Sunday, November 19, 2017

November 19th, 2017: Temple at Iona

Just the Facts, Ma’am: In a defensive struggle, it was the Temple Owls who came out on top, 59-54, to spoil Iona’s home opener. Tanaya Atkinson had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead Temple. Treyanna Clay’s 16 points led Iona.

For fundamentals, mechanical issues, short benches, long minutes, discount tickets, and defensive struggles, join your intrepid blogger after the jump.

Tomorrow I get to pass out. I tell myself this so I can survive the rest of the day. Being sick during basketball season is the opposite of fun. Today is opening day at Iona, as the Gaels host the Temple Owls.

Facilities folks are off to a slow start; concession stand is late opening, they’re short on scanners, and tickets didn’t start printing until after the doors opened. On the other hand, marketing is being proactive in making sure everyone has their posters and schedule magnets, and there’s even a souvenir stand set up in the lobby. Buy the shirt! Buy the shirt! (I might actually buy a scarf, if thie prices are reasonable.)

Someone is on crutches for Temple. I can’t see who, though. I’m guessing Alliyah Butts?

One of the Gaels knelt for the anthem. I think it was Ashley Martin, but I’m not sure. New favorite person on the team.

Well, the game hasn’t been a thing of beauty and a joy forever, but we’re up at the half on Temple, 22-19. The first quarter was 8-2, I think I reserve the right to make as many snarky remarks about the scoring as I want. Alexis Lewis has all the rebounds.

I forgot how rowdy the Iona crowd could get, even when there aren’t a lot of people and even without Damika’s family around.

Dance team has new uniforms. I approve.

Well, that game was a thing that happened. I don’t think either team should be particularly satisfied with it. Iona choked, but Temple had to come back from down 11 to a MAAC team that isn’t exactly great shakes. There was a lot of good defense played. There were a lot of good shots missed. It was not pretty, but there were a couple of moments when you could see how pretty it could be.

I thought Lena Niang brought an interesting dimension to Temple on both sides of the floor, but she made a critical mistake on defense that I think led to a three-point play, or some other golden opportunity for Iona. Coach Cardoza pulled her out, gave her a Teaching Moment, and that was the last we saw of her. Shannen Atkinson gave them good height and length, and teamed well with Tanaya Atkinson on defense. (I don’t know if they’re related. I should look that up.) Deja Reynolds had good reason to play angry after the elbow to her throat wasn’t called, and after that play she made her feelings about the officiating clear at every reasonable opportunity.

And then we come to the two shooters, the ones whose scoring and stroke in the second half was a good portion of how Temple made it all the way back. Emani Mayo’s three-point shot was smooth as silk, and she did a good job of getting open. Desiree Oliver was more about the midrange game, but I was more surprised (pleasantly in the basketball fan sense, unpleasantly in that she is doing it to my team) by her shot- for a player as stocky as she is, she moves very well and surprisingly quickly- she had a really nice steal and lay-up. That’s a nice pair of freshmen to build on.

I don’t know what the deal was with Mykia Jones starting and then promptly going to the bench. She wasn’t particularly anything, but it’s usually pretty hard to be particularly anything in two minutes. Tanaya Atkinson had herself a day- she came up with a lot of big baskets and big offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter. She was quick and opportunistic on defense. I was very impressed with her. Khadijah Berger’s one basket came in the fourth quarter, as part of the run that put Iona away. She brought defense. (Candor compels me to admit I’m intensely curious about the combination of a traditionally Muslim first and middle name with a last name that’s more often found in German Jews. Names are fascinating.)

Getting Mia Davis in foul trouble early was a big advantage for Iona. When she was in the game, she was able to score at the basket and protect the rim. Having her off the floor forced Temple to go smaller, which sort of worked out for them in the long run, but in the short run it allowed Iona’s forwards to make plays at the rim. (It would have helped if we could hit them. But we’ll get to that.) Breanna Perry had some looks, but kept throwing them up wildly. She had a couple of exchanges with teammates wherein one of them would miss the shot and another would miss the putback from the other side of the basket. Occasionally they would repeat this process.

I think this is going to be a rebuilding year for Temple, but I can see the foundation that Cardoza is building. If she can keep them all- and these days, that’s a tall task for any coach- this is going to be a very solid AAC team in the next couple of years.

Ashley Martin’s brief cameo was for the sole and express purpose of making sure neither Alexis Lewis nor Treyanna Clay picked up an extra foul. It was bad enough when Trey was going after the intentional foul when she had three, we didn’t need her doing something stupid like fouling out. Jayden Eggleston was mostly in as a stopgap- she stepped in when Trey was injured, and when we needed a spare set of fouls at the end of the game. Tilasha Okey-Williams had a stretch in the second half when we tried to go a little bit bigger and counter Temple that way in the paint. I think she needed to be a little more assertive on the floor. Rebekah Justice is a big girl. The pass to get her the assist was a nice enough pass, but it was a good look for her as well, so I’m not sure how I feel about the play. Amelia Motz was our primary option off the bench, and while I like her hustle and her scrappiness, she can be a liability on offense. I like her, but she’s got to work on her shot, either the mechanics of it or her willingness to put it up.

So, the freshmen. We have two of them starting, at least for the moment. Adrienne DiGioia has her jitters (the husband called them “the freshman OMGs” and I think I like that turn of phrase) but she shows promise as a steadying guard. I don’t think she’s ready to start, but our options are limited. (Gosh. It’s like you had a competent guard with a nice three-point shot who would have been a senior leader on the floor, Billie. Oh, yes, we’re going to fight about Phee all season.) Toyosi Abiola has a lot of raw talent and seems to be ahead of the curve in terms of conditioning for a freshman. She’s got to work on her ballhandling and the mechanics of her shot, but I love what she might turn out to be. (When she’s a senior, do we have to spell out the defense chant with a C?)

Alexis Lewis, I am shaking my head at you right now. You can’t see it, because you’re in New Rochelle and I’m not, but I’m shaking my head so hard. She had so many missed shots right at the rim in the first half that were wild off the rim, or the glass, or all-in-all not completely thought all the way through. I love the high arc of her three-pointer, and her never-say-die attitude towards rebounding, but she has to be more offensively consistent if she wants to succeed beyond this level. (I mean, okay, if she had better mechanics, she probably wouldn’t be in the MAAC.) Tori Lesko took more charges than I could count- three or four at least, not including the ones that were called blocks, or not called at all. I’d like her to be more willing and more able to shoot, but I think that can be learned; everything she’s shown indicates that she works hard, and if she puts her mind to it she should be able to do something about her offense. Her rebounding and defense are already there, and so is her vocal leadership on the floor. Ditto on that last for Treyanna Clay, who made sure that Adrienne was in position on defense more than once. She was the focal point of Temple’s defensive plan, and she too often chose to try to pass out of the trap, with dubious results. When she went up, she got buckets. I’d like to see her do that more.

Coach Chambers (it’s going to take a while to get used to calling her that) took every opportunity to pull her team aside to talk to them, whether it was during the first of two free throws, a stoppage to get some kind of biohazard off the floor, or a clock review. I love that communication.

(I also love the two bench players getting the defense chant started with the quickness. Still haven’t proven themselves worthy of 14 and 24, but they seem to have their heads on right, anyway.)

We got the benefit of the doubt on pretty much all the calls in the first half, even if the people around us immediately assumed any call on the Gaels was a terrible call and a sin. Things evened out a bit more in the second half. I still can’t believe Amelia didn’t get hit with a foul for that elbow, though.

Props to the video guy for putting together an intro video with footage from the two away games that opened the season. (Though one wonders if they had to pull one together in a hurry... yes, I’m petty, yes, I’m salty.)

It’s early in the season for both teams. I’m not sure what they’ve learned. I’m pretty sure Iona needs to bring in an assistant who specializes in fundamentals, though. I’m looking forward to the next game.

Read More...

Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 17th, 2017: William & Mary at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma’am: Five players scored in double figures in the Red Storm’s 92-81 win over the Tribe of William & Mary. Qadashah Hoppie and Akina Wellere each had 21 to lead St. John’s. Abby Rendle led all scorers with 22 in the losing cause.

For volleyball, communication breakdowns, lots of false advertising, musical taste, pizza pizza, and a surprising amount of kvetching for a win, join your intrepid and sick blogger after the jump.

Good afternoon, loyal, or perhaps just masochistic, readers! Your intrepid blogger comes to you live and in stereophonic sound from Carnesecca Arena for an atypical double-header. Fortunately, I know diddly-squat about volleyball, so you’ll be saved from full-fledged GNoD about the match between St. John’s and Xavier, but that doesn’t mean you’re not going to start out with at least a few bits and pieces.

There’s no security or ticket-taking or anything for volleyball. If I’d known that, I would have smuggled in some sandwiches or something. Or, at the very least, not prepared to go through the metal detectors. We’re at less than eight minutes to go before the match starts, and I’m literally the only person on the bleacher side of the arena. I’m not quite in my usual spot, though, because the volleyball benches seem to be the same as the men’s benches, and I feel like it’s rude to sit across from the opposing bench.

I find the exchange of warm-up time to be fascinating. I guess setting up two nets and having each team playing essentially halfcourt would be impractical. Everyone seems to go for five to ten minutes, then rotate to let the other team have their turn, and then they chill on the bench while the opponent practices, and I wonder how much you can learn from that.

The shorts really are short. The Under Armour shorts seem to be tighter than the Nike shorts.

Huh. Volleyball has a different PA guy. I mean, unless the regular basketball guy is out and this guy’s the sub.

Oh, cool. Volleyball has an intro video too. I wasn’t sure if that was a thing in volleyball. During intros, the players throw what I’m guessing are stuffed or inflatable mini-volleyballs into the stands.

And they get “Thunderstruck” too! Well, that just makes sense.

Game’s about to start- see you in a couple of hours!

Heartbreaker of a match- Xavier took it in five sets. Now I get to watch Carnesecca being set up for a basketball game and deconstructed from a volleyball match, which is sort of interesting as long as they don’t kick me out.

Volleyball is a game of chaos and misdirection, and there are times when it can be glorious. I still don’t understand all the stats.

The players stretch after the game, which I thought was kind of interesting.

