Dance Card: St. John's, Big East

Who? The Red Storm of St. John's.

What? The teams started out as Redmen, but when that was interpreted a bit too racially insensitively, it was switched to Red Storm. Mascot Johnny Thunderbird is a callback to that interpretation. They're also called Johnnies, and yes, that does make you bandwagon jumpers Johnnies-come-lately.

Where? Queens. Beyond that, only the post office can be sure. Jamaica is the most reasonable guess, though.

When? March 18th, in Norman, Oklahoma.

How? They were an at-large selection.

Partner: Creighton, of the Missouri Valley Conference.

Surprise? I feel like "beating UConn" should be the replacement auto-bid for when Conference-USA and the Mountain West merge.

RPI: 11

SOS: 6

Record: 22-9 (13-3 Big East)

Good wins: Louisville. Rutgers. At Rutgers. Oh, yeah. At UConn.

Bad losses: at Harvard, Marquette

Who's running this show? Kim Barnes Arico, since 2002. Emphasis on the running- she completed the New York Marathon after offseason knee surgery.

Extra, Extra! The best coverage comes from Newsday- unfortunately, Newsday is hidden behind a paywall. That's a shame. Marcus Henry was one of my earliest influences as a sportswriter, when he covered the Liberty.


Your own team is always the hardest to be even a little objective about, and the hardest to trim down to a reasonable length. But I'll try.

Junior forward Shenneika Smith is the leading scorer and rebounder with 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds. But she's one of four double-digit scorers for the Red Storm and one of three players to average six or so rebounds. I tend to think of them as being like a table; there are three solid legs in Shenneika Smith, junior point guard Nadirah McKenith, and senior forward Da'Shena Stevens, and a fourth (sometimes wobbly) leg in junior guard Eugeneia McPherson. Even if one has an off day, the others still provide support.

The keys, to me, are these: does Nadirah still want to prove that she's an elite point guard? Can Amber Thompson be the fearless, feisty rebounding machine she was earlier in the year? And will Mary Nwachukwu be available to box out, set screens, and provide a breather for Amber and Da'Shena?

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