Everything about Joel Soriano screams “leader.”
He is outgoing and kind, experienced and not afraid to make his feelings known. But, more importantly, the center in St. John’s understands what it takes to get others to follow.
“You have to get to work. You can’t call yourself a leader if you don’t do what other people do,” he told the Post this week, as St. John’s geared up for an international tour next week in the Dominican Republic.
St. John’s coach Mike Anderson expects the 6-foot-11 Soriano to take on a leadership role on this team and help fill the void left by leading scorer Julian Champagnie. This offseason, the Yonkers native has made it clear how important basketball is to him. He hit the gym every day to work out his body, frequently performing multiple workouts to get in top shape.
When he arrived in St. John’s last spring from Fordham, Soriano weighed 280 pounds. He’s dedicated himself to getting into the shape needed to play in Anderson’s accelerated tempo system, which relies on pressing the ball and moving up and down the floor. He changed his diet, cut out fast food, and lost 20 pounds.
After the season, however, there was more work to do. Soriano finished a disappointing season well for the Johnnies, averaging 7.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 over his last 10 games. But that wasn’t enough for the rising senior.
“Just so I can stay on the pitch longer,” said Soriano, who is noticeably leaner and faster, when asked what motivates him. “To try and take my game to the next level, I felt like I had to change my body in different ways. Try to do what I can for my team. … I feel like I can definitely contribute a lot more.
Anderson suggested Soriano could become a leader uninvited, citing the maturity he has shown with his work ethic. Soriano has been more vocal in practices and spring training, spending more time to himself. He will track down assistant coaches and team leaders on rest days.
“I think he likes his body,” Anderson said. “He takes off his shirt a lot. Last year he didn’t take off his shirt. … I like the direction it’s going.
Soriano has already played a role in the Red Storm’s solid off-season. His relationship with DePaul’s top transfer David Jones – the player expected to replace Champagnie as the team’s top scorer – was a big factor in the talented winger’s decision to come to Queens, Jones said. Soriano said that although the two are very close and he obviously wanted his close friend to join him in St. John’s, he made it clear to Jones to take him out of the equation.
“Don’t come here because of me, come here if you want to come here,” Soriano told Jones. “Imagine I’m not here, would you still come to St. John’s?” »
Soriano later added: “He wants to be here. I appreciate that he came [to St. John’s]. It’s like my brother.
As leader, Soriano didn’t list any personal goals when asked about his hopes for the upcoming season. He named his teammate Posh Alexander as someone capable of leading the Red Storm. It was further proof that he is equipped to be the voice of St. John’s this winter by not talking about himself.
“Being a leader is about being consistent, being vocal,” Soriano said. “When you go through adversity, you have problems in the locker room or outside the locker room, you need someone on the team to take other guys and keep other guys steady, keep other guys close guys, keep everyone together.”
New York Post