Not to say facilities are a bit limited, but I went to the bathroom between sets and almost got run over by Danisha Moss on my way out. (Shoutout to the dude who gave me the extra big cup for my ice cream.)

Okay, St. John’s, we need to have a discussion of what the word “doubleheader” means. And what start times are. And what 43 degrees and windy means. If you make the exceptionally stupid decision to have a free event to start a doubleheader, and the even stupider decision not to engage security or printed tickets for said event, you have to live with the consequences of that decision. You don’t get to advertise it as a double-header and then kick people out into the cold after the volleyball match. That is not cool. Whoever decided to run this as a doubleheader made a bad decision; whoever decided to clear the arena between events should be roasted over an open fire. Why should people who chose to take full advantage of their ticket be penalized?

Also, quelle surprise: the schedule magnets that are supposed to be today’s in-game giveaway weren’t ready when the gates opened half an hour before tip. Which is, y’know, half an hour late. But, hey, you can get a men’s basketball poster! Or a volleyball

And oh, hey, let’s not open the concession stand! Because the concession stand in the main lobby is open! On the other side of the guys with the ticket scanners, so if you’ve already scanned your ticket, well, we didn’t want to take any more of your money than necessary.

The free food from the volleyball game seems to have had maybe a 20% retention rate among the students, and even that I’m not sure about. So, well done: y’all took the students out of the stands for the fifth set, when volleyball could have used them, and still couldn’t keep them for basketball.

I swear, if it weren’t for the fact that I love these kids and my band family, I’d dump St. John’s like the bad habit that it is. But Sox would be disappointed and the kids are sweet. So I stick with this clown show.

Band has moved into the student section in the endcourt. I guess they figured they might as well use it if the students weren’t actually going to show their asses up.

I see you rocking that bowtie, Shenneika. Cute socks, too.

Yes, it is time for basketball, and as I type these words here come both St. John’s and William & Mary.

I said it’s time for basketball. Clearly St. John’s missed the memo. It’s 36-35 William & Mary at halftime. Our defense is there, and pressing, but we really don’t have an answer for the height of Abby Rendle and we can’t hit the broad side of a barn. I think someone put a lid on the basket, so maybe switching sides will help.

Ashley Taylor for the Tribe has really flashy kicks, green with metallic gold highlights. So does Nari Garner, and I could have sworn she had different shoes in the first half.

That was way closer than it should have been. We’ve got to do better on ball security. We got sloppy in the fourth quarter, and William & Mary brought the press. We should have been ready for them, and we weren’t. I think we took them too lightly.

Nari Garner got off a couple of good long range jumpers, and I’m pretty sure those flashy kicks of hers served as a distraction on one inbounds play. Chandler Smith played a super short time in the first half- big body, I’m surprised she doesn’t see more time backing up Rendle. Misha Jones was the unwitting, or at least unwilling, instigator of a sequence that helped St. John’s answer the Tribe’s run: she committed two fouls on and-1 plays, the second on the rebound from the missed free throw on the first. Libby Underwood was reasonably quick and had a nice-looking shot. Gabby Rogers had a big block in the second quarter, but I forgot to record who she did it on, mea culpa.

There’s something I like, or at least find compelling, about Bianca Boggs, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. She did have the big block on Andrayah Adams, but I think I noticed her most spearheading the pressure in the fourth quarter, forcing those turnovers right under the basket for easy, easy baskets. I found her lanky frame eye-catching, for whatever reason. Nyla Pollard should have been more careful with that forearm, even if I have to admit that was a pretty bad acting job from Maya Singleton. She seemed awfully fond of the floater in the lane, even when it was not the best shot for the occasion. Jenna Green did a nice job of penetrating the lane for midrange shots, especially in the fourth quarter.

Abby Rendle did a great job of making herself a target down low. She boxed out well, and was able to use her height to great advantage against the shorter St. John’s posts. She’s not the greatest rebounder, but she was able to help her teammates control the glass. I don’t know if anyone in the CAA has the height, or the defensive skill, to properly stop her. Victoria Reynolds grabbed the rebounds that were thence made available to her. Like many of her teammates, she had a big block, this one on Alisha Kebbe. She did a lot of work on offense in the fourth quarter, picking up the loose balls off the press.

I could do without some of the yelling and theatrics from the Tribe’s coach, but I’ve dealt with worse.

Kayla Charles played a couple of minutes in the first half, did nothing with them, and looked lost on defense. I can’t say I’m surprised Coach didn’t go to her in the second half, though I wonder what he would have done if Imani had fouled out after Maya fouled out. Alisha Kebbe was first off the bench in the first half and got the second half start. I don’t know if she didn’t start because of some kind of disciplinary thing, or if Joe wanted to reward the hot hand from last game, or if he’s trying things out. It doesn’t seem to be working as well as he would like, though she did pull off the alley-oop catch-and-shoot-and-score (not quite as spectacular as the Jewelly-oop, but still pretty awesome to watch). Qadashah Hoppie had herself a night, hitting threes at dramatic moments, finishing through contact, and just generally being awesome. I’m starting to believe the hype. I know there’s a wall, and she’s going to hit it one of these days, whether it’s because the grind gets to her or because teams cotton on to her existence, but I’m going to enjoy Q doing awesome things while I can. (Today’s edition of Qadashah admiration includes her footwork- she’s always up, almost never back on her heels.)

I still don’t think Akina Wellere is ready to be the focal point of the offense, or at least the opposing defensive scheme. She got caught under the basket one too many times and coughed up the ball. She showed signs of offensive life in the third quarter, when she was more assertive and went to the basket more. Andrayah Adams had the three-ball going when she was left open, and I do agree with Akina passing up the open two to give her the look from three, but her defense wasn’t up to par, so I understand why Joe benched her to start the second half. I don’t know if the stall-ball problem is with Joe or with Tiana England, but watching our point guard pound the ball into the ground for ten seconds (or literally holding it under her arm, on one possession) is not my idea of a good time. One or two more shots going down for William & Mary, or one less good defensive stand, and milking the clock goes sour in a hurry. I understand nursing a lead, especially with as short a roster as we have chosen to go with and as limited a rotation as Joe has chosen to use, but there is such a thing as taking it too far. I’d like to see Tiana be more confident in her shot, and I’d like to see her put it up somewhat earlier in the clock.

Speaking of a perceived lack of confidence, I’m starting to worry a bit about Imani Littleton. She was never the most potent of offensive weapons, but whatever ability to put the ball in the basket whenever she is close to said basket seems to have eroded during the rehab from her ACL. She’s just throwing it up there, with no rhyme or reason to it. When those first couple of shots don’t go down, it takes a lot for her to be willing to start shooting again, which results in her making passes. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, and I think a good defense will ensure that they get picked off more often than they turn into assists. It’s always seemed like there was a lot going on inside her head, and it’s hard to really get in there, but I think the knee injury shook her more than she might want to admit. Maya Singleton appears to have been an attendee at the Seventh Avenue Block Party; she’s picked up a lot of Kiah Stokes’s shot-blocking style. This is a good thing. She was fantastic. I’m really bummed we only get her this final year; I would have loved to get to root for her four full years. I love her fierce rebounding and I love her shot-blocking.

I couldn’t yell as much as I wanted at this game. (Put it this way: I feel like such crap that I look so crappy that a guy with a baby carriage gave up his seat for me on the train.) And plastic bleachers aren’t as resonant as the wooden ones at Walsh. But we made do. I mean, don’t ask me to talk to anyone for the next couple of days, but like Gloria Gaynor, I will survive.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player get called for being the person hit with a forearm to the, ah, chest. (I may have asked the refs how they managed to miss Andrayah being sexually harassed.) I like Norma Jones’s new hairdo, though.

Andrayah looked like she would rather eat her own liver than identify “Party in the USA” during the “Name That Tune” segment.

Note to self and/or whoever orders meals for the team: judging from the list of toppings she fired off, Sox almost certainly digs the meat lover’s pizza.

There’s a disconnect somewhere at St. John’s, whether it's between the athletics department and public safety, between athletics and facilities, or between athletics and the outside vendors. That bothers me. I retract some of the frothing rage from earlier in these notes, but I still think there are some institutional problems with the way St. John’s is running the program. That goes deeper than basketball, or style of play. That’s the kind of thing that makes me question why this school is the one I build my schedule around.

But, hey. Good win?

Read More...

Friday, November 17, 2017

November 16th, 2017: Princeton at Seton Hall

Just the Facts, Ma’am: A three-point barrage early in the fourth quarter gave Princeton a lead they would hold, though barely, in their 85-83 win at Seton Hall. Bella Alarie had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Tigers, who put five players in double figures. The Pirates got 21 points from Donnaizha Fountain and a 13-point/11-rebound double-double from Taylor Brown in the loss.

For whining, cough drops, officiating issues, short jokes, and mass confusion, join your intrepid and pressed blogger after the jump.

Basketball never stops. Sometimes I wish it would. I really shouldn’t be in South Orange right now. I have a cold or something that makes my throat hurt at even the thought of yelling at my usual volume. There’s a St. John’s game tomorrow with an early start. It’s a long-ass haul to South Orange, and not one I’m really thrilled about doing in the dark. But Tony wouldn’t get off our asses until one of us committed to going to this game. So here I am in the wrong spot in the bleachers at Walsh, watching as Seton Hall takes on Princeton.

Tony, if you ever happen to be reading these: never again. Ask Kaela or Selena just how far it is from Queens to South Orange without a car, okay?

Three Princeton players knelt for the anthem. I didn’t catch all the numbers, but I could see that Sydney Jordan and Qalea Ismail were two of them. I think the third had a #2 in her number, but I don’t want to throw out names without being certain. There was a bit of muttering behind me when they did it, but nothing I was going to need to start a fight for.

(I support protests. I wish more student-athletes had the wherewithal and political awareness to do so. You can disagree if you want. That is, in fact, the entire damn point.)

I have to find out where Seton Hall gets their pizza for events so I can make sure to never, ever, ever accidentally inflict their inferior product on myself. Don’t look free pizza in the mouth, but dear God that is bad pizza. When you’re hoping that it tasted weird because it was bad and not because the cheese had gone bad, it is bad pizza.

At halftime, Seton Hall is up 40-35 on Princeton. Balanced scoring, lots of flashy defensive plays. Neither team seems thrilled when the other one brings pressure. It’s entertaining when the officials don’t get involved.

