Previewing New York’s Best College Hoops Programs Heading into 2021-22 Season

College basketball is right around the corner and New York is at the epicenter of it, with established programs and others looking to rise to relevancy. Ryan Olson ranks six he is keeping his eye on this season.

Olson+provides+a+ranking+for+a+few+of+the+notable+Division+I+basketball+teams+this+season%2C+ranking+the+Rams+at+the+bottom+of+the+list.+%28Courtesy+of+Twitter%29

Olson provides a ranking for a few of the notable Division I basketball teams this season, ranking the Rams at the bottom of the list. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Ryan Olson, Contributing Writer

It’s almost that time of year. The brisk November days will soon be upon us and so will the start of the college basketball season. I wanted to preview and rank six New York college hoops teams that have a wide range of expectations heading into the upcoming season.  

St. John’s University Red Storm

There is palpable excitement brewing in Queens. Mike Anderson has the Johnnies poised to reach the big dance in his third season as head coach. Despite losing many players to the transfer portal last year, St. John’s somehow managed to retain their top two leading scorers, Julian Champagne (19.8 PPG) and Posh Alexander (10.9 PPG). In addition, the program landed some major transfers from local programs which include Rutgers University, Hofstra University and Fordham. With arguably their best team in the last decade, St. John’s better not let another season slip through the cracks. 

Hofstra University Pride

Hofstra legend Speedy Claxton is entering his first year as the head coach of the Pride following Joe Mihalic’s resignation. Unfortunately for Claxton, Hofstra is losing two of its three leading scorers, Tariq Coburn (15.1 PPG) and Isaac Kante (12.9 PPG), though fifth-year senior and All-Colonial first team member Jalen Ray is returning. In addition to Ray, Claxton snagged graduate transfer Zach Cooks, the second all-time leading scorer at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. However, the loss of double-double machine Isaac Kante will definitely hurt the Pride, who will most likely finish toward the middle of the Colonial conference. 

Syracuse University Orange

The famous 3–2 zone hits a little closer to home this season for the Orange as two of Coach Boeheim’s sons are on the roster, Jimmy and Buddy. Most of the country came to know “Buddy Buckets” last year for his timely three-point shooting during Syracuse’s magical sweet sixteen run. However, the Orange are losing two key pieces in Alan Griffin and Quincy Guerrier. Both players averaged five plus rebounds per game. Look to 6’11” rising junior Jesse Edwards to solidify himself in the paint this year. It is no secret that the Orange will rely on the three ball, though.​​ The addition of Villanova transfer Cole Swider will help the Orange’s perimeter game, as Swider shot 40% from deep with the Wildcats. Every year, Syracuse is in the mix, but I believe their team is not nearly as deep as it was last year. Syracuse is looking more like an NIT team, but you can never sleep on Buddy Boheim and the Orange. 

Iona College Gaels

Iona took a flyer on Rick Pitino, and it seems to have paid off thus far. He led the Gaels to a conference championship and an NCAA tournament berth in his first season. In fact, as a 15 seed, Pitino’s Gaels gave the number two seeded Alabama quite a scare. Iona has become a hot landing spot with Pitino as the program landed two major transfers during the offseason. They picked up Elijah Joiner, a guard from the University of Tulsa who averaged 11 PPG with the Golden Hurricanes. In addition, the Gaels will be adding Tyson Jolly, a 6’4″ guard from Southern Methodist University. Both guards will have an immediate impact alongside returning assets as Iona appears to be the favorite to win the MAAC again this year. 

St. Bonaventure University Bonnies

The Bonnie faithful have a lot to be excited about heading into this season as all five starters from last year’s 16–5 A-10 Championship team  return. The Bonnies will look to the duo of point guard Kyle Lofton and big man Osun Osunniyi to carry them to March. Lofton averaged 14 PPG and five assists while Osunniyi served as a rim protector, snatching nine rebounds per game. Head coach Mark Schmidt has added some weapons via the transfer portal to bolster their depth. I believe the Bonnies will repeat as A-10 Champions. Unlike last year, Schmidt’s team will not make a first round exit in the round of 64 this year. 

Fordham University Rams

Fordham Basketball has been irrelevant for quite some time with 13 losing seasons in the last 14 years, though the future is bright with new head coach Kyle Neptune. The former Villanova assistant brings a winning mentality to the Bronx after serving on Jay Wright’s staff for many years. He will have returning guards Jalen Cobb and Josh Navarro as options to command the perimeter. In addition, Neptune wasted no time in adding a number of transfers, one of which is Antonio Daye. Last year, Daye averaged 17 points per game at Florida International University. Neptune has the ability to flip the script here at Fordham, and that process has already begun. Last week, the program notched a 2022 four-star recruit for the first time since 2008. Don’t expect too much from the Rams this year, but keep an eye on Neptune and the program in the years to come.

Ryan’s Rankings:

  1. St. Bonaventure Bonnies
  2. St. John’s Red Storm 
  3. Syracuse Orange
  4. Iona Gaels
  5. Hofstra Pride
  6. Fordham Rams