NEW YORK (AP) - Optimism is always high around college basketball programs this time of the year.
Not a loss, yet. Recruits still are rated according to their high school exploits.
At St. John's, the smiles are much wider than the last two seasons and the answer to the most-asked question comes quickly and sincerely.
``This is our year,'' junior point guard Jamal Branch said Thursday at the team's media day when asked to assess the upcoming season. ``Not making the NCAA tournament, not making a run in the NCAA tournament, would mean we weren't successful and this team's too good for that.''
Branch is one nine players returning from last season's 10-man rotation that went 17-16 and played in the NIT. Add in two offensive-oriented redshirt transfers and the future is brighter.
Add highly regarded freshman point guard Rysheed Jordan and it's time to hand out sunglasses.

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