St. John’s basketball: Lady Johnnies with large preseason expectations

Expectations are now on the shoulders of head coach Joe Tartamella and the St. John’s basketball program.

Yes, it’s a new season in Queens, but high expectations have been put right on the shoulders of Joe Tartamella and the St. John’s basketball team.

The Preseason Big East Women’s Coaches Poll was released on Thursday morning and the Johnnies cracked the Top-5, but there was no surprise as to who landed at the top.

A nearly unanimous newcomers to the conference, the 11-time National Champion Connecticut Huskies, received the first place vote from the other ten coaches in the league while Huskies head coach Geno Auriemna casted his vote for the defending Big East Champion DePaul Blue Demons.

With UConn and DePaul as the top two teams in the preseason poll, Marquette, St. John’s, Creighton, Seton Hall, Villanova, Butler, Xavier, Providence, and Georgetown complete the Preseason Coaches Poll.

St. John’s is coming off 19-12 (11-7 Big East) season where the Lady Johnnies advanced to the semifinals of the Big East Tournament for the first time since 2017.

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Unfortunately for Tartamella and his team, the Red Storm fell in the semifinals to Marquette, who lost in the championship game to DePaul.

St. John’s was defeated by Marquette in its two regular season meetings as well.

However, despite losing key contributors such as Alisha Kebbe and Tiana England, St. John’s returns its top two scorers from last season, Qadashah Hoppie and Leilani Correa.

Hoppie, the senior from Staten Island, averaged a team best 15.4 points per game and was an All-Big East Second Team selection following the season as well as an All-Met First Team selection.

Correa, a sophomore from Manchester, New Jersey, won the Big East Sixth-Woman of the Year Award, was an unanimous selection to Big East All Freshman Team, and an All-Met Third Team selection after averaging 12.8 points per game.

Leilani Correa was also the second player in school history to have at least three 30-point performances on the season, with her season high coming in a victory over Army with a 33-point explosion.

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The Big East named UConn star Christyn Williams as the Preseason Player of the Year and future Huskies star Paige Bueckers was named as the Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Joining Hoppie and Correa on the Preseason All-Big East Team are Connecticut standouts Evina Westbrook and Olivia Nelson-Odom, DePaul stars Lexi Held and Sonya Morris, Villanova superstar Maddy Seigrest, Marquette’s Selena Lott, Creighton’s Temi Carda, Seton Hall’s Desiree Elmore, and Xavier’s A’riana Gray.