I feel guilty about not being loud enough, but my throat hurts so much. I have a backpack full of Ricola, and it still might not be enough.

Tony’s already feeling himself- he got a warning from the ref in the first quarter. Seriously, amigo, have you considered switching to decaf occasionally?

Someone on the Princeton bench is wearing a very unfortunate plaid top. The sleeves are a little too long and the blousy fit doesn’t suit her figure.

Look, guys, if y’all are going to forget how to cover the corner three in the fourth quarter, could y’all maybe send an advance memo so I’m not hiking around South Orange Avenue in the dark? Because South Orange doesn’t really believe in streetlights, at least along that stretch.

You dance with the one that brought you, and Princeton’s starters played well, so Courtney Banghart didn’t really need to use her depth. (The Ivies do tend to depth, I’ve noticed; if you don’t have athletic scholarships anyway, it seems like it’s easier to carry a large roster.) I’m not sure why Kenya Holland got the second half start over Sydney Jordan, or if it was a matter of Sydney Jordan starting over Kenya Holland. Holland got physical, enough that she fouled out in her limited minutes. Gabrielle Rush killed us from the near-side corner- she had two of the three threes that opened the fourth quarter for Princeton and really tolled the death knell for the Hall. Taylor Baur always seemed to be mixed up in loose balls and scrambles for the ball. I thought she used her height very well to be disruptive.

As I said before, I have no idea what the story was with Sydney Jordan and Kenya Holland- who the regular starter is, whether someone was undergoing a disciplinary benching or Banghart was experimenting with her lineup. I do know she committed two very early fouls, and I think that put her in the coach’s doghouse. I don’t know if I’d have Leslie Robinson bringing the ball up on a regular basis- she doesn’t look confident in her dribble, though she at least had the vision to pass the ball off when she got into too much trouble. (On the flip side of that, I’m a little annoyed at our defense for not pressuring her more.) Her offense has really developed since the last time I got a good look at Princeton. She’s no longer the secret weapon she was back then. She still makes the kind of hustle plays and smart plays you expect from a coach’s kid, but she’s backed it up with physical drives in the lane. Bella Alarie is the real deal. Granted, she had a height advantage on pretty much everyone out there, but she’s mobile, she’s got range, and she rebounds very well. Her free throw stroke is pretty, and she goes to the basket with the quickness. I can’t believe she’s only a sophomore.

Listing Tia Weledji as a guard just isn’t right. She’s way more physical than any guard has a right to be. She has a jumper, but overall I’d say she plays more like a forward- if you’re going to make a comparison, maybe a very young Le’Coe Willingham, the one who was move and countermove with DeTrina White back in the day. She never gave up on a rebound. Carlie Littlefield’s quick first step took me by surprise. She took advantage of very small lanes very fast. Her passing game needs some work- we jumped the passing lanes on her pretty well. I’d also want to get a look at the play-by-play to see how many of her turnovers came in the last couple of minutes, when the Seton Hall defense made the last doomed stand.

Can I say how not thrilled I was with Princeton’s tripping? Because I was not thrilled with Princeton’s tripping.

Kaity Healy had one job: foul the designated victim and do so as quickly as possible. She did so. Smart move; Kaity had a fresh set of fouls and absolutely no other relevance to the game. Kimi Evans saw some extended time with the foul trouble on our post players, and because at least she’s taller than everyone else (except for Jayla Jones-Pack, who I’m assuming is hurt {again} because otherwise I think she would have been in the rotation). Her shot needs work. Her mobility needs work. I continue to love Selena Philoxy’s hustle and the work she does on the glass, and I continue to be frustrated with her free throw shooting. Shooting in general seems to be a problem with the squad this year, but we’ll get to that in a little while.

Inja Butina needs to look for her shot a lot more often and a lot earlier in the clock. Normally I am all about the selfless, distributing, facilitating guard. And I love what she brings to the floor on defense, with her pressure and her ability to disrupt the ballhandler. But it got to the point where we were practically playing 4 on 5 on offense. That’s a problem, especially when the big guns are firing blanks, as they were tonight. I don’t know why Kaela Hilaire’s minutes were limited in this one- she didn’t have a great game, but it wasn’t terrible either. Deja Winters had streaky shooting- when she got hot, she got us back in the game, but when she was cold, that made it a lot harder for us to answer Princeton’s shooting. Her defense in the fourth quarter was top-notch- she kept us in it that way.

So now I’ve seen Donnaizha Fountain have a bad shooting game. I suppose it was inevitable. I suppose many things in life are inevitable. It seemed like she was relying too heavily on puck luck, on the lucky bounces high off the rim that didn’t go in this time. There wasn’t as much offensive discipline in her game as I might have liked, and I’m not sure whether that was because of Princeton’s defense or because she was panicking for whatever reason. I still absolutely love her energy- she supports her team even when she’s not on the floor, which to me is a sign of the best teammates. I’ve come to the conclusion that Shadeen Samuels is my current favorite Pirate. (I’ve also come to the conclusion that I have a type when it comes to favorites.) I swear she’s gotten taller. She was fierce on the glass, though she’s got to finish better at the rim- she had a lot of good looks, and she couldn’t get them to go down. I love the vibe she brings to the floor so very much. (That fifth foul on her was a lie. A lie, I tell you. FIGHT ME FATOU CISSOKO-STEPHENS.)

Missing at the rim was the theme of the night, as Taylor Brown couldn’t put it in down low for love nor money. She found her stroke near the end of the game, but it was too little, too late. She had the toughest defender on the floor on her in Leslie Robinson, who pushed her around a lot. They got tangled up quite a bit on both ends of the floor, and usually Taylor got the calls against her. She did get one fantastic block on Robinson, though. It was very satisfying. Nicole Jimenez was unremarkable, except that I don’t know if she was on the same page as Coach Bozzella much of the time. The body language seemed to indicate that there was some kind of failure to communicate going on. (I could be wrong, though.) JaQuan Jackson at least managed to get her points at the line, but I’m still worried about her shooting. We need her offense, and we need her to be an effective outside threat. That doesn’t mean she should stop going to the rack, though.

Guys, we need to have a talk about clock management, and I’m not sure if I should be having this talk with Tony, or with the entire squad. I noticed it originally when we still had LaTecia Smith, but it seems to be a team-wide problem, whether it’s Kaela, Inja, or anyone else with the ball. Y’all have got to know time and score. The play-calling at the end of the half was crap in both halves, culminating in Inja hitting the meaningless three at the end of the game that might have had more meaning if she had taken pretty much the same shot fifteen seconds earlier. I’m starting to think this is a coaching issue.

I am also somewhat confused as to why Kaela Hilaire didn’t play much in the fourth quarter. She’s a better defender than Nicole and more of an offensive threat than Inja. I’m not going to say that any one decision cost us the game, but I don’t think we countered them well.

(I am also starting to think Tony recruits his point guards on the basis of not having to look up at them, but that’s petty and unkind of me.) (And so is pressuring people to make four-hour round trips. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.)

Officials let a lot of contact go early, and were generally inconsistent on the contact they called. I can understand why Tony got the warning and the technical. The fifth foul on Shadeen was the worst, because from where I was sitting, it didn’t look like she was even involved in the play- if there was a foul, it would have been on Taylor Brown, and I genuinely wonder if someone threw up the wrong number of fingers- Taylor wears #23, Shadeen wears #24- and the ref didn’t want to back down from the decision because it would make the officials look weak.

Not a big crowd, but a noisy one. The DayQuil, the Ricola, and the hydration didn’t kick in for me until the third quarter, so for the first half I was limited to banging the clipboard and making wild gesticulations. But unlike some fan bases, Seton Hall fans at least recognize simple percussive cues to get a “DE-FENSE” or “Let’s Go Pirates!” chant going. Apparently I was audible on the stream, though that might have been as much to do with positioning as volume.

I would have enjoyed the game a lot more if it weren’t such a pain in the ass to get to. I’m still exhausted, and I’m finishing these up about an hour before I have to leave for St. John’s. Basketball never stops, but sometimes a blogger has to sleep, you know?

Read More...

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 14th, 2017: St. Peter's at LIU

Just the Facts, Ma’am: The Blackbirds of LIU Brooklyn held St. Peter’s to under 28% shooting from the floor to come away with a defensive 57-46 win in their home opener. Denisha Petty-Evans led all scorers with 18 points. Talah Hughes put up a double-double for St. Peter’s with 12 points and 11 rebounds, but she was the only Peacock in double figures.

For unrequested fashion critiques, offensive struggles, defensive poise, new friends, making some noise in this joint, and the rough patches, join your intrepid and possibly sick blogger after the jump.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! We must always remember that basketball never stops. I think I have to hold on to that rather harder than usual right now. It’s opening night for the Blackbirds of LIU, as they take on the Peacocks of St. Peter’s. (Should be Peahens.)

The schools really seems to be emphasizing its academic colors in the stands- cheer has pastel blue shirts and the accents on everything seem to be blue.

I like LIU’s new warm-ups shirts, especially with the design on the back.

Coach Del Preore’s three-inch leopard-print heels are a bold choice. (She’s also cuter with kids than I expected, since she was dancing with a kidlet who I guess belongs to one of her assistants.)

At this point, should I just be assuming Paris Jones will never dress?

Band anthem! I always appreciate when the band gets to play the anthem instead of going to a recording.

At halftime, LIU is up 30-28 on St. Peter’s. Drew Winter is showing off her stepback jumper. Talah Hughes of St. Peter’s is having herself a day down low. I think she heard the years of hype and accolades for Sajanna Bethea and decided that this was going to be her year instead

The PA guy can miss me with this “Lady Blackbirds” nonsense. We’re Blackbirds.

Does no one give the PA guy a pronunciation guide? This dude mispronounced Sajanna, and she gave him a double-take like you wouldn’t believe.

I like the gradient effect on the Peacocks’ uniforms.

The tickets got misprinted as being for the NEC championship, and somehow I was the first person checking in at will call to notice this.

Foam fingers! Blue ones! See, I told you LIU was emphasizing the academic colors more. I’m not sure how I feel about this when the team name is the Blackbirds.

I still do not have enough rhythm to keep up with the spirit squad.

