Replacing the Rim Reapers

Brendan Myers, Sports Editor

It seems strange to say that on a team that features only three new players, Head Coach Joe Tartamella has two major voids to fill on the court. While his squad returns a lot of talent, the Red Storm will feature a new frontcourt after the graduation of star forwards Maya Singleton and Imani Littleton in May.

Singleton, now playing professionally in Switzerland, proved to be one of the team’s most efficient players last season while averaging a double-double, 11 points and almost 11 rebounds per game on 45 percent shooting. If the outside shot wasn’t working for the team’s guards, they had a safety blanket with Singleton in the paint.

Singleton’s frontcourt partner, Littleton, didn’t have quite as big of an impact on the offensive end, but turned into one of the conference’s premier rim defenders. While starting in all 31 games she appeared in last season, Littleton amassed a team-leading 43 blocks while finishing third on the team with 33 steals.

While still acknowledging the significance of these two players’ departures, Coach Tartamella doesn’t seem worried about the two players that will step into those roles for the Red Storm in 2018-19.

“Kayla Charles is ultra athletic, she’s grown a lot from last year,” Tartamella said at Big East Media Day in October. “When she’s locked in, she’s extremely impressive offensively.”

While Tartamella noted that Charles has had to be challenged defensively, he believes that the 6-foot-3-inch needs to be good in order for the Red Storm to succeed this season.

The other player seemingly set to help fill the void left by the absences of Singleton and Littleton is now-eligible forward Curteeona Brelove.

“She’s been blessed with the ability to have good size, strength and agility and has the ability to shoot it as well,” Tartamella said.

Sophomore guard Qadashah Hoppie said that she has been impressed with Charles’ rebounding ability. Brelove has a different type of game than Singleton and Littleton, but certainly one to watch.

“She can shoot from behind the arc a little bit, she can face up more, so it’s a kind of versatility that she has,” Hoppie said.

The other challenge of losing two major seniors is a loss of leadership. While Tartamella thinks there is room to grow for players like Brelove and Charles, he isn’t worried about the leadership in the locker room.

“Akina Wellere has been a big part of that,” Tartamella said. “Akina’s been with us for four years, she understands, she’s been part of a championship.”

The most important thing that was constantly reiterated at Big East Media Day is that no matter who leaves, the identity of the team will not change.

“Defense has always been our main priority,” Hoppie said. “Even though those players have left, that culture is not going to change within us.”