guys who have come into the RAC in the past and they will tell you it's a difficult road environment.
In addition, the win against Providence turned into a real confidence booster. Some Big East experts had the Friars picked well above the Red Storm in preseason.
While the Red Storm is still far from being a dominating team, their 4-7 conference record has them showing some signs of life in the race to qualify for the Big East Tournament.
Right now they are tied with Villanova and Providence for the final spot in the league tourney. Who would have foreseen that a week or two ago when they were sinking fast and losses were mounting?
You can point to many things that have helped the Red Storm go on this streak. The most important thing might be the play of sophomore guard Larry Wright. During this winning streak, Wright is averaging close to 14.3 points a game and starting to get back some of the aggressiveness we saw from him at the beginning of the season.
If Wright's performance off the bench isn't the reason, then maybe it's the trimming of rotation by Roberts. We've seen the starting lineup of Eugene Lawrence, Malik Boothe, D.J. Kennedy, Justin Burrell and Sean Evans come in and speed up the tempo and it has really helped. What this lineup gives up in size, it gains back in quickness.
And when Wright and Paris Horne get into the game, the speed picks up even more.
Now maybe the Storm have things turning. A road trip to Cincinnati is no easy one as the Bearcats have surprised everyone in the conference and head coach Mick Cronin is the lead candidate for Big East coach of the year. But if the Red Storm can squeak this one out and get their fifth conference win, will more fans start to believe?