Monday, January 14, 2019

January 13th, 2019: Creighton at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma'am: St. John's fought hard, but came up short again in their 65-63 loss to Creighton. Alisha Kebbe had 18 points to lead the Johnnies, with Kadaja Bailey adding 10 off the bench. Temi Carda led the Bluejays with 22 points in the win, while Audrey Faber added 17.

For ruling the roost, backdoor cuts, polite bumping, an inability to hold the line, piercing whistles, and devotion to duty, join your intrepid and frustrated blogger after the jump.

Good afternoon, ladies, gentlemen, boys, girls, and otherwise-identifying folks of all ages! We're back at Carnesecca Arena, where St. John's will be taking on Creighton in the back end of the We Couldn't Find You A Better Travel Partner schedule pod.

(In case you were wondering, I think of the pods as the following: Eastern Seaboard {Villanova/Georgetown}, Great Lakes {DePaul/Marquette}, Old Northwest {Butler/Xavier}, New York Metro {STJ/SHU, aka Awkward Bowl}, and The Leftovers {Providence/Creighton}. We really need two more teams for this to work properly.)

Our team looks so sparse during warm-ups. It makes me sad. Creighton looks like they've been hit by the injury bug, too, with three players in the tees and sweats of the inactive.

Solid anthem. I approve.

It's 31-22 St. John's at the half, and there are moments I'm still wondering how. Scoring is pretty balanced for the Johnnies, with Alisha Kebbe's nine points leading the way. Temi Carda has nine to lead the Bluejays. We've been able to force them into turnovers, and even capitalize on those turnovers! There have been some rough moments, and I'm pretty sure Q is playing sick. I can't see us continuing to stymie Creighton the way we have so far, and I can't see us maintaining this level of shooting. Creighton uses a lot of movement and has gone deep into their bench. Technically, we've gone as deep into our bench as we can, too, but that just means giving Jasmine Sina meaningful minutes.

Machi, when Debbie says to shoot 'til your arm falls off, you know that's a metaphor, right? That's not what she literally wants you to do. She's got a torn muscle in her shoulder. This is not good.

I am completely here for Meemo's WTF face at the PA announcer butchering her name. It doesn't rhyme with Oneonta.

Welp. That was a thing that happened. We did so much right, and yet here we are, having a game come down to a call in the final second. This time we got the foul in our favor, and we still couldn't capitalize. It's exceedingly frustrating.

I'm starting to think these two teams don't like each other very much. There was a lot of bumping going on, more than I'm used to for either team. Nothing that went too far over the line (and in fact, there was a moment where Payton Brotzki bumped Meemo and promptly apologized profusely), mind you, but it was unexpected.

Chloe Dworak got some extended run in the first half- it was a little hard to tell initially because there was some confusion with the subs. She ran some point. I wasn't impressed. Brooke Kissinger got the start in the second half over Jade Owens, and took over point guard duties. Her shot did not join us for this game, for which I am extremely grateful. Rachael Saunders provided some offensive pop for the Bluejays off the bench, and Coach Flanery rewarded her with big minutes down the stretch.

Payton Brotzki probably still needs to get into collegiate shape, but she's got a lot of potential for the Jays. She drove the lane hard and finished pretty well. Morgan Turner is tall, and when she gets the hang of Creighton's motion-heavy system, she's going to be very useful for them. She might not put up the big numbers, but she'll make sure that her teammates have the opportunity to put up the numbers- she had a particularly nice screen on a three-point attempt from Carda.

I have no idea what happened to Jade Owens, or why she went from starting the game to not playing at all in the second half. I didn't see an injury, though maybe there was something that I didn't see. She didn't play well, but not badly enough to be completely passed over in the rotation. Jaylyn Agnew had a large wrap on her right hand, and I think it might have affected her shot a little bit. She's fast, and explosive with that speed, which makes a lot of things happen for Creighton. Temi Carda used hesitation moves effectively to get space and finish on pull-ups and floaters. She had a knack for finding the places where we weren't and scoring from those spots.

Gracey Griglione got herself into foul trouble early in the game, and with the guards being more effective off the bench, Creighton could afford to go smaller. She'll be useful for them after a year or two. Creighton gets a lot of use out of tall forwards like her to free up their shooters and slashers. Audrey Faber cleaned up on the offensive glass, and took advantage of terrible defensive match-ups to slice us up inside. She also had a couple of big blocks, including one on Alisha Kebbe right near the end of the game.

So much cutting. So much movement. So many mismatches. Creighton isn't necessarily the most talented team in the conference- in fact, on sheer talent, I think we might be better. But they executed well, and they forced us into bad situations.

Jasmine Sina got some run at the end of the first quarter into the beginning of the second, which I actually agree with; short-handed as we are, especially if anyone's under the weather, stealing a few minutes here and there can't hurt. And she hit the three! We were so happy for her! It's kind of hilarious how small she is on the floor- I have to resist the temptation to lapse into netspeak and refer to her as a smol. Kayla Charles has got to do a better job of finishing at the rim. We need her to play heavy minutes, especially on days when Meemo is in foul trouble. This didn't happen today, but it's still disturbing. I like her work on the glass, but she still has to finish. On the other hand, Kadaja Bailey looked like she might be finding her stride again. She was at her best on the fast break, both leading it and finishing it. When she's on her game, she's so smooth.

Alisha Kebbe has really stepped up her game in the last couple of weeks. Her three-point shot has improved (though we've established I'm still not the world's biggest fan of it) and today she maintained her intensity on the glass. She got blown by defensively more than I'm used to, and I'm going to need to keep an eye on that going forward. Qadashah Hoppie came off in the first half at one point, looking ready to throw up, which is what makes me think she's under the weather. She had a rough game shooting, and she made some dubious decisions on defense. But if she wasn't at 100%, then I can't really complain too much. Tiana England had a solid game at the point, at least passing. I'm not sure how I feel about her shot selection, or how many of them were desperation shots at the end of the shot clock because too much of it had been run down in hesitation. But it's not just her, or at least it's not just her anymore.

Because we need to have a talk with Akina Wellere, or at least with Akina Wellere's shot and her confidence in said shot. It's something we noticed in the Friday game, and I see it more now that I know to look for it. For whatever reason, she's not taking open shots; instead, she's letting the defense come to her, and then not taking advantage of the open teammate. She used to be faster, I know it. I don't think she was ready for the responsibility inherent in being the lone four-year senior on the squad. Curteeona Brelove had a couple of communication issues with Q, including one at the end of the first half that led to Meemo taking a long two and both of them barking at each other as they came off the floor. She played well on the inside, but I do wish the box score had blocked attempts so I could see how much Creighton's length bothered her.

To borrow a popular memetic mutation, I just don't know what went wrong. For that matter, I just don't know what went right. We were able to force them into dead-ball turnovers, but we tried to cross them over too many times and lost the ball for our troubles. And when we lost the gamble, Audrey Faber going backdoor happened.

Officiating was the standard hot mess, and I'm pretty sure that if they didn't call the last foul to get Qadashah to the line, Joe might have actually lost his mind, given the way the Providence game ended. As it was, the crowd was irate that it wasn't a three-shot foul (which turned out to be crucial, since Q missed the first), but I thought she was not in the motion. There were terrible calls favoring both teams- we spent most of the fourth quarter lambasting the officials only to see Creighton get nailed on a terrible call. (Not the last one, though. One about a minute of game time earlier.)

It's kind of a shame the game got off to such a slow start, since it was a pretty good crowd. I don't know if this was the kind of game that would encourage people to come back.

Not that the call in the Providence game was a sore spot, or a dubious call, or anything of that nature, but Akina didn't even realize it was on her until well after the fact.

Today was another autograph session, and since we don't need anything else autographed, we just rolled through to give our regards to the squad. They had an impressive array of posters available, though. I was impressed.

I just don't know what to do with this team. I love them dearly, but I just don’t know what to make of them, where they're going, or if they're even completely certain of who they are. There's the potential for passion- we saw it in the third quarter when the bench woke up a little. But the word that comes most to mind right now is "dutiful", and I don't know if that's a good defining attribute for a team.

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

January 11th, 2019: Providence at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma'am: St. John's was up as much as 11, but couldn't hold on, and Maddie Jolin's free throw with 0.7 seconds left in overtime made up the margin in Providence's 67-66 win at Carnesecca Arena. Jolin had 19 points to lead all scorers, with Mary Baskerville adding 14 points and 10 rebounds. Alisha Kebbe had a team-high 16 points. Curteeona Brelove had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

For too many kids, comfortable seats, rolling signs, lunch, cruelty to the common clipboard, and an inability to hit shots at the rim, join your intrepid and frustrated blogger after the jump.

Good morning! Again. I'm not built for morning games, even when they have my team. We're coming to you on the inevitable tape delay from Carnesecca Arena, where St. John's is osting Providence.

Okay, St. John's has handled ticketing well this year. Unaccompanied majors have their own section, in the chairback seats, center court. (Y'know, as opposed to unaccompanied minors.) So we have good seats and we're not directly surrounded by screaming children. I'm okay with this.

That is... okay, the blue suspenders and paint-splattered-looking white blouse is definitely something, but I have not had nearly enough caffeine to figure out what that something is. She's on the Providence bench, whoever she is.

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They're playing the "baby shark" song, and I feel like I have died and gone to a special hell.

Team just came out, and Machi Duncan's arm is in a sling. Machi, what did you do to yourself?! So we're down to eight players. This is why you bring in more than ten players. Or at least bring in walk-ons.

Oh, cool. There's a digital board on the other side of the court that lists the players on court at any given time. I never saw it before because I'm usually behind it.

And never mind the previous point. There's a group in front of us, but at least they seem to be older, so there will be less indiscriminate screaming. I don't mind screaming as long as it's vaguely focused.

The only thing more annoying than jerseys with no names on the back is jerseys with fake names on the back. Providence all have "Friars" in place of a name.

Well, really, would it have been an official Division I women's basketball game if it didn't turn into a refshow at some point? I think not. But we shouldn't have been in a position for the game to be in that spot in the first place. We had opportunities at the rim and we blew them, plain and simple.

