Monday, December 5, 2016

December 4th, 2016: Wake Forest at Seton Hall

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Wake Forest raced out to a 16-point lead in the first half, but Seton Hall clamped down on defense in a 23-6 third quarter and rode out a wild fourth for the 70-63 comeback win. LaTecia Smith had 19 points to lead Seton Hall, while Lubirdia Gordon shone with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and five blocks. Elisa Penna led Wake Forest with 15 points.

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And here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again. I'm too tired for this, but here we are in South Orange anyway, getting ready to see Seton Hall take on Wake Forest.

We figured out where the secret-ish seating area is in the lobby, which allowed me to finish yesterday's notes with some semblance of back support. I'm getting too old for this, but not old enough to be anyone's mother.

Great anthem by the band, which has been rocking some great material. The emphasis on flute has set them apart, and gives the anthem a bit of a retro feel.

At halftime, Wake Forest is up 32-21 on Seton Hall, and it should honestly be more. This game has been full of brain farts. It has not been good to watch, for either team. At least we're at full strength, though that might be false now (Jayla Jones-Pack took a hit to the back of the head midgame and eventually came out). Officiating has been a hot, reckless mess, more fixated on procedural mistakes than people getting hit.

How the worm turns, or some other similar expression. Seton Hall laid the smackdown defensively in the third quarter, and at the same time we found our offensive mojo. The offensive mojo stayed, even as Wake Forest found their own way on offense late in the fourth. It got pretty wild and it got pretty loud.

The Demon Deacons were pretty short-handed, between one thing and another- it looked like half their roster was either ineligible or injured. They only brought three players off the bench, and those not for very long. Clarisse Berranger's stint was so short and so unmemorable that ESPN doesn't even bother mentioning her in the box score; I had to get validation of my sanity from the SHU box score to confirm that I hadn't hallucinated her. Ona Udoh got tangled up with players a lot and ended up committing fouls in a hurry- when Wake Forest wasn't getting called for fouls she was still picking them up, which is pretty impressive in the wrong kind of way. Tyra Whitehead brought a lot of size in reserve too, and did her damage late, at the basket.

Milan Quinn has one of the weirdest free throw wind-ups I've ever seen, and there are a lot of very strange free throws out there. She actually goes up on tiptoe, almost leaving her feet, before coming down to release it. In a live-ball situation, I think that might actually be a travel. She's very smooth when she's not at the line, and has a pretty nice sweeping sort-of hook. Elisa Penna was killing us in the first half with midrange jumpers. Like a lot of European posts, or at least players who are assigned to the post by coaches, she has a very nice jumper, but she's willing to go to the rack as well. Alex Sharp was very physical, and did not make herself the most popular person in South Orange with her hard hit on Kaela Hilaire. Ariel Stephenson found her shot late in the fourth to pull Wake Forest back into the game, and had a nice steal to go along with it. Amber Campbell dropped a most righteous block on a Deja Winters corner three and played the passing lanes well.

Wake Forest has some of the worst passing and ballhandling I've ever seen out of a major conference team. They whipped a lot of passes past their intended recipients, out of bounds. I think they might still be a year away from really contending.

It's good to see Martha Kuderer back on the floor for the Pirates- she's a little ahead of schedule. She's still very tentative, passing up shots that are in her wheelhouse and causing turnovers because of that, but I'm glad to have her back- especially since we might have lost Jayla Jones-Pack for the near future. She took a tumble in the first quarter, hit the back of her head, tried to stay in the game despite the official's suggestions otherwise, left the game a few possessions later, and didn't return to the game, though she did stay on the bench. Shadeen Samuels played briefly in the first half, but I think her knee was bothering her- she wasn't as aggressive as she usually is. Jordan Molyneaux played like a bit of a klutz, but finished at the basket on a pretty pass from Kaela. If Jayla's injured ofr any length of time, we're going to need her.

Claire, we need to have a talk about your shot selection. If the game is winding down, the team is trying to run clock, and there are 16 seconds on the shot clock, the situation does not call for Claire Lundberg to take a somewhat contested three from two feet behind the line. Claire baffles me. There are days when all she seems to be is a spot-up shooter who can deflect passes just by being taller than the person she's assigned to defend. And there are days when she goes into the lane and takes lay-ups like the tall person she is. Today was a shooter day. Skyler Snider brought solid defense in her short minutes. Kaity Healy brought vocal leadership and direction.

Kaela Hilaire's another player who might need a talk about shot selection. I feel like her reaction under pressure is to take the shot herself instead of looking for other options, and that led to a lot of really bad shots, both in the sense of timing and in the sense of being nowhere near going in the basket. I love the intensity and the passion she brings on the defensive end- watching her play the press with TT or Quanny is a thing of terrifying beauty. I also love watching LaTecia Smith regularly rebound like she's about six to nine inches taller than she actually is. She has ups and she has moxie. Clock awareness is still an issue for her, though. But she picked her moments well on offense.

JaQuan Jackson did not have her shot until very late in the game, and it seemed to throw her off on both ends of the floor. She scrambled after loose balls, and came up with her defensive plays that way, instead of playing the passing lanes with her usual effectiveness. She was the recipient of a lot of her teammates' hustle. Deja Winters got three-point happy, and I don't know whether that was part of the game plan or just Deja's preference. Other than her shooting, I thought she played well. But the unquestioned star of the game was Lubirdia Gordon. Bird had herself a day, and it was glorious. She took down rebounds and secured them, which had been a problem for her. She hit her lay-ups, and the ones she didn't hit, she rebounded. She hit her free throws, and after all the years I've spent raging about post players not hitting free throws, this is a glorious and blessed relief. She shut things down on the inside for Wake Forest. I think we can dub this beast mode. It's been a rough start of the year for Bird, so I'm so happy for her that she had a day like this.

Officiating was uneven and fixated more on procedural calls than contact. On the other hand, they didn't throw Tony out for being extremely angry and somewhat overcaffeinated. I didn't see the exact moment he lost the jacket, but at some point in the second quarter it was gone. I don't know if he Reeved it or just tossed it to the side in disgust. It went back on eventually, when the Hall had taken control back.

By the way: Tony, you know how much we love you, but you looked at all that height Wake Forest was throwing at us and you went small in the starting lineup? I think the diplomatic way to address that is, "I find your decision highly unusual and would greatly appreciate hearing the logic behind it, because it appears to have evaded my grasp."

But let me tell you something. In that third quarter, when the defense picked up and the offense picked up and the gap started closing, there's no place I would have rather been than in the middle of that crowd, husband to the right of me, band to the left of me, managers and boosters across from me, Tony waving his arms, the bench players clapping the rhythm. It got loud in a hurry, and it was amazing. We were stomping the bleachers (or, in my case, slamming the clipboard against the bleachers) and screaming at the top of our lungs. When it gets like that, there's no time for the complex chants. You can't get that many people that organized that fast. You have to stick with the classics. "DE-FENSE!" *clap-clap* "LET'S GO PIRATES!" *clap clap clap-clap-clap* (or insert your team) Sometimes you can't even do that, and it's time for sheer, raw, noise, anything that gets into the other team's head and jams their signals. Walsh whips into that kind of focused fury faster than any of my other homecourt.

So that turned out to be pretty fun, though if we have to do that much more often I may end up breaking the bleachers, but hey, they need to be replaced anyway.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 3rd, 2016: Lafayette at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Red Storm clamped down on defense, holding Lafayette to 27.8% shooting from the field, to claim a 64-46 win. Jade Walker had 13 points to lead St. John's, adding six rebounds. Olivia Gumbs led Lafayette with 14 points.

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Game day at Carnesecca! It's St. John's and Lafayette in Queens on a pleasant autumn day.

At halftime, St. John's is up 28-15, with pretty balanced scoring all around. We're watching the dance campers doing their halftime routine, and it's actually not bad. Better than they usually manage.

Substitute announcer today, and he is not on his game. You should be giving more than name and number during intros, even for the opponent.

The group in front of us brought a bunch of kids to the dance camp. It's a mild inconvenience, but nto much more, and at least they haven't looked at us too funny for being loud. (And no one has asked me {yet} if my daughter is on the team. It happened again in the Miami game. Next time I'm telling them I'm Imani's long lost twin sister.)

The boss lady is behind us. If it weren't for doom, I'd be asking her some pointed questions right now. Kathy, you got saved.

I don't remember Lafayette's colors being this cherry before. I think that's why Coach Grentz has the leopard-print scarf- that maroon/cherry color would very much not suit her complexion, but leopard-print allows her to still sort of be in team colors.

Officiating has mostly been in our favor so far. I fear what will happen in the second half. (I mean, they broke the first rule! Jade pushed off on an early possession and they didn't call her for a foul!)

Joe, No-Shave November ended earlier this week. Scruffy is not your look.

We really got to see the freshmen shine in this one- for both teams, for both good and for ill.

Theresa Grentz either wasn't happy with a couple of her starters, or they weren't actually starters and someone else was in trouble. She swapped in Sarah Agnello and Olivia Gumbs to start the second half. Agnello really didn't have much of an impact. Olivia Gumbs was a solid offensive option, but as the game went on, she got more physical and more flat-out dirty. You don't usually see a ref call tripping, especially with the signal for it (often another signal takes precedence). She's got a nice shot and good strength- there are ways to use that in basketball that don't involve deliberately hurting your opponent. They were swapped in at the start of the second half for Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby and Alex Cantwell. Ottewill-Soulsby used her length to block shots, but her hand-eye coordination is not very good. Cantwell had a lot of family, friends, and/or other supporters in the building, some even with signs. They were not pleased with the cut in her playing time.

I don't know whether Grentz was in "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" mode or if there was a rhyme or reason to her subs that I wasn't getting, or if she's a more situational subber than a rotation subber. So, for example, Nia Holland was the first bench player in the game for Lafayette in the first half, and then didn't appear again until the fourth quarter. (Unless she was there and I just didn't notice her- our PA guy was not on the ball with sub calls.) They've actually got some pretty decent size, or at least some decently physical size, in Ashley Lutz, Angela Ribarich, and Alexis Santarelli. Santarelli was especially impressive getting boards close to the basket. Their bigs, in general, did a nice job of setting screens for their guards, and we did a lousy job of calling them out.

