The Torch

Right on “Q”: Hoppie Making a Big Impact as a Freshman

The Staten Island-native has brought her New York grit to Queens.

Torch Photo/Nick Bello

Torch Photo/Nick Bello

Brendan Myers, Assistant Sports Editor

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With just under a minute left in the third quarter ofw St. John’s Friday night clash against Butler, the Red Storm scored a basket to make it 59-27 in their favor.

Four players trotted back to go play defense on the other end of the floor. Qadashah Hoppie stays down the court, and gives Butler’s Whitney Jennings nowhere to go.

Hoppie making an inbound pass difficult with the team up 32 is a very minor detail that didn’t have an impact on the game. But it speaks volumes about her mindset on the court.

“The confidence that everyone has coming from New York when they step on the court, I guess I got that growing up in New York,” Hoppie said about her days growing up in Staten Island.

Once Hoppie checks into the game, whoever she’s guarding is in for a stern test. She runs her opponents off the three-point line, and uses a balance of lateral quickness and strength to prevent guards from getting into the paint.

Butler’s Jennings went into Friday night’s game averaging 18 points per game. She finished with seven on 3-13 shooting. No one in Butler’s backcourt that night made more than three field goals.

In 16 of the 23 games so far, St. John’s has scored more points off turnovers than their opponents–in large part due to Hoppie. She presses opponent’s guards into making rushed decisions.

Surrounded by stout defenders like senior Maya Singleton, Hoppie’s pressure often leads to a disrupted offense.

Here in her freshman season, she’s scored in double-digits in 14 of the team’s 23 games, while only starting 10 of those contests.

Hoppie leads all Big East freshman in scoring, with a season average of just over 11 points per game. As conference play has gotten underway, she has only added to those numbers, rising her total to just shy of 13 per game.

Hoppie’s New York toughness has also shown in her ability to rebound off slower performances.

When St. John’s faced off against defending National Champion South Carolina, the Gamecocks held her to four points on 1-of-6 shooting. The next game against No. #17/16 South Florida, Hoppie reached double figures, scoring 12 points in just 18 minutes of action.

Head Coach Joe Tartamella has devised a unique role for Hoppie.

She usually starts the game on the bench. But from the first quarter on, Hoppie is a mainstay in the Red Storm lineup. Only redshirt freshman Tiana England averages more minutes than Hoppie.

After the Butler game, Tartamella said that the team usually wants around 20 points a game from the bench.

“We have the depth, and if we can figure it out and get it rolling, we could be pretty scary towards the finish,” Tartamella said.

On Friday, Hoppie almost got to 20 on her own. She finished with 16, a game-high, almost half of the team’s 38 bench points that were scored that night.

Torch Photo/Nick Bello

Hoppie’s also formed a strong on court partnership with England, a backcourt tandem that could be destined for big things over the next four years.

“We are learning together how to be better at this game and at this level,” Hoppie said. “We have a good relationship in terms of what we could have done better in different situations.”

Immediately when either of the two guards gets on outlet pass, they are looking to find each other in transition for easy baskets.

On one occasion in the Butler game, England made a break to intercept a pass on the wing. Before she even had her hand on the ball, Hoppie was already on the other end of the floor, waiting for the outlet for an easy lay-up.

England couldn’t save the ball, but the two shared a head nod as Hoppie jogged back down the court, acknowledging the pass was there.

The former McDonald’s All-American out of The Patrick School in New Jersey is growing into a larger role in Queens, and could be poised for a key role as the St. John’s women’s basketball team heads down the stretch towards the postseason.

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Right on “Q”: Hoppie Making a Big Impact as a Freshman