Just the Facts, Ma'am: A crucial Crimson injury led to a big St. John's run, and the Red Storm came away with the 81-76 win over Harvard. Aliyyah Handford led all scorers with 25; Aaliyah Lewis added 19 points, five assists, and five steals. Temi Fagbenle notched 20 points and eight rebounds for Harvard.
For big plays, big games, unexpected boons, drama, and potential heartbreak, join your intrepid and distressingly hungry blogger after the jump.
We're serious about basketball never stopping. That's why, thirteen hours or so after our last game, we're back in the saddle, home again at Carnesecca Arena for the Red Storm's home match against the Crimson of Harvard (though they're wearing black, so it's currently a bit of a misnomer).
I really like Selina's shirt, or at least the shade of it. A closer look at the cut makes it less my style, because we all know everything's about me. At least the team's practicing free throws this time. I got tired of seeing them come off the rim.
There's a small group here supporting Sandra, which is nice. She's a good kid.
The band is really on their game today. Solid anthem, and a great band arrangement of "Let It Rock" (the Kevin Rudolf song).
Would that I could say the same for my Johnnies. Harvard's up 36-30. Fouls have been an issue- the differential was 12-8, and that's with a couple of late ones called on the Crimson. Elise Gordon has made her presence felt in the middle with 11 points for Harvard. Aliyyah Handford has 13 hard ones for St. John's, with Aaliyah Lewis contributing seven.
That shouldn't have had to be as dramatic a game as it was, and I feel a little bad for Harvard because of it- I think losing Christine Clark was a blow that they couldn't completely get over, though they put together a good run after St. John's surged out to an eight-point lead.
Elise Gordon was tough in the middle, throwing her weight around without fear. She saw less time in the second half, but was effective when she played. Jasmine Evans went hard to the basket, drawing fouls on her drives. Shilpa Tummala came on late with her shooting, though she seems to have a fondness for the fadeaway that doesn't suit her. She went out late after a rough collision with a St. John's defender- we thought it was an ankle injury, but the ice was closer to her knee. She ended up having to prop her foot on a redshirt's lap because they ran out of room on the bench. AnnMarie Healy canned a quick three, but I don't remember anything else she did.
Christine Clark really is the heart, soul, and captain of her team. She rebounded well inside for a guard. She was a key scorer for them in the first half. She makes them go. When she went out with the foot injury, it was like the team collapsed without her. And it was a bad foot injury. The shoe came off and stayed off, and feet should not be that red. I wish her all the best. Temi Fagbenle moved with a smooth grace on the inside, setting picks in the high post and putting soft shots in the basket. She stepped it up in the second half when her team needed someone. Melissa Mullins had a resounding block in the first half, and always seemed to be in the way of rebounds. Erin McDonnell showed off a little outside touch, which she might have been able to make more use of against a team like St. John's- our posts aren't used to stepping outside and dealing with forwards who can take the three. Hand-checks and picks got to her in the second half. Ali Curtis seemed to be the designated fouler when the foul derby began. She also had a pretty little shot in the lane.
I never thought I'd say this, but Mallory Jones was a huge part of why we won this game. She hit outside shots to open up the paint that Harvard was clogging, and with her build, she was able to make space on the inside. Watching her run a fast break is still somewhat of an oxymoron, but she came through with the skills we needed from her. Sandra Udobi was outmatched in the post. She tried hard, but it was clear that she was in over her head. Jade Walker gave some good minutes off the bench, but she too looked like she was in over her head with Harvard's forwards. Keylantra Langley only hit her shots when it counted, which is what I keep telling people- she only hits shot when the clock is running down, that should be the only time she's allowed to shoot. She was good defensively, too, called upon to counter the Crimson's outside attack.
Ashley Perez looked scared out of her mind out there. Does she not think she's ready for the responsibility? We needed her in the second half, and whether she was injured or just off her game, we couldn't bring her in. Amber Thompson was strong inside, though she had issues finishing, and two of her fouls were ill-considered (though the fifth was cheap- legit, but cheap). She got the crowd roaring early on with a resounding, emphatic leaping block of a three-pointer. Briana Brown had to deal with foul trouble, but she's still the captain, and she came up with a big three late in the game to stretch the lead. Aliyyah Handford had a little more trouble than usual getting into the lane in the first half, but was more successful in finding the seams in the second half, also turning steals into offense. I kind of wish she'd find a jump shot, but she's only a sophomore, I'm sure that'll come in time. Today was Aaliyah Lewis's coming out party. She saw that Aliyyah was having trouble getting going in the first half and became more assertive about looking for her shot. She backed off it a little bit in the second half, but at that point she started to use her quick hands and blazing speed to hit fast break lay-ups. She looked good.
A lot of contact under the basket went uncalled. We were unamused. The fouls didn't seem evenly distributed; then again, I was wondering whether Briana Brown was going to get called for her fifth.
Appropriate that one of the Chuck-a-Duck prize winners today was a guy in a BC cap (given that the proceeds go to a Boston College alumna's care).
Good crowd for a non-conference game. Hope they keep coming back.