Anna Ptasinski got shut down. It seems we learned from the Albany game to stay somewhat closer to the opponent's most notable player. She's got realy good instincts, and you can see that she knows how to play the game. Maia Hood is a little bit of a mismatch because of her size, but I think she saw more offensive opportunities for herself than might have been called for in the game plan. Sammy Stipa seemed to be running the offense, and was one of those invisible point guards ho doesn't really get herself noticed. There's a place for that role, but I don't know if it's here and now.

I think there's a disconnect between the players that Lafayette has, the coach that Lafayette has, what Coach Grentz expects from those players, and the current state of women's basketball on the college level. Old school can definitely be a thing, but I get the feeling the game has moved past Grentz.

We got to see all the reserves again! I like this pattern. I like it very much. Shamachya Duncan actually got some extended run in the fourth quarter after a cameo in the third. (And after all the time we spent wondering how to pronounce Shamachya, it turns out she goes by Machi.) It would be easy to dismiss her as Aaliyah 2.0- a slightly built guard from Staten Island with some moves- but she's a little more offensive-minded and not as inclined to set up the offense. She may need to move to point in future just because of her build, though. (On the other hand, I'm not entirely sure she's done with her growth spurt- her head seems a touch too big for the rest of her body.) Everyone was rooting so hard for her to get that first bucket, it was adorable. Kendyl Nunn went hard after loose balls and rebounds. Tamesha Alexander was last off the bench and coughed up the ball pretty much the first time she brought it up. Her handle isn't as good as she thinks it is. And like many Johnnies, she's got to put in more work at the free throw line.

One of these days, the universe is going to figure out that Crystal Simmons's shot may actually break the laws of physics as we know them, and that day may possibly bring about the end of the world as we know it. But until then, I'll continue to wonder how a follow-through that goes across the path of the ball somehow manages to direct it forward. I talk about how much I love her defense, but you're going to have to keep hearing it, because she does so much that doesn't show up in the box score. Andrayah Adams is coming along nicely. I still have some doubts about her, and I still question why she was so cavalierly handed #15, but she's doing all right. I thought it was interesting that she was directing the offense late in the game. Maya Singleton came up with big offensive boards and physical defense- the latter to a fault. No, Maya, you can't have a piggyback ride, and you can't just reach in for the ball. Sandra Udobi made herself available in the paint for offense, but wasn't moving as well on defense as I'd like (but I have to remember what to expect).

Jade Walker had the jumper working, but more importantly, she was going hard in the paint along the baseline. She and Gumbs were going at it in the second half, and by the end Jade looked ready to start a fight (or at least finish one). It's not a beast stat line, so you'll have to trust me when I say that this was one of Jade's best games so far this year. Imani Littleton was quietly efficient- she has a knack for getting to the right place at the right time. Fun to watch is the wrong phrase, but fun to pay attention to might be closer (if somewhat creepier).

Aaliyah Lewis is trying to do too much with the ball, trying too hard to succeed by needless misdirection. She kept the drama to a minimum this time. She drove hard in the lane, and those were fun to watch. I'm not saying there isn't a place for misdirection in her game, or that she doesn't use it effectively, but sometimes I get the feeling she crosses people over for the sake of crossing people over. Akina Wellere has been having the worst puck luck lately- lots of shots have been rimming out. I think she'll get through it, and she's picked up the nifty habit of making up for it at the defensive end. Somehow, the last couple of games she's been the one to make the big defensive stops near the end. Alisha Kebbe needs to put a little more oomph in her shot, and to work on her ball security. If the speed of the college game is catching up to her against Albany and Lafayette, it's really going to catch up to her against the Big East. Or, for that matter, against the defense of Rutgers.

Play got more physical as the game went on, and officiating got looser. There were a lot of players knocked down, mostly Johnnies. We were having some flashbacks to the infamous Southern Miss game (though unlike back in the day, we're carrying enough players that losing the entire starting five to injury and having one DQ'd wouldn't leave us with four on the court- that's actually really reassuring).

Jordan Agustus did not appear to be with the team. More on this as it develops.

There was a huge group seated in the upper deck. We don't know who they were, or what they were doing there, and they disappeared sometime in the second half. My theory is that they were a school of ninja, and they didn't actually leave- they just engaged their ninja stealth.

I'm not going to lie and say that this was a great game of basketball. But we needed a win, and we came away with a win; we needed to give minutes to our deep reserves, and they got minutes. The only thing I can complain about is being too tired to write it up properly. But it's already on to the next one. Basketball never stops, after all, no matter how much my back hurts.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

November 30th, 2016: Albany at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma'am: After a tied third-quarter, St. John's tightened up the defense on Albany and came out with a 54-36 win. Jade Walker led the Red Storm with 13 points, with Andrayah Adams coming off the bench for 10. Imani Tate of Albany led all scorers with 18, but no other Great Dane had more than 6.

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Good evening, fellow travelers, or perhaps people hoping not to be called for travels. We're on the campus of St. John's University for an in-state battle between the Red Storm and the Great Danes of Albany.

Anthem singer was trying. Not necessarily succeeding, but trying.

Aliyyah Handford and Briana Brown are both in the house. Looks like Liyyah got her hair did. She's been spending most of the game with the strength and conditioning coach/trainer/dude who needs a beard and an axe to audition as a dwarven extra for the next Hobbit movie.

At halftime, St. John's is up 28-19, and my favorite play of the game is the volleyball-style deflection by Crystal Simmosn that led to Crystal's rebound and a lay-up by Jade Walker. Jade Walker has found some of her stroke, with 8 points, while Imani Tate has impressed for Albany with 6.

This halftime biddy game has been pretty good.

Shoutout to the loud students, possibly athletes, in the next section over.

We still have to figure out how to coordinate our chants with the cheer squad. I might need to buy pom-poms. I'd look silly with them, though.

I wasn't expecting Albany to be as one-dimensional as they turned out to be. They have a star in Imani Tate, but I'm not sure the supporting cast is up to the task, even collectively, of filling the shoes of Shereesha Richards.

Alexi Schecter played briefly, just long enough to be called for an offensive foul that Jade Walker did a remarkable dive job on, and was promptly pulled, never again to see the light of day. Cassandra Edwards played a stretch in the first half and was forgettable, which made me a little sad- I thought I remembered her being more of a factor for them. Khepera Stokes apparently did not come equipped with a pronunciation guide, because our PA guy paused noticeably pretty much every time he had to say her name. She was aggressive offensively, perhaps a bit too much.

Bailey Hixon showed some nice stroke, and great hustle on deflections defensively and on the glass. I can see why Albany's coach went to her early and often. Tiana-Jo Carter was called upon to do a lot of physical work in the post. I swear half her missed shots came on Albany's final desperate possession, when they threw everything at the basket and the rim denied everything. Very tough, but wild on offense.

I thought Heather Forster played more than the box score indicated. She made some good defensive plays on the baseline, and had a monster block on an ill-fated drive by Aaliyah Lewis. She also set a really nice screen on a three that didn't go down- but the screen was pretty sweet. I'm not sure if Jessica Féquière's name was being pronounced correctly, and there were enough opportunities for the announcer to try to get his mouth around it. She stepped her game up somewhat in the fourth quarter. Bose Aiyalogbe was very active on both ends of the floor, though not always effective. She has a pretty shot, but it wasn't going down.

Mackenzie Trpcic ran the offense with a firm hand. She's pretty quick, and stuck on defense to our ballhandlers. Her ballhandling needs some work, and I think she was pressing too much near the end of the game, but she might just turn out all right for them. Imani Tate is awesome, and a whole lot of fun to watch. Her release is so quick, and she has such a knack for creating space for herself. She jumps the passing lanes well, and she uses her reach effectively to tip balls away, both as a pass defender and as a rebounder. She has to be less reckless when driving- she got called for some offensive fouls in the second half that took her and Albany out of the game. (though I'll admit the fourth foul was a pretty cheap call) Some refs are going to catch those pushoffs and those moments where she doesn't look before she drives.

We have a bench! And we even got to see the very end of it! Shamachya Duncan, Kendyl Nunn, and Tamesha Alexander all played the last minute or so and showed a lot of hustle. Kendyl and Sox were both especially aggressive going after potential held balls. I get the feeling we're going to need a pronunciation guide soon. We also got some good defensive minutes from Sandra Udobi, though you can tell there are plays she thinks she can still make, but the flesh is weak.

Andrayah Adams showed a little more today than she did the last time I saw her. I'm not sure about running her at the point with Crystal Simmons, as Coach did to get Aaliyah a little rest- she seems more suited to being the offense instead of initiating the offense. She's still got some freshman jitters to work through- the fumbled pass at the end of the first half when she was being set up for the corner three comes to mind (as an aside, the name of that play amuses me immensely, because I understand the reference, and no, I'm not going to give you my team's signals). Crystal Simmons had an impact beyond the box score- she was everywhere on defense and kept her hands active on loose balls. She made a lot of things happen, and that's what I love about her. Her jump shot is still one of the weirdest things I've ever seen, and she needs a geological epoch to get it off, but it goes in. Maya Singleton's strength was her strength, and that's not redundant or tautological. She ripped down rebounds with sheer, raw power and tore balls away from opponents (there was one play where she basically un-held a held ball situation with {I think} Féquière). She finished strongly at the basket, and delivered resounding blocks with the dominance of a certain other Maya. (She also had a pretty hilarious flop that was rather more DeMya than Maya, if you know what I mean.)

Aaliyah Lewis has started falling into the habit of dramatically protesting pretty much every call against her, and it's not a good look on her. She gets caught palming, or reaching in, and she starts stalking around like a petulant child. I get that it's frustrating to actually be caught, but staaaaaahp. It detracts from her pinpoint passing and her defensive disruptions. Alisha Kebbe was quiet, and Joe was swapping her out frequently for more advantageous match-ups. After the good start, I think the speed of the college game is starting to catch up to her, more mentally than physically.

