Sampson, Johnnies Eyeing NCAA Tournament Bid


JaKarr Sampson and St. John’s are among the hottest teams in the Big East, having won six of their last seven games.

But the Johnnies (15-8, 7-4 Big East) will be severely tested with games at No. 9 Syracuse Sunday and No. 11 Louisville Thursday.

“I’m capable of thinking we can win,” Sampson, a freshman forward, said of the 3 p.m. tilt at the Carrier Dome. “Our coach and coaching staff has been doing a good job of getting us ready for this game and getting us ready for a physical game because it’s going to come down to rebounding. We need to rebound because we are great stopping teams on defense but we need to come away with the ball after that stop.”

Sampson, a five-time Big East Rookie of the Week, is St. John’s second-leading scorer (14.5 ppg) and leading rebounder (6.6) and has been “shooting up [NBA Draft] charts,” a veteran NBA scout told SNY.tv, reiterating comments he made after Wednesday’s win over UConn at Madison Square Garden.

“The kid is shooting up the charts,” the scout said. “He’s the personification of upside. He has great physical tools, great athleticism, great length. He has an improving skillset and his understanding is growing of how to play.

“And so now if he’s a good guy and he wants to do it and he’ll commit to the work that’s necessary, it all adds up. Guys like him, he’s going to out-athlete the [small forward] position. He’s gonna be a heck of a player.”

As to criticisms that Sampson can’t shoot and doesn’t have a position, the scout said, “His position is he’s a small forward. He’s shooting much better from 15 feet on in.”

In terms of criticisms by random NBA GM’s and others about his appraisal of Sampson, the scout said: “There’s always controversy over players. There’s 30 teams in the NBA and thank God they don’t all think alike. There’s 15 or 20 teams that make bad move after bad move.”

For the time being, however, Sampson and St. John’s are focused on trying to make a run at Lavin’s second NCAA Tournament bid in three years.

A win in either of these games would be a nice win on the résumé.

“The goal of any college basketball player or coach is to be able to participate in one of the world’s greatest sporting events: the NCAA Tournament,” Lavin said.

“Having the opportunity to do something special in March is what we all dream of. When I came to St. John’s and recruited these players, the objective was to go dancing in March.”

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278 comments
bklyndude
bklyndude

Mark Schlereth absolutely killed Eric Decker on the radio. 

He said he was always covered by the worst cover guy on the field in Denver and begged for a flag on every incomplete pass.   He called him a marginal number two,  more of a three. He will drive New Yorkers crazy.   He claims Eric Decker is not in the same stratosphere as Emmanuel Sanders and will catch about 40 to 50 balls this year.

Tequila Joe
Tequila Joe

Isaac, you can most likely get two players for Bush right now. If really want to go through with the trade see if you can get Decker and one other player. I'm sure you could... 

tsjc68
tsjc68

I wonder if people would have been less averse to the "cut Lankster, claim McFadden" move if it had happened AFTER we cut LeQuan Lewis and claimed Phillip Adams (and after Bent's largely positive BGA review of Adams was posted, so that people could see that he's a quality depth CB).


In other words, if our depth chart had been:

1. Milliner (hurt) 2. Walls 3. Wilson 4. Adams 5. Lankster


and you already knew that Ellis Lankster was the CB#5 and unlikely to see the field but for special teams, not the CB#4 or CB#2, would it have bothered you so much that we cut him to claim and stash the upside play of Leon McFadden (who had measurables that made him a top-100 draft pick just a year ago and is still just 22 years old)?


Genuinely curious.

RockyMountainJet
RockyMountainJet

@bklyndude Stink used to be on the local radio out here for "The Drive" which went from 4-7pm MST, rush hour radio. It was a great show where he was along with Alfred Willaims (CU Buffs championship team and 2x Broncos Superbowl Champ), and D-Mac... who is friends with Carton and tends to have some of the same mannerisms. 


It was great radio, especially during the NFL stadium, as Stink and Big Al played together on the Broncos. They were broken up when ESPN came in and shuffled their Denver affiliate.


