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

Oh, my Johnnies.

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? Jamaica, New York, not to be confused with the island, though it is technically on an island, and there are many people from the island of Jamaica in the neighborhood of Jamaica.

When? March 22nd, in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Why? Magic numbers and the big win against Texas A&M.

How? They were an at-large selection.

Surprise? Predicted to finish third in the conference, they ended up in second, two games behind DePaul.

RPI: 28

SOS: 33

Record: 22-10 (13-5 Big East)

Good wins: Texas A&M.

Bad losses: Where do you want me to start? Drexel, at Xavier, at Georgetown...

Who's running this show? Joe Tartamella, since 2012.

Extra, Extra! Newsday. There's also the occasional article from The Daily News. And of course, there's your intrepid blogger, if she does say so herself.

Oh, my Johnnies.

When this team is on its game, the backcourt of Eugeneia McPherson, Aliyyah Handford, and Danaejah Grant can run with anyone in the country. When they're on their game, junior forward Amber Thompson rules the paint with an iron fist and senior captain Briana Brown is draining threes from the corner.

When they're not, no one can hit a shot and the defense crumples. The player to watch is unquestionably the sophomore Handford, who leads the Red Storm with 16.2 points per game, sixth in the Big East. (And she's done it without having a jump shot.) The x-factors will be Thompson and freshman Jade Walker, who's had big games but has a tendency to get into foul trouble. Grant's emergence in the late season has been a big factor.

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