Akina Wellere was hobbled early by foul trouble- she picked up two fouls in the first quarter and Joe sat her for the entire first half. She never really had a chance to get her shot off- I don't know if she's adjusting to being a primary focus of defensive attention well. Near the end of the game, she was making up for lost time with steals in rapid succession- she read Albany's telegraphed passes like she was working for Western Union. Imani Littleton had a quiet game offensively, but laid the hammer down inside on the Great Danes' shots. She had a real beauty on Féquière late in the game to help seal it, and the one shot she hit was a sweet hook shot. I am, and always have been, a sucker for hook shots. Jade Walker found her shot, or at least her willingness to shoot, but I'd like to see her finish better at the basket and move back in towards the hole. Long straight-away threes are not her shot, at least not yet (and since she's a senior, I'm not holding my breath). I am also a sucker for strong play in the paint, and I feel like Jade relies too much on her jumper; the big girl's ability to shoot the sweet J becomes less of a secret weapon if it's her only weapon. (And it is a sweet jumper. Don't get me wrong.)

I don't know if the strategy was to let Tate get hers and lock everyone else down- I've seen teams use that strategy because they know the superstar will get it anyway- or if it just worked out that way. But Tate was the only Great Dane to score in the third quarter, and the only one with a second-half field goal until deep into the fourth. The defense really clamped down, and it was glorious.

I have no real beef with the officiating, which is a blessed relief. I think I want Kathleen Lynch at all the games.

It was YMCA night, but not only did there not appear to be any YMCA groups, neither the band nor the arena played "YMCA", nor did the cheer squad or the dance team do the Y-M-C-A. Theme night, you're not doing it wrong so much as you're not doing it at all.

I'm not sure if the art on the roster cards is done by an artist or an Instagram filter, but it's pretty cool-looking anyway.

Nice to get that home win. Now it's on to the next one. Lafayette, we are coming!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

November 26th, 2016: Central Connecticut at Seton Hall

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A halfcourt buzzer-beater forced OT, but Seton Hall dominated the extra period to come away with a 78-70 win over Central Connecticut State. Kaela Hilaire led all scorers with 24 points, while Lubirdia Gordon (13 points, 15 rebounds) and LaTecia Smith (13 points, 10 rebounds) each notched a double-double. Aleah Epps led Central Connecticut State with 19.

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On to the second half of our doubleheader, and to Seton Hall apparently the only game that matters- the Pirates hosting the Blue Devils of Central Connecticut.

Looks like everyone's got colors today. Central Connecticut is wearing road blue, and Seton Hall is working the grays.

Tiny guard not with the team, are you Shakena?

At halftime, Seton Hall is up 34-28, and the lead is as small as it is mostly because we can't hit water falling out of a boat. That, and about two-thirds of our offensive possessions are either ill-advised threes or attempts at finger rolls that are highly photogenic but not well-aimed. Claire Lundberg has come up big for the Hall, with 10 points, some of them even being in the paint. Sydney Hines has a trio of threes to lead the Blue Devils.

Well. That certainly turned out somewhat more dramatic than I was expecting, or than I would have liked. Really, if I wanted to see a close game with CCSU, I would go see them when they play LIU.

Nothing particularly stands out about Central Connecticut, except their offensive rebounding- they were all over the boards, and they made us pay. They did a better job of recovering from their mistakes than we did. And they kept their poise- probably better than we did.

Taylor Goode played in the first half and made enough of a splash with a quick bucket and a solid rebound that I had to make the joke, "I guess she is." I don't even remember Chayla Lewis playing, so you can tell how much of an impact she had on the game. Cebria Outlow had to pick up a lot of minutes near the end and in overtime with Reynoso fouling out, and she was unremarkable, save for her inability to hit at the rim.

Sydney Hines kept CCSU in it with her shooting. She established herself as a long-range threat who had to be respected, even if our defense didn't always acknowledge that. Brianna Jacobs was a beast on the boards, out-rebounding and boxing out taller and larger posts. (The hair might have helped cushion some of the impacts she was taking, though.) She made a lot of good things happen for the Blue Devils.

I'm pretty sure at some point Giocelis Reynoso played volleyball. Either that, or she stepped out of a time machine from Cuba in the early '90s. With the slight Afro (and even that's an exaggeration, but I don't know the proper term), the headband, the build, and even the jersey style, she looked like something out of a picture from the '96 Olympics. She went often to the basket and got swatted, and we're not completely certain whether her one basket was truly hers or if it was an own goal by Shadeen that was credited to her. Ashley Chin didn't stand out, but I think her shots were more midrange than her skill set- I don't think she was hitting a lot of shots. Andi Lydon picked up her game in the fourth quarter and overtime- she was in in the crunch. They needed her to be bigger than she was, but she was pretty damn good on the boards.

Aleah Epps is fun to watch. I mean, she's the cause of profanity if she's playing against your team, because she gets low on defense and she drives hard on offense, and she has no off switch, but if you can separate yourself from your feelings about your own team, she's really fun to watch. She's energetic, and she makes a lot of good things happen on offense. Kiana Patterson was a three-point specialist, and there are worse things to be. As mentioned above, she forced overtime with the buzzer-beater, and it was a beauty. She got up in the ref's face near the end of the game, when Bird was shooting free throws. I'm not sure if she was questioning whether it was a foul, whether it was a shooting foul, or whether Bird should have been the shooter. (Given that Bird shoots free throws like your average center, I would think an opponent would be totally cool with her being the shooter.)

I was surprised Seton Hall didn't go to Skyler Snider at all in the second half. She was pretty solid on defense, and it was clear the starters were getting pretty run down by the end of the fourth quarter. Deja Winters got three-happy, especially in the first half, and I suspect that's why her minutes were cut as the game went on- you have to choose your moments, and I don't think Deja did that. She's also got to learn when not to initiate contact. But she's a freshman, like so many of these Pirates, and I get the feeling she'll learn. Shadeen Samuels had a lot of very good looks at the basket that she missed short, and damn near put it in her own net at the other end. I love the hustle, but this was not her day, to put it lightly. Lubirdia Gordon did work on the boards, but I think the rebounding numbers given her in the box score were a bit generous- she had a lot of balls fall out of her hands. Plenty of times she had a teammate around to recover, which helped, but it just looked like she lost a lot of her hand strength while she was laid up. Her teammates did a great job of finding her down low, and she did a great job of being available down low for easy looks at the basket (or putbacks off said easy looks).

I'm starting to understand what Coach sees in Kaity Healy. She's not affecting the box score as much as I'd like, but she's tenacious on defense, she recovers well, she anchors the team, and she keeps her head (which is pretty good for a college kid, even if she's a redshirt and thus a year older/more mature than a regular freshman). I'm still not sold on her as a starter, and she might even be more useful as the captain of the second unit than as part of the first unit (think Erin Thorn with the Liberty, only she doesn't have to also coach the team). Kaela Hilaire was perhaps too willing to call her own number- I'm not sure how many plays were supposed to be run through her. But she came on stronger as the game went on, and if it wasn't for her and TT, we would have lost to an NEC team, which is not good for the Big East. This was important for her. Ditto for LaTecia Smith, whose stat lines always give me the urge to append "and a partridge in a pear tree" to the end of them. She's so quick on the ball, and she spearheads the defense really well. I could do without some of the one-handed pull-up shots in the lane, and some remedial clock awareness work, but other than that, I really, really like her.

Claire Lundberg got the team off to a quick start with a trey five seconds into the game. (I detect a theme here.) She played big out of position, in more ways than one- injuries have plopped her in the four slot, and that's not her strength. I like the moves she made in the paint as much as the three-pointers. Jayla Jones-Pack has to get stronger and more assertive- she spent way too much time looking dazed, confused, lost, or several seconds behind the play, and that's not going to fly. Coach Bozzella went with the senior experience over the freshman in her case down the stretch, and I don't blame him one iota. I think Jayla has the potential to be a solid center, but right now she's still on the learning curve.

The officials really let 'em play out there. Lots of contact in the lane that could have been called and wasn't- but heaven forfend you stay in the lane too long, because they were on that. The coaches didn't seem too upset, but the players were.

Central Connecticut brought fans, but they really only got into the game in the fourth quarter, though it was close throughout. I'm disappointed in that, in a way; I would have thought they'd stay with it the whole time.

Have you ever literally had to put your jaw back into place? That's what Patterson's shot did to me. Thank the sweet hypothetical baby Jeebus for KK and TT in the OT.


November 26th, 2016: San Diego State at UT Arlington (Seton Hall Thanksgiving Classic)

Just the Facts, Ma'am: UT Arlington took the lead early and fended off San Diego State the rest of the way in their 64-58 win at Seton Hall's Thanksgiving Classic. Christina Devers and Rebekah VanDijk each had 14 points to pace UTA. Kymberly Ellison led SDSU with 13.

For team pride, Halloween color schemes, questionable sartorial choices, sceens, hand-checks, and launching threes, join your intrepid blogger after the jump.
Good morning from historic Walsh Gymnasium on the campus of Seton Hall University! We're in the house, along with a dozen of our closest friends (so far), for the first game of Seton Hall's holiday tournament, featuring San Diego State and UT Arlington.

Not that SHU can be a bit parochial at times, but the tickets only even mention Seton Hall's game at 2:30. This may be because last time they listed it differently and people ended up missing the Seton Hall part of the show. But I do love some free basketball and I've never seen the Aztecs before.

#34 for SDSU has her shorts rolled up so far that she looks like she's wearing a volleyball uniform. It's not a good look.

The Mavericks' orange is very orange. It's like they took the UT Austin orange and nuked it a couple of times.

We're on the same side as the reserved seating for UT Arlington, so it looks like that's who we'll be rooting for in this game (though SDSU would probably be more of an RPI boost for the Hall).

Guys, y'all should not be playing uncensored Eminem. If I can't use "motherf*cking" at a game, neither can you.

At halftime, it's 36-27 UTA, the current margin being provided by a last-second basket by Aysia Evans that was initially ruled no good, then correctly counted. UT Arlington has really been bringing the pressure defense; basically, the Aztecs have only been able to score either when they beat the pressure on the fast break or when they get fouled and go to the line.

Country anthem- perhaps too country. She seemed to be trying too hard.

Protip: if you're going to advertise the concession stand, you should make sure the concession stand is open.

Well, that game got a good bit more dramatic than it really needed to at the end, but it was tough and scrappy all the way through. Lots of hustle by both teams, but especially UTA. Bodies hit the floor all over the place, for both teams. Love it.

