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

Red Storm head coach Joe Tartamella addresses members of the media during the 2014 St. John's Women's Basketball Media Day.

Oct. 15, 2014

Head Coach Joe Tartamella

Opening statement:

“We’ve had a great start to our season. Obviously we got a little bit of a head start being able to go to Europe. We had 10 practices over the summer and a great trip overseas which gave us the opportunity to see what we have a little bit earlier. We have five new faces in our program, four freshmen and a transfer, so we are excited to get them going as well. Our staff has been great and energetic, our practices have been high paced and we’re looking forward to getting back to work here and starting our games in a few weeks. We’ve done a nice job of getting ourselves in shape and we’ve seen that come to the forefront in practice already. I think we’re in better shape than we’ve been in previous years along with our physical size and strength. I’m very pleased with our group. I think we have great chemistry as we’ve started our year and that will continue to grow, and we look forward to representing and competing in the BIG EAST Conference.”

On the Red Storm’s four freshmen:

“We recruit to needs. We expect a lot from them and overall our freshmen are going to play a big role coming off the bench. Sox [Tamesha Alexander] gives us depth at the point guard position and then we have Imani Littleton and Tonoia Wade who are versatile players and can both play multiple positions. Crystal Simmons has been a great surprise for us for what she’s been able to do in this short period of time. She’s a great defensive player, long, and brings a different flavor to our team.”


 

 

On St. John’s toughness:

“The toughness end has always been a stalwart for our program, something which has been an identity. We try to build that every single day. The players bring a certain toughness and willingness to want to win every single day which is what you need when you’re trying to win a conference championship, get back to the NCAA Tournament and continue to do the things we are striving for. Having Aliyyah [Handford] and Danaejah [Grant] as physical and athletic guards with size helps, and it breeds down to our younger players. We have kids like Amber Thompson, Jade Walker and Aaliyah Lewis who do the same. All of them feed off of each other. That toughness level develops when you are competing in practice every day. They don’t want to lose the drill or the scrimmage situation or whatever we are doing. I think that always translates to how your team is going to be when adversity hits during a game, during a season and in late-game situations. That is something that has marked our program over the last couple of years as far as having those types of players who have that mental toughness along with the physical toughness.”

On the team’s style of playing changing this season:

“I don’t think so. I think we know what we are good at and we’re going to continue to do that. We do add some size this year for the first time in multiple positions so we’re going to be bigger than we’ve been. However, we continue to have athleticism in those positions. We’ll continue to do the things we have been doing. We’re going to continue to make sure we are relentless on both ends of the floor, specifically on the defensive end, but also on the offensive end putting pressure on the other team’s defense and trying to attack as quickly as we can. I hope that our rebounding can improve with our size as well as our finishing. I think those are two areas that we can really increase from where we were last year.”

On benefits of European Tour:

“I think when you have four freshmen and you’re trying to get them acclimated, being able to get through things a little bit quicker as far as what your drills are and what your philosophy is going to be is a big help. We’re able to get out, put ourselves in game situations and get a head start without having to explain as much in practice, so to speak, along with building our defensive foundation and getting our principles down.”

On the upcoming Red Storm Tip-Off event this Friday:

“Tip-Off has been a big event for us every year since I’ve been here. Last year’s was unbelievable. I thought it was the best one that we’ve ever had and I think this year will top that. I’m actually going to issue kind of a challenge to our students to be a part of what we are doing. There are times when I think we’ve shown the ability to fill our arena and get after it, and what a place it is when you see it on Friday and what that atmosphere can be like. It changes games. I’m going to make sure I tell them that on Friday night because they can do it. This is something we are really going to put to the forefront and get our student body engaged. We need everybody’s help but our students are first and foremost. There’s a product on the floor that they are going to enjoy.”

 

Senior Forward Amber Thompson

On her development as a player:

“Every year you have to get better. You can’t come back the same as the previous year or it’s going to be the same for you or even worse. I feel like every year I have to come back with something different, whether it’s my intensity or my aggressiveness so that I can give my opponents a better challenge.”

 

Redshirt Senior Forward Selina Archer

On the Red Storm’s length and size this season:

“As a team we’re pretty long now. For any team to play us on the block it will be difficult as long as we make it difficult. During practice we all compete against one another. We know that until we get the ball in our hands the fight isn’t over yet. Coach teaches us to be competitive so that when we do get on the court we can dominate the best we can.”

 

Junior Guard Danaejah Grant

On the Red Storm’s European Tour:

It gives us a gauge of where we are at and where we were a month ago. With the new freshman coming in, we were able to play together and gain some chemistry between each other. We were able to see what we had to work on and what was going to be positive for us going into the season.”

 

Junior Guard Aliyyah Handford:

On the Red Storm’s run to the 2014 BIG EAST Championship game:

“It’s a good feeling to know we got so close to winning the championship. We’re just trying to get back to the same position and actually win it this year. We don’t want to get there and then get stuck again and not be able to bring out the win.”

 

Sophomore Forward Jade Walker

On improving over the offseason:

“I think I’ve improved my conditioning a lot. I can get down the court a little faster, I can last longer in the game and I can help my team by being able to score. I’ve been working on my free throw percentage as well to better help our team score.”

 

Sophomore Guard Aaliyah Lewis

On the team’s changes compared to last season:

“We will definitely be more athletic, and we now have a lot of length on the team this year. I feel like we will be a better rebounding team and play in transition because we’re athletic and we will look to push the ball more. It’s going to be the same St. John’s basketball up-tempo style but hopefully better.”

Graduate Student Forward Kyra Dunn

On what she hopes to bring to the Red Storm this season:

“I live for blocking shots, getting out and running the floor. I think that aspect of my game will just bring a lot of energy to the team.” 

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