Sophomore guard Aliyyah Handford will look to build off successful rookie season as she replaces Shenneika Smith and Nadirah McKenith in St. John's backcourt in second season under Joe Tartamella. (Photo courtesy of Rumble In The Garden)
Last season, St. John's started off slow, picked up steam midway through the year, and managed to hold their momentum for a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, the first for new head coach Joe Tartamella.
However, this season becomes the hardest test yet for the 34-year-old, who begins his second campaign in Queens since replacing Kim Barnes Arico at the helm last year. Gone are four-year starting guards Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith, both of whom were selected in April's WNBA Draft after serving as irreplaceable stalwarts for the Lady Johnnies, helping to further elevate a once-dormant program. Today, Tartamella took the first step toward building on the Red Storm's success, releasing a nonconference schedule loaded with local opposition, while also taking on several other high-major opponents.
St. John's will open their season on the road, facing Northeast Conference favorite Sacred Heart on November 8th in the first meeting between the two schools. The Pioneers return shooting guard Gabrielle Washington, but welcome a new head coach in Jessica Mannetti after longtime leader Ed Swanson took over at William & Mary. Four days later, St. John's competes in their home opener, facing Iona for the second straight year, and will have the task of stopping junior scoring machine Damika Martinez as the Gaels transition into the Billi Godsey era after she was hired as the replacement for former coach Tony Bozzella, now at Seton Hall. The Red Storm then host John Thurston and St. Francis College on November 16th for the first time since 2001, and conclude a three-game homestand with Quinnipiac returning their upset victory from last season in Hamden, as Tricia Fabbri's Bobcats make the trip to Queens on November 20th, now a member of the MAAC after an undefeated final season in the NEC.
The Lady Johnnies travel to Florida on November 26th to square off against the Gators, and will invade Alabama to face Auburn and former Georgetown head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy on December 6th, but a home game against Harvard will be sandwiched in on December 1st. The Red Storm will once again host the Chartwells Holiday Classic for the sixth straight year, first entertaining Drexel at Carnesecca Arena on December 14th before taking on either James Madison or Prairie View A&M the following day.
Following a week off, St. John's will once again compete in the Maggie Dixon Classic; held at Madison Square Garden on December 22nd, when they face off against Texas A&M. Reigning national champion Connecticut will take on California in the second half of a doubleheader immediately following the St. John's game. The Red Storm conclude their nonconference schedule on the road, taking on Delaware on December 30th in a rematch of last year's overtime game at Carnesecca, which the Blue Hens won behind Elena Delle Donne.
2013-14 St. John's University Women's Basketball Nonconference Schedule (all games at Carnesecca Arena unless noted)
Friday, November 8th: at Sacred Heart, 7pm
Tuesday, November 12th: vs. Iona, 7pm
Saturday, November 16th: vs. St. Francis College, 7pm
Wednesday, November 20th: vs. Quinnipiac, 7pm
Tuesday, November 26th: at Florida, TBA
Sunday, December 1st: vs. Harvard, 2pm
Friday, December 6th: at Auburn, 6pm
Saturday, December 14th: vs. Drexel in Chartwells Holiday Classic, 12pm
Sunday, December 15th: vs. James Madison or Prairie View A&M in Chartwells Holiday Classic, 12pm or 2:30 pm
Sunday, December 22nd: vs. Texas A&M in Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden, 11am
Monday, December 30th: at Delaware, 5pm