Kia: This year’s team is better than one from ’06

Before the postgame press conference about their victory against No. 4 Notre Dame last night, women’s basketball Head Coach Kim Barnes Arico was already asked a question she knew was unavoidable.

Kia Wright, the star of the 2006 NCAA team, was in attendance, and asked her former coach, “How does this team compare to the
NCAA team?”

With the team up to their greatest start in school history, 21-5, it’s now a fair question.

In the midst of their toughest stretch of the season, the Red Storm have aced every test. Along with last night’s win against the Irish, St. John’s crushed last year’s National runner-up Louisville by 35 and only lost to No. 1 Connecticut by 14, the smallest margin of victory for the Huskies all season.

“The team is always surprising me,” Barnes Arico said.

Barnes Arico said there are
two main reasons for the Red
Storm’s resurgence: their improvement on defense.

During their first postgame press conference of the year, Barnes
Arico bluntly stated her team was the worst defensive team in the country. Last week against Louisville, the team forced 31 turnovers. The Red Storm also held UConn to a season-low 66 points and 39 percent field
goal percentage.

“We have come a long way,” Barnes Arico said. “That’s something we focus on all of the time. It’s something the kids really
buy into all of the time.”

According to Barnes Arico, freshman Shenneika Smith has made the greatest strides. Having been criticized about her defense earlier in the year, Barnes Arico now typically puts the 6-foot-1 guard against the opposing team’s toughest offensive weapon from the perimeter. Smith held Notre Dame’s leading scorer Skylar Diggins to two first half points.

Yet Barnes Arico told Wright the reason why she believes Wright’s team was better than this year’s team was the experience at the point guard position.

“I said I still have a tough time telling people that our group now is better than that group because of
the experience that group had,” Barnes Arico said.

Wright disagreed.

“No question your team now would beat our team.”

After last night’s performance, no one could blame her for that answer.