Going to LIU games is going to be a lot of fun this year if Denisha Petty-Evans’s family shows up as loud as they did tonight. At least I’m assuming they’re her family; they were loudest when she was announced and when she did things, though they were also pretty enthusiastic for Drew Winter.

Sitting in front of a bunch of St. Peter’s fans was awkward, but survivable. We just had to be louder than they were, and the scratchiness of my throat suggests that we pulled it off.

Can cheer and pep squad please coordinate their chants? I suppose the cacophony has a strategic use, but as a fan, I need to know what I’m supposed to be yelling.

Samantha Meier has a big body, and I get the sense she knows how to use it. I also get the sense that she would like to use it more often. Brianna Tarabocchia was mostly in at the end of quarters. I don’t have any clear recollection of what she did on the floor. Precious Featherson got her time in the second half, unless her substitution in the first half wasn’t announced. She was pretty solid in the paint. Had a good look down low that didn’t go down.

Zoe Pero managed to get called for all the fouls that I thought were on Talah Hughes (seriously, on all three of her second-half fouls, I had the pen poised over Hughes’s foul count, and then I had to dart back down). She showed some range, but she had a tendency to shoot into contact. It did not serve the Peacocks well. (I do have to ask my Noona for some good Greek insults for the next time one of my teams plays them, though. I should get in touch with my roots, after all. Nothing too heinous, just enough to be distracting.) D’Aviyon Magazine got most of the guard minutes off the bench, showing some speed, a nice-looking shot, and perhaps less of an inclination to listen to her coach than is wise in a college freshman. I mean, okay, if Patty Coyle were my coach, I might not be listening either, but that is from my painful experience as a Liberty fan, not any sort of experience as a college athlete.

It is not a good idea to leave Alyssa Velles open for three. St. Peter’s was able to take advantage of some bad defensive switching by LIU to get her looks, and I think we’re fortunate more of them didn’t go down. I think she’s the one who tripped Drew Winter, so I’m not charitably inclined towards her. Daijah Martin had a really nice rebound on a second-half shot where her timing struck me as exceptional. Looking back, I think I should be surprised she didn’t play more; on the other hand, Pero was doing what St. Peter’s needed defensively, and also I should never be surprised at Pat Coyle’s substitution patterns. Sammy Lochner brought speed, but not much else.

Sajanna Bethea had an emphatic block on DeAngelique Waithe, and I keep forgetting that she can, in fact, step out and hit the three occasionally. She was hassled, and occasionally doubled, and couldn’t keep hold of the ball on the baseline. This was not her night. Perhaps having her name messed up during intros messed with her head, or maybe our defense was just that tight. Talah Hughes took advantage of some serious size mismatches to score in the paint and tear down a boatload of offensive rebounds. Such a fantastic game. I think she might just come into her own this year, and while that might be a little later than St. Peter’s might hve been hoping for, it’s still pretty awesome.

Someone needs to get Coach Coyle in touch with Mangina’s tailor. Phyllis’s suit looked spectacular.

I’m not a fan of the rolled-up shorts look that Jeydah Johnson and Destoni Willock are rocking. You do you, but I feel like y’all would be more comfortable if y’all just got shorts that fit right.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Destoni’s ready for primetime yet. It’s her second game, I’m not terribly surprised. Seneca Richards got some good minutes, mostly in the second half, including a big block on Bethea that I wasn’t eexpecting from her (I’m sort of used to Seneca being a three-point specialist). I love the defensive hustle that Ella Vaatanen brought to the floor. Her head wasn’t always in the play (during one sequence it was in fact her shoulder that was in the play, on a deflection she should have been paying more attention to), but she was disruptive, in the best of ways. Tia Montaigne has a ridiculously, gloriously high-arcing shot. I’d like to see it go in a little more often, but I’ll be satisfied just looking at it. She still needs to figure out her spots on the floor, but she’s a freshman, so I can deal with that.

Denisha Petty-Evans ran point well, I thought. She drove the lane and took contact willingly. I don’t know if she and Coach are fully on the same page of the playbook yet, but it’s always a learning experience when you bring in a new point guard. She definitely runs the game faster than Drew Winter does. I’m not saying that as anything against Drew, mind you. Everyone’s got a different style. Denisha drives; Drew’s clearly been working on her crossover and her stepback. Her floater, maybe not so much.

I love DeAngelique Waithe’s defense to itty-bitty pieces. I love how she defends the inbounds like a demented spider. She rebounds like crazy and throws in a wicked blocked shot or two. But goddamn if her offense isn’t a dumpster fire that has been further set on fire sometimes. You’d think no one had ever told her to aim at the square on the backboard when she throws up those putbacks at the rim. I can understand why Coach got frustrated with her so much last year. Stylz Sanders did her some work on the offensive glass, and she and Drew both got stuck with some rough mismatches on the defensive end, dealing with Hughes down low. This is not a good plan, especially as it concerns Drew. Stylz also has trouble finishing at the rim, but I can’t fault her hustle. I really like what Jeydah Johnson has brought to the floor. She’s got a nice three-point shot, but she’s not afraid to throw her weight around down low, either. I’m looking forward to seeing how she develops over the next couple of years.

I love LIU’s team defense. The biggest problem I’m seeing right now is that we can make the first play on defense- the rebound, the block, the deflection, the forced miss- but we can’t always recover to make the second. Our reaction times need to be better. Yes, I realize we’re talking the NEC here, and there are probably reasons why I shouldn’t be expecting them to react as quickly as I’d like. On the other hand, we were playing a MAAC team that historically hasn’t been very good, so I feel like we should at least have been faster on the uptake than they were.

Officiating was very focused on travels in the early part of the game. There was a lot of contact they were letting go. Drew got a forearm to the throat, and play was stopped briefly after DeAngelique was hit in the face. Given the back and forth between DeAngelique and Bethea, I really thought this game was going to end with one or both of them getting a technical- there were a lot of little elbows, shoves, and other such post player shenanigans going on all night.

Despite the usual array of commentary, the GNoD are not a fashion blog. However, I’m going to question Coach Del Preore’s choice of the black sheath for a game day, only because she spends a lot of time stalking the sideline, and it rode up on her more than once. (Yes, Steph, I saw you having to pull the dress back down. I see almost everything.)

LIU may not be very good, but they’re fun to watch. They’ve got the defense down- the end of game press was awesome. The offense is the more difficult part. In other words, the story of my life as a basketball fan.

Read More...

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 10th, 2017: St. Francis NY at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma’am: St. John’s shook off a tenacious St. Francis team to win big in the end, 73-49. Andrayah Adams and Qadashah Hoppie each had 16 points off the bench to pace the Red Storm, who collectively blocked 14 shots. Alex Delaney was the only Terrier in double figures, notching 11 points.

For exhaustion, belated notes, a recurring theme, and an endless array of ponytails, join your intrepid and suspicious blogger after the jump.

Good afternoon! You know what today is? Today is Opening Day! St. John’s is opening with a men’s/women’s doubleheader, which means being at Carnesecca at the ungodly hour of 4:00 on a Friday afternoon.

Would it have killed them to put both the men’s and women’s schedules on the giveaway cup? It wouldn’t have cost extra. Not only do I know the industry, but I’ve worked with the vendor. If you do a schedule giveaway for a doubleheader, it would seem logical to have both schedules on it, or at least so I’d think. (That being said, it’s a nice cup. But again, I know the vendor’s work.)

Hi, Sky! Sky Lindsay has the call for this game on ESPN3. Ooh, they’re showing highlights. It would be creepy if I went down and watched over her shoulder, right? Right.

We’re playing St. Francis College, the team and coach that always inspire rage in me.

Oh, good, Andrayah Adams is dressed; she was in sweats last game.

Shouldn’t y’all have cleaned the glass maybe before 15 minutes prior to tip?

Oh, for heaven’s sake. The big fancy scoreboard graphics are already set up for the men’s game. I know y’all have the SFC logo on file. It’s little things like this, utter indifference to the women’s team, that makes me all twitchy when it comes to St. John’s. (Okay, they found the right graphics.)

Shenneika, are those jeans? On the bench? In a coaching position? They’re nicely pressed and look good on her, but if they’re jeans I’m still disappointed. I was raised that jeans are not appropriate wear for formal occasions.

Oh, dear. There are several SFC fans behind our bench. The benches reverse between women’s and men’s games, and someone at the ticket office must not have been paying attention.

Kayla Charles’s hair seems to have gone floof. I like. (I mean, not that her hairstyle choices are mine to judge. But I like the way it looks on her.)

At halftime, St. John’s is up 25-20, and I am not pleased. The Terriers’ defense has taken advantage of our sloppiness, and the rim has been unkind. Three-pointers abound for both teams. Our passing needs to be sharper.

I probably should not make jokes about Tariq Owens breaking the rim if he’s sitting a few rows away from me.

PA guy needs a pronunciation guide and to announce subs; if the other team doesn’t have names on their jerseys and the players aren’t particularly distinguishable, it’s hard to tell who’s on the floor.

That was closer than it should have been, and sloppier than it should have been, but we got out of there with the win. The freshmen took over in the second half, and it ws good to see a hint of the future.

St. Francis is always hard to write notes about, partially because Thurston makes me angry, and partially because a whole bunch of more-or-less interchangeable white girls with ponytails and no names on their jerseys are hard to differentiate, especially when the PA guy is the literal worst at announcing substitutions. I harp on this, but when you don’t know a team, you have to have some way of figuring out who all these people are.

Samantha Keltos had a really pretty turnaround shot in the fourth. Practically textbook. Tori Wagner did a nice job cleaning up on a broken play in the third quarter. At least I think that’s when she did it. I was surprised Thurston didn’t go to them more, given the Utopia Parkway Block Party we were throwing. (Hmmm, no, doesn’t quite have the same ring as the Seventh Avenue Block Party.) I think Ally Lassen had decent minutes, as few as they were, but I can’t put my finger on what. I don’t think any of the other reserve forwards did anything worth mentioning.

Abby Anderson got off a couple of nice shots, but I already lost track of whether they were midrange jumpers or shots in the lane. Mia Ehling had a pretty three-pointer. I’m sure Dana DiRenzo brought something in her minutes, but if you pressed me for what, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, even right after the game.

