As the St. John’s Red Storm await their NCAA Tournament destiny, the team was informed today that starting center Chris Obekpa has been suspended two weeks for violating team rules. The punishment couldn’t come at a worse time for a St. John’s team in dire need of their best shot blocker for any potential March Madness run.
“Chris has been suspended for a violation of team rules,” said head coach Steve Lavin in a release. “All of the young men associated with our program are held to standards consistent with the aims and mission of our University. Accountability is tied to the decision making of our student-athletes. It is our hope Chris will learn from this experience.”
Today, as you very well may know, is selection sunday and fans must question why the school didn’t hold off on releasing the information regarding the suspension until after the selection committee had seeded the Red Storm. According to many NCAA bracketologists, St. John’s ranges from an eight to ten seed, but in light of Obekpa’s suspension, could drop lower. Still, coach Lavin decided it was the more ethical thing to do to inform the committee of his player’s suspension instead of hide the information from the NCAA.
Anyways, the two week ban means that the Red Storm would need to reach the elite eight in order for Obekpa to play again- which appears to be an a very unlikely outcome. Without him in the lineup, St. John’s loses 5.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per contest, a total that is not easily replaced by any player across the country.
*Section Photo credit to Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Rich Barnes, Getty Images North America