Stink is a very knowledgeable analyst, but is wrong from time to time. I think this is one of those times.

a57se
a57se

@bklyndude 

"Stink" as they call him is very opinionated...if he doesn't like a guy, it gets ugly fast.

He does seem to be pretty knowledgable and he is a former player...

Brendan
Brendan

@bklyndude I care what Mark Schlereth says about as much as I care about what Mike Francesa says. I also question if he's ever actually watched Sanders play football. 

roadyhorns
roadyhorns

@Brendan 

Every prediction should be prefaced with the person's prediction from last year.

Bytor
Bytor

@roadyhorns All the more amazing Stephen Hill couldn't take advantage of his size and speed with these new rules. Waste'o'physical gifts.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

Hate this so much. They're going to regret this. No one wants to see constant penalties for what is often incidental contact.

Isaac Miller
Isaac Miller

Ya good idea.. im goin to negotiate with the guy

Joe/Orlando
Joe/Orlando

@tsjc68  I think people that are upset or confused about Lankster's release feel that way because he's been talked up on this blog quite a bit leading up to this season. And I mean both in blog posts by Bent and others, and in the comments section as part of the "our corners are fine" narrative. Based on how he was portrayed here it's not surprising to me at all that there's a "WTF??" reaction to his release.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

I think as long as the net result is:

- LeQuan, Lankster

+ Adans, McFadden

I see it as a net loss.

bklyndude
bklyndude

@Brendan 

I was just kind of shocked as I listened to him because I know he is from Denver and probably watched Decker a lot.

jsadolph
jsadolph

@Brendan 

Sanders reminds me of HIll with hands.  I have never seen him run much other than Go routes.

levi
levi

@roadyhorns He wont throw four interceptions, get real. He will fumble twice throw a int and a pick 6.

roadyhorns
roadyhorns

@williamg1 @roadyhorns 

If I were a receiver, I'd just run 6 yards and then turn a little so that the defender runs into me on every single play.  We'll march down the field 5 yards at a time.  How in the world are they going to stop WRs from taking advantage of this?

tsjc68
tsjc68

@Joe/Orlando @tsjc68

That's fair.


Perhaps I'm less bothered by it on balance because I'm more bullish on Phillip Adams than I am on Ellis Lankster.  I think if Adams had been signed by us this March and he was in camp with everyone else, he'd have beaten Lankster out for a spot head-on.

levi
levi

@Joe/Orlando  The only thing that bothers me is the timing of it. Why not wait til all the other CBs are healthy?

levi
levi

@jroc Hopefully playing Strong safety where he belongs.

tsjc68
tsjc68

@Disgruntled Jets Fan

I think as long as the net result is:

- LeQuan, Lankster

+ Adams, McFadden

I see it as a net loss.


I don't.


I see it as Adams > Lankster and Lewis = McFadden, so I see it as a net win (or at worst, a push).


JMHO.

Brendan
Brendan

@Disgruntled Jets Fan LeQuan isn't even really a (-), though. He's on the PS, so he's ready for a call-up if someone goes down or if they decide McFadden is a big 'ol dumpster fire. 

Brendan
Brendan

@bklyndude How many times did he say "National Football League" in the interview? 73? He loves saying "National Football League." 


And I'm not too worried about what Schlereth has to say. I watched Decker, that guy is a professional receiver and will be huge for Geno's development. 

Brendan
Brendan

@jsadolph That's pretty much Sanders. He's a little more versatile than people give him credit for, but he's mostly a vertical receiver who's really fast. 

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

All I know is, we better be taking as much advantage of rule changes as everyone else.

Brendan
Brendan

@roadyhorns Judging by those gifs, as a receiver you can just sprint full speed into defenders and get a call, so just do that. 



Joe/Orlando
Joe/Orlando

@Bent @Joe/Orlando I wasn't critiquing your analysis of Lankster. People trust your judgement and if you are correct in saying he's a capable player then it only makes more sense for people to be confused by his release.