I think this is Amy O’Neill’s first year starting, so I’m not completely surprised that she had the deer in the headlights thing going for much of the second half. She had to literally stop and collect herself more than once when the defense came at her (yes, life does come at you fast sometimes, doesn’t it?). She was good on the boards, though. Very ruthless. Jade Johnson did something early in the game (though I don’t have my full notes at this point, so I don’t remember exactly what it was. Play by play says it was the three-pointer to open the scoring, though I could have sworn that was in the second half.

There’s just something I don’t like about Alex Delaney. It wasn’t just the deep three-pointers she was hitting to keep the Terriers in the game for longer than they had any right to be. She plays tough, and she’s not always clean. I’ll be glad when she finally graduates. Lorraine Hickman is tall, and she moves better than I expected from someone with a knee brace that big. I think she was the one with the big cheering section. Maria Palarino was physical but otherwise unmemorable.

Coach Thurston kept riding the refs for most of the night, which I thought was a pretty impressive piece of hypocrisy, given some of the pushing and shoving that was going on down low. There were a couple of moments on out of bounds calls where I could be persuaded that he had a case, but one must be careful as to how much one complains to the refs, lest they decide that your complaints are no longer worth logging.

The team was so adorably excited when Shamachya Duncan got into the game and immediately hit a three-pointer. Those are the best moments. Tamesha Alexander does not work the Pippi Longstocking braids as well as she thinks she does. She’s a breather guard at the ends of quarters, and I was kind of hoping she’d be more than that by this time in her career, but she’s still an adorable person. I thought we’d see Kayla Charles earlier rather than later in this game, but for whatever reason, Joe kept her on the bench until the very end of the game.

Andrayah Adams, welcome back from that kryptonite extraction procedure you underwent during the offseason. She was awesome. She had open threes and canned them, and threw up two high-arcing floaters that looked more like tennis lobs. They were very much in the vein of “No, no, YES!” but they were amazing. She also had a fantastic steal. Qadashah Hoppie had herself a second half. She showed absolutely no fear of taking contact and astonishing body control. I’m not sure how I feel about her defense in the team scheme, but I like her aggressiveness in the passing lanes. I’m looking forward to the first team autograph session so I can confirm with her the proper pronunciation of Qadashah, as the PA guy has said it multiple different ways. Spelling is not a problem, and in conversation I can call her Q, but I have this thing where I like to know how a person actually says their name.

I don’t think Akina Wellere was ready to be the focal point of opposing teams’ defensive planning. She was double-teamed pretty consistently, sometimes even triple-teamed, and she had a lot of trouble coping with that. She threw up a lot of contested shots. She got a little better in the second half, but I’m very glad we didn’t have to rely on her to win. Maya Singleton was throwing a block party on the baseline, and everyone on St. Francis was invited. She seemed to enjoy giving them the staredown on the ones where the shooter got knocked down. I love her fierceness. I’m not as sure about her jumper, but I like when it goes down. (I am also insanely jealous of her cheekbones. She’s got amazing bone structure. Yes, these are all things I notice. I thought I noticed you noticing me noticing.) Imani Littleton took a fall in the second half that kind of freaked me out a little bit, because she was slow getting up, and she seemed to be limping a little afterwards. Given the torn ACL, I can understand why Joe was cautious with her after that. She co-hosted the block party, doing so with fewer dramatics but just about as much power as Miss Maya did. I really wish she’d find some confidence in her offense, though. It’s been long enough. The problem in this game, though, was that she was throwing shots up at the rim rather haphazardly. Maybe there’s a fear of contact mixed in there now, but I’m not completely certain of that hypothesis.

Quiet game for Alisha Kebbe, but she still brought the defense. I like when she brings the defense. She can be so fantastically disruptive. That being said, I’d like to see her be more offensively aggressive. We’ve seen too many players come into this program and develop as defensive stoppers, but lose their offensive acumen, or confidence, or something in exchange. We can’t afford to keep relying on one or two scorers and hope that everyone else can contribute just enough. It’s not that I don’t love our defense, it’s that I think we need to be in a non-exclusive relationship with defense. Tiana England got off to a slow start; she looked like she was having a little bit of trouble getting around. But in the second half, right after Qadashah got going, Tiana seemed to find inspiration. Her passing got fancier, the game sped up, and she really seemed to find the confidence she needed to start driving with authority.

So I’m thinking we’re always going to be a slow-starting, hard-finishing team. This might be okay, but I’m not sure that this is sustainable with as short a roster as we have. Unless Sox, Machi, or Kayla makes a giant breakthrough early in the season, we’re essentially playing with seven, and I don’t know if we can keep coming back from slow starts if we’re that shallow. Foul trouble’s going to hit, or someone’s going to get hurt.

Officiating was mostly tolerable, though there were a couple of plays where we were wondering why there was no foul on the contact. Cut both ways, though, so I guess that’s fine.

Cheer has got to get their act together. Can’t get distracted by the other team doing a “DE-FENSE!” chant on their bench.

I still think it’s sexist for the male dancer not to get pom-poms. He’s on the dance team, isn’t he? Shouldn’t he get the same equipment as everyone else?

See you next week! The next game is also a double-header, but I have no idea how to write volleyball Game Notes of Doom, so y’all dodged a bullet on that one.

Read More...

November 10th, 2017: New Orleans at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma’am: The Red Storm started slowly, but found their footing late, in a 77-61 win over New Orleans. Marcus LoVett had 23 points to lead St. John’s, 16 as part of a second-half surge. Travin Thibodeaux had 18 points off the bench to lead the Privateers.

For hard bleachers, gift disparities, crowd detachment, height miscalculations, intriguing guards, and the female gaze, join your intrepid and exhausted blogger after the jump.

On to the second half of our basketball double-header. It’s 37 minutes before tip-off and they’re already having staff members start checking assigned seats. I mean, really. I’ll move if and when they tell me.

New Orleans has a dude who is really, really tall, and really, really skinny.

To the dude in the red Mohawk- eff outta here. We got to campus at the same time, and yet I don’t remember seeing you anywhere in Carnesecca during the women’s game. I abhor these Johnny-come-latelies.

Someone has a custom St. John’s jersey with the #15 and “World Peace” on the back. Well played, sir. I’m not sure what’s up with the throwback Warren Moon jersey, though.

I’m starting to think something really is wrong with the rim closer to the men’s home bench (I still think of it as the visiting bench). UNO has had all kinds of practice shots go wacky over there.

I love that Qadashah has, like, a receiving line up behind section 11. Either she has a positively enormous family that’s going to be a joy for four years, or she’s already super popular.

Ugh, I knew I should have brought the butt pads. I haven’t gotten up in over three hours, and my ass is informing me that it does not approve of this state of affairs.

Seriously, where were all you jackholes two hours ago? There was basketball to be played and Johnnies to cheer for then.

I don’t know how I feel about the white warm-up hoodies. They’re a little something, but I don’t know what that something is.

At halftime, St. John’s is up 37-28 on New Orleans. I get the feeling we might not be good at the basketball. Justin Simon has been flying high, but Marvin Clark II leads the way with 11 points. Very sloppy play by both teams. I’m really impressed with New Orleans’s rebounding.

The Queen Mother joined me for the second half of the women’s game and the first half of the men’s game; her contribution to the commentary is that the men don’t seem to have very good communication on the floor.

I swear, the dad for this birthday party has spent more time standing up and blocking my view. Either sit down or go get me a hot dog; you seemed to be offering them to everyone else in the section.

I’m not thrilled with this upper deck corner seat, but I find it somewhat reassuring that the woman I think is part of Tiana England’s family didn’t get a much better seat. At least they’re consistent in their dismissal of women’s ticketholders.

Dude behind me had no idea that Mullin had taken over as head coach of the men. I swear. I don’t even go here and sometimes I think I know more about this team than the people who claim to be fans.

It’s petty, but for the most part the arena seems just as quiet for a men’s game as it does for a women’s game, except for the presence of a student section. The people in the upper deck just don’t seem to care about the action on the floor; they just want to be able to say they were there, to show the flag. It’s quieted me as a result (which mom thinks makes it seem that much quieter, ha-ha-ha, it is to laugh).

The birthday party has candy-coated Oreos that look like basketballs, which I did not know existed and now need to be an integral part of my life. I just wish the dad would have spent more than five minutes in a row in his seat.

Well, I can’t say that St. John’s is good, per se, but they’re certainly entertaining. When the passing game is on and Shamorie Ponds is hitting, they’re fast-paced and flashy. If Shamorie’s not hitting and the passes aren’t sharp, then it all falls apart in a hurry. I’m concerned about the rebounding, and I feel like most of the guys are still trying to figure out where everyone likes their passes.

I was very impressed with the Privateers’ offensive rebounding. They never gave up on a ball near the rim. They weren’t necessarily going to get it into the basket, but they were going to give it the old college try, as it were. Their ball control was not good. I love their heart and their intensity, though.

It seemed like New Orleans relied more on their bench than their starters, especially in the second half. Jorge Rosa got big minutes and scored buckets in the fourth quarter. (Well. What would be the fourth quarter if MCBB followed everyone else’s system. You understand why I might still think of it that way.) Bryson Robinson attempted to take a lot of contact and attempted to draw charges. He was, for the most part, unsuccessful in that goal. Near the end of the game, New Orleans started throwing in some of their deep reserve guards, and at least Damion Rosser had his free throw attempts to get him in the box score.

Travin Thibodeaux, who got his name pronounced two or three different ways by the PA guy (seriously, pronunciation guides, how do they frakking work) was strong off the bench, to the point where he got the second half start over Tyren Harrison. He tried to put the team on his back, finishing at the rim and even going deep occasionally. Bol Riek is very tall, very fast, and not very strong- the prototypical extremely tall mid-major center who would be somewhere higher up the ladder if he had fewer flaws in his game. He didn’t seem comfortable at the basket at all. (Granted, given how enthusiastic St. John’s was with defense at the rim, I can’t say as I blame him. We weren’t great at it, but we were certainly enthusiastic about it.)