On to Auburn- let's hope we have better luck with this SEC foe.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Just the Facts, Ma'am: A crucial Crimson injury led to a big St. John's run, and the Red Storm came away with the 81-76 win over Harvard. Aliyyah Handford led all scorers with 25; Aaliyah Lewis added 19 points, five assists, and five steals. Temi Fagbenle notched 20 points and eight rebounds for Harvard.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Rutgers raced out to a big first half lead and held on against Texas Tech to win the consolation game fo the Barclays Women's Invitational, 61-52. Tyler Scaife had 18 points to lead the Scarlet Knights, with Kahleah Copper adding 14 and nine rebounds. Audrisa Harrison and Jasmine Caston each had 11 for Texas Tech.
For mottos, rebounding, sweet fast breaks, winces of pain, and the never ending Rutgers fight song, join your intrepid and impatient blogger after the jump.
Basketball never stops, and neither does your intrepid blogger. It's only six or seven blocks from LIU to the Barclays Center, so after sandwiches and cheesecake at Junior's, we walked from the Turkey Classic to the Barclays Invitational, pleasantly surprised to find out that our tickets were in fact ready during the Texas Tech-Rutgers game. We missed the very beginning, but at halftime it's 36-25 Rutgers. Tyler Scaife has 12; no Lady Raider has more than four.
Another game of bad shooting, in which the urge to shout "guns up, UR DOIN IT RONG" grew ever stronger with every blown offensive rebound. Rutgers does that to teams, but they really need to not do it to themselves. On the other hand, Rutgers fans should really be used to it by now. Coach Stringer's been there for how many years? Brought in how many defensive-minded athletes who can't or won't shoot to save their lives? Relied too much on a single player to do all the scoring while everyone else passed the ball around? I used to be a Rutgers fan. I know what I'm talking about.
Syessence Davis sparkled off the bench. Her hands were very active on defense, and she hit some big shots in the second half. She rebounded well as well. Precious Person has somehow, inexplicably, along with Essence Carson's number, inherited Essence's inability to recognize the longer three-point line, despite the fact that Essence only figured this out in her W days wearing a different number. I didn't say it was logical. Christa Evans gave some minutes when Rachel Hollivay got in foul trouble, and with an offensive foul proved why she hasn't been getting minutes. Ariel Butts was solid in the middle, setting picks and screens for her teammates to get around and pass the ball to each other through.
Kahleah Copper took the worst of a hard collision with Amber Battle and came up holding her back, walking as if she wasn't sure how the whole walking thing should be working. She got back into the game and proceeded to continue hitting shots, so it wasn't as bad as it looked. (Either that, or she's made of iron, not Copper.) Rachel Hollivay earned the eternal rage of the people behind us for repeatedly missing chippies- she didn't have a field goal in the second half until something like the last two minutes of the game. She made up for it with her resounding blocks down low. Betnijah Laney rebounded well, but couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. The red sleeves make her stick out (yes, I know they have to be the same color as the rest of the uniform, but they become more noticeable when they're red). Briyona Canty couldn't get her shot to fall, but made a couple of nice defensive plays. Tyler Scaife looked fantastic. I think she got the start, but I'm not completely certain. Her passes were slick and quick, and she drove the lane well. In the first half, she looked like the only Rutgers player who wanted to score, which makes sense, given that she's a freshman and therefore hasn't had the idea of offense being anathema drummed into her head yet.
Whittaker changed things up a little bit with the posts, going more with the Schneiders (even before the injury to Shauntal Nobles). Haley Schneider missed entirely too many shots that a woman of her height has no excuse for missing. Ivonne Cook Taylor got into the game and immediately launched a shot. I'm starting to think this is her game. Diamond Lockhart's speed seemed to get away from her- she was a little out of control. Jasmine Caston brought the offense in the second half, firing up threes to keep Texas Tech close.
Shauntal Nobles was rebounding well on the inside before a stray forearm caught her in the face and left her holding a towel over the vast majority of her face as she came off the court after being stuck in an awkward kneeling position for quite some time. It looked like she suffered a badly broken nose, but she was back on the bench (in a new jersey) by the end of the game, though she never went back in. She wasn't able to get her shot to go down, but she corralled a lot of offensive rebounds. Audrisa Harrison was a master of drawing contact and getting to the line. She didn't end up with a lot of shot attempts, but that was because she ended up at the line so often. Minta Spears went inside more than she did in the Michigan game, but that might have been because her threes weren't falling. She took a hard tumble into a couple of the flimsy chairs in the first row. They went down like dominoes. She was the one who insisted on fouling when Texas Tech was down double digits with thirty seconds to go, and those us in maize and blue were just waiting for the game to be over so we could get on with our late tip. Amber Battle's shot wasn't falling, though she was able to get decent shots off, but she rebounded well and got into defensive position. Marina Lizarazu was still taking too many risks, but had her game more under control than the other day.
Rutgers will always make a team play out of control, make them freak out, make them hesitate at the wrong times and hurry things up at the wrong times. Texas Tech fell right into that trap. Only the three-point shooting kept them in the game, and when those didn't fall, they were doomed.
I wasn't thrilled with the officials, but not to the extent that the Rutgers fans were. Of course, they're never happy with officials.
