WELCOME TO THE STORM WATCH
Meet the Red Storm. Located in Queens, New York, St. John’s University is “one of America’s leading Catholic universities – recognized for its superb academic programs, diverse student life, BIG EAST excitement and New York vitality.” Roughly 14,983 undergraduates attend the school, which is most well known in athletics for it’s storied basketball program.
Over the past 3 years, head coach Jason Miller has been building up the St. John’s men’s lacrosse program. The team has had its ups and downs, most notably last season after going 5-1 the first half of the season and then falling off the map due to injuries, but the player talent has always been quality and the determination has never lacked.
This year, Miller’s 4th at the helm, the team joins the BIG EAST conference with Syracuse, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova, Rutgers and Providence. After the 5-9 record last season, the Red Storm enter the 2010 season slated at the 6 spot in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll – ahead of Providence and behind Rutgers. That said, they’re ready to ball.
INTERVIEW WITH COACH MILLER
I had the opportunity to talk with Coach Miller for a half hour or so earlier this week. We talked about the season and what it means to him and the handful of seniors on the team. We also touched on the BIG EAST move, recruiting and the technology-driven side of St. John’s Athletics.
Lax All Stars: What do you think about the move into the BIG EAST conference? What will it do for your program?
Coach Miller: You know, in the big picture it’s really exciting. It’s great for us to be involved with this. There’s significance in being in a major conference in what’s still considered a relatively small sport. The power of the conference, the exposure it will be able to provide to programs like ours, will help springboard us to growth. More kids will know about the BIG EAST and therefore they’ll know about us. Every recruit wants a shot at Notre Dame or Syracuse if they’re not playing for them, and I think that aspect could help us attract some higher caliber recruits.
Often times a coach’s 4th year is considered a big one in that it’s finally all your recruits, “your team.” Do you think of it that way?
CM: I’ve always kind of resisted that type of thinking. Even when I got here to St. Johns, I felt like the guys that were here were my team. We’re still a young program so we’re not that entrenched in history and recruiting where that type of thought comes into play.
Who are some of the offensive players we should be watching out for this season?
CM: Harry Kutner at attack and Tom Manes at the midfield position are probably two guys that most teams will try to stop right away. Harry was our leading scorer at attach last year. And Tom’s a redshirt senior who was injured in the Georgetown game last year, but he’s back and he’s healthy. Terence Leach is also back from injury and we’re hoping he picks up right where he let off before going down last year. We also have quite a few midfielders who may not be well known, but I think they’re good, they’re fast and they can play.
And how’s the defensive unit looking?
CM: We return all three starting defensemen and our two defensive middies. Gavin Buckley will also be back in goal. On paper we look good and I’m looking forward to getting into game-play to see how we mesh.
Last weekend you scrimmaged UMass, and in two weeks you start up your season at home against Holy Cross. What’s the practive plan like for the next couple weeks?
CM: We watched film yesterday (Monday) and lifted. We’ll practice hard the rest of the week and do an intersquad scrimmage on Saturday. Then we’ll head over to the Garden and cheer on our basketball team against West Virginia. Next week, we’ll practice hard all week leading up to our scrimmage against Lafayette on Saturday. We’re full steam ahead from there, preparing for Holy Cross.
When it comes to recruiting, what are your goals this year?
CM: We’ve always placed a premium on getting guys that want to be here. I still think that’s the most important goal. We want a locker room full of guys who want to be here and who want to beat bigtime teams. It builds a great foundation.
Last question – and probably a little different than you usually get. What do you think of the increased use of social media by the St. John’s Athletic Dept, pro athletes and entertainers and even college players?
CM: I’m kind of hands off on it to be honest. I love the work our communications team does with Facebook and the interactive media guides we’re launching soon. I think that stuff is awesome and way out in front of other institutions. The feedback I get is phenomenal. The other side of that is that we need to be really careful with things like Facebook and Twitter when it comes to what our players are doing. We need to be on the ball and educate them appropriately.
Good answer, and thanks Coach, for sharing your time with us. It was a pleasure. We’re all looking forward to following the St. John’s Red Storm closely this season.
MORE ON ST. JOHN’S
For more on the Red Storm, you can follow them on Twitter and check out the links below. We’ll be following the team all season long, so we’re looking forward to bringing you even more of an inside look at the program. Next up, a Fireside Chat with senior captain Jerry Nevin.
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