Joe/Orlando
Joe/Orlando

@levi  I would tend to agree with that as well, but frankly, the guy couldn't get on the field for whatever reason while he was here. My guess is that either there is more to this (something like an attitude problem), or he just wasn't very good and was overrated by folks here. If I had to pick between those two explanation, I would probably choose the latter.

Brendan
Brendan

@levi They didn't replace him with an injured CB, though. So the overall health of the unit remained unchanged. 

NYCPEinGermany
NYCPEinGermany

@tsjc68 @Disgruntled Jets Fan

I think Adams will be better than Lankster. Soon. But not as soon as Sunday, so I hope we don't need him (IOW, if we get another injury this weekend, I'd be much more comfortable with Lankster in there instead of Adams). 

bklyndude
bklyndude

@Brendan @bklyndude 

I will be interested in watching Decker go against number one CB's.  Nobody expects numbers anywhere near what he put up in Denver,  but I agree about being extremely professional and from what I've seen, pretty good hands. Geno needed additional legitimate options on third downs. 

jsadolph
jsadolph

@Disgruntled Jets Fan 

As stated somewhere else in here.  We should have kept Hill and Gates.  No need to create a play for them, just have them run around and pinball off of all the defenders.  They could be players of the game without catching a ball.

williamg1
williamg1

@Brendan @roadyhorns


Which is why we should have kept Stephan Hill. Just tell him to go run block every play (including pass plays). He'd pick up a ton of yards. 

levi
levi

@Brendan Lankster knows the system the new scrubs dont.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

Should be a new position. Designated Penalty Drawer. Starting at DPD, Stephen Hill.

Joe/Orlando
Joe/Orlando

@tsjc68 And?


As I said, Lankster was talked up by more than just Bent and it became, in my view, conventional wisdom in the comments section that we'll be fine at corner because "we have Walls and Lankster". Then we cut one of the guys that was one of the reasons we're fine. Based on this, I find it logical that some people will react negatively.


And, as I type this, Bent - a person whose opinion is respected by most here - chimes in by saying he'd still prefer Lankster, thus reinforcing my point that people here probably tend to believe that Lankster is more valuable than the team thought he was.

Bent
Bent moderator


@tsjc68 @Joe/Orlando @Bent Given a choice between the two, I'd still take Lankster but like I said in the BGA, Adams' ability to play the slot, punt return ability and experience (and height) all work in his favor.


Lankster will hopefully end up somewhere where they can use him.

Brendan
Brendan

@levi How much system does a guy need to know in order to not play? 

jsadolph
jsadolph

@Disgruntled Jets Fan 

He would still have to learn to be agressive, and that is what has been holding him back. 

Maybe Hakim should be our DPD.

levi
levi

@Joe/Orlando Some are just eternal optimists and dont see how this could potentially backfire on the team. Also 68 likes Adams.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @tsjc68 @Joe/Orlando 

If Lankster was making the Vet minimum ( I assume) and we cut him because of money, then are we just waiting until after the first game to bring him back so his contract is not guaranteed?

It really doesn't make much sense unless we just wanted to get a week long look at these other guys...

levi
levi

@Brendan  weve been through this. If there is another injury Lankster may have seen significant time by default. Its ok to say its a risky move and one I dont agree with.

Joe/Orlando
Joe/Orlando

@levi That's fine...I tend to agree with you. 68 just seemed to be pondering why some were reacting to the Lankster release negatively and my intention was only to give what I thought was a reasonable explanation for some of the reaction.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @tsjc68 @Joe/Orlando


His salary was basically vet minimum - he received a roster bonus of $155K too, but that's his to keep and will be counted as dead money.


Maybe that's what they're doing but Adams earns the minumum too and is also a vested veteran so his salary will count until he's off the roster.


Still if Adams is 4 and Lankster would be 5, replacing Leon then I guess it makes sense on some level, but really I don't get the penny pinching in advance of spending money when it's so easy to make incremental savings down the road.

