Feb 21, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
St. John’s announced on Monday that Chris Obekpa, the Big East school’s sui generis shot blocker, would miss ten to fourteen days with an ankle injury. The news was seen as having the potential to derail the Red Storm’s NCAA tournament hopes — since the team lost their initial five conference games, SJU has won eight of their last nine and have entered the postseason discussion.
Steve Lavin’s team, though, handily beat Butler earlier this week, but with a season-defining match-up with Villanova looming, it was unclear whether Obekpa would rush back on to the court. Lavin stoked the discussion this afternoon, telling reporters the sophomore center lightly worked out and is feeling “better” — he also mentioned that possibility Obekpa might play against the Wildcats.
Lavin frequently thinks out loud, so while the pronouncement seems like it has merit, it would be very shocking if the center actually takes the court. St. John’s is one of the rare Big East teams that perfectly matches up with Villanova, and Daniel Ochefu, who Obekpa would likely defend, can also be covered by God’sgift Achiuwa (Orlando Sanchez might have been an option, but the forward will miss the game to be with his wife, who recently gave birth to the couple’s first child). However, the fact that Lavin felt the need to utter this tidbit in the presence of reporters just underlines the significance of Saturday’s contest. Obekpa’s shot-blocking is an important, but not crucial, piece of the St. John’s defense, but if the Johnnies don’t win, an NCAA bid will likely skip the Queens-based school for the third straight season. Rather than allow Jay Wright the knowledge Obekpa will definitely not play, Lavin is hoping Villanova at least plans for Obekpa and his 16.5 percent block rate.
- Oklahoma State lands commitment from elite point guard in 2015 0
- John Calipari hiring an analytics director is smart, necessary, strictly for his players 0
- Marcus Smart’s mom reportedly hospitalized the day he shoved Texas Tech fan 0
- Four-star point guard verbally commits to Clemson 0
- Top 2015 and 2016 prospects comment on high school-to-pro move in new report 0
- Four-star 2015 shooting guard commits to Illinois 0
- Florida State gets commitment from 7-foot-4 2015 center 2
- Wichita State gets commitment from three-star 2015 point guard (2)
- Three-star point guard down to Maryland, Providence, UNLV and Virginia Tech (1)
- Former SMU commit picks Michigan State (1)
- Alex Poythress dunks over 7-foot Dakari Johnson (VIDEO) (1)
- Sean Miller gives update on Arizona forward Brandon Ashley (1)