That was a good bounceback game for the Scarlet Knights. They needed a good game, and I think they also needed Scaife to assert herself more for the team's future. She's a talented, creative guard, and she needs to stay that way.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Georgia Tech withstood a dogged McNeese State team and claimed the Turkey Classic title with a 69-60 win. Ty Marshall led the Yellow Jackets with 20 points off the bench, with Kaela Davis and Sydney Wallace each adding 13. Jayln Johnson led four Cowgirls in double figures with 14 points and eight assists.
For clashing shades, bright shoes, flying guards, slipping the baseline, and big shots, join your intrepid and belated blogger after the jump.
As the ticket booth clerk was so eager to remind me, this is a double-header, which means the championship game is up next, featuring the Cowgirls of McNeese State and the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech. I'm going to be up-front about this- until I realized that Ashlyn and Caitlyn Baggett had graduated, I was actually more intrigued by McNeese than Georgia Tech. These are the perils of playing a full Division I fantasy league.
I'm actually hoping for a decent turnout- the Georgia Tech men are also in town, and there's a large Georgia Tech alumni contingent in the city for at least that game, as we ran into them at the Buffalo Wild Wings across from the Barclays Center yesterday.
Georgia Tech is wearing very yellow sneakers. They're a bit more florescent than the usual Georgia Tech gold, though. Their gear is all numbered, which will make it easy to identify them in the pregame. McNeese is working on ballhandling drills in a circle. Those are some strange stretches that Georgia Tech is doing.
Timing, Georgia Tech, you no haz it. Arena security was escorting a blind guy along the baseline, right when the Yellow Jackets were coming out. There are better ways of establishing yourself as the bad guy than running over a blind guy. They successfully dodged collisions, much to everyone's relief.
We've been seeing more of the Bonita Spence memorial patches, which I noticed yesterday but forgot to mention. Full name on the left breast of the uniform- yes, this is one of those times when using the initials is a bad idea. (Referees don't need to be labeled BS.)
At halftime, Georgia Tech is up 40-31 on McNeese State. McNeese has shown a lot of fight, but Georgia Tech has been too big and too fast for them most of the time. Sydney Wallace has 11 to lead the Yellow Jackets. Cecelia Okoye has eight for the Cowgirls. So far, I'm most intrigued by Shayla Bivens. Well-proportioned, athletic size with touch doesn't come along every day.
I don't know why Ty Marshall wasn't starting, but I'm presuming it was some sort of disciplinary action, since she didn't seem to be injured. She seemed to come up with all the big shots for the Yellow Jackets. Dawnn Maye was that player who missed the memo on points of emphasis, kept trying to put her hands on the opponent, and got called for the foul for it. Every team has one. Nariah Taylor was a big presence in the middle, a nice security blanket for when the guards weren't sure what to do with the shot clock running down, and a physical presence on the boards. Donnaizha Fountain had family at the game, or at least people who she was hugging during the LIU-Southern Utah game, and she came up with a big rebound in the second half.
Roddreka Rogers got her points on the inside, but I was more impressed with her movement off the ball, setting picks and screens for her teammates. I don't know if she's the regular starter, or who was starting instead of Marshall, but she's the kind of player you like to have on your team even when she's not putting up numbers. I'd have liked to have seen Shayla Bivens get more touches to see whether all the things she showed were things that she could do consistently, or whether they were all flukes. I don't think the blocks were flukes, though. One of them was so spectacular that you could probably have heard it at the Barclays Center, five blocks down Flatbush Avenue. Sydney Wallace seemed to get into her own head a lot, taking stupid shots that MaChelle Joseph did not approve of. She was stronger defensively in the second half, with a sweet steal leading to a lay-up for her only second-half points. Aaliyah Whiteside was quiet- I think Marshall took the starter's minutes at her position. Kaela Davis has the moves, and the shot, and the build, but I don't know if she has the attitude to succeed. She didn't seem to take well to being pulled early in the second half, and it didn't look like she wanted to listen to her coaches. That all being said, she put the game away for the Yellow Jackets with back to back buckets late in the second half, an athletic two in the lane and a sweet three from the right side. If she can get her head together, she'll be a legitimate player- but I need to be sure that she can get her head together.
Victoria Rachal was a fearless gunner, going to the lane no matter how big her opponents were (I think hers was the shot that Bivens so thoroughly swatted). She was cold in the first half, but caught fire in the second. Amber Donnes made some good defensive plays. Arianna James rebounded well.
Jayln Johnson impressed me a lot. In a sense, she reminded me of Leilani Mitchell, only on college scale- very small, very fast, runs a good offense, hits the three, and gives it all she's got on defense, but is a defensive liability because of her size. Allison Baggett has a very sweet shot, but hasn't learned how to defend without getting in foul trouble, and doesn't seem to know how to defend with four fouls. She's only a sophomore, and I think she'll learn. Cecelia Okoye rebounded powerfully, and her go-to move on the left wing fooled Georgia Tech more than once (which made it pretty funny during the second double-header, when Texas Tech tried to run the same play and botched it). She's not the most reliable shooter, but rebounding like that, she doesn't necessarily have to be. Alaina Verdin did a lot of small things, but none of the big things.. NeTanya Jones cleaned up under the basket, slipping behind the Yellow Jacket defense early and often.
