Tina Sten

A star in her home country of Finland, sophomore Tina Sten continues to shine both in her homeland and here in the United States for the Red Storm.

The 6-foot-1 guard/forward was happy with last season’s campaign, but is optimistic that the team will have an even brighter 2005-2006.

“We only lost a couple of players and all the starters are still here,” Sten said. “We’re going to have a good year.”

Her confidence stems from a fantastic off-season in which she played for the women’s national team in Finland.

“I had a good summer,” Sten said. “I went back home to Europe, practicing with the best players in my country and working on my weaknesses.

“I played with the national team of my age group (under 20 years old) and I played really well. After that, they took me to play with the women’s national team – like the Olympic team – and I was with them for the rest of the summer, so it was great.”

Added St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico: “She has played for her women’s national team, which was a great honor for her. After playing all summer, she came back in great shape and we’re looking for her to be more physical and aggressive.”

The transition from Finnish basketball star to St. John’s recruit was not an easy one, however.

When asked about how she decided to come to St. John’s, Sten replied with a laugh: “I don’t even know how it all started.”

“In Finland, basketball is not the big thing, so if you want to really become a better player, you have to leave the country at some point,” Sten continued. “When I got the opportunity to come here, it was the only thing to do. I heard about St. John’s and knew it was a good school and basketball-wise, it’s amazing.”

Sten believes the competition is the biggest difference between the two countries.

“Here, you really have to practice and work hard,” she said. “Back home, I was the star player and didn’t have to face [tough competition], but here, practice is even harder then the games. My coach is pushing me every day and she makes me really practice and do things right.”

Sten has become well-adjusted in her time here, even playing in the Big East Tournament as a freshman.

One of the things Sten most enjoys, however, is the company of her teammates.

“We have fun with each other, but when we play, we play seriously,” Sten said. “If somebody has a problem, on or off the court, there’s always people helping that girl out.”

Sten is happy with the outlook the women have and is hoping to contribute to an even better season this year.

“We just want to improve on last year,” Sten said. “I don’t think it makes sense to say we need to have this amount of wins, we just need to play as well as we are capable. I think the results are getting better, better then last year it seems.”