St. John's Women's Basketball: Media Day Quotes

Head coach Joe Tartamella meets with the press at St. John's Media Day.

Oct. 10, 2013

Head Coach Joe Tartamella

Opening statement:

"Let me first say thank you to all of you for being here. This is always an exciting day for us and for our players. It starts our season off with an opportunity to talk about our team and we couldn't be more excited about the upcoming year. We have a great group of young ladies that have been working hard. We've had seven practices to start the year and I've been really pleased with our group. I couldn't be more excited about where we are to start and part of that is the great summer program we had with our players. I'm also excited that we've been able to add some new members to our staff which I think has brought our mix to where I really want it to be. One addition in particular that we are very excited about is Joseph Pellicane, who is one of my mentors and went to the Division II National Championship game with Dowling College this past season. His arrival brings us to the mix that I really want. As we look forward to our new league, our new venture, all of us are excited and we know how important it is for us to be good early. We will put a product out there that our fans, alumni and university will be proud of."

On filling the voids left by current professional players Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith:

"For the first time in four years we've had to move on without some of the mainstays of our program in Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith, who we are so proud of and became the first two players drafted into the WNBA from St. John's. As far as what you're going to see in terms of differences, I think that the best part about that is the opportunity that our returners have and also our young players. Our style of play will never change. We obviously lost a scoring piece that was important for us, and in Nadirah, as a point guard, that was a position that we really needed to fill. The exciting part is what we've seen from Aaliyah Lewis, our young freshman, along with some of our veterans that will fill in, to try to not replace but be able to work as a committee to handle the holes that were left. I think we've balanced our team to be able to handle that. I think Briana Brown, Amber Thompson, Keylantra Langley and Ashley Perez are going to be the ones that we are going to look to early in the year to fill that void. As far as style of play, you're going to see a great group of players, working together with great chemistry and getting after it. We're going to defend and we're going to play. We're not going to change our defensive mentality and the players know that. That's been our identity and we are going to stay there."



On the team objectives for the upcoming season:

"Our expectations never change. We talk about small ones, we talk about big ones, but we're trying to get better every day. We want to be better than we were the day before, first and foremost. With the way that things are constructed with the new BIG EAST, we are trying to win a conference championship and get to the postseason. This program has become a place where we want to get to the postseason. That has always been a goal. We want to stay there. No matter that the faces change, the goals stay the same. Youth is always something you have to battle as well, and as roles change you also have to adjust, but I think our expectations never really change. We want to make sure we are becoming the benchmark of the league. We want to be the program that people are aspiring to be."

On the maturation of sophomore guard Aliyyah Hanford:

"Aliyyah Hanford is special. I fully believe that because of the way she played last year she had an opportunity to vie for the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Award. She has worked extremely hard on her game, especially from the outside. We're seeing that right now. Her athleticism, her ability to defend and even her basketball IQ has improved. She's a quiet warrior. She has that quiet confidence about her and she makes things look easy, especially defensively. I could not be prouder of the time she's put in her game to improve. Her confidence level and her demeanor on the floor have changed, and she's even becoming somewhat of a quiet leader for us. She becomes the tip of the sword at times for us defensively being the point of attack. We expect a lot from her on both ends.

On expectations for senior Eugeneia McPherson as she returns from injury:

"Eugeneia has been fantastic for us. She is continuing to rehab her knee and she's getting better every day. I expect her first and foremost to be a leader. She has experience, she's been within the team for four straight NCAA Tournaments and she's always been our glue player over time. She has the ability to make a play or be that person who can get you through some things during the year, during the game, during the day, during the week, that sometimes go unsung. During her three years here she had no problem doing what her job was, being that kid and the warrior and the competitor we needed her to be. I'm excited for her to be here now because she has a chance to finish her career not going off like she did after five games, but play and contribute. She's been back with us in practice and I expect her to be ready as we move into game one, not only as a leader but as somebody that can really help us in games."

On freshman guard/forward Jade Walker recovering from injury:

"Jade Walker, who is one of our freshmen, had a radio meniscus tear and just did have surgery. We expect her back, possibly for the first game."


Senior guard Briana Brown 

On challenges of new BIG EAST:

"It puts us in a good position. Even though UConn and Notre Dame aren't here we are still are very competitive league but I think we will do very well this year."

On her personal goals:

"Help my team go as far as we can. That's what I really want for this team. I don't just want to score a lot or rebound a lot I just want to help my team go as far as we can."

