Joe Tartamella was introduced as the eighth head coach in the history of the St. John's women's basketball program on April 27, 2012.
In his two years at the helm of the Red Storm, Tartamella has continued the tradition of success that he helped to implement as a member of the coaching staff from 2002-2012.
This past season, Tartamella guided the Red Storm to 23 victories and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the program's fifth-straight trip to the Big Dance. Aside from the team's NCAA Tournament berth, the campaign featured a number of other highlights, including a win over nationally-ranked Texas A&M in Madison Square Garden, a 13-5 BIG EAST mark, the program's first appearance in the BIG EAST Tournament Final since 1988 and an 11-game winning streak.
Under Tartamella, St. John's has made two trips to the NCAA tournament and averaged over 20 wins a year, while his players have garnered an array of individual awards. Following his first year as head coach, Tartamella saw Shenneika Smith and Nadirah McKenith earn First Team All-BIG EAST honors. In addition, Smith earned a spot on the All-Met First Team, while McKenith was named the All-Met Player of the Year and Aliyyah Handford took home the hardware as the MBWA Rookie of the Year. Most notably, however, McKenith and Smith were both taken in that spring's WNBA Draft and McKenith became the first St. John's player to sign a WNBA contract, playing the 2013 season with the Washington Mystics. The duo also earned WBCA Honorable Mention All-America accolades.
Following the 2013-14 campaign, Handford found a spot on the All-Met and All-BIG EAST First Teams, while Eugeneia McPherson, Jade Walker and Amber Thompson were also recognized by the conference.
In his first season as head coach, Tartamella guided the Red Storm to its fourth-straight NCAA Tournament berth after finishing the season tied for third in the BIG EAST Conference with an 11-5 record and winning eight of its last 10 regular season games. St. John's was also the host school for the First and Second Rounds of the 2013 NCAA Tournament and the Red Storm earned the chance to play at home against Dayton in mid-March.
Tartamella made his head coaching debut at the WBI Tip Off Invitational in November 2012. He earned his first-career coaching victory coaching victory, 72-54, vs. UCF on Nov. 11 at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. Against Rutgers on Jan. 6, 2013, Tartamella killed two birds with one stone as he recorded his ﬁrst-career BIG EAST win, 48-44, over the Scarlet Knights, as well as his ﬁrst BIG EAST road win. On March 9, 2013 Tartamella notched his first BIG EAST Tournament victory, 51-45, against Seton Hall.
Regarded as one of the top up-and-coming mentors in women's basketball, Tartamella's coaching career was forged over a nine-year tenure assisting St. John's all-time winningest coach Kim Barnes Arico (2003-12). Beginning as a Red Storm graduate assistant in 2002, Tartamella, 35, worked his way through the ranks and served as Barnes Arico's associate head coach for the four seasons leading up to his elevation to head coach. He has been an integral part of a staff that has been to six NCAA Tournaments, including St. John's run to its first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 in 2012. As a program, St. John's has been to the NCAA Tournament nine times.
In his career with the Red Storm, Tartamella has played a vital role in helping turn around the St. John's women's basketball program and lead it to its present successes. During Tartamella's tenure, St. John's has advanced to 10 BIG EAST Tournaments, two Women's National Invitation Tournament appearances, including a WNIT Quarterfinals in 2007-08, and six NCAA Tournaments, including the program's first NCAA Tournament berth in more than 17 years during the 2005-06 campaign, and St. John's first-ever NCAA Regional Semifinal appearance in 2011-12. Tartamella has coached 24 All-BIG EAST and All-Rookie players, 15 All-Met selections and has enjoyed many a national Top 25 ranking during his time at St. John's, including a program-best No. 13 Associated Press ranking during the 2011-12 campaign.