I found myself wondering for stretches whether Monique Terry was related to Stacie Terry- not just because of the surname, but they do look similar around the eyes. She had a really solid game off the bench, I thought, and has a lot of potential to get even better. She's already got a good knack for knowing where to be on rebounds. Arantxa Gomez Ferrer started off pretty strong, and her teammates were really hyped when she hit the free throws and made the big defensive stop. Naomi Ekwedike is still raw, especially offensively- a whole lot of woman, but no offensive skill whatsoever. I'm impressed with the sheer determination, or possibly just epic failing a spot check, that led to her playing without a sneaker for two minutes- something like four or five possessions went by before a stoppage.

I thought Geena Gomez did a pretty good job of running the offense- if she had a team with more defined offensive options, I think she would be better off, but with the personnel the Aztecs currently have, the point guard has to call her own number as much as she's dishing the ball, so yeah. Cheyenne Greenhouse has one of the most ridiculously California names I've ever heard, and a very basketball-suited build.

Literally five seconds into the game, Ariell Bostick announced her presence with a deflection into the SDSU bench. She brings speed and feistiness to the floor- she was very expressive and emotional. Near the end of the game, she was doing everything she could to drag the Aztecs back into the game by herself. Kymberly Ellison was the designated three-point shooter, though she was more active as such in the first three quarters- she got stepped on in the fourth quarter, and she seemed to lose some mobility after that. She tried to tough it out, but you could tell she was reduced to spot shooting. McKynzie Fort was the most assertive player on offense, who seemed to be calling for the ball more than the rest of her teammates. Her foul trouble really put a wrench in the Aztecs' offense- they very often looked like they didn't know who to go to.

For a starter, Lexi Thorderson didn't play a lot- SDSU was getting pretty good minutes from Terry and Gomez Ferrer. I suspect her skill set is more perimeter oriented and less post-oriented than was needed in this game. Baylee Vanderdoes, she of the questionable sartorial choices, threw her weight around down low, though her coach was riding her pretty hard about setting solid screens- we could hear her calling from the bench even from the other side of the arena. I like that attention to detail.

I don't know if I'd call SDSU's coach a good coach, per se, but she seems to have a good eye for what young players need to do to improve. I don't follow SDSU, or the Mountain West, closely enough to determine whether she and her staff can help them follow through with that.

Aysia Evans was solid in her minutes, showing athleticism and a nice shot. Greta Kairyte showed that she wasn't ready for prime time- very slow reaction time, no offensive polish. Allyson Te'o set hard screens, and got called for offensive fouls on them late (on a couple of those calls, I disagreed strenuously).

Ericka Mattingly brought a lot of hustle and scrappiness, especially in the second half- she came up with a couple of great hustle baskets and boards that kept the pressure on the Aztecs. Lauren Billie opened up the floor with her shooting- she seemed to be everywhere at once in the third quarter. Shelby Richards had a really nice offensive rebound that led to a bucket. I love offensive rebounds.

I get the feeling UTA's coach has had to give some variation of the "cute is for the team picture!" lecture a few times, especially to Christina Devers, who felt the need to pull up for early threes when the Mavericks were trying to run clock in the fourth quarter and thus opened the door for SDSU to attempt a comeback. I have no doubt that she's fun to watch when the game's decided, but I question her clock management skills. Miranda LeJune was a competent floor general, but not much more. I think her family was over in the next section; at least, the dashing gentleman with the camera was at his most snap-happy when she was bringing the ball up the floor. Breck Clark reminds me of someone, and I can't for the life of me put my finger on it. She tried really hard, but I'm not sure she had it today.

Cierra Johnson seemed to be everywhere defensively in the fourth quarter. She throws her whole body into defending the inbounds pass, much like one of my favorites at LIU, DeAngelique Waithe. I think she had two kicked balls on inbounds in a minute. Super athletic and super intense. Rebekah VanDijk was solid down low- she got herself in position for her teammates to find her, and she finished at the rim. She's not the most graceful center, and she's not the best rebounder, but that's not her role. When she was out of the game with four fouls in the third quarter, the Mavericks' offense had to shift to a more perimeter-oriented scheme. What helped was that they're ready for that, with Johnson and Devers.

Lots of ticky-tack foul calls in this one. Questionable screens, reaches and phantom reaches- not fun. The game got very choppy in spots.

I wasn't expecting quite so many fans from either Texas or California. I guess there were more tourists than I thought there would be.

In Pokémon Go news, the gyms at Seton Hall are appropriately blue. (And as of Sunday night, the Vaporeon I left over at the gym by the entrance is still there. Bless your pixelated heart, Madison.)


Monday, November 21, 2016

November 20th, 2016: Miami at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Miami brought the pressure and finished strong in their 62-50 win over St. John's. Erykah Davenport had 16 points to lead the Hurricanes, with Jessica Thomas contributing 15 (all but 2 from the line) and Keyona Hayes dropping a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double. Akina Wellere had 19 points to lead St. John's, but no one else mustered more than eight.

For the ref show, small children, STOP MAKING ME FEEL OLD, unexpected shooters, being up in one's feelings, and the biting wind of winter, join your intrepid and shivering blogger after the jump.
Waitin' all day for Sunday night- but I'll leave the football to everyone else. St. John's is hosting Miami tonight, and we've got a lot to prove.

This remix sequence is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. Some songs you just don't mess with; "Don't Stop Believing" is one of them.

Miami must have been running late or something, because they only arrived about ten minutes before the gates were scheduled to open. (The doors actually opened a little early, mostly because one dude kept whining that it was too cold for his kids to be outside. It's 40 degrees and they have winter coats. Suck it up, buttercup.)

Oh, good, someone clued in the dude in the orange Miami shirt that he had parked himself behind the St. John's bench. I was about to get righteously indignant.

Alisha Kebbe seems to be back, which is good. We'll see how effective she is.

At halftime, Miami is up 28-23, but dear Lord has the officiating been hot trash on a platter. Late whistles, an overabundance of travel calls, and a lot of very physical contact that's going uncalled. Either someone's going to get hurt or Joe Tartamella is going to do his best Cheryl Reeve impression, and I don't wish that on any jacket.

I admire Miami's dedication to their font, but it doesn't work for the name on the back of the jersey.

Looks like Alisha's got family in the house. I wonder how long it takes to get back to Philly from here.

We showed a lot of heart and hustle out there, but there's only so much you can do when it seems like it's 5-on-8 out there. We need a consistent scoring options- we have scoring options, but they're all inconsistent. Miami brought a lot of pressure, and we weren't able to handle it.

Nigia Greene has really quick hands. I was impressed with the work she did low to the ground. Sarah Mortensen got some minutes late in the first half, and made a hustle play on the sideline that had Coach Meier and the team cheering her on. Shaneese Bailey had her hand in a lot of plays defensively, and showed good speed. (I'd say she had her hand on a lot of balls, but, uh...) Khaila Prather got good position on the offensive glass, especially in the second half. I was impressed with her movement.

I thought I read about Adrienne Motley being a prospect at some level, but she did not have a very good game. The defense planned for her, and she did not get good looks. I didn't really see anything about her that screamed "pro-ready". Jessica Thomas is the prototypical very small, very fast, very feisty point guard you see a lot of in college basketball. She drove hard and got a lot of free throws. (I would normally say earned, but I have several bones to pick with the officiating.)

The defense, however, did not plan for Keyona Hayes, who's faster than she looks, and who has range one wouldn't expect from her. She killed us with some long threes that we weren't ready for (we gave her way too much space out there) and threw her body around down low to get boards. I was impressed with her toughness and her ability to create, then exploit, mismatches. Erykah Davenport was a monster on the offensive glass, cleaning up her teammates' sometimes terrible shots. She delivered two thunderous blocks on Maya Singleton. (Poor Maya.) Keyanna Harris went by Kiki most of the game, possibly because Keyanna and Keyona were pronounced the same way and the PA guy might have had an aneurysm trying to keep them straight. She got nailed for a couple of offensive fouls (one of which she might have had a case about, but my lack of sympathy, let me show you it).

Miami was really prepared for our switching on defense, which led to a lot of strange mismatches. They brought pressure, and especially in the fourth quarter, we weren't ready for it.

Oh, Sox. I love Tamesha Alexander to itty bitty pieces as a person, but whatever development we were expecting from her as a point guard has not materialized. One will not make a good first impression in a game with an immediate turnover. We needed her to step up with the foul trouble Aaliyah Lewis had, and she did whatever the opposite of rising to the occasion is. Jordan Agustus was the offense-defense switch for Imani Littleton, but if she's going to take that role, she has to hit the shots in the lane, and she has to have better shot selection overall. Kendyl Nunn does in fact exist, and got short minutes at the end of the game. Good hustle.

There are people on this team who should be taking eight shots in a game. Andrayah Adams is not one of them, not yet and possibly not ever. She was pressed into service due to foul trouble on both Akina Wellere and Jade Walker, and there were points near the end of the game where she was either the primary offensive option or she thought she was the primary offensive option. I get the feeling she's yet another streaky shooter. (She also got a little too into intentionally fouling at the interminable end of the game- Joe was even asking her, "Why are you fouling?") Maya Singleton needs to follow her shot, because it isn't as reliable as she thinks it is, especially when trying to get it over and around taller players. I love to watch her defend in the paint. And I love to watch Crystal Simmons on defense in general. On offense, she's not pretty- her shot has some of the strangest footwork and follow-through I've ever seen, and that's when she takes it. But she works on the ball and on the in-bounds like you wouldn't believe. Sandra Udobi has all the heart and knows where she should be, but doesn't have the oomph it takes to get there. She was the one who left Hayes open for the threes, though she got closer on the second one.

Jade Walker spent a lot of time out of the game, both physically because of fouls and mentally because of fouls. Maybe I'm misreading her and she's got the infamous "resting bitch face" (hey, I have it too). But she looked like she was in her feelings more than she was in the game. I understand her frustration, especially since this crew was following the first rule of SJUWBB: when in doubt, call a foul on Jade. You know the refrain as much as I do by now: Jade needs to go to the basket more, then start launching that pretty jumper. Akina Wellere was on fire from beyond the arc, but as the game went on, Miami's defense started to collapse on her, and she wasn't ready for the pressure. She made ill-advised passes and coughed up the ball. Imani Littleton continues to be solid on defense, and I'd like to see her be a more potent offensive option. I feel like the potential's there.