On being team captain:

"It is a new role that I have to face. It comes with more responsibility; I have to be more vocal with my team. I can definitely handle the role. I'm not afraid of it. I'm not backing down form it."

On incoming freshman Aaliyah Lewis:

"She is doing really well. Aaliyah Lewis is coming in even though she is really small she is coming in really well and I think she will really help us at the point guard position. She's not an immature freshman that will play wild; she is mature enough to know her role as a point guard."


Senior guard Keylantra Langley

On replacing Nadirah and Shenneika on and off the court:

"People are just going to have to step up. Basketball is a team sport and I think that if we play as a team and stick together on and off the court then we will be able to fill that void but Nadirah and Shenneika were big parts of our program."

On expectations for this year:

"With the new BIG EAST conference we want to come out strong and just do the best we can. We have been working hard to this point and we will continue to work hard until the first game. We want to be the best."


Sophomore guard Aliyyah Handford

On improving from last year:

"I worked out harder. I mostly worked on my shooting because most people know that all I did was drive last year. I'm just trying to get my game up so I'm harder to guard this season. "

On replacing Nadirah and Shenneika:

"On the court I just need to keep continuing what I was doing last year. I don't think we can replace them. We do have two new incoming freshman and two transfers to help fill in their spots."


Freshman guard/forward Jade Walker

Expectations of freshman year:

"I'm just trying to be a team player.  I want to play my role and be someone the team can count on."

On the first couple weeks of practice and being on a new team:

"I like it a lot. My teammates have been really helpful since I've been here. Everybody has been teaching me on what I need to be doing."


Sophomore Guard Ashley Perez

On how her role has changed from last year:

"I wouldn't say it has changed much. I gained a lot confidence after the NCAA tournament last year that I should've had long before. It's required for me to bring it this year and that's my personal expectations as well as the coaches I'm sure."

On excitement of the new BIG EAST and the new season:

"I think we have a chance to be really good and to do really well, possibly even win the BIG EAST. If we keep heading in the direction were heading I think we are going to be really good."


Junior guard Mallory Jones

On what she's most excited about this year:

"I'm excited about everything. With the BIG EAST and the new Season it's like a perfect storm. We got Eugeneia coming back as well as all these great new additions like Danaejah, Selina, Aaliyah, and Jade. I think we have real shot to win the BIG EAST this year. I think it's going to be a great year."

On being a teacher and role model to the younger players:

"I think all of us have. Me, Amber and even Selina, who has only been here for a year and a half now, we have all taken the freshman under are wing.  Showing them what the college game is like because of the big difference from high school to college."


Redshirt senior guard Eugeneia  McPherson

On being the elder statesman:

"I do feel like the grandma of the team but it's nice to have the young kids come in and kids that came back like Amber Thompspn, Aliyyah Handford and Briana Brown. It's good to have those kids come back because they had such a big impact on the program. I didn't expect to be here a fifth year but I feel like I'm blessed to have that redshirt year."


Junior forward Amber Thompson

On her personal goals:

"I'm just trying to be a leader. I'm trying to start this season the way I left last, I'm not trying to backtrack or anything. I'm trying to start where I finished."

On close losses last year:

"We're trying not to let it happen again. It's all about little mistakes throughout the game. We got to come and prepare."


 Junior forward Selina Archer

On the first week of practice:

"It's been good. I think coming in last semester really helped to get used to the team."


Freshman guard Aaliyah Lewis

On hitting the game winning shot to send her high school team to the title game:

"Well I can say that was one of the best experiences I had on that Bishop Ford court."

 On describing Coach Tartamella in one word:



 Sophomore guard Danaejah Grant

On her goals for the season:

"My goal is to be able to come back and to be able to contribute to another visit to the NCAA Tournament."

 On the transition from South Carolina to NYC:

"Well I'm from Jersey so I'm a city girl already. But I'm glad I'm back."

On different coaching style from Clemson:

"It's a little bit different. Mainly, I just try to be coachable. Be able to give him a player that he can instruct and tell what to do and I try to take in the information and learn from it."


 Sophomore forward Sandra Udobi

On what she's looking forward to in the BIG EAST:

"We want to be the team that sets the benchmark for everyone else."

 On role this season:

"First of all, I want to stay healthy as much as I can. I really want to be effective this year as much as possible."


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