Be proud of me, loyal readers. I went the entire game without making any paradox puns about Michael Zeno. I’m learning how to pun responsibly. He got on the glass well; even when he wsn’t pulling down the rebound, he made it easier for his teammates to eventually corral the ball. I don’t really remember Makur Puou all that well, which is kind of scary given how much time he spent on the floor. I’m starting to understand why New Orleans seemed to have so much more confidence in their senior reserves than they did in their starters.Play the hot hand, and that’s how the Privateers rolled in the second half.

Troy Green ended up with a lot of fouls and a lot of disagreement with the officials regarding calls that may or may not have been made, the application of which as appropriate would surely have been to the Privateers’ advantage. Turen Harrison got benched in the second half, but did have a spectacular block on Shamorie. Ezekiel Charles didn’t really get going until the second half.

I’m sleep-deprived. These notes on UNO are bad, even for a team I know less than nothing about. And I’m embarrassed and sorry about that. They were a feisty team, and one that did a good job of taking advantage of the Red Storm’s mistakes in the first half, but one that didn’t have the talent or the depth to cope when Shamorie and Marcus were getting their shots to fall.

When I saw the starting lineup, I wondered why Kassoum Yakwe wasn’t starting. Then he came into the game and committed two quick fouls, and now I understand why Coach Mullin doesn’t start him. Ditto but more for Amar Alibegovic, who seemed unable to find a situation that he couldn’t somehow make worse. When he had open shots, he passed them up to teammates who were in worse positions. When he was on defense, he committed unnecessary fouls. He has the body of a brilliant inside player and I’ve seen his shot, but something just wasn’t clicking in this game.

Tariq Owens is ridiculously skinny. It’s surreal in a way, as if you could fold him up and collapse him into a framework for travel. He’s very active and energetic. His accuracy needs a bit of work, though, but I’m glad he was able to draw contact and get to the line. Bryan Trimble Jr. hit a three in the second half and came in fairly late in both halves, if my scorecard is to be believed.

Full disclosure: mom and I both spent a good portion of the pregame, once we were in our assigned seats, admiring Marvin Clark II’s arms. Dude is built. He had himself a great first half, very quietly. He took advantage of his opportunities and hit his shots. When you’ve got well-known star players, you need a guy like that, someone who can make the other team pay for hewing too closely to the original game plan. The guys behind me kept talking about how Bashir Ahmed was trying to do too much, and I can sort of see what they were getting at. He did have a distressing tendency to try and shoot on multiple defenders, with dubious results. His passing was also shaky. I think he thinks Shamorie’s taller than he actually is, which is not an unreasonable mistake to make, all things considered.

Justin Simon certainly likes to sky for those dunks. I think I now know who broke the rim, and I have to apologize to Tariq for accusing him without evidence. He was kept a bit more grounded in the second half, but that was okay, because that’s when the big guns started going off. Shamorie Ponds was able to get the speed game going in the second half, and the passes started getting a little fancier as he and Marcus got a little more confident. He had a fantastic steal where he just stepped into the lane and took the ball away like it was his destiny to have it. Marcus LoVett started raining threes in the second half, and it was a great and glorious thing to watch.

I get the feeling that this team is going to be a beautiful mess to watch; there will be days when they look like they have no idea what they’re doing, when the passes are constantly going into the bench or hitting the padding on the sidelines, when the shots don’t go down and the defense is lacking and the rebounding is non-existent. But there will be days that make those days worthwhile, when the offense is humming like a Ferrari, the threes are falling, and Justin Simon has cleared his flight plan with air traffic control over at JFK.

I could be wrong, but I wouldn’t think Marcus LoVett would have to go crashing into the sidelines to get close to the dance team.

At the start of the second half, Ezekiel Charles was having a bit of trouble getting his jersey back on, for whatever reason. I would have been perfectly okay with him spraypainting his number on his chest and going on with the game without his jersey. (I’m not quite old enough to make it creepy that I’m ogling a college junior, but in a couple of years it might be. But let me enjoy the eye candy while I can.)

Officials were letting a lot of contact go. I was worried someone might get trampled by the end of the game. I am not okay with people getting trampled.

Play of the game, in my opinion, was the snazzy pass by Shamorie that led to the three by Marcus that bounced off the rim and in. I might have had a different opinion if the shot didn’t go in.

Are fans in the upper deck always this quiet? There was almost no interaction with the game in my section. It’s like, why are you here if you aren’t even watching the game? Why aren’t you cheering?

I don’t think I have anything else to say about this game, or at least the atmosphere around Carnesecca, that wouldn’t be perceived as whining, so I think I’m going to stop here.

No, wait, one more thing. They advertised a season ticket holder gift during the game, one of those nifty seatback things that turns a bleacher seat into a cushioned and supported seat. I sit in the bleachers for most of my games, so that would be amazing. Except, as it turns out, that’s only the men’s season ticket holder gift. The women’s gift is a flag. In the retro font. Which the men use and the women mostly don’t. Oh, and it has the Garden on it. Where the men occasionally play. And the women don’t.

In other words, the gift for women’s fans is a giant symbol of men’s basketball. You can see why I might think this is inappropriate.

This is, of course, setting aside the fact that I have a flag already, and I think a flag signed by the whole team for something like three or four years running kicks the ass of any other team-related flag, even if it’s a weird shade of red and one of the grommets is about to tear out.

I think I might actually enjoy watching the kids who play for St. John’s if there weren’t so much goddamn baggage associated with the program, and if weren’t so often so problematic to see how the school treats the men’s program and the women’s program so differently.

Read More...

Saturday, November 4, 2017

November 4th, 2017: Thomas Jefferson at Seton Hall

Just the Facts, Ma’am: Seton Hall took over in the third quarter to beat the Rams 89-61. Donnaizha Fountain had game-highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Hall’s balanced attack. Rachel Day and Jessica Kaminski each had 14 points to lead the Rams.

For lots of players, exciting freshmen, dubious seniors, some communication issues, and height differences, join your intrepid and exhausted blogger after the jump.

I’m starting to wonder if PATH trains have some kind of signal blocker built into them. Wi-fi was fine in the station, and as soon as I got on the train I started having issues. Guys, I just want to post yesterday’s notes and finish using my complimentary wi-fi session.

Yes, it’s off to Seton Hall, or at least it will be once this train starts moving. It’s time for their annual exhibition against Philadelphia (though apparently the school merged with another school and is now going by Jefferson). As always, going the long way around is cheaper, though fraught with peril and delays. At least that means they’re actually doing work on it? Yay?

For I have no wi-fi and I must scream: the trials and travails of going without a hotspot. (Fell out of my pocket on a bus. I don’t think I’m getting it back.)

Oh. Okay. Single-track service through Harrison. I think they might actually be moving the station a little to the east.

At halftime, Seton Hall is up 41-36 on the Rams. Donnaizha Fountain has made a very good first impression with 12 points, some strong rebounding, and a knack for fixing broken plays. Shadeen Samuels also looks good, with 10 on a lot of breakaways.

Kaela Hilaire and Nicole Jimenez make up on the smallest backcourts I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure if it’s more travel size or fun size, but I’m afraid KK would kick my ass either way.

Average-height Lauren DeFalco trying to simultaneously huddle with 5-3 Kaela Hilaire and 6-4 Jayla Jones-Pack looks awkward for all parties concerned.

Look, Pirate, you want to dance with the coach’s daughter, that’s fine, but be ready for the consequences. We might be talking finding Bronc’s head in your bed in the morning.

The defense is a little too aggressive at times, but I’d rather that than not aggressive enough. Seton Hall definitely has depth in their favor; Tony’s played more players in the first half than St. John’s is carrying, period. (Yes. This annoys me. You’re probably going to hear about it all season.)

The conundrum: it’s under 30 seconds to go in the half and Coach has clearly called for one shot to run out the clock. But you’ve got a player wide open under the basket with 15 seconds left. Do you pass around to run down the clock and risk not getting a good look, or do you set up that shot and then gamble on defense? Seton Hall took door number 2 with Nicole Jimenez passing to Selena Philoxy. We held on defense, but I’m still not sure it was the right play by Nicole. (I’m not saying Selena shouldn’t have taken the shot. We’ve had enough trouble with her getting shots at the basket already.)

I’m pretty sure one of these refs worked the Fordham game yesterday. He looks as tired as I feel.

Ohmahgawd, Shakena Richardson and a medium-small child is too full of adorable.

We’re under two minutes to go in the half and Seton Hall still hasn’t come out. Tony must be giving them multiple circles of hell.

Well, it looks like Seton Hall will be the most fun of my teams to watch this year. High-octane offense and a lot of depth, combined with energetic defense- sounds good to me.

The disadvantage of games where everyone goes deep into the bench is that there are a lot of players to write about, and Sidearm only gives first initials to start my memory up. Carly Kovin and Caroline Duffy only got into the game very late- I didn’t even realize until Duffy scored and I started comparing numbers on the floor with numbers on the roster. Do better with substitutions for the opposing team, PA man. Sabria Lytes is decently tall, and I get the feeling they might use her more in the regular season. I think I missed Valez Jackson’s initial arrival into the game, so I don’t know that I can adequately speak to her minutes.

Kelsey Jones ended up on the floor a lot, especially later in the game. Some of it was charge-taking, some of it was getting all up into people’s personal space, and one time was Kaela shoving her. No matter how annoying the opponent is, you shouldn’t shove them. Caitlyn Cunningham came on stronger nearer the end of the game. I think that was when she got most of her minutes; I know her initial entry into the game was postponed when the coach pulled back the sub. Alexandra Warren threw up an airball that we all gave her the socially acceptable amount of grief for. Ayoola Oguntuase was physical down low- a big body who gave a lot of hard contact, and had the fouls to prove it. She started the second half in place of Beverly Kum.

Kum and Oguntuase provide very different looks. While Oguntuase is a more traditionally physical wide-body center, Kum is a little bit taller and a lot slimmer and springier. But her shooting right at the rim was a disaster, which might be why her minutes got cut. She had opportunities and missed them badly. She did, however, whoop the hell out of JaQuan Jackson on a block. Erin Maher was mostly quiet, though she had a nice three set up by a hard Jones screen (which goes to show that guards are perfectly capable of setting screens for forwards, it doesn’t always have to be the other way around).

