#35 St. John's Women's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview

St. John’s Red Storm

Overall Rank: #35
Conference Rank: #2 Big East
#35 St. John's Women's Basketball 2014-2015 Preview
St. John's Team Page


Coach Joe Tartamella enters his third year at the helm of St. John’s and the expectations continue to grow. The Red Storm has three starters to replace from a team that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but as long as Aliyyah Handford is on the floor, St. John’s can beat anybody. The 5-9 junior averaged 16.7 points per game in 2013-2014 and nobody has had much luck stopping Handford when she decides she wants to get to the basket. Handford is not a shooter, but she knows that and will stick to what she does well…which is score.

2013-14 Record: 23-11, 13-5
2013-14 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Joe Tartamella
Coach Record: 41-24 at St. John’s, 41-24 overall

Amber Thompson, a 6-2 forward, is the other returning starter. She is one of the best rebounders in the country and averaged 9.2 last season. She also blocked 1.3 shots per game. Thompson does so much for this team defensively, but she is no slouch on the other end of the floor. Thompson is an efficient scorer in the paint and averaged 7.8 points per game as a junior. If St. John’s needs her to score more, she is certainly capable. But there are other key contributors who are ready to step into starting roles. Danaejah Grant was the team’s second leading scorer despite only starting a handful of games. The 5-9 junior averaged 10.9 points per game and was a great offensive spark off of the bench. Aaliyah Lewis did not do much scoring during her freshman season, but she did play solid defense and dished out 2.1 assists per game. She is tops on the list to take over for Eugeneia McPherson as the starting point guard. In the frontcourt, Jade Walker is another promising sophomore. She will need to get tougher on the glass, but is a decent interior scorer.

The problem the Red Storm had last year was simply knocking down shots. The team as a whole only connected on 3.6 three-pointers per game and the top three outside shooters are gone. There is nothing wrong with driving to the basket, but this team needs a threat on the perimeter to free up space for the slashers and post scorers. Grant is the team’s top returning three-point shooting, making 13 on the year. Briana Brown, Euguenia McPherson and Keylantra Langley all made more than that, but are now gone. Incoming freshmen Tamesha Alexander and Crystal Simmons are options, but obviously untested at this level.

Final Projection:
The Red Storm survived not having a reliable shooter last season, but this team does need to find one if they want to win the Big East and make a run to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond. Handford, Grant and Thompson are a great trio to build around, but there are questions about the rest of the roster. Are players like Sanra Udobi ready to be key contributors? Can Coach Tartamella go at least eight deep? The four player recruiting class is decent, but there may not be enough talent there to make a big impact right away and that could leave this team lacking depth come March.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA Tournament

Projected Starting Five:
Aaliyah Lewis, Sophomore, Guard, 2.5 points per game
Aliyyah Handford, Junior, Guard, 16.7 points per game
Danaejah Grant, Junior, Guard, 10.9 points per game
Jade Walker, Sophomore, Forward, 4.7 points per game
Amber Thompson, Senior, Forward, 7.8 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 66.3 (195th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.1 (56, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.0 (55, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.4 (127, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 3.6 (300, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.2 (NR)
Free-Throw Percentage: 64.1 (305, 10)
Rebound Margin: 1.9 (121, 5)
Assists Per Game: 12.1 (254, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 15.5 (144, 6)


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