Aaliyah Lewis's shooting line looks a lot worse than it should be- she was the one with the ball in her hands at the end of every quarter and usually when the shot clock was running down. I suspect that might say something about who has confidence in whom when, and if it does, we have work to do. She was a little too in love with the shake-and-bake, highlight-reel kind of offense in this one, which didn't help either. Go for the shot, not the foul; heaven knows you're not going to get the foul call. Alisha Kebbe's shot was off most of the night, and Joe benched her pretty early. I don't know if I would have done the same thing, but on the other hand, I can understand not wanting to spend the time it would take to have a freshman find her feet against a ranked team. (On the other other hand, then why would Andrayah get so much time to work through her mistakes?)

I think Joe's a little too much in love with the straight-swap, offense-defense substitution philosophy. I'm worried that's he's allowing them to specialize too much and not be well-rounded players.

Time and distance have soothed my raging fury at the officiating, but it was still terrible- bad enough to be turrible, even. Poor Aaliyah came away from one drive/no-call/Miami recovery holding her shoulder. Foul differential killed us: by attrition, by forcing us into passivity on defense, and by forcing players into positions they were not ready for. And it was inconsistent, which is the worst thing.

Admittedly, my mood at the end of the game was not helped by the trio of preteens who sauntered into the section at the beginning of the fourth quarter and proceeded to ask if we were rooting for St. John's because we had a daughter on the team. I'm honestly not sure whether to be more confused about the visuals (I'm white, my husband's white, here's the team photo) or insulted at the age thing. (I would have had to have been pregnant in my early teens to have a daughter in college.) They then proceeded to root for Miami. (One of them was wearing Miami-colored socks, so they may have had their own kinfolk ties to do so, but still.)

Tonight was also an autograph session night, which might have been a wee bit awkward after a game like that. Senior privilege in action: pretty much everyone was up at the table, and yelling for Aaliyah and Jade to get up there so they could get started. Short line, which was good for getting home (though clearly not good for timely GNoD). Sorry, Maya, but I'm not quite up to kicking the refs' asses.

Could have been worse. Could have been better. We know what we need to work on.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

November 19th, 2016: Duquesne at Iona

Just the Facts, Ma'am: For the second game in a row, Duquesne came on strong in the third quarter to overcome a first-half deficit and win 61-58, this time over Iona- but the Gaels didn't go down without a fight. Kadri-Ann Lass led the Dukes with 17 points, 8 in the last five minutes of play, while Amadea Szamosi notched six points and 15 rebounds. Alexis Lewis and Marina Lizarazu each had 16 points to pace Iona, with Lizarazu adding nine rebounds and six assists.

For musical interludes, wardrobe malfunctions, overseas leadership, bringing all of the noise, free throw issues, flaring tempers, and common ground, join your intrepid blogger after the jump.

Good morning! We're on the 6 train on our way to Iona, because somehow I just can't get enough of losing to Duquesne. We've already had a bit of drama, as one gentleman at our end of the car has chosen to assume that another gentleman at the other end of the car is indulging in some... self-satisfaction... and is voicing his protests of this behavior quite loudly and profanely, while the second gentleman is disagreeing with the first gentleman's assessment. Fortunately, the second gentleman has departed, so there will be no fisticuffs.

Missed the bus by two minutes, so we had to offset the cost of the cab with eating at the food court. I've had worse food court food, but the college I went to actually got shamed on the local news for food poisoning, so that's not setting the bar very high.

Coming through a tunnel of dancers shaking pom-poms is actually creepier than I thought it would be. (We're not special. They're set up by the door and doing that to everyone.)

To the dude in the Duquesne hoodie: dude. Your bench is clear on the other side of the arena, why are you over here? What is with opposing fans ignoring the seats behind their own bench- the seats that I was always taught you take when you're on the road- and parking on the home side of center court? He did move eventually.

Game is tied at halftime, 24-all. Coach Godsey has been going awfully freshman-heavy in this one, and I don't know if it's working. We've been sloppy, and we can't keep being sloppy in the second half if we're going to survive.

Nasal, dirge-like anthem. Breath control, sister.

Not that Philecia Atkins-Gilmore is rusty or anything, but the first time she came into the game, she almost started play with her jacket on before the official realized he couldn't see her number. (Going with the theory that there's only one hyphen permitted per team, because Tilasha is Okey-Williams on the roster, but only Okey on her jersey.)

The officiating appears to be inspired by the rugby tournament going on outside the arena. Lots of scrums with either no calls or very late held ball calls. Poor Alexis must have dove into the nearest ice bath as soon as the game was over, because she hit the deck a lot, and so did a lot of Duquesne players.

Duquesne really tightened up their rotation in this game. Brianna Thomas had a very brief stint of no remarkability. Paige Cannon actually started off like gangbusters, hitting a couple of shots and boxing out really, really well. Her minutes faded in the second half as Burt ran heavily with his starters. Halle Bovell got a bit more run in this one than she did on Thursday, and she showed some freshman jitters when she did, missing two shots that looked like gift-wrapped opportunities. Juliana Vojinovic, creator of awkward announcement pauses, had some solid minutes on the defensive end and got into scrums.

Chassidy Omogrosso didn't have quite the shooting night she did against St. John's, and when she got called for a touch foul late (in a situation where everyone was expecting the Dukes to use the fouls they had to give), she was all up in her feelings. Two of her teammates had to cool her down as she barked at the ref, and then she committed a frustration shove on Karynda DuPree and got up in her feelings again. She's got to control her emotions a little bit better. She's fun to watch, otherwise- great speed, highlight reel shots, good passing, quick hands. Nina Aho slipped away from the defense quite often for jumpers, and fought hard for loose balls. Conor Richardson was quiet- spent a lot of time in foul trouble. She uses the sideline as a secondary defender very nicely.

Kadri-Ann Lass came up with the big shots when the Dukes needed them in the fourth quarter. She gave Duquesne the lead and hit dagger threes. Points for leadership, too- she was the one who corralled Omogrosso and dragged her away from the ref. Amadea Szamosi owned the boards; she had a putback late to beat the shot clock that I thought was the backbreaker, and the fact that it wasn't is a testament to Iona's toughness. She was everywhere on the glass. Really great nose for the ball and knack for positioning. (Ridiculously ripped shoulders, too, which you can tell because Duquesne has the racerback jerseys with the ridiculously small backs.

In the two games I saw this year, Duquesne came on strong in the second half, which tells me that they're getting really good halftime coaching and learning from it. They're still young enough to struggle with a little adversity, but I think they'll grow out of that.

So should I be calling Tilasha Okey, or Okey-Williams? (See above re: hyphen allocation.) Whatever I should be calling her, it is not "person who should be bringing the ball up the floor". Ever. She's enthusiastic, but she's definitely still working her way into the college game. Iida Ahvenainen brought some tough defense on the ball, and of all the things, she missed the one shot she took long (after all the comments I've made about her lack of strength, I find that amusing). Amelia Motz brought the hustle, but not much else. Philecia Atkins-Gilmore needs to not telegraph her passes. I know she's rusty because of whatever injury kept her out of the last couple of games, and I'm sure she'll get that half-second back in time.

Tori Lesko plays with all the grace of a bull in a china shop, and that's not meant as an insult. She goes hard to the basket when she goes in, like a pinball. I love how hard she works. Someone needs to work with her on her free throw form; there seems to be too much motion in it, and that came back to bite us. Karynda DuPree is a continual frustration with how disconnected she seems from the game at times. I like what she can do anchoring the defense in the middle, but it seems like every big block has to be countered by a fumbled rebound or a missed lay-up, and it's sort of hair-tearing-out-ing. (I don't begrudge her the three-point try, though- it was near the end of the shot clock. I do begrudge her not going hard after the rebound.)

Poor Marina Lizarazu is going to be run ragged by the end of the season, unless Philecia recovers in a hurry. She was gassed by the end of the game, which I think allowed Duquesne to get the last couple of buckets- there's a specific fast break lay-up by Omogrosso that comes specifically to mind, where it looked like Marina didn't have enough in the tank to run her down. Her sense of timing is excellent, especially at the end of the clock. Alexis Lewis forgot to tell her three-point shot what time the game started, and it only arrived in the fourth quarter. But when it did, it arrived in style, and the crowd erupted. She was taking a lot of hits and not getting a lot of calls, and I am not okay with this. I really enjoy watching her play. I enjoy watching Treyanna Clay, too, because Trey gets involved with a lot of plays and I like to watch her kick various and sundry kinds of ass. I kind of wish I could get a +/- from these stats, because I get the feeling her impact isn't always statistical.

(But for the record, Philecia is my favorite right now. Her enthusiasm on the bench and on the Bike To Nowhere is unparalleled and gives us a good starting point to make some noise. She's up on every chant and cheer, and she's always encouraging her teammates. You sing along with "Eye of the Tiger" and do the stomp for "We Will Rock You", you're all right by me.)

(And no, Phee, I'm not just saying this because I know you're reading it.)

I usually come down pretty hard on Coach Godsey, but I thought she made some really good adjustments after Duquesne made their big run. Live by the three, die by the three, but I thought the game plan was solid in the fourth quarter.

Officiating, as always, was hilariously inconsistent.

Duquesne's coach seems like a nice guy.

Place got real loud near the end, and it wasn't just us stomping the bleachers. Give Iona fans an excuse to make noise, and noise will happen, even without Damika's family around.

Between the inconvenient bus schedule and the bus being ten minutes late, we were waiting at the bus stop for more than half an hour, and ran into Philecia (and a couple of teammates who I couldn't immediately place because sometimes I have issues putting names and faces together without a guide). We exchanged pleasantries- and now I know she read, or has read, the GNoD.

I think Iona has really started to internalize the school motto: fight the good fight. That's a mindset I can get behind.


Friday, November 18, 2016

November 17th, 2016: Duquesne at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma'am: After a strong first half showing, St. John's faltered in the second half, and Duquesne came away with the 71-65 win. Chassidy Omogrosso led all scorers with 25 for the Dukes, while Amadea Szamosi added 18 points and seven rebounds. Aaliyah Lewis led the Red Storm with 17 points and six assists.

For unfortunate hats, traveling Pennsylvanians, freshman leadership, senior instability, discovering roles, height differential, and a bear, join your intrepid blogger after the jump.
Today is the day. Tonight is the night. This is the night we celebrate one of the few good things that has come out of this miserable disaster of a year that "annus horribilis" doesn't even begin to describe. The Johnnies open at home tonight, and the banners get updated: Big East Champions, NCAA Tournament. And we get to revenge ourselves on Duquesne. As you may remember from last season, DUQUESNE MUST SUFFER. (Don't worry, Dukes fans. This is me getting the last of last season's bitterness out.)