In 2008-09, Tartamella's first season as associate head coach, he helped then-freshman Da'Shena Stevens become one of the best rookies in St. John's history, as she broke the freshman scoring record and became the second player in program history to earn BIG EAST Freshman of the Year honors. Stevens further developed under his tutelage, as she was named a 2010 Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention Selection, an All-BIG EAST First Team honoree and the 2010 MBWA Player of the Year.
During the successful 2011-12 season, Tartamella helped St. John's to its third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance as a program-best No. 3 seed. St. John's advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinals for the first time in program history and enjoyed a 24-10 final record. St. John's was also the No. 2 seed in the BIG EAST Tournament and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1988.
Tartamella's scouting and game-planning tactics have proved to be invaluable as St. John's has enjoyed numerous victories over Top 25 opponents, including the team's three historic upset-victories over Notre Dame when the Irish were ranked No. 13 in 2005-06, No. 9 in 2007-08 and No. 4/3 in 2009-10. In 2011-12, he boasted the winning scout in St. John's win over then-No. 2 Connecticut on Feb. 18, ending the Huskies' 99-game home-winning streak. With Tartamella as part of Barnes Arico's staff, the Red Storm claimed a .560 winning percentage.
Tartamella is also known for his recruiting prowess and has consistently brought in top-rated talent for the Red Storm. Highlighting his role as recruiting coordinator was the 2009-10 class that ESPN.com ranked as 10th best in the nation and No. 1 in the BIG EAST. The class, seniors during the 2012-13 season, included All-BIG EAST Freshmen Shenneika Smith and Nadirah McKenith, who blossomed into national headliners as they both were selected in the 2013 WNBA draft and both signed professional contracts in the summer of 2013, in addition to their many collegiate accolades and school records.
Tartamella sports another solid recruiting class for the 2014-15 campaign, as all four of his freshman signees ranked inside the top 25 nationally at their position according to ESPN HoopGurlz.
Prior to St. John's, Tartamella spent a year as an assistant men's basketball coach under the direction of head coach Tom Spina at SUNY Maritime College in Throgs Neck, N.Y. His responsibilities included recruiting and developing long and short-range strategies, administering game plans to players for execution in practice and games, and organizing and implementing pre- and post-season conditioning programs. Tartamella also served as the assistant director of career services at SUNY Maritime College.
After graduating from James Madison University in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in business administration in marketing information, he coached alongside Joe Castiglie - the most successful coach in Stony Brook men's basketball history - at St. Anthony's High School. After his stint coaching boys' varsity, Tartamella was hired as the graduate assistant coach for the St. John's women's basketball team.
A native of St. James, N.Y., Tartamella earned his master's degree in marketing management from St. John's in 2004.
A fiery competitor as a coach and athlete, Tartamella was a two-sport star at Smithtown High School, enjoying success as a basketball and baseball player. His success as a prep star resulted in numerous scholarship offers before an injury ended his promising playing career and led him to coaching.
A member of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), Tartamella was invited guest to the Nike Villa 7 Coaches Consortium in 2010 and in 2011. The consortium was developed to bring together university athletic directors and the country's elite assistant basketball coaches in an effort to prepare coaches for the next level. In 2013, Tartamella was invited back to the Nike Villa 7 as a panelist/speaker in Minneapolis, Minn. In June 2013, he was one of 32 women's college basketball coaches to be involved in the first session of the Center For Coaching Excellence (CCE) at Columbia University.
Tartamella and his wife, Shannon, reside in Long Island, New York. The couple has two sons, three-year-old Brady and J.J., born on June 27, 2014.
Follow head coach Joe Tartamella on Twitter @SJU_CoachT.
The Joe Tartamella File
2012-present: St. John's University, Head Coach
2008-2012: St. John's University, Associate Head Coach
2005-08: St. John's University, Assistant Coach
2004-05: SUNY Maritime College, Assistant Coach
2002-04: St. John's University, Graduate Assistant
2001-02: St. Anthony's High School, Assistant Coach
B.B.A., James Madison University, 2001
M.B.A., St. John's University, 2004