Dance Card: St. John's, Big East at-large


Taking the NCAA tournament by storm.

Who? The Red Storm of St. John's. Or Johnnies. But don't append Lady to the front.

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.

Where? Officially, Jamaica, New York, but I'm pretty sure there's another neighborhood between Union Turnpike and Jamaica.

When? March 24th, in Queens, New York.

Why? A top-10 SOS and a good showing in Big East play (except for that loss to Seton Hall) made up for a horrendous overall record.

How? They were an at-large selection.

Surprise? Predicted to finish fourth in the conference, they ended up in fifth on tiebreakers with Louisville and Syracuse.

RPI: 38

SOS: 8

Record: 18-12 (11-5 Big East)

Good wins: At Villanova.

Bad losses: At Quinnipiac, at Boston University, at Seton beeping Hall.

Who's running this show? Joe Tartamella, since 2012. The bulk of his experience comes on the St. John's bench.

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.

For the long form, you can read pretty much anything I've posted in the last four months, but here's the short form.

St. John's follows the lead of its senior guards, hard-nosed point guard Nadirah McKenith (12.9 points, 5.3 assists, 5.0 rebounds, and the occasional elastic) and athletic wing Shenneika Smith (16.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks). Freshman guard Aliyyah Handford is a major contributor as well, with 9.2 points.

The key for the Red Storm will be whether the rest of the team can step up, especially defensive-minded junior Briana Brown and sophomore forward/center Amber Thompson. Home court advantage in the first and second round will help, but this team will need to get it together at the end of close games if they want to equal or better last season's Sweet Sixteen run.

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