I was very impressed with the Cowgirls. They looked to have mastered the element of surprise, and they know how to adapt. The threes weren't falling early when they were taking a lot of them, so the plays started to go to Okoye and Jones on the inside. Brooks Donald-Williams struck the right notes on the sideline, and I do like a coach who keeps her arguing with refs to a minimum.
Officials missed a couple of bad trips, which is impressive given the bright yellow sneakers on Georgia Tech, but I don't think they affected the game.
That was a much better game than I was expecting it to be, and I think McNeese has served notice to the Southland that they would very much like to be taken seriously.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Southern Utah led start to finish in their 57-44 win over LIU-Brooklyn in the consolation of the LIU Turkey Classic. Andrea Jones and Marissa Robbins each had 11 for the Thunderbirds. Cleandra Roberts paced the Blackbirds with 10 points and seven rebounds.
For one irresistible pun, the beginning of a quest, cheesecake, stifled comebacks, and the All-Tournament Tchochke of Doom, join your intrepid and charged up blogger after the jump.
Another day, another game, another tournament to enjoy. This time we're kicking it mid-major style, at LIU's Wellness, Recreation, and Athletics Center, watching the consolation game of the LIU Turkey Classic, which pits LIU against Southern Utah in a game that you can say is for the birds. Most of the time I'd be inclined to take Thunderbirds over Blackbirds, but I'm wearing an LIU shirt, so that would be tacky. Sorry, Johnny, can't root for your cousins today.
If you're in the New York area, come check out LIU's arena sometime. It's nice, as long as you can deal with the stairs. I assume there's an elevator somewhere, but I haven't seen it. It's very small, and if you're looking for a lot of amenities, you're not going to find them. But it's well-kept and sparkling, and laid out well. I imagine it would be powerful homecourt advantage when full. I like the simple starkness of the black paint and black logo against the hardwood- only the volleyball lines are white.
Coaching staff looks like they've been working on more basic drills with this team, picks and screens instead of shooting.
At halftime, Southern Utah is up 32-21. This one reminds me a little of Rutgers-LSU, except with fewer dramatic steals and more traveling. And here I thought Basketball Travelers was the other tournament today. The announcer keeps eating the mic, so I'm not 100% certain of my basket attributions, but I think Andrea Jones is leading Southern Utah with seven and Courtney Sullivan is leading LIU with five. Neither team is shooting particularly well, and the officials have been letting a lot of contact slide.
Crowning moment of funny: Marquelle Funk's attempt at a flop. Blatant flop was blatant, complete with the head lolling to the side.
The dance and cheer teams are particularly intense and intricate today, and I hope we get to see an on-court performance from them by the end of the day. They don't even need us to be loud (which is good, because I spent part of the first quarter of the game being afraid I'd either cry or swear if I opened my mouth). As it turned out, we didn't, except for a generic t-shirt toss, and that makes me sad. Maybe they'll perform during the second game.
The desire is there for LIU, but not so much the talent. Granted, there's very, very little experience on this roster; most of the juniors and seniors came through junior college. If they can get some more seasoning and practice, they have a chance to do interesting things in the NEC next year or the year after that. They have a good class coming in, and as long as they resist the temptation to keep loading up on junior college upperclassmen, they can build something.
Marquelle Funk's flop, mentioned above, was pretty funny. She showed a little bit of offensive touch, and a little bit of defense. Jessica Richardson brought size, or at least relative size, on the inside- she had a nice defensive play during the second half LIU attempted comeback. Hailey Mandelko got all up in everyone's business on defense, tipping balls and making steals. Going low against her was a supremely bad idea. She also took really deep threes. Worked for her once. Didn't work for her the rest of the time. Maylinn Smith helped with the disruptive defense, in addition to putting down a couple of shots.
Desiree Jackson had a couple of quick baskets in the second half- I think they might even have been consecutive. Solid play- maybe shot a little too much in the first half. Andrea Jones ran a solid offense- not too many mistakes on her part. Southern Utah did a great job having their forwards cut to the baseline and get baskets- Carli Moreland, Marissa Robbins, and Lori Parkinson all got easy ones that way. Robbins seemed to come more alive in the second half, both on the scoreboard and on the glass, though she did have one big block in the first half. Moreland did more of her work in the first half. I was most impressed with sophomore Lori Parkinson, who made a lot of good defensive plays in the middle. She got her baskets, though she needs to work a little, or a lot, on her actual shooting. She always seemed to be getting the boards and finding the ball on defensive plays. My favorite kind of player- baskets are to be cherished and defense is to be prioritized.
Sophie Bhasin isn't afraid to shoot, or to run the fast break. She and Letava Whippy paired well on the break and the trap. Mercedes Harris gave good minutes on the glass. Shanovia Dove played very briefly in the first half, which might have been a variation of the spaghetti move, seeing what the freshman had to offer. (Spaghetti move: throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.) Aleisha Myers ball-hawked well and showed off her shot a little bit, and she has a lot of promise, but she's still very rough around the edges.
