It's all right there for them. All St. John's needs to do is start winning.

The Red Storm is fourth-year coach Steve Lavin's most-talented team from top to bottom so it's no surprise that the season began with great expectations. "This is the year," Phil Greene said in October. And since then it would be hard to describe the Johnnies as having done anything but stumble.

St. John's is winless in its first three conference games heading to Tuesday night's Big East contest against DePaul at Allstate Arena. It has faced seven foes from the so-called power conferences and gone 1-6. Yet the Johnnies have some mathematical things on their side.

St. John's has an RPI of 60 despite the 9-6 overall record. It's strength of schedule ranked No. 7 in the nation because of games against — and losses to — No. 2 Syracuse, No. 3 Wisconsin and No. 6 Villanova. The only thing missing is the wins. And the Johnnies share a belief that wins are coming and no door has closed.

"There's 15 regular season conference games left — that's a lot of basketball left to play," Max Hooper said. "There's up to three games in the Big East Tournament, so there's a lot of basketball left to play. We have the pieces and the chemistry coming along to do those things no matter what has happened so far."=

Ah yes, the chemistry. After the loss to Villanova Saturday at the Garden, JaKarr Sampson said the team was still searching for its identity, but wasn't certain why at the mid-point of the season.

Coach Steve Lavin said Monday "one of the challenges has been jelling or identity or whatever the word is. Jelling as a basketball team has been one of our challenges or building an identity." It wasn't clear if he was being more tongue-in-cheek, given the way so many reacted (or he might say over-reacted) to Sampson's remark.

"I've had teams that were 4-8 in conference play and were playing on the final weekend to get to the Final Four a month later," Lavin said. "That was a team that came together in mid-February. The goal is to be great start-to-finish . . . but I knew with this team it was going to take some time. . . with all the moving parts we knew it was going to be a challenge to jell."