At St. John's, we wear red on Fridays, but today is Thursday and I'm wearing my red. Playlist is prepped with all the standbys. I'm already hyped to see what we're going to do this year, even as I keep my expectations low.

At halftime, St. John's is up 39-27. Alisha Kebbe has been very fun to watch.

No pregame notes, because buses suck.

There's a person behind me who looks an awful lot like Essence Carson. If she is: hi, Essence! (I admit, it took three tries to figure out the six degrees of separation that would get a Rutgers alumna here, and once I got past an affinity for red and white, then a fondness for Jersey girls {like Jade}, I remembered, oh, yeah, we hired Tasha Pointer. Look, I think in odd directions sometimes.)

We are now the proud owners of season ticket holder hats. White stitching on red fabric gives me the heebie-jeebies now, but it's a nice hat otherwise. (If you have not met me: love me, love me, love me, I'm a true-blue liberal.)

Army swearing-in at half, in honor of Military Night. It got a tiny bit quieter at the part about obeying the orders of the president...

Keylantra Langley, she of the shot-clock beating shots, is at courtside, rocking a niiiiiice retro-style letter jacket. I think I also spotted Kimberly Spruill in the crowd (unfortunately, her claim to fame was in getting the ball rolling on, "sure, let's give out 5 as soon as the class of 2013 is out the door, it's not like anyone important wore it")

We'll live and die by our defense, and on where Jade and Akina's shots are. But it might be a little less painful to watch than I thought.

The band shirts are super snazzy. I'm still not sure about this navy blue thing, but it's all right. I guess., sorry, still looks wrong to see someone other than Nadirah in 5 and someone other than Danaejah in 15. It's going to take a while.

Well, that escalated quickly. I think we saw two teams determining their identities in the third quarter, and it looked a lot like St. John's was expecting Aliyyah Handford and Danaejah Grant to step in and save the day. This is not going to work now that Liyyah and Nae have graduated. Duquesne found their offense, and found the flaws in our defense.

Halle Bovell played a short stint in the first half and showed a whole lot of speed on a nice cut to the basket. Angela Staffileno played like a woman who watches a lot of hockey- unfortunately, while I admire a good solid body-check, not only is that skill not applicable to the game of basketball, but it is also not permissible in women's hockey, so she's outta luck no matter which way you slice it. Paige Cannon played a few minutes in the second half, and mixed it up in the paint.

Brianna Thomas reminds me somewhat of Brianna Turner, and not just because of the name. Something about her build and her style just brings Turner to mind. Julijana Vojinovic did not have the greatest footing- she fell down quite a bit. But she used her height well to pick up rebounds.

If Duquesne were one of my teams, and one of my family's teams, we would have adopted Chassidy Omogrosso as our favorite, because she's exactly the kind of player my mom is a sucker for: undersized, quick as lightning, efficient, feisty, and brilliant. Unfortunately, since Duquesne is not one of my teams and must suffer, I spent most of the game muttering "goddamn blonde waterbug" under my breath. But it's still a compliment. There's something I like about Conor Richardson, but I can't put my finger on it. She has that look on the floor like she's going to be a big time player one of these days. Nina Aho seemed to find her stride as the game went on, and her size was giving us fits all game- there's something about running ridiculously tall guards out there that utterly flummoxes us, though that might have to do with Tiny Aaliyah being, well, tiny.

Kadri-Ann Lass used her height and frame to get space on the block for rebounds, and to set good picks and screens for her teammates. I didn't necessarily notice her as a rebounding force during the game, though this might be because Duquesne doesn't wear names on the back of their jerseys, and I'm not always good at identifying players when they're not wearing names. Amadea Szamosi seemed to hit her stride in the second half, taking advantage of her height on her defender to roll to the basket and score, or just shoot high post shots over said defenders.

Duquesne's defense was solid, if unremarkable. It seemed like they took advantage of height mismatches a lot.

Andrayah Adams is not Danaejah Grant, although she's wearing Danaejah's number and shares Danaejah's propensity for compression sleeves and leggings. I know it's unfair to compare them, especially in Andrayah's second game, but it was clear that she wasn't quite ready for the big time and she definitely wasn't ready to play any kind of big minutes on the college level. Tamesha Alexander played a couple of unremarkable minutes at the end of the second quarter. Sandra Udobi played a couple of stretches in the first half, and you could tell her speed wasn't there. The heart and hustle were, but that knee hasn't been right since I can't remember when. The new haircut's cute, though.

Crystal Simmons brought the defense, relentless and tough. I would like to see her look for some sort of offense, only because we can't play 4-on-5 if she's in the game, even if she essentially turns it into 4-on-4 at the other end. Jordan Agustus missed a lot of makeable shots and made shots harder than they had to be. Maya Singleton impressed me with her rebounding and her toughness, although she's, sadly, ahead of the curve in terms of shooting free throws like a St. John's post.

It's going to sound strange to say that a freshman in her second-ever college game was the linchpin to the game, but I felt like we lost a lot of our offensive attacking mindset when Alisha Kebbe left with a left leg injury. She was going strong to the rim. I really like what she brings to the table, and I hope she's okay. Akina Wellere's shot was off all night- granted, on two or three shots the rim was cruel and the shots bounced in and out, but I recall a easy lay-up late that she left way short, and I feel like that might encapsulate her night. Aaliyah Lewis went into attack mode late, when it was clear that no one else was really going to step up on offense, but she can't be both Aaliyah and Aliyyah. She's a great distributor on the fast break, and she's fearless on the drive, and she's a pretty good jump shooter- but she's never all of those things at once. She can't play both roles at once.

Imani Littleton needs to speed those feet up somehow if she's going to stay our defensive specialist down low. She got burned a couple of times by the taller members of Duquesne's squad. I like when she goes to the basket, like she did for a stretch in the second quarter. I'm most disappointed in Jade Walker. Yes, the jumper was pretty, but it wasn't consistent, and she doesn't go to the basket nearly as often as she should. What bothered me more was that she wasn't showing the leadership and poise we need out of our seniors. She loves to shoot- fine. She wants to be the primary option- fine. But she has to have the court awareness to know that she's going to be the focus of the defense. She panicked. There's a play that sticks in my mind: the offense, as always, was being rather more methodical than I like, and Jade had the ball with the clock ticking into single digits. At 9 seconds left on the clock, she threw it back out to Aaliyah to reset the offense. You can't do that if you're a senior and the primary scoring option- you have to create, not panic. Another play: late in the game, down four, with the ball, Aaliyah passes to Jade- except Jade ducks out of the way, and Akina's not ready for the pass. Out of bounds, Dukes' ball, essentially game over. If Jade wants that Big East trophy to stay in a monogamous relationship with her, she better step her game up.

Officiating, as always, was inconsistent, but we've come to expect that. I think it flipped in the third and fourth quarters, but that could just be one team adjusting and one team not.

We've got to work on coordinating crowd noise between cheer and dance. The two sides of the gym aren't in sync, and we've got to work out some way of fixing that.

It was good to see all the usual suspects, and RedZone made a good showing of themselves in the endcourt. They better be back on Sunday night- Miami is no joke.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

November 12th, 2016: Army at LIU

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Army blew the game open in the second quarter to win going away, 68-47, at LIU. Madison Hovren had 22 points, six rebounds, and five steals to lead the Black Knights. No one cracked double digits for the Blackbirds, who committed 32 turnovers; Aja Boyd's nine points and seven rebounds were team highs.

For bad passes, questionable life decisions, a new angle, a tiny cheerleader, food critiques, the chill of winter, and a color trend, join your intrepid and at-last caught-up blogger after the jump.

Another girl, another planet, another day in paradise, another team, another game.

It's a Saturday afternoon, shading towards evening. 24 hours ago, we were on a bus rumbling through Pelham Bay Park. Right now, we're at a Smashburger in Brooklyn, getting ready for the Blackbirds and the Black Knights. I'm not sure how I feel about this rather random evening start for LIU, but at least it's easy to get home from here.

I just saw a woman wearing all white in this burger joint that prides itself on how juicy its burgers are. Someone is having their lunch on expert difficulty level.

(BTW, in my never so humble opinion, the shakes are better than the burgers. I'm not a huge fan of the ultra-thin patty thing.)

We're going to try something different with LIU, baseline instead of sideline. Trying to find an angle where the stanchion doesn't obstruct my view has been the hardest part.

Looks like LIU has three injuries. Kind of glad mom didn't come, because one of the injured players is her tiny-guard favorite, Paris Jones.

LIU has their names on the back of their shirts, which is very helpful for getting an early jump on "who are you people?!"

I've never seen a team do two separate huddles before, but Army just did during their drills. I think the divide might have been wings and posts. Either that, or they drew straws because otherwise the one huddle would have been too unwieldy. (Army has a lot of players.)

Oh, Coach Oliver, please don't ever do the Nixon V for victory thing again.

The LIU band is so loud that even my husband thinks they're loud. And he's pretty loud. (And is in denial about his encroaching hearing loss, but that's neither here nor there.)

At halftime, Army is up 30-18, thanks to a strong second-quarter run fueled by LIU's inability to pass the damn ball to a player in a white jersey.

Wild Mass Guessing theories: DeAngelique Waithe took ballet as a kid and Lena' Hicks played volleyball in high school.

The men's team is sitting in front of our chosen perch. They seem pretty into the game, which is cool.

The band is playing "The Fox". Judging from the fact we're down 12 at the half, I think the answer to "what does the fox say?" is "a lot of swearing and commentary on passing". (The joke, in case you were wondering, is that Coach Oliver, back when she was Del Preore, played three years at Marist.)

Well, I guess that could have been worse. I guess. Maybe? There's something to be said for the moral victory of frazzling a team full of soldiers in training and breaking down their discipline. The perimeter defense and the on-ball defense are there. The intensity is there, for the most part. But the defense at the basket needs work, and so does pretty much everything on offense.

Army went deep into their bench near the end of the game, much to the delight of freshman Cori Schnell's family. They came in shirts with the family name on the back, and they cheered long and loud when she came into the game. She was very involved in her minutes, to the point where I wonder if she was trying too hard to make sure she put on a good show for them. Morgann Yancey, Shelby Haynes, Julia Gibbs, and Ellen Dougherty all entered when the game was pretty much decided, and I have no clear memories of any of them. But their teammates were very excited when they had scoring opportunities, especially when Haynes converted an elbow jumper.