Courtney Sullivan seemed to give good senior leadership, or at least that's what her team was looking for out of her, though her shot wasn't going down. Kelly Robinson ran a solid offense, though I noticed that the team still seemed to be looking to Sullivan when the defense started to press. Letava Whippy was strong on the trap, and crashed the boards well for a guard of her build. She always seemed to be in the middle of the play, one way or another. Fanny Cavallo got into the paint well for rebounds, but couldn't hang on to a lot of them, and the lane violation that wiped out a made free throw was inexcusable for a senior. She missed a lot of easy shots in the first half, but got her shot somewhat more under control in the second half, picking her moments more carefully. Cleandra Roberts got some good boards, but couldn't hang on to the ball- a couple of passes went right through her hands. She had a flying lay-up near the end of the game that was a thing of beauty.
Officials were uneven early- missed a blatant kicked ball and more than a few travels- but managed to get their act together in the second half, and there weren't any blatant missed fouls that I can think of.
After the second game, we spotted most of Southern Utah at Junior's. Good choice for a postgame meal. Someone knows their stuff.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Danielle Ballard's lay-up in the lane gave LSU the lead in the final minute, and Siera Thompson's halfcourt heave came late and short as LSU withstood a valiant Michigan comeback and claimed a 64-62 win. Shanece McKinney and Raigyne Moncrief each had 13 to pace the Tigers, with McKinney adding eight rebounds and Moncrief tallying four steals. Siera Thompson and Madison Ristovski each had 13 for the Wolverines, who came back from down ten to go up eight before LSU surged back.
For hustle, threes, steals, doing things backwards, pride, and a little more cowbell, join your intrepid and utterly drained blogger after the jump.
There's no such thing as too much basketball, though I'm starting to hit my limit. It's 9:30 and we're 12 minutes away from the tip of Michigan and LSU. The benches are switched from yesterday, which caused a bit of confusion among a pocket of LSU fans in the corner. They figured it out, though.
I feel vaguely insulted that wristbands for the seats directly behind the bench only seem to have been given out for the Rutgers game, so even if you're VIP for Michigan-LSU, they won't let you sit there. Though they seem to have chased off Michelle Edwards too, so maybe that's just them asserting their authority.
The free throw shooting contest tonight seems to be along team lines this time. Yesterday, it was more random- now they're actively looking for people in team gear.
At halftime, LSU is up 29-22, and frankly, it could be more. They've forced a lot of turnovers and controlled the pace of both offenses. But Michigan has come up with a couple of big threes- a three-pointer by Madison Ristovski, a three-point play from Nicole Elmblad- to keep it close. Shanece McKinney has eight for the Lady Tigers, Madison Ristovski 10 for the Wolverines.
Nicole's family is possibly crazier than we are, and I mean that as a compliment. Michigan's lucky to have them. A New York-based alumna with a cowbell came up and joined us in the second half, and then things got really loud. My hands and legs still hurt from that last stand in the final two minutes, but we had to stand our ground and show the late-shouting LSU fans that we weren't going to let them take over.
Rebecca Lyttle gave decent minutes at forward. Kendra Seto played briefly, only as a breather. Danielle Williams also made a brief appearance, when Siera Thompson got in foul trouble in the first half. Paige Rakers rocked the three-point line in the second half, pulling Michigan back into the game almost single-handedly. She needs to be a bit more consistent about following her shot, though. We needed her to come up huge, and she did, and yes, I'm aware that I just used the first-person for Michigan, I like these kids.
Siera Thompson's shot was non-existent in the first half, and it looked like she had lost confidence in her game, both as a shooter and as a point guard, as she had to do a lot of the ballhandling with Shannon Smith sidelined after suffering a shoulder injury. (Can you sprain a shoulder? Can I fit any more S's into this sentence?) She found more space, and her rhythm, in the second half, coming up with the game-tying three before the final basket. Nicole Elmblad seemed curiously hesitant to shoot, though I might have been hesitant in her place, given the way Coach was reacting to her attempt at a long two. Then again, that's pretty much how I react to a player taking shots from just in front of the line- you might as well take the extra step and try to add the extra point. I think she let the speed of the game and the physicality of LSU's forwards get to her. Cyesha Goree went strong to the basket, especially in the second half. She got a little overexcited late in the game- at least two of her shots were a bit too strong. Val Driscoll got the start in Smith's place, and though her offense was nothing to write home about, she was a rock defensively, coming up with big boards and massive blocks- she had a gorgeous one in the second half that got spiked to Thompson to start an attempt at a Michigan break. I think that was one we got tentative on, though- I think that was the one where the player under the basket irrationally decided to pass the ball back and it all ended in turnovers. She misjudged a few rebounds, but I'm willing to give her the willingness to go for them. Madison Ristovski was the big offensive threat in the first half, but she cooled down in the second- I think part of it was having to take over more of the ballhandling duties when Thompson got in foul trouble, because there was no other option.
I'll admit it- with everything I'd seen from Kim Barnes Arico in the past, I was expecting a lot more deep bench freshmen in the second half and a lot less comeback. They held it together much better than I thought they would, and when they weren't passing the ball to Raigyne Moncrief, the ball movement was crisp- a little hurried because of LSU's constant trapping, but when they were able to keep their heads, they played well.
