The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

St. John’s Hosts 2023 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Media Day

A first look into the Johnnies’ 2023-2024 season.

St. John’s hosted its annual media day in Carnesecca Arena Tuesday introducing the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams for the 2023-2024 season. The event ran from noon to 2:15 p.m. and ended with a Men’s team open practice.

Women’s Basketball 

Coach Tartamella in his Media Day press conference. Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

Women’s Basketball head coach Joe Tartamella opened the event and touched on his youthful and energetic team. St. John’s has welcomed many newcomers to the roster, including four transfers and four freshmen. After an NCAA Tournament appearance, Tartamella enters his 12th season as head coach of the women’s team and has learned to find his patience again.

“Coming off of the year that we’ve had, we’re excited about the group that we’ve brought in,” Tartamella said. 

“We’re much younger than we were so we have really good days and we have days where I’ve tried to have a lot of patience as well,” Tartamella said. “We’re continuing to be a work in progress but I do think this group works really hard. We fill some of the needs that we needed to fill with the loss of six players to graduation, two to the portal.” 

The women will be having their Big East home opener game in Madison Square Garden this year as well as having a rematch against UConn at UBS Arena during the season. 

Graduate guard Unique Drake is the most tenured player on the team and has stepped into a leadership role for a new team full of fresh talent. 

“With our team being so young, they need somebody with that voice.”

Drake was named the Big East Sixth Woman of the Year last season and enters the season ready to win more. She and her team plan to “give it everything we got, every single game, leaving everything we got on the floor.”

Over the summer, the team spent time overseas in Italy and Greece. Many of the players spoke to The Torch about how the trip bonded the group. 

The trip did grant us more time with them for bonding on the court as well,” transfer forward graduate student Amber Jones said. Jones is coming from the University of Pittsburgh with over 100 starting games under her belt and is ready to help be a leader of this very young team. 

“He [Tartamella] wants me to keep that same role just to add it to this team and to add it with the leadership that he already had,” Jones said. “I lead by example.”

Returning graduate student Jillian Archer spoke about the effort of the team this year and how it will help them to clinch the same success as last year. Last season,  she was ranked eighth in the Big East averaging 7.7 rebounds per game and helped lead the Johnnies to the NCAA Tournament. 

“I learned a lot about perseverance. The biggest thing for us was knowing that on any given day the game can go any way,”: Archer told The Torch. “It’s making sure that we’re staying focused on what we can control.”

The women’s host their home opener game on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. in Carnesecca against LIU. 

Men’s Basketball 

Pitino in his Media Day press conference.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

In the second half of media day, Men’s head coach Rick Pitino spoke to the press for twenty minutes, outlining his approach for the season and the team dynamic. 

“I have never had 14 players like this,” Pitino said. He spoke about how these players are some of the best players he has worked with in his career.

I message them five or six times a night and they all always message me back.”

In this year’s preseason AP poll, the Red Storm received 47 votes. Pitino credits big names including Jordan Dingle, Joel Soriano and Daniss Jenkins for those votes. As Pitino said, it is all about the speculation on how well this team will mesh on the floor. 

“You will know Saturday if those votes are warranted or not,” Pitino stated. 

Freshman Brady Dunlap talked about how he plans on staying healthy this season after already facing some pre-season injuries including a sprained ankle that kept him out of the open practice held at the beginning of the month. 

“Taking care of my body,” Dunlap said. “The guys get treatment all the time, hitting the cold tubes and hot tubes. They take care of themselves.”

The Torch spoke with key addition Chris Ledlum, the Harvard graduate returning home to New York City. The guard describes this year’s team as “special” and looks forward to playing games in arenas like Madison Square Garden, UBS Arena and Barclays Center. 

“Being a kid from New York, you dream about playing on those stages,” Ledlum said. 

Freshman guard Simeon Wilcher feels the same. “It doesn’t get any better than that; having a chance to play at the Mecca of basketball,” Wilcher said. “If you want to put your name out there, playing in those arenas is the best place to do it.” 

The Men’s team hosted an open practice following the event.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

After leading the nation in double-doubles, being named the Big East’s Most Improved Player and being a part of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Kareem Abdul-Jabbar semi-finalist, senior center and team captain Joel Soriano has an extra level of pressure this season. 

“I’m just trying to meet expectations and be better than I was last year,” Soriano said. 

Regarding Saturday’s exhibition game against Rutgers, Soriano told The Torch that he’s ready for the team’s first “big test” and he’s excited for everyone to see this year’s team. 

The men kick off their season this Saturday at 2 p.m. against Rutgers for an exhibition game raising money for Pediatric cancer. After this, the men have their home opener game on Nov. 7 against Stony Brook at 7 p.m.

View Comments (1)
Donate to The Torch
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of St. John's University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Sara Kiernan
Sara Kiernan, Sports & Photo Editor
Sara is a senior journalism student serving as the Sports Editor & Photo Editor. She is minoring in government and politics and is a sister of Phi Sigma Sigma's epsilon omicron chapter. She has been able to take photos at some amazing places including the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden. If she is not taking photos on the court or writing, she has an iced coffee in hand with friends, walking around the city or watching any sports game that is on! LETS GO YANKEES!  Sara can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected] 

Donate to The Torch
Our Goal

Comments (1)

We love comments and feedback, but we ask that you please be respectful in your responses.
All The Torch Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • P

    Phil KonigsbergOct 18, 2023 at 4:50 pm

    While we’re less than 72 hours for the start of St. John’s mens basketball season (exhibition against RU) and the excitement is building for all the players and fans, I’m sure the excitement is building for the Torch sports staff for a season unlike any other season in more than a decade. Take it all in. It’s going to be memorable…from a former Torch Sports Editor.