St. John’s women’s basketball has found its newest star, and luckily for the Red Storm and their fans, she’s only 18 years old. Freshman forward Da’Shena Stevens has been thrown right into the fire by head coach Kim Barnes Arico, and Stevens hasn’t missed a beat.
Now with the indefinite suspension of senior scoring leader Monique McLean for a violation of the student athlete code of conduct, Stevens has been slotted into a feature role.
“I myself just need to take it one game at a time,” said Stevens. “If things aren’t going my way in one aspect of the game I can pick it up on the other. I just think that’s important for me to stay into the game mentally and do the little things that I can to help the team win.”
Stevens, a Stamford, Conn. native had the best game of her young career two weeks ago when she scored a career-high 27 points to go along with nine rebounds against UConn, the No. 1 ranked team in women’s college basketball.
“I was just relaxing, at the same time just playing it like it was another game,” Stevens said about her performance against UConn.
Although it wasn’t just another game, it was the toughest opponent the Red Storm had seen all season, and most likely the toughest they’ll see year long.
While other members of the Red Storm struggled against the relentless Huskies, Stevens shined the brightest with her game-high 27 points. Not thinking about playing against her home state, Steven’s cell phone was ringing like crazy after her break out performance.
“It was on T.V. back in Connecticut so a lot of my friends called me and texted me and stuff,” said Stevens.
Standing at 15-11 overall this season, much of the Red Storm’s success can be credited to the emergence of theirfantastic freshman.
Stevens is second on the team averaging 11.4 points per game and leads them with 6.7 rebounds per game. Those numbers as well as her recent play has garnered Big East freshman of the year attention.
“After seeing her today I don’t know how she can’t be freshman of the year in the Big East,” Barnes Arico said about Stevens after her performance against Connecticut.
As it has been a goal from the beginning of the season, Stevens admits being Big East freshman of the year is something that has crossed her mind.
“It’s something I think about,” said Stevens. “It’s definitely a goal, I came her for the opportunity to play and I’ve been doing good so it’s definitely a goal I think about, but at the same time you can’t think about it too much because it becomes a pressure.”
The verdict isn’t out yet for who will win the honor of Big East freshman of the year, but Stevens is definitely St. John’s freshman of the year, as well as one of the best first-year players the Red Storm have seen in quite some time.
Not only does she lead the Red Storm freshmen in points and rebounds per game, but she leads all Big East freshmen as well. Her points per game average as a freshman is four points better than current Red Storm scoring leader Monique Mclean’s was when she was a St. John’s freshman.
In fact, you have to go back to the 2003-04 season to find a true St. John’s freshman who averaged more points per game in their first year than her. Angela Clark average 12.1 points in her rookie season, which was tops for Big East freshman.
With three more games remaining before the Red Storm take on the conference’s best in Hartford, Conn. for the Big East Tournament, Stevens is hoping to finish her dynamic freshman season with a bang.
“As a team we could just finish out strong and just look forward,” she said. “As a player there is a lot of stuff I could improve on and come back and bring more to the team that I already have.”