Providence certainly doesn't mind slowing the game down and using every ounce of clock, which shouldn't be a surprise (and really, we should be prepared for). They showed a lot more heart on the glass, and I think their key players were fresher at the end than ours were.

Alyssa Geary certainly is tall, isn't she? She didn't seem to know how to be much else in this game, but her arms were up on defense and against a short team that can be enough. Andrea Cooper provided a contrast in styles, being stockier and shorter than Geary. She had a good interception in the third quarter.

I don't think Earlette Scott got into the game in the first half, though I could be wrong- I wasn't on my sub game because my view of the waiting area was obscured and the PA guy was off his game. But I like the energy she gave them in the second half. She read long Providence shots very well and cleaned up the offensive glass so that Providence could reset their offense. Chanell Williams does not seem to believe she has ever committed a foul in her life, nor that she has ever traveled. Sometimes it's like that, Miss Williams. Kyra Spiwak got her buckets close to the basket, sneaking behind the defense.

Is it just me, or does Yo-Yo Nogic always seem to have a bad game when she plays St. John's, even though Providence otherwise has our number? She gets all the preseason accolades and then shoots really badly and commits fouls. I don't get it. I don't know if it's that we did this one thing right and did terribly at everything else, or she just doesn't match up well with us, or what. She did have a big block on Akina Wellere at the end of the third quarter. Maddie Jolin killed us from outside. She started hot and hit a dagger in overtime. Providence's solid switching gave her a lot of mismatches to exploit with her size. Mary Baskerville is very raw and still needs a lot of development- her touch around the basket on offense could be a lot better- but something about her glass work and her build reminds me of Lubirdia Gordon from Seton Hall. She laid a monster block in the OT to help seal the game for Providence.

Their smaller guards were less impressive. There's something about Olivia Orlando's attitude I actually kind of like. Kaela Webb is small and fast, and I'm not sure how well she fits in this offense, but clearly something is working here. I get the sense this team can be really streaky, and if they get stopped, they get extremely stopped. But if they see an opportunity, they're going for your jugular.

Hey, at least writing about the bench will be easy, since Alissa is sitting out a transfer year, Machi's arm is in a sling, and Moochy was DNP-CD. And for whatever reason, Kayla Charles was on a really short leash. If she made a mistake, she came out quickly and didn't come back in for a very long time. No, she wasn't playing super great, but we needed her, and I don't think she got enough time to work through her mistakes. Kadaja Bailey had a pretty good game, all things considered. It's good to see her possibly turning the corner and finding her groove again. I'd like her to finish better at the rim- she had chances, and she didn't seem to be going up strong on the glass. Too many good looks, not enough makes.

I'm really disappointed in Akina Wellere this year. She's moved away from her strengths and not shored up her weaknesses. She doesn't have a power game, and her shot from the outside has gotten slower. It's very frustrating. Curteeona Brelove missed some easy ones at the rim, but her midrange game got stronger as the game went on. I can live with that. I don't think I can live with the dumb fouls that ultimately led to her being taken out of the game.

Qadashah Hoppie also made some dubious defensive decisions that got her into foul trouble (and honestly, there was at least one rake where she should have been called for a reach-in). Her driving game was strong, but her three-point shot was AWOL, and I wasn't impressed with her on defense- I know she can do better. Alisha Kebbe was cold-blooded from the corner. I don't know how I feel about her becoming our three-point specialist, but if it works for her, then I can't be too upset. I just feel like it takes away from one of her strengths on the glass- if she's not in there mixing it up and boxing out, we're not getting rebounds. Tiana England drove well when she drove, but she spent too much time hesitating, even when Joe was encouraging the team to run (and that seems like a pretty rare thing).

But sitting this close to the bench highlighted a point I've seen before- this is one of the quietest teams I've ever seen. No one seems to be cheering each other on. No one's calling out encouragement or screens or the shot clock from the bench. Is there a leader here? The most passion I see is Joe yelling at the refs or Shenneika being frustrated. (There was one sequence where she was ready to slam her clipboard against the railing behind the bench, then seemed to realize that that would be a bad idea and brought the clipboard down with a marked speed decrease.)

I can't speak to the call that gave Providence the winning free throw, because I missed the entire sequence because the group in front of us chose that moment to leave. But it seemed like a cheap way to end the game. This crew had trouble counting steps much of th etime, but we got the benefit of some no-calls on reach-in plays.

This is my team, and I love them, but it's getting harder and harder to do so when it's not entirely sure that they love themselves the way they should.

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January 9th, 2019: Richmond at Fordham

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Fordham came on strong in the third quarter to win going away against Richmond, 60-48. Bre Cavanaugh led the way for the Rams with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Alex Parson had a team-high 12 points for Richmond.

For unaccompanied majors, the burning need for caffeine, and ennui, join your intrepid and blasé blogger after the jump.

Good morning, everyone! Your intrepid blogger is enjoying her last few days of freedom before starting a new job, which means going to all the morning games. I missed any pregame at Fordham, thanks to getting a late start.

So it's halftime here at Rose Hill Gymnasium, and Fordham is up 34-25 on Richmond. Five threes in the first quarter helps with that. Unfortunately for my sanity, the stupid Simon Says guy is our halftime "entertainment". I don't want to know how cheap he works if he does so many of these events, and if he's working the St. John's game on Friday I may scream, and not in the way the PA guy wants us to.

So far we've been getting the benefit of most of the calls (yeah, that was a big screen by Hinds-Clarke, but I thought it was legal). I don't know how long that's going to last.

I'm just saying, if you're here to support a member of the opposing team, you could consider not sitting across from the home bench, or spending most of the game staring at your phone, including the time that the girl you so enthusiastically applauded for got her bucket. Ugh, I'm too tired for this and my lower left wisdom tooth is coming in. Is there a nap corner I can use?

Still very tired. We'll see just how coherent these notes are, but at least I've now had lunch and some caffeine. Caffeine is love. Caffeine is life. The caffeine must flow.

Richmond doesn't seem to be particularly anything. They're not terrible at defense but they're not great at it; they don't have any extreme tendencies towards three-point shooting or interior play; no one really has an on-court demeanor that stands out, one way or another. Even the coach is unremarkable. I suppose there has to be a team like that somewhere, but boy does it make the GNoD even harder to write than usual.

Imani Mustaf has the physical and stylistic profile of someone who hit a very late, very spectacular growth spurt and was told that she would now be playing basketball. She moves like she's afraid her body will break if she goes too hard or takes too much contact. She definitely needs to bulk up a little, gain some stamina, and get more confident in herself and her ability. Jayana Ervin and Ragan Wiseman only got into the game at the very end; Autumn Truesdale didn't beat them in by much, but had just enough time to make a post move. Kailyn Fee's three came near the very end of the game.

Aniyah Carpenter got off to a fast start for the Spiders, scoring on pull-ups in the lane. She got a lot of minutes, especially in the second half, both because she was scoring and because there was foul trouble for Richmond's starting backcourt. Daijia Ruffin, on the other hand, got off to a rough start, with a couple of shots missed short and a terrible passing turnover. But she settled down in the second half. She's a big, stocky guard, but her speed and smoothness belie her build. Madelyn Neff provided the bulk of the reserve minutes in the frontcourt, but I'd have to review the tape to see what impact, if any, she made on this game.

I'm glad Amy Duggan is all right after coming up limping in the first half. That being said, perhaps that will teach her to watch her feet a little more carefully on both ends of the court- she got called for tripping at least once because of how wide her stance was, and how she had them turned out. She fought well in the paint for rebounds. Jaide Hinds-Clarke came alive briefly in the fourth quarter, with back-to-back steals (including a very impressive pickpocketing of Bre Cavanaugh- that's not easy to do) and tough and-1s in the paint. She spent much of the game in foul trouble, which made her far less effective.

Alex Parson wasn't afraid to shoot, and got on a three-point streak in the third quarter. Her release is pretty quick, and she's got some range. I just don't see that much more to her game, though I'm ready to be proven wrong if this game was an outlier. Claire Holt was slim, and shockingly pale, and did all right for herself going to the hoop. Molly Mraz picked up two fouls early, and with Carpenter producing on offense, I can understand why Richmond's coach went with the lineups he did.

I'm trying to come up with more details, but Richmond was so ridiculously pedestrian, so unrelentingly average, that you'd think they were representing Lake Wobegon or something. If you're going to have no distinguishing features as a team, at least put names on your jerseys. Sheesh.

So Coach Gaitley completely emptied the bench at the end of this one, to the point where players I thought weren't even available were suiting up. Welcome back, Ralene Kwiatkowski! I like how willing she was to take a charge, even right back from an injury. And I thought Edona Thaqi was sitting out a transfer year (she's from UConn... okay, UConn-Avery Point, but the point still remains) but she got into the game at the very, very end. I don't think she's ready yet, and I might not have played her at all this year. The entire bench was ready to get up and get hyped for Katie McLoughlin and Catherine Polisano if they scored, and Bre looked so heartbroken when Katie's shot went in and out. Vilisi Tavui continues to be tall and unsure of what to do with this information. I would really like to see more of Alexa Giuliano. Someone needs to give Lauren Holden a break at some point.

Coach Gaitley put a lot more focus on the inside game in this one- I think this is the most I've seen Megan Jonassen play in one game. She gave us some good tough boxouts. Quiet game for Zara Jillings, and one where she seemed to be getting more Teaching Moments than usual. Maybe she's just not a morning person. I know that feeling. I'm definitely more of a night owl.

Quiet game for Kaitlyn Downey. I'm disturbed by the number of three-point attempts, but I think a lot of them were in the first quarter, or at least the first half, when the team was collectively feeling it, so I can understand her thinking. If that was the shot Richmond was allowing, then it wasn't the worst idea in the world. Mary Goulding cleaned up on the inside- her teammates did a really good job of finding her, both the guards and the posts (I think Megan had an especially nice feed to her on the inside.

