Junior point guard Aliyyah Handford leads St. John's into a year where Red Storm seek sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)
Kim Barnes Arico may have departed for a better opportunity and well-deserved pay raise at Michigan, but the quality with which she left at St. John's after a decade that saw her become the winningest coach in program history remains stronger than it has ever been.
Longtime Barnes Arico lieutenant Joe Tartamella, now in his third season at the helm on the corner of Union and Utopia, may not yet have the signature wins his predecessor racked up with the Red Storm, but a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances on his own pass as more than sufficient evidence of the much-speculated dropoff in Queens having not arrived.
Today, Tartamella released his latest nonconference schedule, a ledger that commences on the road with a New England opponent for the second straight season when the Red Storm face Yale in New Haven on November 15 one year removed from opening the 2013-14 campaign at the Pitt Center against Sacred Heart. Five days later, the intensity ratchets up to a higher level as Florida comes to Carnesecca Arena for the Lady Johnnies' home opener, and for local college basketball enthusiasts, the next game on the slate is a long-anticipated matchup.
St. John's makes the journey up the New York State Thruway on November 24 for a clash at McCann Arena with MAAC superpower Marist, the first meeting between the Red Storm and Red Foxes since 2002, when Barnes Arico scored her first career win against a debuting Brian Giorgis, who has since racked up ten MAAC championships and a Sweet 16 appearance during his twelve years in Poughkeepsie.
Two home games against Binghamton (November 28) and Wagner (November 30) start a stretch of six of seven contests at Carnesecca for the Red Storm, with a December 7 visit to former Big East rival South Florida sandwiching two more home games against Central Florida (December 11) and NJIT, (December 14) the final tuneups before the annual Chartwells Holiday Classic, St. John's holiday tournament that enters its seventh year of operation on December 20 and 21.
Following a two-week hiatus for the holidays, St. John's final nonconference battle may very well be its biggest to date, as the Red Storm ring in 2015 at Madison Square Garden, taking on bitter rival Geno Auriemma and Connecticut in the Maggie Dixon Classic on January 4.
***Click here for St. John's University's nonconference schedule release, featuring quotes from head coach Joe Tartamella.***