Rachel Day was killing us from outside- she had the threes, and the two she hit was so long I thought it was also a three. I like her toughness. Jessica Kaminski got the scoring started early for the Rams- for much of the first quarter, she had all their points until Day got loose for a three. We were able to reorient our defense on her, even though that left other players open for threes. Alynna Williams ran the show, and was a pest on defense- she hassled the ballhandler coming upcourt, and most of our guards were extremely uncomfortable with the pressure. That’s going to be a problem unless someone other than Kaela can handle pressure.

The Rams’ upperclassmen give them the confidence to be sure that they’re never out of a game- they kept the game closer than it had any right to be until the fourth quarter. I don’t know where they’re predicted to finish in their conference, but I think they’ll surprise people.

So many reserves! This is a luxury to which I am not accustomed! I don’t know if I can deal! Who am I kidding, of course I can deal. Kaity Healy and Tyeisha Smith didn’t play until very close to the end of the game- Tony put them in right around the times we were thinking about getting the band to start the appropriate chant. I don’t think Tye wanted to dodge the billion by getting a foul, but at least Kaity had a rebound. I don’t know if Kimi Evans’s mobility is an issue or if she’s just not used to the three-second rule. (Apparently some states don’t have that in high school.) I need her to finish better at the rim, but it’s only the first game, so I guess I can deal with that. Deja Winters was mostly a three-point specialist from the corners. I like her three-point shot, but I don’t like when it’s the only thing she does.

The most worrisome takeaway from this game was JaQuan Jackson’s shooting. I don’t know if we need Quanny to be the offensive workhorse the way we did last year, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that Quanny’s defense is predicated on being in the flow of her offense; when her head’s not in the game offensively, she’s not mentally there as much on defense either. That’s a problem. If that’s the approach she took to this game, it’s no wonder Tony brought her off the bench. I love Selena Philoxy’s rebounding. Dare I say, her moxie? I get the feeling that’s going to be a very common piece of wordplay during her Seton Hall career. She needs to work on her free throw shooting, and her shot needs to be stronger (whether that’s upper body conditioning or work with a shooting coach, I don’t know). But it’s going to be fun to watch her versus Maya Singleton during the Awkward Bowl. Shadeen Samuels had herself a day. The jumper isn’t necessarily there, but she did work on the breakaway. I love watching her at the basket. I don’t know how to say it, other than I just really enjoy watching Shadeen play. Inja Butina was a good defensive floor general. She wasn’t looking for her shot until late in the game, but that might just be okay. I really enjoyed watching her on defense, though- she’s caught up to the team pretty quickly and taken a strong leadership role.

I’m concerned about Jayla Jones-Pack and her propensity to commit stupid fouls. Tony had to juggle the lineups a lot in the first half because she picked up two early ones, and this is not of the good. While we have a lot of players who can do work in the middle, she’s the only true center we’re carrying right now, and that’s important. Her rebounding is inconsistent- she can be strong and ferocious on one play, and let the ball bounce off her hands the next. Taylor Brown did some work on the offensive glass- going up for putbacks with power and doing work down low. If I knew the circumstances behind her transfer from WKU better, I’d know whether waving the rally towel for her baskets would be an appropriate shoutout, or if it would bring back bad memories. I already think it’s a damn shame we’re only getting one year of Donnaizha Fountain. Why did you waste time fiddling around with Georgia Tech and Temple when you could have been doing awesome things at Seton Hall the whole time? Maybe today was a fluke, but from what I saw today, I’m completely in love with her game- her defense, her offense, her ability to fix broken plays, everything. She’s got fantastic energy on the bench (there was a sequence near the end of the game where she was egging the band on to get the “DE-FENSE!” chant going). Worth the price of admission, and not just on days when there’s no tickets.

I don’t think Tony and Nicole Jimenez are on the same page yet. I do think they’re at least in the same book, but she still seems to be trying to reconcile the “go-go-go” attitude Tony usually has to offense with the need to slow it down at the ends of quarters. I like her passing, and I like her three-point shot, but there were a couple of moments where it was clear she didn’t want to shoot into taller defenders, or that she couldn’t see an opportunity over the defender. Kaela Hilaire has made it abundantly clear that she doesn’t believe offensive players are entitled to personal space. I lke this philosophy. I’m not so sure about her driving late in the game when Kaity and Tyeisha were boht open on the wing and might have wanted baskets, though. Didn’t help that she missed the lay-up, either. I like Kaela, but sometimes I have to wonder about her judgment. And it weirds me out that she can go from 0 to 60 on defense in the space of a couple of possessions; yes, on one hand, she doesn’t believe the opponent has any right to personal space, but sometimes she’ll back off way too early on drives. I don’t get it.

Not to say I got into the game or anything, but I banged my clipboard against the bleachers so hard one of the pens in there was pulverized, almost literally in the sense of being reduced to dust.

Traveling seems to be a point of emphasis, at least in the preseason. Lots of calls that weren’t being made in previous years. I don’t think I like this.

Note to self: find out where Seton Hall gets their pizza and make sure never to order from there. Postgame meal was in the Walsh lobby, and the pizza looked burned and cheap.

This looks like it could be a fun and interesting year. I’m okay with this.

Also, the vodka sauce at Stony’s is amaaaaaaazing, and the burgers are always good.

Read More...

November 3rd, 2017: Hofstra at Fordham

Just the Facts, Ma’am: Hofstra led by as much as 17 in their 55-46 win at Fordham. Aleana León had 20 points on 7-7 shooting to lead all scorers, adding a team-high seven rebounds. G’mrice Davis led Fordham with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Lauren Holden added 16 points, 14 in the second half.

For improvising, rebounding, raw freshmen, a lack of concessions, blonde hair, international players, and arguing with wi-fi, join your intrepid and hectic blogger after the jump.

If you don’t hear from me by the end of Sunday, that’s probably because I’ve passed out and I’m drooling adorably into the keyboard. I’m off to Fordham right now, for their fundraiser against Hofstra. I was going to stay for the second half of the double-header, but instead it’s D&D night down in Sheepshead Bay, and then it’s off to South Orange. And I did laundry this morning. I’m just that good.

It takes rather a while to get to the Bronx from southern Queens. That jackass with the “the train is going nonstop!” schtick was back again. Dude, I’m not saying you’re wrong about Trump and police brutality against people of color, but you’re not going to make friends scaring the hell out of people on their way home. We also had a candy vendor and a panhandler.

We are here. Concessions are not. Officially the exhibition is free, but there was a suggested donation of $10. Since that was what I was planning to donate anyway, I took that suggestion, but not until I could get a twenty broken by a friendly Hofstra fan.

Bre Cavanaugh seems to have taken inspiration from Layshia Clarendon. That is a lot of very blonde hair.

Samantha Clark looks strange in street clothes. I barely recognize her.

I think between these two rosters we have a dozen countries represented. International basketball, eff yeah!

At halftime, Hofstra is up 27-14. Aleana León has 14 to lead the Pride, perhaps unsurprisingly inspired on account of being Puerto Rican and this game being a fundraiser for hurricane relief/recovery in Puerto Rico. G’mrice Davis has seven points and eight rebounds for Fordham. The Rams seem to be working the freshmen into the game more than I was led to expect from pregame conversations. It has had mixed results, to say the least.

Rose Hill’s acoustics are good enough, and I’m close enough, and it’s quiet enough, that using the Seattle “BRICK!” on opposing free throw shooters is drawing the “what the hell is that noise?!” looks back from three of the Fordham bench players.

Dance team is at half speed, from the looks of it, but I might also be spoiled.

I’m really not comfortable with Fordham insisting I download and install something to access the wi-fi. I mean, it’s better than St. John’s, but that’s not saying much.

I could kill for a soda right now. Y’all really couldn’t open up concessions an hour early for this game? I want to give you money, Fordham. Why do you not want me to give you money? SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

The Rams came up with a spirited comeback in the second half behind their captains, but they missed too many shots in the clutch and couldn’t hold on to the ball if their lives depended on it. If you’re going to rely on G’mrice Davis to the extent it looks like Fordham is, everyone’s got to be ready to come help when the double and triple teams come down on her. I don’t know if the freshmen understand that, and if they do, whether they’re ready for it.

Hofstra seemed to have it a little more together, but I think that might be the experience talking; even sophomores have that year under their belts that freshmen don’t. Coach Kilburn-Stevesky wasn’t afraid to let the officials know what she thought about G’mrice Davis in the paint, and I’m not saying she’s wrong, but I’m also not saying that she wasn’t getting pushed around down there either.

Petra Krupenko was mostly in to be a warm body when Hofstra was juggling some foul trouble. Ditto for Mie Hoff, who was in and out in the space of a possession. For guard minutes, Hofstra mostly went to Sica Cuzic, who demonstrated a distressing knack for good timing- the two shots she hit were a three (that I thought she was over the line on) to end the first half and a driving lay-up to end the third quarter. She’s a little pell-mell, but she’ll do. Sandra Karsten provided a little back up in the post positions, usually for Ashunae Durant, but was unremarkable.

Ashunae Durant drew the unenviable task of primary defender on G’mrice Davis, and made G’mrice’s life pretty miserable in the post. There was holding, and there was grabbing. She had a lot of wild shots miss at the rim, but I don’t blame her for being tired. Marianne Kalin was solid for the Pride, with nifty turnaround moves over her shoulder that shook off the less experienced Fordham defenders, a knack for rebounds, some good (if borderline legal) screens, and big help defense on G’mrice.

Maybe this was just a good match-up for Aleana León. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. But she had herself a day- I didn’t realize until I looked at the stats that she literally didn’t miss a shot. She was on fire early, keeping pace with the entire dang Fordham team for most of the first half. She cooled off a little in the second half, but stepped it up on defense as if to compensate. She had a big block on G’mrice Davis that was awesome on one hand and a little embarrassing for G’mrice on the other. E’Lexus Davis had a couple of back-and-forth sequences with G’mrice as if they were trying to prove who the superior punctuated Davis was. (I mean, duh, it’s still G’mrice.) Olivia Askin seemed to be a three-point specialist, judging from the shot she hit and the shot that she was fouled on. She was quiet, but that might be by design. I think I’d need to see Hofstra again to determine that, and that’s not in the cards this year.

