#19 St. John's Women's Basketball 2012-13 Preview

St. John’s Red Storm

Overall Rank: #19
Conference Rank: #4 Big East
St. John's Women's College Basketball 2012-2013 Team Preview
St. John's Team Page


St. John’s had a breakout campaign in 2011-2012, highlighted by a win at Connecticut and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. The Red Storm return four starters, but they did lose their coach. Kim Barnes took the Michigan job and longtime assistant Joe Tartamella is taking over the head coaching job. The system will not be much different under Coach Tartamella, but the change does raise the likelihood that St. John’s will take a step back and not repeat their amazing performance down the stretch in 2012.

2011-12 Record: 24-10, 13-3
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Joe Tartamella
Coach Record: First season at St. John’s, 0-0 overall

On paper, there is no reason to doubt the Red Storm. The backcourt trio of Shenneika Smith, Eugeneia McPherson and Nadirah McKenith are among the best group of guards in the nation. Smith led the team in scoring and rebounding with 12.5 and 6.4, respectively. Smith is not the most aggressive guard around when it comes to attacking the basket, although she obviously finds plenty of ways to score. At 6-1, she could stand to be more aggressive and take on small opponents. McPherson stepped into a starting role last season and performed extremely well. She will attack the basket off of the dribble and will always play tough defense. McKenith is another versatile and athletic guard. The point guard dished out 4.8 assists per game last year and also tallied 12.1 points and 2.3 steals per contest. The 5-7 senior is a pesky defender and a solid floor leader. McKenith should have a great senior season and St. John’s will stay in just about every game if she can again keep the turnover margin among the best in the Big East.

St. John’s was never a threat from outside last year and at times that made their offense extremely one dimensional. At the least the threat of shooting from long range would open things up for the slashers trying to get to the basket. Only four teams in all of Division I basketball made fewer three-pointers per game than the Red Storm. St. John’s was not in good company down that list either. Few teams can have success without shooting the ball. It says a lot about this team that they did have success without shooting the three-pointer, but this group could be so much more dangerous offensively if they can find a shooter. McPherson took the most outside shots and hit 31.1 percent of those attempts, but it was not enough. Langley is an option as well. She has proven to be a consistent shooter, but just has not had the opportunity to shoot that much. With Smith, McPherson and McKenith in the starting lineup, Langley may not get an opportunity this season either. The Red Storm also has to move on without Da’Shena Stevens, their most consistent interior scorer. Amber Thompson and Mary Nwachukwa have plenty of starting experience, but both took a backseat to Stevens. Thompson is just a sophomore and she is full of potential and is the likely candidate to step into more of a scoring role.

Final Projection:
St. John’s wins games by playing tough defense, avoiding turnovers and taking smart shots. That smart shooting keeps them inside the arc since that is where their high percentage shots are coming from. With no major turnover on the perimeter, it is hard to see that changing. St. John’s is not going to sneak up on anybody anymore either and Coach Tartamella has to make sure his team is ready every game. The Big East opponents are going to give the Red Storm their best shot and that is a position this group is not really used to and could play an important part in the success or failure of the 2012-2013 season. But with Smith, McPherson and McKenith leading the way, St. John’s has a very talented team and could be right in the mix for a Big East title.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Nadirah McKenith, Senior, Guard, 12.1 points per game
Eugeneia McPherson, Senior, Guard, 11.8 points per game
Shenneika Smith, Senior, Guard, 12.5 points per game
Amber Thompson, Sophomore, Forward, 6.1 points per game
Mary Nwachukwu, Junior, Forward, 3.8 points per game

Madness 2013 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#29 Nadirah McKenith

Madness 2012 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#96 Sandra Udobi