St. John's women looking beyond Sweet 16

St. John's guard Eugeneia McPherson (22) shoots in St. John's guard Eugeneia McPherson (22) shoots in the first half of an NCAA tournament first-round women's college basketball game against Creighton. (March 18, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Making the NCAA's Sweet 16 last season was not enough for the women's basketball team at St. John's. The players have even greater expectations -- and a new coach who embraces those goals.

"I think we all view it as unfinished business,'' senior guard Eugeneia McPherson of North Babylon said. "We're making St. John's history, but we're not happy with the Sweet 16. We want to get to the Elite Eight and eventually the Final Four.''

First-year coach Joe Tartamella is no stranger to the program. He assisted Kim Barnes-Arico for seven years, rising to associate head coach in 2008, and was the no-brainer choice to succeed her when she left for Michigan.

"He was Kim's right-hand person in so many ways,'' athletic director Chris Monasch said. "Strategically, running the game and recruiting, so he really saw the growth of this program from all sides over the years. He knows what works here. At the end of the day, he was the obvious choice.''

Last year's breakthrough season (24-10) included a victory at Connecticut, the Huskies' first loss at home in 99 games. "That was amazing, that was incredible beating UConn, and it just wasn't for St. John's,'' senior guard Shenneika Smith said. "It was for everyone. Not a lot of people have the chance to beat them . . . People look to beat us now. We were the ones looking to beat everybody else. We have some fame and some credibility and some light shining on this program.''