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 Women’s Basketball 2023-2024 Starters Spotlight

Projecting the starting line-up for the new Red Storm roster.

With the St. John’s Women’s Basketball 2023-2024 season approaching, head coach Joe Tartamella and his new squad of players will be gearing up for the chance at another NCAA tournament run. With a roster complete with four transfers, four freshmen and four returners, the Johnnies’ lineup will look a little different this season. In charge of this team of fresh faces will be captains Unique Drake and Jillian Archer. Here is what Tartamella’s starting five could look like ahead of their home opener against Long Island University on Nov. 6. 

Unique Drake, Guard, Redshirt Sr.

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

Captain Unique Drake, from Columbia, SC will lead the charge for St. John’s this season. As the most tenured player on Tartamella’s roster standing at five-foot-seven, she controls the floor with her shooting ability and creates opportunities for her teammates underneath the basket. 

She was named the 2022-23 Big East Sixth Woman of the Year last season after appearing in all 32 games and averaging 25.4 minutes per game. She also led all bench players in the Big East with 8.6 points per game

Her role at St. John’s has fluctuated as the tides have changed. In her 2020-21 sophomore season, Drake started all 23 games for the Johnnies, averaging 9.6 points per game. After Tartamella brought in a strong line-up of graduate transfers last year, Drake’s assets were best suited as the team’s sixth man. This year, Tartamella plans to make her a “mainstayer” out on the floor. Look for her to be a dynamic guard at the top, and a vocal leader on and off of the floor. 

WNBA player comparison:  Dana Evans 

Jillian Archer, Forward, Gr. 

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

Jillian Archer has added on to her impressive collegiate career since her arrival to St. John’s last season as a graduate transfer from Georgetown. She is no stranger to the grit and toughness of the Big East and suits Tartamella’s coaching style very well. 

She started in 31 of 32 games for the Johnnies last season, averaging 7.7 rebounds and shooting 50.9 percent from the field. At six-foot-two, Archer brings a physicality to the boards for St. John’s in rebounds and connecting on key plays. Notably, she grabbed her 500th career rebound against Seton Hall last season on Jan. 31. 

Recently named co-captain of the team alongside Unique Drake, Archer will serve as a vocal leader for the young rostered Johnnies. A fresh young team could allow for St. John’s to play a much more fast-paced game this year. Look for Archer to be a steady leader and control the boards and pace of play for the Red Storm moving forward. 

WNBA player comparison: DeWanna Bonner 

Amber Brown, Forward, Gr. 

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

Amber Brown, graduate transfer from the University of Pittsburgh, was a stellar acquisition in Tartamella’s off-season. The six foot forward from Monroe, LA played for four years at Pitt, starting all 110 games of her career. Along with having great control on the boards, and recording 680 career rebounds at Pitt, she is nothing short of consistent at the line. Last season, she shot 74.8% from the free-throw line and 45.6% from the floor.

As a fifth-year player she adds age to the young Johnnies roster, and increases the depth of their line-up. Brown is a key performer who had experience playing at a high level of college basketball in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for four years. She will become a huge asset on the floor in terms of spacing and controlling the high-energy pace of St. John’s basketball. Look for her to hit the ground running at St. John’s and carry them to another tournament run.

WNBA player comparison: Satou Sabally

Skye Owen, Guard, So.

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

Skye Owen has not yet made her mark on St. John’s. The five-foot-seven sophomore from Staten Island saw action in 13 games of the 2022-23 season. Overall, she averaged 3.3 minutes of play, but shot 26.3% from the field. 

Despite not playing much last season, her ability to space the floor and play-make could open up many opportunities for the Johnnies. In high school, she was named to the All-New York City First Team and was a McDonald’s All-American nominee in her senior year. She serves as a high energy player able to learn from the many different styles of play from last year’s team. With a wide open line-up ahead of her, Owen has the opportunity to showcase her talent on the floor more and become a true asset for the Johnnies this season. 

WNBA player comparison: Leilani Mitchell

Tara Daye, Guard, So.

Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

Tara Daye is another St. John’s player with prior Big East experience. The five-foot-ten sophomore from Newark, NJ played for the DePaul Blue Demons in the 2022-23 season last year. She appeared in 27 games for Depaul, making one start and averaging 11.8 minutes on the floor. She is a controlled shooter on the floor, shooting 42.3% last year. She also earned Big East Freshman of the Week on Feb. 6 after recording a season high of 10 points against Creighton. 

Although she is only a sophomore, Daye brings experience to the floor for St. John’s. Consistency is a key part of Daye’s style of play, as she completed 60% from the free-throw line last season. Alongside Owen she will become a great facilitator for Archer and Brown underneath the basket. Look for Daye to bring more depth and athleticism to the Johnnies starting five and balance out a gritty team with her strong offensive presence. 

WNBA player comparison: DiJonai Carrington

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About the Contributor
Isabella Cautero, Asst. Sports Editor
Isabella is a junior journalism student serving as an Assistant Sports Editor. She is minoring in sport management. Outside of The Torch, she likes to spend time with her friends, read, go to the gym, play with her dog and watch the New York Yankees or Rangers play. On any given day you can find her listening to her favorite artists, Taylor Swift and Harry Styles. 

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    ACNov 6, 2023 at 2:39 am

    Let the games begin, good luck Ladies!!!