Review: 2017-18 St. John's Basketball Media Day
Jamaica, NY-- Only 13 days until the season opens up at Carnesecca Arena for both the Men's and Women's basketball teams, as they both play host to New Orleans and St. Francis (Brooklyn) respectively, on Friday, November 10th, at 4:30pm and 7:00pm. But, before anything began, all players for both teams took part in the 2017-18 St. John's Basketball Media Day inside the once known Alumni Hall, now known as Carnesecca Arena, on the campus of the historied university.
Athletic Communications Director Steve Dombroski welcomed Women's Head Coach Joe Tartamella to the stage, as he began to answer some questions from numerous media outlets in the crowded placemat on the court. Hands being raised in the crowd began with the question everyone has been asking about, is how to be successful without two St. John's standouts Aaliyah Lewis and Jade Walker. "We have to be great on our defensive end to be able to win games. We have a really good group of young players, including the freshman that we have. We need to start and begin on the defensive end, and maintaining that country leading three-point percentage rate defensively from a season ago"
The Women's basketball squad led by Walker and Lewis a season ago, held opponents to a 24.6% three-point field goal percentage, which ranked 1st in the NCAA last year. Most people have forgotten about the tallest player on the squad and San Diego native Imani Littleton, who stands at 6'3", and made an immediate impact before she went down with a regular season ending injury, that limited her to only 25 games on the season. Down the stretch, Littleton averaged double digit rebounds in three of her final five contests before the injury occurred. Littleton will almost guaranteed be playing side by side teammate and fellow Senior Maya Singleton, to form one of the most dynamic front courts in women's basketball.
JOE'S HOT TAKE--As a broadcaster for WSJU, in which I will be calling numerous games. My prediction that redshirt freshman guard Tiana England will become a force in Tartamella's lineup this season. With the departure of Aaliyah Lewis, England will not become Lewis, but will follow her direction in the following four seasons here in Queens, and will become a fan favorite on and off the court.
Maya Singleton and her squad will open up their season on Friday, November 10th, as they play host to a familiar cross town foe in St. Francis Terriers of Brooklyn at 4:30pm EST on ESPN3, and WSJU Radio.
Last season, Chris Mullin's squad was defeated in the 2017 Big East Tournament by Jay Wright's Villanova Wildcat team 108-67, in a lob-sided match on an early March matinee at the Mecca. The Johnnies quieted all the critics that said they would not beat Georgetown the night before, and defeated the Hoyas in a nail-biter 74-73.
Today, marked the beginning of the Red Storm's brand new season. This team, has critics going wild, with predictions that the Jay Wright agrees with, "That St. John's team, I believe can make the NCAA tournament. They have a wicked back-court. Should be fun playing them twice this year." As Wright said that last week at Big East Media Day, Mullin has a message for the media, "We put ourselves in another position to take a positive step. This step is much harder though." But with a dynamic backcourt led by sophomore guards LoVett and Ponds, expectations are as high as can be for this team. "There's no substitute for experience. They both had great seasons last year and had a lot of minutes on the floor, so this year I've asked them to do a little bit more."
Speaking with former Tom Izzo product and Michigan State Spartan, Marvin Clark II, who will be taking on a much bigger role with the St. John's Red Storm in the Big East this season. I, along with Michael Slavit from I-95 Sports Network, asked him what the challenge is in transitioning from the Big 10 to the Big East, if there actually is one. "I think the challenge for me is, believe it or not, a physical one. My freshman year I was sixth/seventh man, then sophomore year I was seventh/eighth man. With my role expanding, I'll be demanded to play more minutes so I think it's a matter of trying to get into the best shape that I've ever been in, and allow myself to demand more from myself. That's the biggest thing, is accepting that role and being able to play comfortable."
Clark II, who is a redshirt junior, set a Michigan State freshman record in 2014-15, by playing in all 39 games in route to their NCAA Final Four run. Clark also ranked 4th on the team at the time with 21 three-pointers that season. He is ready for the bigger role, and higher demand that Mullin will almost likely ask from him this season.
The Red Storm kick off their season on Friday November 10th, as Marvin Clark and his squad takes on New Orleans from Carnesecca Arena at 7:00pm EST, on the YES Network and WSJU Radio.