Life After Kia

Lately, I’ve heard more than a few Johnnies fans question the future of the women’s basketball team. And with the Red Storm coming off a disappointing 8-20 record in 2006-07, their fears seem justified.

But perhaps most worrisome for St. John’s fans is next year’s departure of Kia Wright. The current senior has been one of the most dominant players in the Big East, and by far one of SJU’s best team leaders. Despite facing various injuries over the last four years, she has still led St. John’s both on and off the court.

For example, despite only playing in 22 of 30 games last season, Wright led the Big East in assists and averaged a stellar 14 points per game. And as a sophomore, Wright led the team in points and cracked the Big East top-10 in both assists and steals.
But what will happen to the Red Storm after Wright graduates?

Luckily, the future of St. John’s women’s basketball looks bright. Although Wright will be gone next year, there have been more than a few underclassmen that have stepped up their game in the last year and proven that they have what it takes to lead.

Junior guard Monique McLean emerged last year as one of the Storm’s obvious go-to players, scoring double-digits in all but two of the 26 games she played in. Already McLean looks hot in the 2007-08 season, racking up a game-high 21 points in the season opener against Army.

Fellow junior Kelly McManmon has also been registering some big numbers. The 5-foot-10 guard, who transferred from Indiana University, had to sit out the 2006-07 season to fulfill NCAA transfer requirements. But despite only playing a few games so far this season, she seems poised to be one of the team’s biggest threats, as she scored 13 points against NC State, and 16 during a home game against Dartmouth. She also brought down a team-high nine rebounds during a loss to Vermont, proving she can contribute on both ends of the court.

But the underclassmen have also been posting big numbers for the Johnnies, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Sophomore forward Recee Mitchell posted a game-high 10 boards in the Storm’s win over Dartmouth, while fellow sophomore Joy McCorvey grabbed eight. McCorvey also scored in double digits.

Meanwhile, the shining star of the freshmen recruits has been pulling her weight.

Freshman Sky Lindsay has already proven that she can be an effective offensive threat, scoring a team-high 22 points in an exhibition game against former professional and collegiate women’s all stars.

“Skye is doing a real nice job for us,” said head coach Kim Barnes Arico. “We expect her to get a lot of playing time for us both at the point guard position and at the two-guard spot.”

Lindsay is one of three freshmen on the team that Arico seems more than pleased with. “We were in the mix this year with a lot of young ladies that are in the mix with top-10 programs,” she said. “Five or six years ago that never was the case.”

Although the women’s basketball team has only played a few season games so far, it has shown a lot of promise. And with Wright currently playing limited minutes due to a continued injury, the underclassmen and emerging juniors have done a great job stepping up and leading on the court.

Wright has been a tremendous leader for St. John’s, but she can’t be with the team forever. Luckily, she has helped to set up a strong foundation by leading SJU’s younger recruits. And with players like Lindsay, Mitchell, and McLean all looking good already in the 2007-08 season, the future for St. John’s women’s basketball seems brighter than ever.