St. John’s basketball confident in pieces around superstar Leilani Correa

St. John's basketball guard Leilani Correa (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
St. John's basketball guard Leilani Correa (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /

St. John’s basketball seems confident in its pieces around superstar Leilani Correa. 

Last season was a major struggle for the St. John’s basketball team for many reasons, but one of its only bright spots was the continued emergence of guard Leilani Correa.

However, it felt like Correa was by herself at times on the court as she gathered double and triple teams from opponents.

The Manchester, New Jersey native set a new program record with five straight games of at least 30 points as a sophomore but the Johnnies are confident that the players around Correa have gained valuable experience and are ready to step into contributing roles.

One of Leilani Correa’s 30-point outings came on the road against the UConn Huskies where she scored more than half of St. John’s points in dropping 33 points.

Head coach Joe Tartamella, who is seven victories away from breaking the program’s all-time wins record, said that he expects his team to shoot the ball better from the perimeter this season which will take a lot of the pressure off of his junior superstar.

The Johnnies added two major transfers in Danielle Patterson and Danielle Cosgrove who both bring a championship pedigree to St. John’s.

Patterson started her career at Notre Dame, where she won a National Championship, and then transferred to Indiana before coming back home to Queens.

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“There is so much talent on this team…and everyone wants to win badly,” Patterson said at St. John’s Media Day on Tuesday afternoon.

The Brooklyn, New York native will be leaned upon for her leadership, on and off the floor, and will be a much needed scorer next to Correa, who will still command a lot of attention from defenses.

“Leilani [Correa] is such a smart player and she makes everyone better around her,” Patterson explained.

Cosgrove, who made a National Championship Game appearance with Notre Dame, is also expected to play a major role with the Red Storm in her first season back home.

St. John’s returns its key players from a season ago in Kadaja Bailey, Unique Drake, Camree Clegg, Emma Nolan, and Rayven Pepples, all of which are in at least their junior seasons.

St. John’s basketball superstar continues to adjust, adapt her game

Even after being named to the All-Big East First Team last season and an unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big East Team this year, Leilani Correa continues to take the next step and evolve her game.

“I think the biggest change you’ll see is [Correa’s] commitment to defense and her ability to guard and be a factor on that end even more so than she has been,” Tartamella said.

“She understands the importance of not only being able to score but to be a leader on both ends of the court. She has really shown a commitment to getting her body right and making sure she can withstand a longer season and the physicality she is facing in the [Big East].”

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Correa averaged 17.6 points per game on 39.0-percent shooting from the floor as a sophomore yet she only shot 25.8-percent from 3-point range.

The Red Storm were picked to finish seventh in the Preseason Big East Coaches Poll as the Johnnies are coming off of a season in which the program was 8-15 (4-12 Big East).

St. John’s opens its season against Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday, November 10 inside Carnesecca Arena at 7:00pm EST.

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