Derreyal Youngblood played a little in the first half, but most of her minutes were taken up by Nikki Caldwell's smaller lineup and the hot play of Shanece McKinney. DaShawn Harden fired up the defense, ball-hawking and being a huge part of the traps. Danielle Ballard came up with the game-winner and was great cutting to the lane. She kept getting tangled up with Elmblad; unsurprisingly, the Elmblads sitting behind us did not approve of this. Jasmine Rhodes was quick getting to the paint- she came up with a fairly big shot late in the game. I don't know what Anne Pedersen was supposed to bring to the game, unless it was a matchup problem, but whatever it was, she didn't seem to be providing it. Shanece McKinney did a spectacular job of cleaning up on the boards- I think three of her makes were putbacks on offensive rebounds, and a couple of her misses were too. Her bulk inside turned the tide in LSU's favor.
I'm assuming that Theresa Plaisance was injured in some way, shape, or form, because she came out of the game very quickly early on and was not the same. She looked very soft, unwilling to take contact or to make the extra move to get her shots to go down. One of the Michigan folks thought they saw her crying on the bench, but I'm not certain of this. Still, it lends credence to the "injured but playing" theory. Jeanne Kenney is a gamer. She wasn't looking for her shot in the first half. In the second half, we left her open and she hit three after three. She also took a big dive into some rather flimsy chairs in the first row (the same ones that Minta Spears wiped out in the first game) and there was a bit of a delay as she dealt with soda on her shoes and on the court. Raigyne Moncrief looked more interested in getting her teammates involved, and sacrificing some of her shots to do it. She jumped the passing lanes beautifully. Sheila Boykin barely did anything worth remembering. I think that was part of why Caldwell went to a smaller, faster, more guard-oriented lineup. Rina Hill looked a little less in over her head than she was in the first game, but she was mostly the second body in the roving traps set by Moncrief, Harden, and Ballard. Those were merciless.
LSU seemed to rely too heavily on their defense. I mean, it worked for them in this game, and if they can convert their opponents' turnovers to points on a regular basis, they'll be dangerous. And Caldwell seemed to adapt her personnel well to the style of play and who was the hot hand. But they're going to need Plaisance to be more consistent and healthy. Those big posts don't have the stamina to go a full 40.
We were not pleased with the refs, but the people we were sitting with took it to levels usually only seen in Rutgers-land. It's not a delay of game if the court really does need to be cleaned, guys.
Devotion to duty: Paige Rakers took a cut to the forehead, held the pad in place, and scooted over to rejoin the huddle as the trainer continued to tend to her.
I'm proud of the Wolverines, and proud of the fans who answered the (cow)bell to support them. We out-yelled the LSU fans until the last two minutes, when the LSU fans decided to join the party. It was an almost-perfect ending to a day full of basketball.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Just the Facts, Ma'am: It wasn't pretty, but LSU came away with the 69-65 win over Rutgers at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Raigyne Moncrief led LSU with 27 points, including 15-20 from the line, seven rebounds, and seven steals. Rutgers was led by the 16 points of Kahleah Copper. The teams combined for 51 fouls and 51 turnovers.
For ugliness, purple hair, point guard leadership, emphatic fashion statements, and a pass whizzing by your head, join your intrepid and inexplicably hungry blogger after the jump. Why do I want jammy dodgers?
ALL THE BASKETBALL.
On to game 2, LSU and Rutgers. To be fair to the Rutgers fans, a fair amount of them got here for the first game. Lots more of them arrived in the middle. It's confusing to see lots of people in red for a team I no longer cheer for.
There were entrance videos for both teams, but no stats. I'll take that as a fair exchange, because I was starting to get a very strong feeling of having been an afterthought, and if you're going to schedule a tournament double-header, it's uncouth to make one game seem like the undercard.
Essence Carson is in the house, in an extremely dashing black longcoat.
Oh, hey, we have stats now. So Michigan and Texas Tech get entrance videos tomorrow, right?
This was not a pretty game, to put it mildly. Entirely too many turnovers, many of them unforced passes to the third row or fumbles (I'm pretty sure Kahleah Copper committed a buttfumble, but with her own butt, not her teammate's). A distinct lack of court awareness from both teams.
Jasmine Rhodes impressed me off the bench for LSU. For a guard of her size, she's not afraid to drive the lane and hit the boards. She had a good eye for going after her teammates' missed shots (and dear lord were there a lot of missed shots). Derreyal Youngblood was plenty happy to throw her weight around down low- she got lucky she didn't get called for an elbow on one play. She could stand to trim down a bit, but she's tough. Shanece McKinney came in to clean up lots of missed shots and get rebounds late in the game, as part of the offense/defense substitution. Anne Pedersen, I think, was supposed to be a shooter, but that didn't go well. She looked out of place on a lot of the plays.