Brendan
Brendan

@levi We have already been over this, and I've already stated that it's fine to not be happy with the move (I was confused by it, too). But we're talking about the last CB on the roster, so I don't see it worth getting riled up over. Once Milliner comes back (at worst next week), there is almost no reason to be upset with this move, imo. 


Lankster is solid, but it's obvious Rex hasn't really liked him for a legit CB role for a while now, and I trust his vision over mine or anyone else's here. 

levi
levi

@Joe/Orlando  What hasnt been discussed much is that it apparently ticked off the locker room also. 

Brendan
Brendan

@Bent I don't see how it's financial. They aren't saving any money by doing this, are they? 

NYCPEinGermany
NYCPEinGermany

@Brendan @levi

"How much system does a guy need to know in order to not play?"


But the point is, he's on the team and active, so he might play. It's risky because if there's an injury and he is forced into action, Adams is not as ready as Lankster at this stage. 

levi
levi

@Brendan  A high ankle sprain can take up to 7 weeks to heal. I belive Dee is on his 4th week come sunday?

Bent
Bent moderator

@Brendan @Bent


They could save a small amount.  If Lankster only signed in week two and got hurt part of the way through the season, they wouldn't be on the hook for his whole salary.  I can see why you might think "why even bother?" - I know I did.


However, the story out of the Jets was that it was financial.  Maybe they're using that as an excuse for offing a popular guy, but that came from them.

levi
levi

@a57se Nailed it. I wouldnt come back if I were him.

a57se
a57se

@jsadolph @a57se @Bent @tsjc68 @Joe/Orlando 

Doesn't it really come down to keeping josh bush over Lankster?

I mean, Allen is being tabbed to play the position that we all thought Lankster would play so bush is needed to cover the safety depth?

Wouldn't 5 safeties be unnecessary?

Brendan
Brendan

@Bent That's just so strange to me. I guess they save a couple hundred thousand because they're* on different tiers of vested seasons? 



*They being Lankster & McFadden. 

jsadolph
jsadolph

@a57se @jsadolph @Bent @tsjc68 @Joe/Orlando 

Not sure.  The bottom 5 spots on the roster are so fluid, and most will not be active on game day anyway. I can't get to worked up over a lot of this tinkering at the bottom of the roster.

levi
levi

@Brendan  Hopefully he comes back fully healed.

Bent
Bent moderator

@Brendan @Bent


You would save money by having a guy like McFadden on the roster all year rather than a Lankster as you describe.  If you're changing back over to the older guy after week one it doesn't make much difference though.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @jsadolph @tsjc68 @Joe/Orlando


No, but they play different roles.  Lankster was a gunner and they have other gunners.  Bush played other roles such as punt protector for which there is no obvious replacement.  Without Bush, the punt protector is probably Pryor and I don't think they want that.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se 

Wouldn't the punt protector be someone who is good at blocking, like your FB?

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se 1/2 your job is running downfield and trying to make a tackle. You basically just need to get in the way of someone as a punt protector, you don't have to be an exceptional blocker. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

It just seems to me that it would not be too difficult of a position to find a replacement for...being a really good gunner would seem to be a position requiring more skill.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se The Jets have a bunch of gunner candidates, though. Hakim already took the top spot from Lankster, and it seems the team found other guys capable of it, too. 


Punt protector needs to know the plays, align everyone, etc. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

Wasn't lankster particularly good at getting down field on punts and downing them inside the 20?

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Brendan


He is an excellent gunner, but more in terms of getting down there first and slowing up or tackling the runner or forcing a fair catch, even when doubled.


I can only remember him downing a punt inside the 20 a few times.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se @Brendan

Your BGA's seemed to indicate hakim was really good at getting downfield (DOH! With his speed!) but he wasn't as good at making the play as Lankster...

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @Brendan One last thought on Bush.  He's currently injured.  Maybe they're just waiting until he's healthy so they're not on the hook for an injury settlement.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @Brendan


Yep.  However, it's possible McGaughey wants different things from his STers than Kotwica and before him Westhoff did.  I gather he loved Hakim and wasn't overly enamoured with Lankster.