I don't understand how Kendell Heremaia and Bre Cavanaugh can do such a good job of connecting on the backdoor cut, and do such a terrible job of communicating on the glass. One day, they're going to go after the same board at the wrong angle, and someone's going to get hurt (especially when you throw Mary's hustle into the mix). That all being said, I don't want anything to change about their shared desire for the ball- just maybe their ability to entrust the other person with it. I love Bre's rebounding, though I'm perturbed that one of our guards is consistently leading the team in rebounding- yes, she's playing a lot of minutes and I haven't crunched the advanced stats, but it feels like the advanced stats are heavily in Bre's favor as well. I love how Kenny's developing. She seems poised to take over as point guard when Lauren Holden graduates, and I can already tell that she'll be a different kind of point from Lauren. I'm okay with that. For some reason, the word "collaborative" comes to mind. Lauren had the three-point shot going from deep early. I'm not always happy about that, because she'll usually start leaning on it even when she goes cold, but she was driving the lane more in this game (even if her floater still needs a lot of work).

Our passing game was pretty sharp in this one. With the guards we have, I shouldn't be surprised by that, but it's always a pleasant surprise when it stands out.

I do apologize for the delay on this, but it's been a bit of a crazy week, and I cannot emphasize enough how relentlessly uninspiring Richmond was. It was close for a while, and then we went on a run in the third quarter, and I'm still not entirely certain how it happened.

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Monday, December 31, 2018

December 30th, 2018: St. John's at Seton Hall

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Seton Hall broke open a close game with a big third quarter on their way to a 77-67 win to open Big East play against St. John's. Inja Butina led four Pirates in double figures with 19 points. Qadashah Hoppie had 19 points to lead St. John's.

For the usual levels of awkward, pretzels, a truly hideous jacket, alumnae, terrible rotations, hot tempers, and giving up on the foul derby, join your intrepid and insomniac blogger after the jump.

It's bowl season, so you know what that means? It's the perfect time for the Awkward Bowl! Well, I lie; there's no perfect time for the Awkward Bowl, and I can definitely think of things I'd rather do on a Sunday morning after a doubleheader than hike out to New Jersey, but my team needs me, especially after that collapse by the men last night. (I don't want to talk about it, except to bring up the point that bad things happen if you overwork your best players, and Seton Hall was very lucky to get out of there with the victory, given most of their shot selection in the final two minutes.)

Look, dude. People are not on this train to try and build a community or get involved in people's lives. People are on this train to get from point A to point B. That is the purpose of transportation. It transports. For the love of all that is sweet and holy, wrap up your spiel in less than four stations and move on to the next one; there might be softer hearts in there, because I think everyone in this car had lost patience with him by about two stations in.

(Yes, I am that cynical jerk who practically grades panhandlers and street preachers. If you want my attention, you need to earn it, and either way, you're not getting my money.)

The awkward has begun. At least Kadaja Bailey's family has made it out, so I have people to sit with, and at some point I presume the Duncan/Hoppie kinfolk will arrive. (I, uh. Don't know if I want the Sinas to show up, actually. They have a bad history with the Hall.) But I still don't like cheering without him- worse, against him.

We made pretzels. The Fordham F turned out better than trying to do the conjoined initials for STJ and SHU. We're thinking about digits for various and sundry Senior Days, though I'd rather not think about Senior Days right now, because noooooooo.

Oh, right, that's who's Canadian! I forgot about Barbara Johnson, but in my defense, she is sitting out a transfer year.

I may have said this once or twice, but I miss the days when the rivalry was lit in a more positive way, when St. John's had Nadirah and Amber and Aliyyah, and Seton Hall had the Simmonses, and pretty much all of Newark showed up in one capacity or another, and it stayed friendly because NaNa and Didi were friends. I miss that. At least no one's quite as crazy as some of the crazies we've dealt with.

It's 34-33 St. John's at halftime, on the strength of a late Tiana England three and 13 first-half points from Qadashah Hoppie. Seton Hall's press is doing a number on us defensively, but it's significantly hampered by Kaela Hilaire picking up fouls three and four in rapid succession on a pushout and the associated tantrum. KK's heart lives on her sleeve, and we're going to see just how badly it comes back to haunt the Hall. Desiree Elmore has had herself quite the second quarter, and her nine points in that frame lead all SHU scorers.

That anthem singer can sing the anthem any day of the week and twice on Sundays. Operatic and epic.

Brittney Sykes has set up camp behind the visiting bench, which is just confusing unless she's friend of a friend to someone on our bench (the only connections I can think of are on the SHU side). But I think all the cool kids are sitting upstairs this year- I think Nadirah and Aliyyah are both in the balcony seating.

DSPN has met up with Timmy Ice and so far things seem to be going well. Yes, Derek's presence means I technically broke the covenant that the husband and I have during the Awkward Bowl, but if he's disconcerting shooters, the gloves are off.

Refs called it too tight in the first quarter and too loose in the second. Doesn't help that both teams are committing stupid reaches.

(General just for the record: I'm a public school kid. I ride for all my PSAL kids.)

My Twitter synopsis of this game was "welp, that sure was a thing that happened there", and I'm honestly tempted to leave it there, because I still have to work on the Fordham notes from yesterday, and also I may be very tired, and also I may be trying to keep myself from getting banned from the borough of Staten Island (not that I particularly want to go to Staten Island, but I'd like to keep the option open if the necessity should arise).

We have all the depth of a tawdry gossip magazine. This is a problem against teams that like to press, like to run, and like to play a lot of players. Oh. Look at our opponent. I think you see one of the problems here.

In all seriousness, though, while I love Shamachya Duncan's heart, and her shot is very nice when it's on, she should not be playing heavy rotation minutes for this team, and this team should not be in a position where she has to play heavy rotation minutes. Offensively, she's a one-trick pony, and defensively, well, she tries, but she's not at Big East level, and I don't know that she'll ever be. Jasmine Sina looks like she's lost all confidence in her shot- there were at least two possessions where she passed out of a look that her teammates clearly wanted her to take. I hope she's okay after the collision with Desiree Elmore and the stanchion; the trainer was administering the concussion tests to her on the bench afterwards.

I don't know what's wrong with Kadaja Bailey- if something or someone is in her head, or if she just hasn't adjusted to the real level of D-I competition after our first couple of easy opponents, but she looks like she's lost confidence in herself, and all the potential from the beginning of the season has turned into long limbs flailing aimlessly on defense and shots going over the basket on offense. There are things she has to finish that she's not finishing, and her development really seems to have stagnated. Kayla Charles had a solid defensive game in the first half, but she did not do as good a job as I would have liked on putbacks. Granted, a lot of them were dramatic aerial attempts with a high degree of difficulty.

The contrast between Tiana England cutting confidently to the basket and Tiana England pounding the air out of the ball is very sharp, and I hope people who should be paying attention to it are in fact doing so. I'd like to see a little more care in her shot selection- while she got most of her points in the paint, she threw up some really careless shots. These are not the lessons we need to be learning from the men's game. She laid a monster block on Inja Butina on the fast break. Qadashah Hoppie took advantage of Seton Hall's propensity to commit unnecessary reach-in fouls and got to the line early and often. Sometimes I think she settles for the first available shot, and while it's nice to have someone on this team who has some sense of urgency on offense, it's possible to swing too far the other way too. I continue to love Alisha Kebbe's hustle on the glass and on defense (getting up high enough to block Nicole Jimenez is a lot trickier than it seems on first look). I'm not sure about the long three-point attempt, though.

STOP COMMITTING STUPID FOULS AKINA. Okay, I'm done. I think. But seriously, know where you are on the court and know where you are in relation to the white jersey-clad player whose space you are in. Her shot's all messed up, and she's stuck in between positions, and it is not good. Curteeona Brelove looks hesitant. I know she's working her way back from the injury, but something seems more off about her than that would explain. Maybe she just needs more reps at game speed. Kayla had a better game, and one of the few decisions I agree with Joe on in this game was going more to Kayla.

(But seriously, the first two players off the bench in the second half were Moochy and Machi, and while I like them both as people, I don't understand that choice one iota.)

Speaking of post players coming off injuries and playing like they have no idea what they're doing, what in the world has happened to Kimi Evans? She played very briefly and looked very lost. Against this depleted St. John's team, and the distinct size advantage she has over everyone, she should have been able to tromp all over us, and yet she did not seem to have the wherewithal to tromp. (Then again, Seton Hall is fighting their own injury woes in the frontcourt; Femi Funeus came out on crutches, and Whitney Howell was nowhere to be found. Poor kids.) Fortunately for the Hall, Desiree Elmore was beasting on the offensive glass, and the looks that dared to not fall for her in the first quarter rattled home in every one thereafter. She positioned herself so well inside for rebounds. I have to give her her props.

Kaity Healy stepped up big in the second quarter and in the second half, filling in a lot of minutes for the Hall. She brought stability. The three-point shooting didn't hurt, either. She had to step up, because Kaela Hilaire was extremely limited by foul trouble. She got herself into it all too fast, because petulantly stomping away from her third foul drew a technical that became her fourth. (It was probably a cheap technical, to be honest, but if it teaches her to keep a hold of her temper in rivalry games, it was a fairly cheap lesson, since we split the free throws and turned the ball over on the ensuing possession.) Danielle Robinson made a couple of cameos and got to shoot a couple of free throws near the end of the first half.

Shadeen Samuels is just so much fun to watch. Even when she's not the star of the show- even when her teammates are the ones putting up the big numbers, or making the biggest plays- there's a grace to her that draws my eye. She doesn't so much go to the basket as she takes a step and she's at the basket. She makes it all look so easy. (And then I look at the box score and she has quite impressive numbers. Why are you so awesome, Shadeen?) Selena Philoxy threw it up too hard at the basket, but half the time it seemed like she was getting the offensive rebound anyway. She's some kind of tough. (That's how we roll in Queens.) She and Kayla Charles were going at it hammer and tongs whenever they were matched up against each other.