Aliyah Murray did work in the lane, using speed and athleticism to get what she wanted. Margaret Anne Hubbell was physical, and a bit grabby. Libby Tacka got some time in both halves, with good foot speed. Army should not have given away that they had a backup Morris twin- it got a little confusing when Desiree Morris was subbing for Daizjah Morris. She's not quite as good a defender as her sister is, but she does all right.

I said it at halftime and I'll say it again: I'm pretty sure Lena' Hicks played volleyball, possibly even as her primary sport, in high school. There was one possession where a scrum for a loose ball occurred, and she slid on her knees and I swear she set the ball. Please note: the Game Notes of Doom do not advocate attempting to set a basketball. Madison Hovren had a lot of trouble with her free throws in the first half, which I and my fellow fans will happily take credit for, as she was much more consistent in the second half. She was a solid low-post presence for Army, hitting shots deep in the paint (including a couple of baby hooks, and I'm a sucker for a hook shot).

Daizjah Morris was really persistent on defense, creating a lot of loose balls and going after all of them. She seemed like a one-woman press at times. Jess Lewis was the deep threat, and occasionally the most animated of the Black Knights (there was a sequence where she indulged in righteous outrage when she thought she was called for a foul... only to discover that the ref had signaled #23, not #3, and the foul was on Daizjah Morris, and she stood down). Janae McNeal was really solid along the baseline and made some great defensive plays.

I was surprised how undisciplined Army was at times. They were able to minimize their mistakes later in the game, but there was a stretch where they just weren't getting the passes along the sideline to the places they wanted them. But when they were able to execute, they finished well, and they drove LIU nuts on defense.

Autumn Ashe is a pretty name. She was the last one in, and she did some good work on the boards. Seneca Richards seems to be the Blackbirds' designated three-point shooter- that ws the only offense she seemed inclined towards. Brianna Farris brought the defense, and seems to have really narrowed her offense down to the coner three. I thought she and Hovren were going to throw down by the end of the game- there was one sequence where Brianna was trying to stop her on the fast break and Hovren practically demonstrated some bad-ass hand-to-hand combat moves that left Brianna flat on the floor.

I think there might be potential in Gabrielle Caponegro, but she might not be fast enough to really capitalize it. She's only a freshman, so I shouldn’t be judging her so harshly for seeming lost on the floor. I think- I hope- she'll find her way sooner rather than later. I love watching DeAngelique Waithe on defense- spidery sounds like a terribly creepy word, but it's the first one that comes to mind when watching her work. I seem to have a thing for somewhat offensively limited power forwards who are tenacious on defense and hit the boards hard. (Hi, Joy.) I feel like I should be worried about Dionne Coe's lack of ball control, given that she's a graduate student and thus should be more experienced than anyone else on the roster. I like her jumper, but if she's going to run offense for any extended length of time, we're in trouble.

I was really disappointed in Stylz Sanders- usually she has one drive per game where she fully lives up to her name, but she was unusually tentative on offense in this one. I don't get it, and that's going to be a problem going forward if she keeps playing like that. Aja Boyd has potential, and she shut a lot of things down in the middle. I'd like to see her move a bit more, though. Drew Winter had some good moves in the lane.

I think Shanovia Dove still thinks she has to be the entire offense. That kind of take-charge attitude can be a good thing, but hitting shots wasn't necessarily our problem- hanging on to the ball to make sure we did shoot was. I don't know whether she should be the focal point of the offense, or if Coach Oliver wants her to be the focal point of the offense, or if she's just doing her own thing. Victoria Powell was uneven, but intriguing. needs

There are just so many things that need work. The passing to be crisper. The ballhandling has to be better. What bothered me most was actually at the end of the game, when the effort was visibly absent. You have to at least pretend to care, even when it's over. You can't visibly give up on the play.

Going from the Big East to the MAAC to the NEC in the span of forty-eight hours really emphasizes the issue with officiating in women's basketball. As bad as the refs are at the higher levels, they're even worse at the mid-major level. This is not a good thing.

Still can't keep up with the spirit squad, but I'm starting to get the hang of some of the simpler chants. Someday I'll have enough rhythm to ride this ride, but this is not that day.

Coach Oliver looked very glamorous in her gold dress and matching shoes.

This team is going to be an adventure, but at least they'll be a fun one.


November 11th, 2016: Stony Brook at Iona

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A third-quarter defensive clampdown was the key to Iona's 57-46 season-opening win against Stony Brook. Alexis Lewis led all scorers with 18 points, adding eight rebounds, while Tori Lesko flirted with a double-double in her debut of 14 points and nine boards. Kori Bayne-Walker had 17 to lead the Seawolves in the loss.

For a quick change, buses, wrestling references, facing down the dreaded, yellow ribbons, a sparkling debut, and numbness, join your intrepid and easily distracted blogger after the jump.
And it's off to Iona for the second half of a day-night double-header that seems set to become a tradition. The Gaels will be hosting Stony Brook in the return match of a home-and-home series, and their first home game since being crowned MAAC champions. Tonight should be the banner-raising, and I am hyped.

It's 4:30 on the 45 bus. We hit our connections like clockwork, so we're already in New Rochelle. The sun is low in the sky, and where there is sunlight, it's a rich gold. We travel in the company of about a dozen high school students, who are loud but not too much trouble otherwise.

Someone please remind me to keep the obstreperous hinge of my laptop taped. It's making it difficult to write notes, and my ankles hurt from keeping my feet up to maintain the proper angle. I'd rather be on point than en pointe.

Overheard on the bus: "Booyaka is a word." They're amusing themselves with a game of telephone, and somehow they went from Rey Mysterio to Ric Flair in seven steps.

Our favorite eatery on North Avenue went out of business (again), so we're trying a new place. So far I like their philosophy, but their quesadillas are mediocre.

If Billi keeps forgetting to put us on the pass list, I'm going to start forgetting where Iona is on my spreadsheet. We were able to get in touch with the director of operations, who knows us, but this is the one team that forgets us the most.

The light bulbs appear to have been changed, or are at least brighter. So vey bright. Unfortunately, the banners face the side opposite the bench, so we're looking at the back of black vinyl from our spots behind the bench.

Y'all. Look, Iona. Y'all have literally one player on the roster from the state of New York. Y'all have more players from Arizona than from the tri-state. You can miss me with this hyped-up NYC connection.

We have a band! With people and everything! And there are more than five of them! We even have a mascot! Looks like all you have to do to get taken kind of seriously at Iona is win the conference tournament and rep the school in the NCAA tournament.

Oh, dear. There's a group of Stony Brook fans in the next section over from us (which is the center court section, to be fair), and when they cheered for their team, the band turned around with various flavors of "WTF" on their faces.

My fingers are still blue, by the way.

I always thought it was "Gold Club" for the Iona boosters, not "Goal Club". You know, because the colors are maroon and gold? Today I learned a thing!

Gorgeous anthem pregame.

At halftime, Stony Brook is up 32-25. Early foul trouble screwed up Iona's rotations, with Treyanna Clay and Marina Lizarazu both picking up two fouls in the first quarter. But we've had other defensive issues, losing both three-point shooters and lane drivers.

And the defense clamped down when we needed it most. Stony Brook had 15 points in the first quarter, and 14 points the entire second half. I think I might be a little in love with Tori Lesko.

Anamaria Skaro attempted the Andrea Stinson weapons of mass distraction approach on defense. It's not quite as effective when one is not quite as blessed in the frontal regions as Stinson was. Her late threes were heaves of desperation. Ayshia Baker saw time late in the game- how late, I can't tell you precisely, since the PA guy never got around to announcing her entry into the game. Ditto for Jerell Matthews, an issue compounded by the fact that I had her number and Kina Smith's number mixed up.

(You know what's really disconcerting? Being on a new bus route in a strange city, next to a dude who has the funk of forty thousand years wafting off of him, with a misbehaving computer on your lap, and having the bus abruptly go dark. Fortunately, it was a momentary issue, nothing more than "have you tried turning it off and on again?")

Kina Smith brought height to the table, and worked on the glass. Giolibeth Perez, whose name did not seem to come with a pronunciation guide, was very fast, but not always in control. Davion Wingate was solid defensively- she had a really nice steal that led to a fast break basket.

Elizabeth Manner wasn't flashy, but whenever Stony Brook needed a basket with the shot clock running down, she got in the lane and she hit that basket. Always gotta watch out for that big girl. Aaliyah Worley was bombing away from deep, and her wild drives were not answered as frequently as her teammates'.

Lauren Williams is one of those people who doesn't believe she fouls. And she fouled out, which should indicate something. What, I don't know. She was one of the people who exploited the baseline that Iona was leaving open. Kori Bayne-Walker, she of the truly epic last name, is a lot quicker than one would think from her frame, and will not be denied on the drive. She hits hard. Christa Scognamiglio, whose name was reversed in my box score and is thus causing me great confusion, brought a large contingent that wanted to see her score, but none of the long jumpers she was taking went down. Her people were very disappointed.

Stony Brook did a good job of scrapping for loose balls, but they couldn't capitalize. I don't have a good angle of the opposing bench from where I sit, but it didn't look like McCombs was getting very animated about this game. I don't know if that's just her or if she doesn't get up for non-conference games, or what.

Philecia Atkins-Gilmore better be hurt or suspended or something, because otherwise there's no good reason for her not to have played in this one. I don't care that her playing would have cost us her singing along with "We Will Rock You", I'd rather have her actually rocking people.

Iida Ahvenainen still needs to get her ass in the weight room. She doesn't do a good job of holding on to the ball, and she doesn't seem to have the strength to hoist a consistent jumper- her first three was very short, and then she was overcompensating on the next couple of shots until one of those high arcers went in. Kristin Mahoney got a few scattered minutes and still looked like a deer in the headlights out there. She's running out of excuses and running out of time. Amelia Motz is still looking for her shot, but at least she's a freshman, you expect that sort of thing out of freshmen.

