Getting the stamp of approval from President Barack Obama, beating Connecticut in Storrs and finishing second in the Big East regular-season standings means nothing to the St. John's women's basketball team, now.
After three days of shocking upsets in the men's NCAA Tournament, everyone, including the Red Storm, knows one bad game can end a season.
Third-seeded St. John's (22-9) takes on No. 14 Creighton (20-12) in a first-round Fresno Regional game Sunday at 5:05 p.m. in Norman, Okla.
"We've learned that the tournament is a new season. The regular season is over and it's the postseason now," said senior forward Da'Shena Stevens. "Any game you can lose and any game can be your last game so you just have to leave it all out on the floor. With every experience we've gotten better and we're ready for anything."
Stevens' businesslike attitude notwithstanding, hearing Obama pick St. John's as his dark horse had to be gratifying.
"It was a great feeling to be recognized by the head of state," said Shenneika Smith. "We are going to try to make his bracket up to par and just go out and play hard. No extra pressure."
It's the third straight tournament appearance for the Red Storm and fourth berth in seven years. It's also St. John's highest seeding in program history.
St. John's has been sparked by a balanced offense this season with Smith averaging 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds, complemented by Nadirah McKenith (12.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists), North Babylon's Eugeneia McPherson (11.8 points) and Stevens (11.0 points, 6.1 rebounds).
The Red Storm also has received spirited play from freshman forward Amber Thompson (6.2 points, 6.0 rebounds), sophomore forward Mary Nwachukwu and backup point guard Keylantra Langley.
It's going to take a team effort to stop Creighton, according to St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico: "I know they're a really disciplined team and they shoot the ball extremely well," she said. "They have two big time scorers in Sarah Nelson and Carli Tritz. They're very crafty, they're smart, and they know how to play."
Tritz (14.5) led Creighton, the Missouri Valley tournament champ, in scoring.