Jeanne Kenney has no fear of anything. I think she hit the deck hard four times and got up ready for more. If the ball was loose, she tracked it down, even if it was in the third row. She's a steady hand, both with the ball and with her teammates. There was a point late in the game where Raigyne Moncrief had missed two crucial free throws and looked like the pressure of the Rutgers fans and the closeness of the game were getting to her. As soon as she was on her way back from missing the second free throw, Kenney came over and talked to her, as if to tell her to brush it off (at least I assume that was the meaning of the hand across the headband). Theresa Plaisance missed entirely too many easy shots for a player of her size. A 6-5 post player should not be throwing hooks over the basket. When she got her shot, it was beautiful, and she had spectacular speed on her first step spin move. But she needs to be consistent if she's going to be a serious prospect. (Really, though the daughter of a coach should know better than to bring the ball down when there are guards around.) Rina Hill got point guard duties a lot, and I don't know if she's ready yet. Maybe there was some miscommunication on the plays, but her passes were not going where they were supposed to be going.) Sheila Boykin either didn't play a lot or was really unmemorable when she did. I think Caldwell felt she needed to bring more size with McKinney and Youngblood against the big Rutgers posts. Raigyne Moncrief put on a show. She's still very raw and needs some mechanics on her jump shot (as in, any, at all, in some variety, because oh my God she looks like a spider when she leaps on the jumper) but she moves like someone took Allison Hightower and plugged Marie Ferdinand's speed into her. Her vertical is spectacular, her reflexes like lightning. She slices to the lane beautifully- if she can get a mechanically sound, or at least reliable, jumper, she'll be unstoppable. She'll need to bulk up a little if she wants to survive in the pro game, though. And yes, the fact that I'm saying this about a freshman this far ahead says a lot.
Tyler Scaife has the fancy moves- the wraparound pass to Briyona Canty for the lay-up was a thing of beauty- but I don't know if she has her coach's confidence yet.. I mean, she's only a freshman and it's only November, so maybe that'll come with a little more time, but it still seems odd that someone else is bringing the ball up if she's on the floor. Precious Person gave decent minutes in the first half, though she didn't play much in the second, part of a questionable series of coaching decisions by Coach Stringer. Christa Evans got first half minutes as well, picking up a basket and some picks. Ariel Butts is very, very loud. I think she's the only person in the arena who actually screams louder than my dashing reporter. She most definitely did not approve of her fouls. Alexis Burke missed two free throws, was pulled, and that was the last that was ever seen of her.
Betnijah Laney rebounds spectacularly well, which is probably why she's listed as a forward, but her shot is all kinds of funky. I like her hustle, but shes' got to work on her aim. Rachel Hollivay brought some resounding blocks, especially in the second half, but Coach Stringer seems to be riding herd on her by pulling back her minutes when she gets fouls- I think she sat the entire rest of the first half after picking up her second foul. Kahleah Copper has one reliable move in he paint, and she'll keep going to it as long as she can. It worked very well today- it seemed like she was always heading for the offensive glass. Briyona Canty seemed to be the focus of much of the offense- it looked like more plays were designed for her than for Copper, though Copper ended up with as many shots. Syessence Davis was very active on defense, even for a Scarlet Knight (and you know that's saying a lot with Rutgers's defense and ability to generate steals). Quick hands and fast feet- she made a lot of LSU turnovers happen.
Offensively, this game was a clunker, even in the second half when things loosened up a little and people actually started hitting lay-ups. It wasn't just good defense, except in the most abstract sense. There were a lot of bad passes and bad mechanics- I don't think more than half the players in that game had proper form on their jump shots. If you want to blame the bad offense on the good defense in the sense that both teams were in each other's heads and therefore they were rushing everything to get the ball up before someone else got their hands on it, that's a fair argument, but I think it's more likely that these are two defensive-minded teams that don't place a high priority on offensive flow. Not quite North Carolina, but right up there. Down there. Whatever.
Neither team was happy with the officials, and given the number of fouls called in this game, I can't say I'm surprised. It got very physical out there. I can't be sure any of those fouls were unearned, to be honest.
Rutgers fans were very loud. They didn't even wait for musical cues before starting the fight song. At least we waited.
Points to Nikki Caldwell for not going the obvious route in wearing team colors- her dress was tiger-striped. Also, points to Coach Stringer for her imposing longcoat- not quite as impressive as Essence's, but still extremely cool.
For the sake of everyone who has to watch basketball tomorrow, I hope both teams got the ugly out of their systems today.
Just The Facts, Ma'am: Michigan withstood an early challenge and a second-half run from the Lady Raiders of Texas Tech to come away the victors, 82-71. Siera Thompson led all scorers with 24 points, adding five assists. Amber Battle led Texas Tech with 23 points and seven rebounds.
For crankiness, free shirts, a lack of respect, mild confusion, and lots of family, join your intrepid and blue blogger after the jump.
Good morning, Internet! We're coming to you on our usual tape delay, this time bright and early from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Barclays Women's Invitational.
We are not, however, coming to you quite as early as we would like, as the Barclays Center was not ready for us until 10 AM. Well, we're still not sure about that, given that we were told three different opening times before they finally let us in at 10. One security guard decided to take pity on us and try to let us in, but another one turned around and made us go out again. My legs are still cramped. Then they tried to tell me I couldn't use my laptop in the seating area, but a guest services person named Candice and I negotiated it down to not using it during game play (which, duh, my favorite Michigan women did not hook me up with tickets to stare at a computer during play). Still. Barclays does not seem thrilled at having to deal with fans this early in the morning. Fine, I'm not thrilled with dealing with power-tripping security staff this early in the morning. We're even, and you're not getting money from me.
