St. John's didn't have to look very far for its new women's basketball leader.
On Friday morning, the Red Storm announced Joe Tartamella as its replacement to run the women's basketball program at a press conference held on the Queens campus. Tartamella, who has served as a coach on the Johnnies' staff for nine years, is receiving his first chance as a head coach.
Tartamella started as a graduate assistant at St. John's in 2002 after graduating from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 2001. Nine years later, he finds himself taking over for his superior of nearly a decade, Kim Barnes Arico, who accepted the head coaching job at the University of Michigan last week after a decade in Queens.
A week ago, we profiled Barnes Arico and highlighted the incredible job she has done with the St. John's women's program since 2002. She had inherited a team with limited history and awareness, and turned it into one of the highest regarded programs in the Big East.
Joe Tartamella has been as instrumental to the revival as anyone else, serving as an assistant for six years until he was promoted to associate head coach in 2008. A skillful scout and game planner, Tartamella knows this program better than anyone that the Red Storm considered to replace Barnes Arico.
"It has been a dream come true for me to accept the opportunity St. John's has offered," Tartamella mentioned. "I am excited and grateful to be able to make my start as head coach at such a tradition-filled and successful program."
The Red Storm will return six of its top seven scorers from 2011-12 (79% of scoring), certainly leaving them in position for success in Tartamella's first campaign. The team defeated Oklahoma in Norman, OK to advance to its first regional semifinal in program history last month.
Tartamella has not yet been a head coach, but his knowledge of the University and the conference's landscape puts him ahead of the usual learning curve. The transition from Barnes Arico to Tartamella will undoubtedly be a relatively pain-free process for the Johnnies.
"He has been an integral part of the evolution of our program to national prominence," said Athletics Director Chris Monasch. "Along with many others in the women's basketball world, we see Joe as a rising star and strongly believe he will maintain and build on the success of recent years."