“We’re going to play team ball,” said Aliyyah Handford, St. John’s senior guard, who was selected Big East Preseason Player of the Year. “That’s what we’ve been working on—being a team, a family. … If we come out every day and play with each other and have good energy, we’re going to win.”
Expectations are high for St. John’s this college basketball season, as the Red Storm were selected second in the preseason coaches’ poll. It’s a lean and mean team of 10 scholarship players plus one walk-on who’ll be battling for the Big East title.
“Our goal is to win a championship,” said St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella at the Big East basketball media day. “[The players] know they need each other. We’re not overly deep, but I like our 10. They’ve got a lot of energy. They know that as a group, if they want to win it, they need every single person.”
“We have a reputation for being a tough team and being able to hang with everyone,” said senior guard Danaejah Grant, who had shoulder surgery in the offseason. “[We want] to keep that reputation alive. Play hard each game and not give up.”
Games are changing from two 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters, which the coaches and players are enthusiastic about.
Seton Hall is looking to improve on last season’s success, which concluded with the Pirates’ first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 20 years. Last season’s team included several graduate students, who provided maturity. This year, in addition to returning senior forward Tabatha Richardson-Smith, coach Tony Bozzella has brought in two veterans, Aleesha Powell and Shakena Richardson.
“I bring a lot of experience to the team and helping the young girls transition to college basketball,” said Richardson. “We have all the pieces to the puzzle to be great.”
“[Last season] was special, and I think you have to remember that and enjoy it,” said Bozzella. “What has to be done now is set a standard for what we are.”
WNBA season came to an exhilarating conclusion last Wednesday, as the Minnesota Lynx won its third title in five years, but the first one concluded on their home court. The first four games of the five-game series with the Indiana Fever were incredibly close, but the Lynx pulled away in game five, winning 69-52.