Ralene Kwiatkowski was inserted briefly in both halves, and her shot looks pretty, but it went all kinds of places, none of them the bottom of the basket. I love the defense Zara Jillings brought off the bench. She was all over loose balls and making really good plays on the ball. I like the quickness of her three-point release, but she needs to work on accuracy and range- it was pretty short. Kendell Heremaia brought a change inlineups when she came in, because she was usually subbing for the center Halei Gillis. I like her toughness, but she still has a lot of rough edges to work off.

Halei Gillis, on the other hand, might be made up of more rough edges than actual potential at this point. You’re not supposed to sawhorse your own teammates, Halei. She’s a big body, but she’s got to learn how to use her size. She’s physical, and not in good ways. I don’t know whether I want her to tone down the physicality or get more assertive on offense. Someone’s also got to work on her free throw motion and get that double-pump out of it. It’s heinous. She got benched to start the second half, and I can’t say I blame Coach Gaitley for making that swap. G’mrice Davis needs to stop leading with the forearm, because she’s going to get called for it and it’s going to keep her out of games at the wrong time. She als oneeds to improve her footwork. I was impressed with her ballhandling, though, and when she decides to take the ball to the hole, it’s going to take two or three defenders to stop her. Fordham’s going to be painful to watch this year, but she’s worth the price of admission. I was also impressed with Johanna Klug- she needs to work on her defense and her conditioning, but I like what she brings to the table on offense. Nice shot, good hustle.

On one hand, I don’t necessarily think Lauren Holden needs to be launching those three-pointers from Cape May. On the other hand, when they go down, they have a tendency to go down in bunches, as they did in the third quarter, and that gets both the team and the crowd going. I kinda get the feeling she and G’mrice aren’t on the same page when it comes to where G’mrice wants to get her passes- G’mrice had to reach awkwardly for a couple of them, but I’m not sure if it was Lauren’s pass or G’mrice’s positioning that was off. Bre Cavanaugh definitely looked like she was in her first game in over year. She was slow to her spots, she threw up a couple of airballs, and she committed intensely stupid fouls. I know she has to be smarter than that- Cal’s a good school, and Fordham’s no slouch academically either. But she looked bad out there. I really hope that was the worst game of her collegiate career and it’s only going to get better from here.

A fair amount of contact was allowed on both sides. Both coaches had their issues with the officials, and I’m not saying either of them was wrong. I suspect that if the game were called completely by the book, both G’mrice Davis and Ashunae Durant would have fouled out in the middle of the fourth quarter. I’m not entirely certain Johanna’s footwork is as bad as the officials made it out to be (most of her turnovers were on travels).

Does Fordham not actually have any cheers beyond the basic “DE-FENSE!” chant? Because the cheerleaders didn’t really seem to be into it, and I don’t know Fordham’s traditions well enough to start anything myself. If it’s another round of them saving themselves for the men’s game, I might be a tiny bit annoyed (which these days seems to be my baseline state).

I think it’s going to be a long year for both teams, but I can see potential for both of them next year. But maybe we’ll have a better idea of what’s going on later in the season.

Read More...

Thursday, November 2, 2017

November 1st, 2017: Stony Brook at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma’am: The Red Storm’s defense broke th egame open in the third quarter, allowing St. John’s to cruise to a 66-45 win over Stony Brook in a fundraising exhibition. Maya Singleton had a double-double with game-highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds. Jerell Matthews had 15 points, 13 in the first half, to lead Stony Brook.

For the halfcourt trap, getting used to the freshmen, dubious pronunciation skills, defensive intensity, red jerseys, and somewhat missing the point, join your intrepid and no-longer-unlimited blogger after the jump.

Good morning! Exhibition season is upon us, for a good cause, or so I’ve been told. St. John’s is hosting Stony Brook in a game that’s supposed to be a fundraiser. I’m not quite sure how you raise funds when you put a game at a time when people can’t show up and you don’t indicate where donations can be made, but what do I know? I’m just a random.

At halftime, it’s 24-20 St. John’s. Unsurprisingly, it’s been a bit sloppy, with players not getting to their spots and many a pass thrown awry. Akina Wellere has nine to lead St. John’s. Jerell Matthews has 13 to lead Stony Brook.

Substitute PA announcer should have been given a pronunciation guide. He was messing up names left and right, which means I still don’t know how to pronounce Qadashah.

Inactive for St. John’s: Andrayah Adams and Curteeona Brelove.

I don’t recognize any of these band people. I’m a little disturbed by this.

Looks like Shenneika Smith has joined the Red Storm bench in some capacity. The polo shirt doesn’t work for her; if she wants to get into this full time, she might want to ask Doug Bruno where he gets his shirts. Button-downs look really good on her.

Maya Singleton had a gorgeous steal, then drove the fast break like she’d maybe had a little hair of the dog for breakfast and blew the lay-up. Bless your heart, Maya. She made up for it by pulling the routine off two more times and hitting the layup both subsequent times.

It was a sloppy game, as one could expect from the earliness of it, but a team as defensive-minded as St. John’s will usually be more successful in that scenario, and we broke it open in the third quarter to take it. Stony Brook brought good intensity, but couldn’t keep it up as long as we could (which is saying something since we have no real depth, or at least no numbers).

(You can usually tell exhibitions because the coaches don’t dress up. Everyone was in basic athletics department gear for their respective schools, pretty much.)

Giolibeth Perez was intense on defense, and it was not always to Stony Brook’s advantage- she got reachy and handsy, even at the end when the game was well out of reach. Jonae Cox came in right at the end when Jerell Matthews fouled out. And then immediately committed a foul, because why not?

Cheyenne Clark got a lot of minutes, but I think they were more in the second half. I honestly don’t remember her having much of an impact, even with the amount of time she spent on the floor. She did drop a monster block on an ill-advised St. John’s drive. I was favorably impressed with Hailey Zeise- she’s got some good moves, a good sense of where she wants to be on the floor, and a nice quick free throw motion that’s very hard to disconcert. McKenzie Bushee was physical, setting screens and boxing out. I don’t’ know if I’d say I like her, but I think she has potential for Stony Brook.

India Pagan is still rough around the edges. She has the right instincts when it comes to going to the basket, but she’s got to work on her shooting. She can’t just throw whatever at the basket and expect it to go in. Oksana Gouchie-Provencher (whose name I was pretty sure our substitute PA announcer botched) set a lot of screens up top, but got her pocket picked very thoroughly by Maya Singleton when she tried to pass from the top of the arc. She was a good facilitator, but not much else.

Jerell Matthews lit us up in the first half. She was canning shots from deep, and it was a little embarrassing how easily we managed to lose her. She got in foul trouble in the second half, and I think that limited her somewhat- she ended up fouling out on a really ill-advised play on a double-team. I was expecting more out of Aaliyah Worley, but she never found her footing. It didn’t help her that she had Alisha Kebbe making her life miserable, though. Shania Johnson had some really nice passes and kept the offense moving, but there were a couple of sequences where it looked like she was instigating contact. (Tiana didn’t fall down by herself, ref.) I like her toughness, but if she’s tripping people, I am not okay with that. (I am also not sure how she pronounces Shania. PA guy did two different versions, one where she would be belting out “Honey, I’m Home” and one where she would not be.)

I like Stony Brook’s heart, but I think they need to make better decisions in the lane and they don’t have the depth to keep up with a high-intensity defensive team like St. John’s.

Look, St. John’s, this carrying the bare minimum number of players is not going to end well. We couldn’t even clear the bench fully today.

Shamachya Duncan is going by Machi on the PA. She seems like a nice kid, but she wasn’t very effective out there. She’s still got a ways to go. Qadashah Hoppie, whose name I am now certain I don’t know how to pronounce (seriously, it would have killed people to give the PA guy a pronunciation key?) shows potential, but I think she needs to get used to having to put in D-I effort instead of coasting on talent. She seemed to be a step slow, and not just because she was still figuring out where she needed to be. One does not make a good first impression when the first play of the game involves you standing and staring at a loose ball.

Tamesha Alexander remains my favorite even if she isn’t the best player on the floor. Fight me, I don’t care. I think the fact that she’s acting as a captain from the bench says a lot about her and why she’s my favorite. I love the potential of Kayla Charles. I’m going to need her to not commit stupid fouls at the end of the game, but she’s so springy that I think she can do great things in the paint. She did really nice work on the offensive glass, and I’m a sucker for offensive rebounds.

Speaking of rebounds, my goodness, Maya Singleton, you do your thing! I love when she rips the ball away from her opponents. She was fierce and she was tough. It seemed like she got stronger as the game went on. Imani Littleton had a quieter game, and had a lot of trouble holding on to the ball early on. I wondered if she was on a minutes count because of the knee injury from last year. She had a really good block in the fourth quarter, though.

Alisha Kebbe came on strong in the third quarter. Her shot wasn’t falling, even at the rim, but she did a good job getting to the line, and her on-ball defense was ferocious. I’m still getting used to the long hair, but that’s a small, stupid thing. (I’m not good at change.) I love watching her work on defense, and sitting near the sideline, I got a lot of good looks at her hassling Stony Brook’s guards. Tiana England looks like she’s still trying to find her footing, both in the literal not-falling-on-her-ass sense and in the sense of figuring out what her role is and where she’s supposed to be on the floor. I can see why the team might be excited about her, but I don’t think she’s as far along as they thought she was going to be. Akina Wellere got the scoring started early for the Red Storm, and it looks like she’s going to be the workhorse for this team. She seemed to be more willing to go to the basket than she was last year, which is good. We need her to have a really well-rounded offense.

It looks like another season of a defensive mindset and questions about who’s going to bring th eoffense. It's going to be a rough year, but I knew that already, and I’m ready for it. I’ll still be there for them.

Guys, seriously, if you’re going to do something as a fundraiser, you might want to have a spot where people can make donations. Official attendance was 110, and I suspect paid tickets were in the low double-digits... if not single digits, given that Coach Tartamella paid for 100 students (though 100 students didn’t show up) and I think those numbers also included family tickets. I was ready to give money or buy things as fundraisers, and that didn’t happen.

Cheer’s still figuring out the routine. Dance looks good.

I’m looking forward to the actual opener. I’m still pessimistic about our chances against Big East competition, but maybe we won’t be as hard to watch as I thought we would. I mean, they’re my team and I’m going to love them no matter what, but maybe this love won’t hurt as much.

Read More...