Inja Butina had a bad case of happy feet- I think she had three travels in the first half, if not the first quarter alone. She cut through our defense like a hot knife through butter and either got to the rim, got to the line, or committed a turnover. She was canning threes early, which gave our defense a whole different set of problems. Nicole Jimenez has taken to the off-guard position rather better than I expected (well, inasmuch as any of these three guards can be considered "off" in a set of three fairly small guards; I think by height Inja technically lines up at three, but Coley was the one lining up on the lane for free throws) though she did take an awful lot of shots. Take what the defense gives you, I guess. She snagged a couple of stray interceptions on careless Red Storm passes. Victoria Cardaci, playing in a face mask, was one of the few truly ineffective Pirates in this game. And Coach Bozzella realized that and adjusted his rotations accordingly, because that's something he can do way better than Coach Tartamella can.

Seton Hall is at their best when speeding the game up, but they've improved at slowing it down as well, and that's important; too often they've run themselves into trouble in the past. Dez gives them a dangerous midrange game, and flexibility in setting their lineups. If they can get Kimi going again, they're going to be extremely lethal in conference play.

Officials were a marvel of inconsistency, but I'm adult enough to admit that St. John's got the benefit of some terrible no-calls. And you can't even make the joke that the refs must have gone to Seton Hall for home cooking, because SHU's band proves that Pirates can count at least to four. ("1, 2, 3, 4! That's four! One more!")

The crowd really got into it. I'd like to think we ginned them up a little, but the thing about Seton Hall fans is that it only takes a little to get them going, and I know someone who can provide more than a little. Walsh is an amazing noise box when its fans get loud, and I want to hear so much more of that.

There was apparently some kind of halftime thing involving some of the older alumnae, but I spent about five minutes arguing with the ridiculously long concession line and missed it all. Since they apparently missed at least three more recent alumnae (hi, Bird, hi, Chiz, hi, Daisha) I don't feel like there's a gaping void in my life because of this.

And, of course, who should we run into as we're leaving Walsh but Jade Walker, who apparently missed the game? And was surprised by the result? I mean, I love Jade, but I would not put it past her to have forgotten what time the game started and completely miss it.

Bless my team, trainwreck that they surely are. Still mine. Not changing. Just frustrating.

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December 29th, 2018: MTSU at Chattanooga

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Middle Tennessee started out on a big run and never surrendered control as the Blue Raiders beat Chattanooga 58-47. A'Queen Hayes had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead MTSU, with Alex Johnson adding 17. The Mocs got strong scoring off their bench, with Bria Dial's 12 points leading the way and Mya Long adding 11, but no other Chattanooga player had more than eight points.

For fashion commentary, putting names to shimmies, ill-advised passes, insecure bandages, shutting down everything, and burning clock, join your intrepid and geographically displaced blogger after the jump.

On to the next one! Strange for a couple of teams from Tennessee to run into each other up here in New York, but I don't question the scheduler. Chattanooga is the designated home team today, and since I don't feel like getting up, I guess we're sort of rooting for them. Besides, I like the kid who liked the drum corps.

Huh, this is awfully early for the captains' meeting with the refs. It's just under fifteen minutes until tip.

Scoreboard operator fell asleep sometime after the first quarter, I'm about 40% certain the PA guy accidentally called Taylor Sutton Taylor Swift, and at least one turnover has been caused by insufficient mopping. The perils of the neutral half of a doubleheader. Middle Tennessee is up 36-24 on Chattanooga at the half. Alex Johnson has 11 points to lead the Blue Raiders, with A'Queen Hayes adding 10 (and one spectacular block). Bria Dial has nine on three threes to lead Chattanooga.

MTSU has a Jersey girl, so they have a pretty big cheering section behind their bench, but a few people have come up from Chattanooga as well.

In the end, MTSU had the better players and made fewer mistakes, just fewer enough to win. Chattanooga showed some heart, but they were too clumsy for their own good and got in their own way too much.

I loathe MTSU's uniforms. I get that they're the Blue Raiders, and that there should naturally be an emphasis on the blue. But there's no trim, and there are no names, and both of these combine with the rounded neckline to make their uniforms look like very nice practice jerseys- but practice jerseys nevertheless. Do better, MTSU. (Also, I realize that this is a neutral-site holiday tournament, but please, can y'all put your coaches in real clothes and not polos?)

Lasonja Edwards came in briefly in each half to relieve Alex Johnson. She did not contribute very much. Jordan Majors played much the same role, though there were stretches when he played alongside Johnson. She's got good height off the bench for them, but she's a little careless with the ball. She wrecked Lakelyn Bouldin on

Alexis Whittington was in barely long enough for the PA guy to notice her existence (which, to be fair, is nothing new for some subs). Tall for a guard. Katie Collier is small and blonde, and there was a sequence where MTSU turned the ball over on what I can only call a collective blonde moment with her and Anna Jones, wherein one of them was sure that the inbounds play involved a handoff and the other was equally sure it did not. It did not go well. There was recriminating. It looked like the Spider-Man meme.

Anna Jones did start the game out like gangbusters with a three and a couple of nifty defensive deflections (I think she was the one who stopped Mollie Melton dead on a fast break). But she was more careless with the ball as the game went on. Taylor Sutton is small, and quick, two qualities that tend to go together in high-level basketball. She seemed to be a lot more omnipresent than the box score would indicate. She kept busy on defense. A'Queen Hayes has great explosiveness ot the basket, and wonderful slashing ability, but her tendency to run the clock down and blithely assume she was going to successfully make the play bit MTSU in the rear a couple of times when Chattanooga answered with a block. She's got ups- the ridiculous block on Arianne Whitaker showed that- but I think she relies too heavily on her perceived ability, which may not pan out against defenses that are prepared for her.

Alex Johnson is a load down low, and she took Arianne Whitaker apart in the early going. She's got a nice passing eye, and I like that she's not a complete ballhog- there were one or two occasions where she called off the ball and set the screen instead. But I don't know how much more there is to her offensive game- the three-pointer that completely deflated Chattanooga can only be described as a desperation heave- and when Chattanooga brought in a different defender, she didn't seem to know how to react immediately. Jess Louro shoots threes. That's literally every shot she took today. She seems to be a pretty streaky shooter- she hit three in the first quarter and then her shot went dead until the fourth. She made a pretty good stop in the first quarter. (But, uh. How to say this delicately? Insell does not appear to value the weight room for his bigs? And Louro's jersey, um, seemed to especially emphasize her, um, chest.)

Rochelle Lee was the player in love with the drum corps in the first half of the doubleheader, and she was the first post off the bench for the Mocs. She gave them good height and an ability to change up the defense on Johnson. Once she got those arms up, and was bending with the pressure, suddenly Johnson was a lot less comfortable. She's got to finish better at the rim, though. Eboni Williams came into the game, committed two quick fouls, one offensive and one frankly unnecessary, and that was pretty much the last we saw of her.

Bria Dial got the second-half start, possibly based on her nice shooting in the first half from beyond the arc. As you may imagine, there were many "dial" puns to be had, because why not? It was interesting to see how Chattanooga's coach handled her hot and cold shooting, and knew when to take her out and put her back in for maximum effectiveness. Mya Long also started the second half, though this may have been due to injury instead of play. She ran point okay, though there were some stupid turnovers in there.

Mollie Melton is fast, though I don't know if she's as fast as she thinks she is- the injury that took her out of the game looked to be some kind of strain or sprain that came from overextending herself. I love the work she did on the fast break, both spurring it for the Mocs and stopping it for the Blue Raiders, and given that her family traveled to see her, I'm really sorry her game had to end like that. Brooke Burns started the game, but was benched for the second half and didn't reenter until late in the third quarter. I can't say I'm surprised. She really contributed nothing except an inability to finish inside. Lakelyn Bouldin got some tough looks to go down, and did a good job of getting to the line.

Arianne Whitaker, for all the grief I gave her about defending Alex Johnson, came up with some big blocks at the end of the clock, when they counted most. She did well inside as well, though I think she may have been one of the many players who had second or third chances at the baket that she just couldn't put down. There was a lot of that going around, enough of it that Chattanooga could have made a real game of it if they'd been able to finish. And while I hate to pile on a player, there were a lot of unforced errors from Shelbie Davenport. I love her heart and hustle, but it seemed really undirected, and caused as much trouble for her team as it did for the opposition. I'm looking at this box score, and I'm amazed at how the turnovers were distributed.

I don't know if Chattanooga is a bad team, but no one in this game really seemed like the kind of player who could take the team on her shoulders and will them to a win. MTSU has that in Johnson and Hayes (whether you want Hayes to be that player or not is a question for another time, perhaps one when I am somewhat more conscious). They seem too much like a team that can't cope with pressure yet- they're fairly young, though.

Officiating was mostly unremarkable, though I remain amazed at their astonishing ability to not call mid-air body slams on people. I mean, really. Wrestling is not a thing here, people.

I honestly expected the traveling fans to be louder, but they really didn't find their stride on either side until the second half, when Chattanooga cut it to six a couple of times. Do better, Tennesseeans and people who root for teams in Tennessee. Y'all didn't come to New York to sit on your hands, right?

I honestly have no idea what Fordham is going to do with Alex Johnson tomorrow, and I don't think Chattanooga is going to enjoy Maine's defense very much.

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December 29th, 2018: Maine at Fordham

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Bre Cavanaugh had 27 points to power Fordham to a 72-64 overtime win over Maine in the first day of the Fordham Holiday Classic. Blanca Millan had 16 points in regulation to lead the Black Bears.

For beating the same drum, pretzels, very loud drums, and scrappy bears, join your intrepid and chronologically displaced blogger after the jump.

Good afternoon, ladies, gentlemen, and other folks for whom I may lack the proper vocabulary! We're coming to you live and in surround sound from historic Rose Hill Gymnasium on the campus of Fordham University, where the Rams are finishing out their season as hosts of a doubleheader. Home team will be going first, hosting the Black Bears of Maine (who seem to be awfully blue, but who am I to judge?)

Ralene's out of the boot, but still not dressed; at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up taking a redshirt. Halei Gillis is also not dressed, and her hair is ridiculously shiny. Yes, these are the petty things I notice. There's also a guard I don't recognize on crutches, wearing a knee brace.

