New Man In Charge
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Joe Tartamella was named the head coach of the St. John’s women’s basketball team on April 27. He has been a part of the women’s basketball program since 2002 when he was first hired as a graduate assistant. Since then, the native New Yorker has worked his way up the ranks and is set to lead the program after Kim Barnes Arico’s move to the University of Mighigan.
Torch: How has the transition been from associate head coach to head coach?
Joe Tartamella: “It has been easier than it initially would have been due to the fact that I’m familiar with the landscape of St. John’s. Probably the biggest challenge was dealing with the other things that come up with moving into the head-coaching seat such as putting a staff together, as well as being the person that people go to for the final decision. So, it’s a different mentality when you change [coaching] seats.“
T: How do you think your coaching philosophy differs from Kim Barnes Arico’s?
JT: “I think every coach has their own philosophy. I don’t think I would ever try and compare [myself] to any coach. However, obviously, there are certain things that we have built this program on over the last nine years and I’m going to try and continue to do things in a similar fashion; specifically the type of players that we’re going to recruit and our style of play. I think those things have been a cornerstone of what we’ve been as a program.”
T: This will almost certainly change once the season begins, but what has been your highlight thus far as the head coach of the St. John’s women’s basketball team?
JT: “The biggest highlight was probably the press conference and becoming the head coach and just seeing the reaction of our players and the support from the St. John’s community. Their presence, appreciation and support throughout the whole process was the biggest highlight. Those are the things you remember.”
T: Do you feel any pressure from the support you’ve been receiving because you want to prove that the correct decision was made in appointing you as head coach?
JT: “I think with any job, you want to prove yourself. Innately, there’s always pressure. But I feel very comfortable with St. John’s University and comfortable about where we are as a program. It’s exciting to be a part of something at a place that has let me grow as an individual. I started at St. John’s University as a graduate assistant in 2002 and now becoming the head coach is something that I take a lot of pride in. I try and preach that to my players: St. John’s is a place that will allow you to grow not only as a basketball player, but also as a person.”
T: How well do you think your early season games will prepare you for Big East Conference play?
JT: “I think it’s going to prepare us pretty quickly because we’ve got one of our toughest non-conference schedules since I’ve been at St. John’s. We play [University of] Texas in our first game of the year, we play Duke in the Maggie Dixon Classic, we have an opportunity to possibly play UCLA and also [University] Delaware. So, we’ve got some pretty competitive opponents early which will give us a benchmark to let us know where we are. With a veteran team and the core group of seniors that we have, they’ll be prepared, but it’s a way for us to make sure we stay focused early in the year.”
T: Is there a particular game that you, personally, are looking forward to?
JT: “I’m looking forward to the first game. It will be an interesting task to see where we are because it’s going to be someone [Texas] that will be a strong opponent, and it’s a tournament format so we’re playing two games quickly out of the gate.
T: Do you think you’ll have any nerves heading into that first game?
JT: “As a head coach, if anyone told you that they didn’t have any nerves, they wouldn’t be telling you the truth. But, it’s more excitement; excitement about going out there and leading a program. It’s not a time for being nervous, we’ll make sure that we stay focused on the task at hand, which is winning games.”
T: At the end of the season, when everything is all-said-and-done, what will determine whether or not the 2012/13 season was a success?
JT: “As long as we’ve worked as hard as we possibly can and stick to the plan of how we’ve prepared all year, we can look back and call it successful. But, obviously, we want to get to the postseason. We want to be in the top half of the BIG EAST Conference and do well in our conference tournament. We want to be able to bring an NCAA Tournament game to St. John’s University this year and have our fans and our families be able watch our program and team compete. For our seniors that are going out, I want them to have a successful year, and this is their chance to go out on a high note.”