Chart Week here at Play For The Garden will be displaying one chart per Big East team; two a day in alphabetical order spanning the week.
Entering last season, the St. John’s record for blocks in a season was 76, set by Walter Berry in the 1985-86 season. Berry went on to claim Big East Player of the Year honors as he also averaged 23 points and 11.1 rebounds per game en route to leading the Johnnies to a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
That record stood for 27 years before it was absolutely shattered by Chris Obekpa last season.
Obekpa (or ‘Oblockpa’ as he became known), a freshman last year, actually broke the record 16 games into the season. He was averaging approximately 5 blocks per game at that point and even had an 11 block game in there. Yes, 11 blocks in one game! He was a rejection machine.
The pace cooled off thereafter, and he finished with a new St. John’s record of 133 blocks in a season.
As good as that season was, it was still quite a ways off from the Big East record of 169, held and set by Alonzo Mourning with Georgetown in 1988-89 season. And it’s really a ways off from the NCAA record of 207. That is held by the great David Robinson.
Nonetheless, Obekpa had a great season and he did it as a freshman. His offensive game was very raw last year and it prevented him from additional playing time. One can only assume that his offensive game should be improved given how limited it was. With a better offensive skillset means more playing time. And more playing time means more opportunities for blocks.
Obekpa has the potential to be the most dominant defensive presence in the Big East this year. His size and instincts can’t be coached. And if the rest of the Johnnies realize their potential, this could be a very talented and well-rounded squad.
It’s gotta be pretty nice playing defense when someone behind you has the nickname Oblockpa.