In other hair-related news, Bre has abandoned the coronet and gone back to the crash padding. Probably for the best. There's a very good brain in there that needs as much protection as possible, and she certainly doesn't shy away from contact. pls no break Bre kthxbai

Anthem singer seems to be laboring under the impression that she is Mariah Carey. Reader, our anthem singer was not, in fact, Mariah Carey.

At halftime, it's 28-25 Fordham, the margin mostly coming from Kendell Heremaia going coast to coast for a lay-up with 0.9 seconds left. To say that it wasn't a good first quarter for us would be an understatement; there were stretches when we looked like we'd never seen a defense before. Not any particular defense, mind you, just the concept of defense seemed to be confuddling the squad.

One of the Chattanooga players is really digging the drum corps that's subbing for the Fordham band. I dig how much she is digging their groove.

Bre Cavanaugh is doing Bre things with seven points and four rebounds, while Kendell Heremaia has eight to lead the Rams. Blanca Millan got off to a hot start for Maine; her team-high eight points all came in the first quarter.

This is the least inspired halftime game I've ever seen. I think the kids are too distracted by the drums to actually play.

I don't know why Tanesha Sutton wants to test Lauren Holden. If you put an elbow in her neck, she's taking out your knees.

I don't know what's up with the family of fans in Notre Dame gear who wandered in near the end of the second quarter, but somehow nothing about it really surprises me.

Well, that was closer than it had to be, and if that extremely late review reversing the block/charge call had in fact decided the game, I would probably have broken my moratorium on swearing in the Game Notes. But boy howdy did Megan Jonassen come through in the overtime! And Maine's worst tendencies came back to bite them at the worst times, which cost them both Blanca Millan and Tanesha Sutton for the overtime.

I like Coach Gaitley's family very much, don't get me wrong. I am less enthused about their tendency to treat gameday like another family gathering. Y'all did notice the game going on in front of y'all, right? They did settle down, or get riled up, as appropriate as the game went on.

Maine is a very intense team. For much of the game, that played to their advantage, as they were able to rattle us with their swarming defense and draw blocks on us while they were on offense. But they weren't able to mediate it properly, and that got them into trouble at the end of the game, especially without their two top-notch upperclassmen.

Doga Alper was an emergency sub for when Sutton fouled out at the end of regulation, and if she played more than three literal seconds, I'll be very surprised. Alex Bolozova made up for her one regulation play being a bad out-of-bounds deflection with a bucket in overtime, but I could have maybe lived without the late hip check.

Kelly Fogerty and Maddy McVicar were both called upon for minutes than I think they were used to, due to the injury to Parise Rossignol (which originally looked like a tailbone bruise to my extremely amateur eye, but from the way she was still holding her back when she finally got up, there might have been a pulled muscle somewhere up in there). They are both very small and very blonde, and if you want me to remember you as more than that, you need to either wear names on your jerseys or do something worth remembering. Kira Barra brought size off the bench, but oddly passive size. I think that might be why she wasn't playing as much as I would have expected.

I do hope Rossignol is all right. She gave Maine a good driving game. Dor Saar is so tiny! It's not just that she's short- I'm used to short point guards. But she's also very slightly built. Her shot is so quick. She just flicks it up. I guess you have to when you're that small; it's the only way to keep from getting blocked. Blanca Millan drove really well and got some ridiculous shots to fall in that had no business falling in, but she played out of control at times, and she really needs to work on her free throw shooting (unless this game was an aberration, but I doubt it from the mechanics I saw). There were stretches when she was playing out of control, which cost Maine ultimately.

There's an odd hitch in Tanesha Sutton's shot. There are elements of her shot that remind me of Stacy Frese, which I guess isn't necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, her free throws were very technically sound. I'm thinking she might need to apply some elements of that to her jumper. That all being said, her rebounding was fantastic- I kept being amazed at how she was getting boards close to the basket. Her arms just appeared in places it didn't seem they should be. Maeve Carroll was there, for lack of a better word. She made some plays late, when someone had to.

Well, at least the Fordham part of the notes will be easy, since Coach Gaitley did not dip deep into her bench. Zara Jillings started her game leaving a couple of shots short right at the rim, which really grinds my gears, let me tell you. But after being pulled out the first time, she got herself right, more or less. Coach Gaitley called her over to talk to her more than anyone else, so I think she might have been out of position on defense. Her tenacity on the glass seemed to get better and better as the game went on. Megan Jonassen had herself one heck of an overtime with the two putbacks. She fought so hard in the paint. I'm so proud of her.

I don't like the play where Kaitlyn Downey is the outside shooter with very little time left on the shot clock. That's putting all your eggs in one basket, and Kaitlyn is not yet a sturdy enough basket to put that many eggs into. If she misses, no one's in position for the offensive rebound, and it's off to the races for the other team. I like that the three is a weapon in her arsenal; I just don't think we should be reaching into that quiver as often as we have been. Mary Goulding will be the death of me, because as many hustle plays as she makes for good, she'll make for ill. She was solid inside defensively, but then she'd commit a stupid foul, or deflect a ball away from a teammate. She'd hit a difficult shot, then miss an easy one.

Lauren Holden had a big third quarter to pull Fordham back into the game. It's nice to see her driving the lane instead of just jacking threes from the vicinity of the Jersey Shore; though her floater is inconsistent. I'm going to need Kendell Heremaia to stop staring at her three-pointer and follow it instead, because wile her shot is okay, it's not stand-back-and-admire good. But she killed it on the glass. She picked up her boards on excellent positioning. I love how she's developing, and I think she's going to be special by senior year. Bre Cavanaugh got off to a tough start, and then you could almost see the moment when she decided to go put on her cape; she gets this look on her face where the corner of her mouth pulls up and her nose kind of wrinkles, and that's when Super Bre comes out. She was bombing threes in the second half and the overtime, to the point where I was starting to feel bad for Ralene (whose solemn responsibility on the bench is to run down the line and give everyone high-fives whenever Fordham hits a three, and who is also coming off a foot injury). She can take a game over, but I think I've beaten into the ground how much I don’t want it to happen as much as it has to. (Also, she should not have to be the player pulling down contested rebounds in the paint. I love that she can, and I love that she does, but this is a thing our forwards should be doing so Bre can get out and score, and maybe not be battered around as much.)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Maine's coach was upset with the officiating. Commit stupid reaches, get stupid fouls. But Maine was almost gifted the game in regulation when a charge call on the Black Bears was reviewed very late- almost to the point where Fordham had inbounded the ball- and reversed to a block on Fordham. That swung two key points Maine's way, and the fact that we forced regulation after that was a miracle. I don't know how well things would have gone for the officials if Maine had won in regulation based on that call. (I thought it was a weak call initially, but not worth reviewing and not with enough evidence on the floor to overturn.)

We have got to get our collective act together. We can't keep relying on Bre, and to a lesser extent Lauren, to pull our fat out of the fire. Someone's got to be willing to shoot. Someone's got to be willing to step up and be the sidekick. I am not okay with the idea of Bre and Lauren averaging 38 minutes by the end of the season.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

December 21st, 2018: Fordham at Iona

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A slow first quarter for both teams led into a second-quarter run for Fordham, and the Rams didn't look back in their 57-40 win over Iona. Bre Cavanaugh had 15 points and 12 rebounds to lead Fordham. Shyan Mwai and Morgan Rachu each had eight points to pace the Gaels.

For road tripping, avoided puns, procedural turnovers, discount Diet Coke, and being distracted by shiny objects, join your intrepid blogger after the jump.

I'd say good morning to y'all, but it's extremely not a good morning out there. There are no frozen cats, and nothing's been snapped off, but there are flash flood warnings all through southern New York, so I'd say it's still a wonderful day to play inside. It's up to Iona in enemy colors again, as the Gaels host a ridiculously early tip against Fordham. As you might expect, there are about two dozen people in the stands, and that's if I count gameday staff.

Ashley Martin, I admire and respect you, but what in the world have you done to your hair, and why are you trying to look like a cross between Sailor Moon and Betty Boop? (On the other hand, Halei Gillis's partial braids look really good on her. The 'do softens her face a bit.)

Ralene's out of the boot, at least, though she does not appear to be dressing out today.

The one thing I miss most about being on good terms with Iona is the wi-fi password, not gonna lie. At least I can tap into the Spectrum network from here.

This is your perennial reminder that #14 should be retired on the women's side at Iona, and Billi Chambers can go straight to sod off until such time as it happens.

I don't applaud recorded anthems, please don't side-eye me.

I should probably learn the name of the DOBO/PR lady for Fordham. She's lovely and she brought chocolate and pom-poms. What's not to like?

This is your perennial reminder that Monica Barefield, Ashley Martin, and any other player who chooses to kneel for the anthem has my unconditional support of their right to freedom of speech and expression.

At halftime, it's 29-18 Fordham, after a rough start for the Rams and a strong start for Iona. Bre Cavanaugh has put on her metaphorical cape, with nine points and six boards in the first half, most of that coming in the second quarter. Juana Camilión is the real deal for Iona, with seven points to lead the Gaels. She had a scary moment early in the first, when she slid hard on a wet patch on the floor and limped off. She came back in, but Iona's offense lost a lot of explosiveness when she was out, and didn't get it back when she returned. They're falling back on their volume shooters, Rachu and Mwai, and it's not going well. On the other hand, they're getting good penetration against our defense.

Quite a few folks have made their way here to support the Rams, but it seems to be a social occasion more than a sporting occasion. There's a dude a couple of rows behind me who's giving good commentary on the game, though; I think he's a youth coach. Katie McLoughlin has an especially big contingent on hand, one that got very excited when she got some first half run.

And now the wi-fi is acting up. Stop that, Iona.

So that turned out rather more satisfying than I expected, which is good, since it is raining and I am not the world's biggest fan of slogging around in the rain. Live by the three, die by the three, and some of our dubious three-point shots could have killed us against better teams. But we survived to tell the tale.