What you don't expect out of freshmen is the kind of debut Tori Lesko had for the Gaels. I love her hustle. I love her rebounding. I love her screens. I love her putbacks. She reminds me of a young Cathrine Kraayeveld, before Cathrine got addicted to the long ball. She took charges and made play after play. Treyanna Clay got in foul trouble early, and I think that set the tone for her all game. She wasn't as aggressive and assertive as she usually is, but she was making some very good plays at the basket. Karynda DuPree is going to kill me one of these days. I hate when post players are passive, and she always seems so very disconnected from the game when she's not directly involved. I like her shot-blocking, and I'm glad she's finally stopped chucking threes, but she's a senior now. She has to be more of a leader on the floor.

Alexis Lewis's shot took the night off, especially from long range- a strange thing to say about someone who poured in more points than anyone else, but her jumper was wild. She's got a little bit of the same problem Joy Adams had, where the shot rims in and out or takes wild bounces inside the rim. Maybe a little less oomph? Marina Lizarazu has upped the flash factor on her game, which is fun when her teammates catch the passes, or when her offense gets hot in the fourth quarter. It's somewhat less fun when she misses deep threes that she has no real reason to be taking.

I love the defensive intensity this team brings to the table. And I know it's going to be even better when we get Fee back. The rebounding is fantastic. The offensive execution needs work, and I feel like this is the eternal story of my life as a basketball fan. I don't know if they can defend their MAAC title successfully, but I also get the sense this is a down year for the MAAC, so anything can happen. It's exciting.

Officiating could use a little work, especially around the circle.

It was great to have a full band there! MOAR BAND.

So long as we can maintain diplomatic relationships with New Rochelle, and so long as we can find somewhere decent to eat, Iona's going to be high on the list for quite some time.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

November 11th, 2016: Savannah State at Seton Hall

Just the Facts, Ma'am: It was shaky at times, but Seton Hall opened the 2016-2017 season with a 74-60 win over Savannah State. JaQuan Jackson led all scorers with 21 points, while LaTecia Smith added 16 points and five steals. The Tigers, who were +16 on the boards, got 19 points from Lauren Moss and a big double-double from Tiyonda Davis of 16 points and 14 rebounds.

For poor life choices, cake, so many trains and buses, driving the lane without a license, "Good hustle!", Monty Python, and coloring everything blue, join your intrepid and cerulean blogger after the jump.
It's approaching the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Take a moment to remember. This date was chosen for a reason. Look it up.

But more relevant to this blog, this is the second Friday of November, and that means the season is underway. Seton Hall starts the whole thing off in the morning, hosting the Lady Tigers of Savannah State.

Looks like there are a lot of walking wounded for this one. Martha Kuderer is still out, though she at least doesn't seem to be wearing the boot she had last week. Lubirdia Gordon and Jordan Molyneaux also seem to have not dressed. This is a rather large percentage of our height, especially veteran height. We're going to need the freshmen to be big today. I know we're playing a team we should easily beat, but we still need to show what we have. It can't be another "JaQuan scores 30 and no one else has more than 11" game. That can't become our identity.

The celebration of Seton Hall's history would be easier for people to browse through if it were available before the gates open, y'all.

Some things are just wrong. Team Valor took the pirate statue in front of Walsh. You can be assured I rectified that with the quickness. Pirate Blue, y'all.

Update: apparently Bird and Jordan are suspended multiple games, and the reason indicates that they're both idiots. I am extremely disappointed in their judgment. (And also that I may never have Seton Hall gear to match my St. John's gear.)

There appears to be cake.

Solid anthem by a ROTC cadet, but points off to the Hall for no flag corps on this Veterans Day.

At halftime, it's 42-29 Seton Hall. Savannah State is scrappy, but they have no offensive execution beyond the three-point sniping of Lauren Moss (4 treys among her 15 points). JaQuan Jackson has 10 to lead Seton Hall, but the story for the Pirates is the defensive intensity and the rebounding- clearly they got lectured after the Philadelphia game.

I think Shadeen Samuels is getting a fairly regular rooting section; there seem to be several people in Ossining gear around, and several people who get excited when she makes a big play.

The cake is not a lie! It is a fairly firm yellow sponge cake, three layers, with a white buttercream frosting and heavily dyed blue filling between the layers. Some of it got on my plate, and now my fingers are blue.

I think our lack of experience showed in this one, and I'm worried about how we're going to handle the press (which is a bit ironic, given how hard we press and trap and pressure teams). The offensive balance, or lack thereof, is also not promising. But I absolutely love this team's hustle. This is probably not going to be the year, but they're going to surprise somebody and they're going to be pretty awesome for the next couple of years (assuming, of course, no transfers or injuries).

Savannah State's colors kept throwing me off, because their bright blue and bright orange are really similar to Florida's. (And also the Mets'. Let's go Mets!) They're not a very good team fundamentally, for the most part- they threw up a lot of bad wild shots and showed very few offensive sets that indicated any deliberation.

Jacqueline Anderson and Praise Russell both entered very late in the game, after Savannah State had more or less conceded (though they were pressing to the very end, and with the margin in the low teens, I can't blame them). Caprisha Treadwell showed some nice moves, including a nice putback on an offensive rebound. I am not okay with her shoulder-blocking our point guard, though. I think Lauryn Fields was the one who committed the inbounds violation in the fourth quarter that seemed like a bit of a turning point, or whatever one calls a moment that could have been a turning point and is instead the point where something ends. She certainly seemed confused by the play. Taylor-Ashley Shaw (who has a name I would love to hear the backstory of) was especially tenacious on the ballhandler, and probably should have been called for at least more than one foul than she was. Deyja Brown was fairly late in the rotation in both halves, and I think she might have been the "teaching moment" sub, that player who comes in when someone has made a terrible mistake and needs to be told in detail what that mistake is. Kierstan Green was in and out of the game a lot, and looking at the numbers, she may have been a situational sub, brought in for a reasonable facsimile of offense. It's possible today was just a bad day for her.

Rhianna Warren got the start, but she was pulled fairly early in both halves- for Green in the first, for Shaw in the second. I wonder if she's the normal starter and if this is a coach that believes in senior privilege, or if she started because someone was in trouble. Lauren Moss has a really nice shot- she was one of the few players who had a fundamentally sound shot for Savannah State, and she was launching from deep. We lost track of her way more than we should have.

I question the fashion choices of Jeremica Edwards, specifically her choice to tuck in part of her shorts legs to create the saddlebag/sagging diaper effect. This is not a good plan for anyone. She tore away a lot of rebounds with sheer intensity, and near the end of the game she had a nifty steal. I don't have any arrows on my score card linking it to a specific scoring play, but I want to say that that's how she got the one basket near the end. Kenyata Hendrix used her slim build to slip into spaces and score. She was able to run the backdoor play better than most of her teammates. Tiyonda Davis is a whole lot of woman, and she pushed the Seton Hall defense around down low. She lacks a certain amount of finesse offensively, and she's not real quick. But she makes her own space and she can score. What stuck out most about her, though, was her really weird free throw wind-up. She dribbles like anyone else, but then she holds the ball out like she's about to address a serve in volleyball before bringing it back in to shoot. It was very easy to disconcert her during her motion, and we got a lot of practice at it.

I love Seton Hall's defense, and I love Seton Hall's hustle. There are definitely days when I want to love them with that proverbial two-by-four upside the head, and the offense is going to be a running issue. But it's hard to address the rebounding issue when three posts were unavailable. You can't really tell whether there's a problem there or not.

Chanel Jemmott came into the game very briefly in the fourth quarter, and still doesn't have a name on her jersey. I feel bad for her at this point. She should at least have a name. Skyler Snider played brief stretches in both halves- fought hard for rebounds, and got rewarded with free throws near the end of the game. I don't know if she's fast enough to keep up with the SHU defense, though. I feel like Shadeen Samuels's shot will come back in time, that she's off her timing for whatever reason. I love the way she fights for rebounds.

Deja Winters stretched the offense and seemed to get stronger as the game went on, but she's going to make me tear my hair out if she doesn't quit it with that slide-step. I think she had three travels called on that move. She's strong, and she's tough, and I really enjoy watching her play. Kaela Hilaire worked her butt off on defense- it seemed like every Savannah State possession had us shouting, "Good defense, Kaela!" or "Good deflection, Kaela!" I like her ferocity down the lane, too; it's more effective than her jumper.

Jayla Jones-Pack, at the moment, reminds me a fair bit of Tammy Sutton-Brown, and not just because of the hyphenation. Unfortunately, she reminds me of TSB at Rutgers, not TSB after Anne Donovan worked on her. Jayla's got to tuck her elbows in or she's going to spend way too much time on the bench in foul trouble. I'd also like to see her be more aggressive at the basket. Don't bring the ball down to where the guards can get at it. That goes for Claire Lundberg, too, who had a gift-wrapped lay-up handed to her by one of the guards and proceeded to utterly screw it up by taking the extra power dribble. She was called upon for a lot of interior defense today, which isn't her strength, and it showed. I'll be glad when our posts are finished being stupid and/or injured and we can put them back in the rotation so Claire can focus more on the perimeter.

I'm starting to think LaTecia Smith has played with a lot of shot-happy guards before. She has a phenomenal knack for reading long bounces off missed shots- I'd have to look at the numbers, but it wouldn't surprise me if she rebounds more of JaQuan Jackson's shots than would be proportional to the number of SHU shots that Quan misses. Does that sentence make sense? She's really shown fire in this early part of the season. JaQuan Jackson has moments of incredible glory, and moments of "QUANNY WTF WERE YOU THINKING?!", but I should be used to that from a SHU scorer by now. She wasn't as aggressive on the passing lanes as she was against Philadelphia, or maybe she just wasn't as successful. I feel like sometimes she's trying too hard to make offense for herself, and not doing as much to move the ball around. I'm still not seeing it with Kaity Healy.

Lots of physical play that wasn't called, and some serious questions about which circle the officials were using for block/charge calls. I'm starting to feel like either the officiating is improving or I'm getting more jaded, though. People next to me are all "OMG THAT WAS A TERRIBLE CALL!!!111" and I'm thinking, "Uh, yes, that was a reach."

Did we scare off the few members of Bluebeard Army who showed up, or are they trying to distribute the noise across a wider area?

To the flutist getting the pep band to sing various and sundry random songs to disconcert the free throw shooter: hi, I like your taste in music, let's be friends. I want to be a lumberjack too.

...I was going to do a summation here, but I think I like that ending better.