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St. John’s lack of size exposed in win over LIU Brooklyn

As the second-biggest starter for St. John's, Sir'Dominic Pointer (r) knows 'I have to be a 10-plus guy in order for us to win.'Ken Goldfield/Ken Goldfield As the second-biggest starter for St. John’s, Sir’Dominic Pointer (r) knows ‘I have to be a 10-plus guy in order for us to win.’


St. John’s got smeared on the glass during Wednesday’s 66-53 win over LIU Brooklyn. It could be the beginning of a recurring theme this season.


The Blackbirds had 44 rebounds to the Red Storm’s 39, but that’s not the bad news. LIU had 21 offensive rebounds. The Johnnies were fortunate those produced only 10 points. Surely the better teams on their schedule would make more of 21 extra chances.


“If you have the right set of players, rebounding is the least important statistic in basketball, which might surprise people,” St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said, recounting words he said he heard from both Gene Keady and John Wooden. “As I got older, I began to understand what they meant. If you have the right combination of players . . . . all the other elements come into play.”


The Red Storm is light on front court players and will often have to play a lineup with four guards. JaKarr Sampson’s declaration last March that he would pursue a career in the NBA started the Johnnies going in this direction. His departure, along with 6-9 senior Orlando Sanchez, meant coach Lavin was losing his top two rebounders.


It seemed reinforcements would be on the way when Keith Thomas, the nation’s top junior college rebounder, and 7-footer Adonis De La Rosa committed. Then it turned out Thomas was part of the Westchester CC transcript scandal and he left the program. De La Rosa might not be in game shape this season; at the moment he is eligible but not playing in games until his academic credentials are re-approved.


So 6-9 Chris Obekpa is going to have to play aggressively on the backboards and the other players are going to have to rebound well from their positions to prevent more experiences like Wednesday’s.


“At the end of the day I am the second-biggest guy on the floor,” said 6-5 Sir’Dominic Pointer, who had a career-high 18 points in the win. “I have to be a 10-plus guy in order for us to win.”


“Guards have to rebound just as much as the big guys do,” D’Angelo Harrison said.


Redshirt sophomore Christian Jones, who is 6-7 and a serious leaper, could play a part in resolving the situation. Still he played only two minutes against the Blackbirds.


“We’re playing a smaller unit, a little like Providence last year. We’re going to do something that statistically may not look as favorable if you just focus in a vacuum on one aspect of basketball,” Lavin said.


“We’re not going to be a dominant rebounding team this year because, like Providence last year, we’re going with a small, quick, skilled team that can give our opponents problems.”


Still St. John’s is going to have to do enough on the glass because 21 offensive rebounds in the hands of a Georgetown, Syracuse or Minnesota – up next on Wednesday at the Garden – could produce a lot more than 10 points.

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