With about two minutes left in the game, Coach Chambers blinked first and sent in her deep reserves, at which point Coach Gaitley arranged a line change. I am not happy with how long it took her to sub out Bre and Lauren Holden. She's going to run those two into the ground if she's not careful. Waiting for the other coach to capitulate may be emotionally satisfying, but if you're up 15 with three or four minutes to go, it's probably okay to take out your workhorses, especially against bad teams or teams that tend to lash out in losses. I realize this is never going to change, but I'm going to rail against it anyway on the off chance that it does.

Anyway. I can't remember the last time I saw a bench this hyped for free throws, but the squad was loving Vilisi Tavui getting to the line (shame the shot didn't go in- that was a really nice pass from Halei). Some good hustle plays from Halei and from Catherine Polisano, even if Catherine got called for a foul on it. Lauren Murphy's free throw motion is not good, and she probably needs to work on that if she's going to move up in the rotation at any point.

Katie McLoughlin needs to extend her range just a hair- that long two could have been a three with another step or two back. I like her hustle, and she's got potential, but there are a lot of things she needs to work on. I'm glad Coach Gaitley is showing a little confidence in her, though. We could use a little more depth on the bench. Zara Jillings continues to bring the hustle- there was one play where Iona was loosey-goosey with the ball, and she was on it like a hawk. I wish she could have hit the looks she got, because they were good looks, if a little too quick. Megan Jonassen continues to develop. I really like how she's coming along. She's physical inside, and she had one little baby hook in the second half that got a few whoops from the crowd.

I also like how Kaitlyn Downey is coming along. She's finishing better on the inside, while still retaining the ability to step outside and hit the three. I think she was missing that balance early in the season. She's boxing out well, too. Mary Goulding is unreal sometimes. How she went from hands and knees crying with pain to back in the game and hitting in the paint, I don't know. She's ridiculously tough. She wasn't afraid to get into the scrum for rebounds, and there were times, especially in the second half, that scrum was the only applicable word.

I love how Kendell Heremaia's passing game has developed. I'm sorry it's coming at the expense of her once-sharp defensive game, but all things in life require sacrifices. She spent a lot of the game in foul trouble (the possession after she picked up her fourth, I was on pins and needles because we hadn't gotten the sub up in time, but then we forced the turnover and Lesko fouled to stop play) that hampered her effectiveness. Lauren Holden spent a good chunk of the game looking frustrated at foul calls both made and not made, or possibly at threes that weren't going down. I can understand some of her frustration, though; there should never be a sequence where Lauren is attempting to box out a player close to a foot taller than she is, and she got stuck with Gabrielle Joseph on a couple of sequences. This is not a good plan. Bre Cavanaugh continues to do Bre things. Her timing on the glass was exceptional, though, really, those are boards her posts should be getting instead of getting out of the way for her. (I don't necessarily mind Bre the double-double machine, but I am equally okay with Bre getting seven or eight boards if the balance of them go to Mary or Kaitlyn.) She killed Iona with her hesitation moves and quick hands. I just wish she didn't have to carry so much of the load.

I'm bummed for Amelia Motz. I don't think she's been recruited over, though I admit my bias here, but she seems to have been relegated to the end of the bench, only coming in at the end of each half for mop-up duty. She seems like a nice kid. She deserves better. I don’t know if Ashley Martin deserves better in basketball terms, but IMO she does in personal terms. Run! You can almost certainly do better!

I don't know if Monica Barefield has more than one speed or not, but the one speed she does have is fast. Very fast. She's got good, if inconsistent, shooting range. But her size is a liability, and it gets her in trouble as much as it keeps her out of trouble. She's the closest thing to a point guard that Iona has right now, and that's part of their problem. Shayla Middlebrooks drove hard into the lane. She got a little too fancy with her finishes and probably could have added another bucket to her tally if not for the flourish. She's physical, and I don't know if she's always on the right side of that line, but she does better than some of her teammates at trying to be. Jodi-Marie Ramil, on the other hand, is not so good at staying on the right side of the line, and admittedly, some of my thoughts about her play are ill-suited to a G-rated (or possibly PG?) blog such as this. Granted, Bre's teammates should have called out the screen, but it was an awfully hard screen. I don't know if Iona just wasn't going to her, or if we were able to shut her down when we weren't shutting down their guard penetration, but she could have been much more of a factor for them than she was, and I'm happy about that, believe me.

There are two different ways that Morgan Rachu's last name is pronounced in an alternate universe, both leading to the Pokémon Go joke that electric types are boosted in rainy weather. Unfortunately, in this universe, it's pronounced like a threat you make to a pile of leaves (rake-you) and I look like even more of a giant dork than I already am. She's got size, but her shot is just a mess. She's way too streaky, and when she's not on from beyond the arc, she doesn't seem to be able to contribute in other ways. Shyan Mwai penetrated well but couldn't always finish at the rim. Juana Camilión shows a lot of potential that I don't think she'll be able to fulfill at Iona. She's got a really nice crossover that she used to make space for herself, but she didn't always take advantage of that space. She'll have to be more aggressive in that regard going forward.

Gabrielle Joseph is another player with potential, but she's too tentative at times. Granted, she was being sealed off pretty well for stretches, but on the other hand, any post player worth her salt should be able to take advantage of a mismatch against Lauren Holden. She's also got to do a better job of getting out of the paint- she was getting for three-second calls, though she certainly wasn't the only Gael who lost track of time in the lane. There's potential there, but I don't know if she's ready for the starting position she so far has. Tori Lesko spent a lot of time playing out of position as the closest thing to a point guard in the Gaels' starting lineup. No one really seemed comfortable with the responsibility of bringing the ball up the floor, so it fell to her, and she took the bullet, for lack of a better word. She took charges, or at least attempted to, although sometimes I thought she crossed the line into flopping. She does that; she's done that for as long as I can remember. She took a couple of hard tumbles, including one near the end of the game that Coach Gaitley had to help her up from.

(As an aside: dear fellow Fordham backers, if you're talking about stepping on someone's fingers, you better either be talking about something I didn't see. That's not something you joke about a coach doing to a player. Seriously. Dudes. No. Miss me with that nonsense.)

Iona needs to shore up a lot of their fundamentals. They committed a lot of unforced turnovers like travels and three-second violations. Either they've got to react faster or they need drills on clock and spatial awareness.

Refs were letting a lot of physical contact go, but I can't fault their attention to detail on procedural calls. (Losing track of the foul count, on the other hand...)

Everyone's flaws were on display in this game, and something's going to have to give for Fordham, or it's going to be a very long A-10 season, at the end of which Bre will fall over.

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

December 15th, 2018: Albany at St. Francis

Just the Facts, Ma'am: St. Francis staged a spirited comeback in the fourth quarter, but fell short against Albany, 67-60. Amanda Kantzy had 20 points to lead the Great Danes, with Chyanna Canada adding 16 off the bench. Amy O'Neill flirted with a triple-double for the Terriers in the loss, finishing with 15 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds.

For terrible shots, a size disadvantage, small cheerleaders, amazing self-care, and attempting to limit the canine puns, join your intrepid and dogged blogger after the jump.

Good afternoon, fellow travelers on the hardwood road! Your intrepid blogger comes to you life and in smell-o-vision from St. Francis College in Brooklyn. We're in for a dogfight today, as the Terriers play host to the Great Danes of Albany.

There's some sort of alumni or welcoming event going on in the main hall where the ticket tables usually are, so they decamped to the student cafeteria. Conveniently, that's where the secret entrance to the seats on the bench side is. Somewhat less conveniently, the tickets are technically for the section opposite the bench, which is counter to good policy and especially inconvenient today, since we would have to navigate back to the entrance to go to the opposite side. Maybe think through the logistics of your building before giving out tickets?

This network has been temporary for as long as I've been coming here. Guys, y'all just need to give up the pretense at some point.

Ah, so that's what it was! SFC is retiring a jersey, and the fol-de-rol up front was for registration for the luncheon related to it. Ceremony is at halftime, so you should see more about it then.

Since what passes for a student section here appears to be mostly student-athletes, I shouldn't be surprised that the trainer gets an enormous cheer.

It's 30-19 Albany at halftime, and Albany is killing us with height. Chyanna Canada has 10 points off the bench for the Great Danes. Jade Johnson has seven points to lead St. Francis, but Dominique Ward has been making more of an impact IMO, playing tough defense and rebounding.

Holy carp, the honoree looks amazing. She looks young enough to be the daughter of someone who graduated in '79.

I think Coach Cim is starting to get frustrated with players not listening to her. There seems to be a distressing amount of it going around. Ebony Horton was giving off the same kind of body language I do when my mom's lecturing me and I'd rather be reading.

The cliché about the size of the fight in the dog versus the size of the dog in the fight is so applicable to this game I'm hesitant to use it. Terriers are definitely smaller than Great Danes, but are known for their tenacity, and St. Francis is definitely smaller than Albany, but mounted a terrific comeback in the fourth quarter. I mean, come on. The cliché is the script.

Lucia Decortes played briefly in the first half, and thanks to no name on the jersey and the PA guy taking a couple of possessions off, I almost didn't see her come in. De'jah Williams hit a bucket in the lane at some point, but I think I credited to the wrong player on my scorecard. My bad.

Kumsal Aslan reminds me of Layshia Clarendon, both in her facial structure and in her defensive intensity. She stuck close to the ballhandler. Patricia Conroy provided a different dynamic off the bench, more of a widebody guard than the lighter starting guards for the Danes. Chyanna Canada displayed game both in the paint and with the elbow jumper. She overpowered us in the first half, with ten points and a big block on Abby Anderson.

Is there some kind of Swedish law that if your name is Amanda, you have to be super emotional on the floor? Because the way Amanda Kantzy was celebrating after fairly mundane plays like drawing a charge or making a block on a smaller player, you'd think they'd just won the conference title or something. She did most of her damage on the inside, then stepped out for a couple of relatively deep threes to force our defense out even further. Heather Forster got into foul trouble, and Albany was getting a lot of offense from Canada, so she didn't play as much. But her size was a factor, as was Alexi Schecter's. Schecter killed us on the glass and defended the inside well. She cottoned on to Amy O'Neill's favorite offensive move and shut her down on it.

"Adorable" should not be a word applied to college players, but there's a certain element of dandelion fluff-ness to Kyara Frames, Albany's quick little point guard. Her threes weren't going down, but she loaded up on free throws at the end of the game. Khepera Stokes wasn't much of a factor; Albany's coach saw the size advantage her team had and rolled with it, whether it was going with three bigs or putting in a larger guard.

Coach Cimino went deep to her bench at the very end of the game, looking for fresh fouls and offense-defense substitutions. Samantha Keltos still had one of her earrings on when she was called upon in the waning seconds. Kate Bauhof probably should have been called for a push on the play where she helped force an Albany turnover, but I guess I'll take it. I appreciate the hustle.

Ally Lassen didn't look comfortable playing against players her own height. I'm surprised, because she was so confident against a better team at Seton Hall, but she really seemed out of her depth against Albany's front line. By the end of the game, she looked ready to cry, whether it was from frustration or something else. Mia Ehling was usually the first one up when Coach Cimino wanted to yell at- er, I mean, gently but firmly explain to one of her players why the last thing they did was a dreadful mistake. Abby Anderson started off strong in the first half, but seemed to lose some of her energy in the second half.

On the one hand, I love Ebony Horton's energy on the bench. On the other hand, her shot is super frustrating, I don't know if she knows the defenses, and she doesn’t seem to be good at taking direction. On the other other hand, she's only a freshman, and with a detail-oriented coach like Coach Cimino, I would expect her to improve, so long as she's willing to do so. Amy O'Neill drove the lane and threw up shots that shouldn't have gone in, and yet somehow managed to do so. She's a bit of a one-trick pony in that regard, but as long as it works for her, I'm not going to tell her to stop. (Okay, I'm exaggerating. She dishes well too, so I guess that makes her a two-trick pony. Okay, I'll stop. I'm underselling her.) Jade Johnson loves her three-point shot. She loves it so much that she'll stand there and watch it, neither getting back on defense nor crashing the glass. I have so many problems with this. I like when she drives, but she doesn't do nearly enough of that.

Dominique Ward had herself a day on the inside- the official scorekeeper only granted her two blocks, but I will swear on my honor as a former Girl Scout that she had at least four. She just went up over and over again against taller players. She was the closest thing we had to an interior presence on defense. If her shot would fall, she'd be amazing, but so many of her shots seemed to be just thrown up there willy-nilly and went hard or long. Maria Palarino seemed to be driving Coach nuts all day- I think she got pulled at least twice for Teaching Moments based on either bad shots, bad fouls, or not being in the right place at the right time.

This team has a lot of mettle, but not a lot of fundamentals. Their shot mechanics are collectively a trainwreck. But when all hope seemed lost, they dug down deep and made hustle plays and big buckets. It's just the inconsistent offense that is going to kill them.

(Coach Cimino, if you're reading this: if you were upset at the Albany player running the baseline to inbound, and that's what got you so mad at the ref that you got the tech, I think the ref was unfortunately right; the player is allowed to run the baseline after a made basket regardless of an intervening timeout.)

This crew did not make any friends with either of the coaches. One of the St. Francis assistants was tasked with writing down their more egregious mistakes, and near the end of the game they lost track of the foul counts on individual players (but so did the coaching staff, so maybe that's on the scorekeeper). It got physical near the end of the game, which seems to be a thing that's happening more and more often, or perhaps my perception is just going that way more and more.

The regular cheer squad was absent, but there was a youth cheer group in attendance, and they were both adorable and enthusiastic. We need more enthusiastic fans.

Given time, I might be able to adopt this team, but they're going to have to grow on me first, and I don't know how long that's going to take.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

December 11th, 2018: Columbia at Fordham

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A strong first quarter powered Fordham to a 68-49 win over Columbia. Bre Cavanaugh had 19 points to lead the Rams. Sienna Durr had 19 to lead Columbia before fouling out.

For free stuff, early starts, aborted missions, and seeing the bench, join your intrepid and sneaky blogger after the jump.

You know what today is? That's right. Issa game day. You'll be getting a double dose of Fordham today, as the women play host to Columbia and the men welcome NJIT to historic Rose Hill Gymnasium. Or at least you were going to, but honestly, I didn't feel like staying for the men's game. But it's a double-header anyway.

We get free scarves today! I like how Fordham is handling the promotion- instead of just handing them out at the door, you get a ticket that you can redeem for the scarf in the second half. And I also like that they made it optional, so that you're not wasting resources on opposing fans. (Looking at you, St. John's.) They should probably have made it a little more convenient to get to the

Santa has set up shop in the corner by the entrance, and there's a box to drop off letters to him. I guess it would be awkward for him to have to take the letter personally if he's also doing pictures.

I like Bre Cavanaugh's new braids. She has stripes! And from above the effect is a little more like a coronet. It fits her.

Hooray, we have a band!

Ralene Kwiatkowski is still in the boot, and it looks like a couple of the young guards are taking redshirts.

I understand that they have to be ready for the men's crowd, and that there will certainly be more people coming, but at this point I think we have more security staff on hand than fans.

Oh, sweet summer child. The kid leading the line for Columbia looked so startled at the lusty booing from the Fordham band. If you think that's bad, you haven't seen your own conference yet, have you? As an aside, this is the most disorganized entrance I've ever seen from a team.

I'm not sure how I feel about the navy blue border on Columbia's shorts. I definitely don’t' like the retro script from Nike. Some schools and color schemes make it work, and they're not one of those schools.

Solid anthem from the band. Their version of "Jingle Bells" is a little somber for my taste.

Things are going pretty well, all things considered. It's 38-23 Fordham at the half, with the Rams hitting a three to end each quarter so far. Mary Goulding has 12 points to lead the Rams, who are doing a number on Columbia inside. Columbia's defense has been very aggressive, and we've made them pay. I like the Lions' fire.

Enthusiastic shirtless dude in the gray shorts, I don't know you but I like the cut of your jib. And of your abs.

Columbia takes a lot of risks. For the most part, said risks did not work out, but I can see them being more effective in conference play. Columbia's coach takes no nonsense from anyone, but does so in a very dry manner. I like how she handed the freshmen Markham and Casey- she was always calling them over and giving them a little extra advice. Self-possessed, I think is the word.

The Lions didn't have a lot of height available, and what they did have, they mostly didn't use. Madison Pack saw a little bit of time in the first half and launched an ill-advised three-point attempt. Abby Lee came in and committed a hard foul pretty much as soon as she came onto the floor. She's big, and burly, but I don't know how good she is at using that size effectively. Andrea McCormick was in for maybe one possession- Columbia was going to a lot of players early in the game, as if their coach were trying to see who had the hot hand and who wasn't working out. Stephanie Flynn didn't play a lot of minutes, but she was one of two reserves who started the second half, so I guess she must have been doing something right.

The other reserve who got elevated to starter for the second half was Mikayla Markham, who brought a lot of energy to the floor. I mean a lot. I mean like the human equivalent of a 5-hour energy shot. The first big play she made was a phenomenal runback to kill a Fordham fast break... and on the ensuing stoppage on the out-of-bounds, she proceeded to gather her teammates in and tear at least one of them a new one for the sloppy passing that led to the fast break she had to stop. Her range needs work and her shot's a little funky, but if she can keep her temper a little more in check, she could be really good for them. Riley Casey also got a lot of run at the point, sneaking off with a rebound. Sydney Brown got a long run in the second half, pulling down boards in the scrum (and there were a lot of scrums).

Sienna Durr is high-usage, but very intriguing. It looked like she was getting a little frustrated by the end of the game, with a stray elbow here or there. Lilian Kennedy had a really strong first half, and I was surprised that she didn't start the second. She seems to have a lot of potential. Imani Whittington got called for two charges in the first half, and that seemed to be enough for Columbia's coach to cut her minutes.

Janiya Clemmons brought a lot of offense for Columbia, mostly on jumpers, although I think she was also the one who gave Fordham a taste of their own medicine with a twisting lay-up in the second half- it was the same sort of play that Fordham had been making successfully in the first half against the aggressive Columbia defense. She had a ridiculous offensive rebound in the fourth quarter where she practically appeared from nowhere to keep the possession live for the Lions. Madison Hardy has a nice shot, but she also seemed to get frustrated as the game went on.

Columbia has a lot of freshmen, and that bodes well for the future- but at the same time, their present is rife with frustration and letting their feelings affect their game. It's a collective problem, and it's one they'll have to solve if they want to be truly competitive in the Ivy League.

We actually went fairly deep into our bench in the second half! It was a pleasant surprise to see some of the young guards, and everyone got so excited when Katie McLoughlin hit the contested floater. Okay, so she missed the free throw, but she tried. Catherine Polisano got in a nifty hustle play right at the end of the game. I'd actually like to see more of Alexa Giuliano running the offense, either with Lauren Holden (thus moving Lauren to off guard, where shooting threes from Cape May is not the most terrible thing in the world) or without Lauren (thus letting Lauren get some well-earned rest, because she's going to fall over one of these days). She seems solid.

Vilisi Tavui is still not ready for primetime. I don't know if she's tentative because of the leg injury last year, or that's just how she is, but she was consistently a step slow on offense and in the wrong place on defense (tallest player on the floor should not have been on 5-7 Markham for two straight possessions). Halei Gillis had a nifty pass inside to Megan Jonassen for a shot. I'd like to see more of Halei- we don't have a lot of height, and she's got most of it. For her part, Megan had a bit of a rough time of it. She disagreed with a lot of the fouls that were called on her, but I think she was out of position on the boards. Zara Jillings had a good game, but what intrigues me more and more about her every time out is how much time she spends working with Coach Gaitley. Zara's only a sophomore, but if she doesn't end up on Coach Gaitley's bench as soon as her senior year is over, I'll eat my hat. And I like my hats, so you know this isn't something I say idly.

Bre Cavanaugh didn't have to be the star of the show in this game, and that's probably the best thing about the day. She still brought her swagger to the floor, and when she drove the lane, Columbia couldn't stop her. I still find Lauren Holden's propensity for long threes frustrating, but when they go in, her entire game changes. She had a big third quarter, and that helped break the game open for us. She went hard after the ball; if Columbia hesitated, they were lost, and she was down on the floor with the ball. Kendell Heremaia, whether intentionally or not, did a good job of drawing the Columbia defense to her in twos and threes, leaving her teammates open for jumpers or backdoor cuts. (Also, this is a very shallow observation and not relevant to her basketball skills, but her hair looked fabulous. Kenny, I need to know what conditioner you use.)

Kaitlyn Downey seems to have found her shot, and that's led to her really seeming to have found her footing on the court. She used her size well to get inside, and to get midrange shots going. Mary Goulding went off in the first quarter, and ended the first half with a bang on a three-pointer. She's tough, and she's scrappy. She didn't do anything remarkable in this game, but she didn't really have to.

What we did to Columbia's defense in the first half was just mean. Mind you, I'm not objecting. We baited them into doubling and tripling down, and we took advantage of open shots. They were a little cagier in the second half, but we were still able to take control on fast breaks.

I will say that Columbia's Coach had good reason to be annoyed at the officials. We got away with a lot of three-second calls. I know counting is hard, and not everyone can get into an Ivy League school, but that's no excuse for not doing one's job correctly.

I'm really glad we got to go a little bit deeper into our bench, even if it was only at the end of the game. I'd still like to see Bre and Lauren get a little more of a break, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to conference season, I suppose.

The scarf is amazing, and WBB specific, and will probably be one of my new favorite things this winter. It goes better with my coat than my St. John's scarves do. There should be more promotions like this!

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Monday, December 10, 2018

December 9th, 2018: Florida State at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A spirited defensive battle went to Florida State, as they beat St. John's 57-53. Kiah Gillespie led all scorers with 22 points, adding seven rebounds. Alisha Kebbe had 17 points for St. John's, with Kayla Charles adding nine points and 20 rebounds for the Red Storm.

For all the usual complaints, lots of rebounds, terrible shooting, needing some more warm bodies, and autographs, join your intrepid and repetitive blogger after the jump.

It's game day at St. John's, as the Red Storm welcome Florida State to Carnesecca Arena, but your intrepid blogger is not quite dressed for the occasion. Long-time readers of the GNoD know who my favorite Johnnie is, and she's an assistant on the other bench today. Long-time readers also know that I wear her jersey (like, literally, because no one wore that number for something like ten years). It seemed inappropriate to do so today, though, so I'm wearing the jersey my husband usually wears and he's wearing another from our stash, after a little trial and error. (Have you ever almost been strangled by a jersey before? Not fun.)

Kiah Gillespie has a very large contingent here. I wonder if they were the ones who chartered the Dattco bus. (The shirts with Gillespie on the back and her picture on the front were a dead giveaway, if you were wondering.)

I don't even see Curteeona Brelove, on the bench or on crutches or anything. Meemo. :( She came out later with the gold laces wrapped around her boot.

The spear down the side of the shorts on Florida State's uniforms is very dramatic. I like the effect, but I always hesitate before complimenting the Native-based imagery FSU uses. I know, I know, they have permission, but it's complicated and I don't know if I should delve into it.

Something about Sky Lindsay's outfit isn't working for me today, and I don't know if it's the lipstick or the color of the top.

Have I mentioned lately how much I dislike when the men are scheduled at the Garden at the same time the women are scheduled at Carnesecca? Because we have to scramble to put together an alumni band, and I don't see either cheer or dance. And DSPN is working, so it looks like the husband and I are the cheer squad today. And neither of us can really pull off the short skirt.

(We ended up with about half the dance team and maybe a third of the cheer squad. Like many things about this game, it could be worse.)

We're shooting 18% from the field and only down two points, I will take this any day of the week and twice on Sundays, which is good, since today is Sunday. It's 19-17, so I'm sort of glad the only people who are seeing this game are the ones who are here, and the ones who have decided to pay for ESPN+. Lots of missed shots. Lots of questionable shot selection for St. John's and bad misses for Florida State. Kayla Charles has all the rebounds. Okay, not literally all of them, but we have 25 and she has 12, so.

I like Coach Semrau's top. I'm a sucker for the gradient look.

If our substitute PA guy doesn't stop mispronouncing Qadashah's name, I will not be responsible for the consequences of my actions, or those of her dad. Qadashah and Kadaja are different names and different people, okay? Why is this so hard? There's even a pronunciation guide on the scorecards this year.

CYO game and dance clinic at halftime. Neither terribly impressive.

I repeat: that is a lot better than I was expecting things to go. It helped that Florida State was almost as shorthanded as we were, and that they didn't have a lot of shooters. But they've got length, and their defense never let up. That's going to keep them in a lot of games.

Sayawni Lassiter is not ready for primetime. The first time she came into the game, she committed two boneheaded plays right off the bat, and didn't improve much from there. I would have thought she'd pick up more ball thought during her redshirt year, but she did not look ready at all. Savannah Wilkinson had a big block on Akina Wellere in the second quarter. She's a little bit more of a widebody than most of their players.

I honestly would not have guessed that Kourtney Weber played the most minutes off the bench for Florida State. Not by much, I grant you, but still. I'm trying to picture her on the floor, but I'm not seeing her clearly. I was very impressed with Morgan Jones, and since she got the second half start over Amaya Brown, I don't think I was the only one. She's quick and lengthy, and used both of these really well on defense. She had a couple of big blocks on Tiana England, because I'm starting to wonder about Tiana's learning curve. Jones seems like the kind of player I could enjoy watching for a while.

Driving against Valencia Myers seems to be a terrible idea. She swatted a lot of weak shots; if she saw hesitation, the next thing the shooter was going to see was the ball coming back at high speed. I think she was the one who had the really nice strip block. Her jumper needs work. A lot of work. But she's a freshman. Someone can work on that with her. (Preferably Wyckoff. I've seen her jumper and I've seen Joy's jumper, and I know which one is more fundamentally sound. There are many things I loved about Joy as a player, and that ain't one.) Kiah Gillespie got off to a very quick start, then became less of a factor until the fourth quarter. I think we were out of gas at that point, and she took advantage. She had a size advantage for much of the game, but elected to use it from the three-point arc instead of pressing it inside.

Amaya Brown started the game, and like many a Florida State player, she brought a lot of length to the floor. But I don't think Coach Semrau was happy with her defense, so Jones got the bulk of the minutes in the second half. Nicki Ekhomu has impressive ups and good speed. I don't think point is her natural position, but she did admirably filling in; she kept the offense moving at a fast pace, even if it wasn't always the most effective fast pace. I'm assuming Nicoletti was supposed to provide some of the outside threat that would complement this team's ability to get to the basket. Nausia Woolfolk (whose first name is, unfortunately, either pronounced exactly how you imagine it or was being butchered all night by our PA guy) provided solid defense and a fantastic offensive rebound in the second half. She charged the ball on that play like a streak of lightning.

I don't know how the short roster will hold out in the ACC, but they've got some really good young players that are going to get a lot of chances to develop this year.

Shamachya Duncan played briefly, and surprised one of her teammates by passing the ball to her. I should be surprised we didn't see more of her, whether it was as a spare set of fouls late in the fourth or as a breather to give someone, anyone, a much-needed rest. But Joe Tartamella apparently doesn't believe that players need rest or anything like that. On the other hand, Machi is inconsistent and Jasmine Sina is nowhere near the player she was at Binghamton, so I can understand Joe not wanting to give them extended time. Kadaja Bailey continues to look lost, which disturbs me. She looked great at the beginning of the season, but now looks like she's forgotten everything she ever knew about our defense and our offensive sets. There's so much potential there, but there's something not clicking, and it worries me.

I like when Tiana England drives, when she doesn't let fear or the pace throttle her game. It's when she stops and kills the clock that things seem to go wrong, whether it's not having enough time to make plays or excessive dribbling that leads to fumbles and turnovers. I think she's in a no-win situation, though, because she's either going to be too slow or she's going to try to do too much. Qadashah Hoppie did a good job of driving the lane and getting fouled. That kind of play comes with drawbacks, and while the box score doesn't track blocked attempts, I think she came in for a fair few of Florida State's swats.

Kayla Charles was a beast on the boards. I love it. She was relentless, whether it was going all the way up or going all the way down (I had my heart in my throat the one play where she brought the ball all the way down to the floor with three Florida State players surrounding her). She's still getting frustrated too easily when she doesn't get the call, and she has to understand that she's not going to get the call. Akina Wellere's in an interesting and not necessarily good spot. She's definitely shying away from the three-pointer, and the ones she takes aren't from her comfort zones. She's stuck somewhere in the middle, and I feel bad for her; I think she's in a no-win situation. I'm sure it's been spun to her as a chance to expand her skill set and potentially play overseas, but I think it's serving the opposite purpose. She's trying to force things she's not comfortable with. Alisha Kebbe has, in these last few games, been the eye of the Storm, the calm center around which the defense pivots, and the person who comes up with big baskets at the right time. She was on fire beyond the arc in this game. She's been solid for us, the leader that we need.

We came out with really good energy, and we fought back at the end of the fourth quarter, but for much of the third and fourth, we didn't have enough left in the tank to counter Florida State. They carry almost as short a roster as we do, but Semrau was willing to use a lot more of it, and that helped them in the end.

The officials let a lot of contact go on both sides, and we got away with more of it than Florida State did, so all in all, I can't really complain too much, except in the generalized way that a good fan of the overall game should.

Gold laces today in support of battling pediatric cancer. Gold and red are a classic combo. Unfortunately, in some cases, it's the fries and a Big Mac kind of combo. The kid they were honoring was adorable, though.

Today was also autograph day, which meant a chance to say hi to the squad, update the flag, and get the snazzy new poster signed. It also meant hearing more about Meemo's ankle than I really wanted to know, and I'm now sorry I asked. Which, for all I know, was the whole point.

Now it's another month until the next home game. I really want to know who designed this schedule, because it seems to make a negative amount of sense. At least we'll have Awkward Bowl.

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