Anne Donovan is here (so ha, my laptop wouldn't be the most view-obstructive object in the seating bowl anyway).
Excellent anthem. Was amused that the color guard was facing the completely empty side of the arena across from the benches.
Michigan is up 12 at the half, on a solid team effort. Siera Thompson has 13, Shannon Smith 11. Amber Battle has been very impressive for Texas Tech.
Funniest moment of the day so far: they played the Michigan fight song, your dashing reporter led a sing-along… and the security guard posted behind Michigan's bench said, "What the [firetruck] was that?" Poor Guest Services Candice... maybe that's why she rotated to another section. Note that the Texas Tech fans didn't reciprocate at the next timeout.
Something smells really good, but I'm still not giving these people money. Even if they do have the hardwood equivalent of a Zamboni. That gives my heart glee, but I'm still not giving them money.
The game got a little too interesting in the middle of the second half, but one good run helped Michigan regain control, and when it got close again it was because Michigan had gone to their reserves. Saw a couple of young players this time around that I didn't see at the Iona tournament.
The Schneiders (who I'm assuming are sisters) are awfully skinny. Everything might be bigger in Texas, but not necessarily thicker. Haley Schneider had a couple of nice defensive tips. Jasmine Caston got the second half start, coming off the bench in the first half, and provided a little boost of offense with both long-range shooting and moves in the lane. She's got pretty good speed. Audrisa Harrison played more in the second half, mostly committing fouls on defense- very handsy overall. Ivonne Cook-Taylor came in when the game was already decided and took a quick three.
Minta Spears started the game shooting well from beyond the arc, but she seemed to press her shot more in the second half- her followthrough was much more exaggerated, and I think it threw off her shot. The one time she attempted to slash to the basket was epic fail, compounded by a bad foul call. Tiny Diamond Lockhart showed a lot of fire and ran her team well. I think they were trying to run the offense through Marina Lizarazu early on, but she was in over her head- bad passes, unnecessary turnovers, poor judgement. Shauntal Nobles was a decent presence on the inside, but she didn't get a lot of shots up. I liked her rebounding. But the one Lady Raider who impressed me on both ends of the floor and drew almost all of my attention was Amber Battle. She went hard after rebounds, hit shots from all over the floor, and displayed impressive foot speed on defense. She pretty much kept Texas Tech in the game single-handedly. In build and playing style, she reminded me a little of a miniature DeWanna Bonner, but with somewhat more awareness of her shot.
Rebecca Lyttle got called for two quick fouls when she finally got in in the second half, the second of which I felt was completely uncalled for. There's something I like about her, and not just her name. Danielle Williams showed good hustle in her second half minutes, but again, got dinged for a foul that seemed to come out of the blue. Don’t break the underclassmen, officials, we're going to need them for tomorrow. Val Driscoll really needs to work on her footwork, but was solid defensively- she had a beautiful block/deflection that led to a Nicole Elmblad steal that I'm pretty sure led to a Michigan fast break. Kendra Seto played late, and was not memorable other than an ill-advised attempt at a trap on the sideline. Paige Rakers had her shot going off the bench, and mixed it up inside on the boards- a lot of the time, only the headband made it possible for us to tell her apart from Nicole Elmblad, who is at least nominally a forward. But Michigan can't rely on Rakers to be their entire bench, especially not wih the injury to Shannon Smith.
I'm starting to wonder if Madison Ristovski hit a late growth spurt and she's still trying to adjust to it. She dribbles like she expects to be about three inches shorter, and it sort of makes her look like a young horse, all arms and legs and falling over. She shot well in the second half, though. Shannon Smith shot really well, both from outside and in the lane. She left in the second half with an apparent shoulder injury after a collision landed her hard into Elmblad's leg. She was holding her right arm absolutely motionless when we saw her after the game, and that's going to be a problem for tomorrow, because she seesm to be the only player with the confidence to bring the ball up the court. Siera Thompson shot lights out, especially in the first half, and always seemed to come up with the big shot whenever Texas Tech made a run in the second half. Cyesha Goree had to deal with some very tough fouls (I'm really not sure what that fourth foul was, other than inaccurate) but seemed to take the right message from the refs getting into her head and took the ball strong to the basket once she got back into the game after the fourth foul. (It also amuses me that she seems to be in charge of carrying young Aricos; that job used to belong to Joy McCorvey at St. John's. I assume Joy gave her pointers on how not to drop Coach's kids.) Nicole Elmblad was solid all around- didn’t necessarily stand out, but didn't screw up.
There were a distressing number of times when Michigan seemed to ignore the play that had been called, ignoring open players and going one-on-one to the basket. Repeatedly ignoring the coach's play calling is not a good plan when that coach is Kim Barnes Arico. She tends to shriek. Use your teammates, guys. Good things happen when you use your teammates.
We were not impressed with the officiating crew. It got really tiresome whenever Whittaker started complaining about the officiating, given that Michigan usually started out in a deep hole, foul-wise. I'm pretty sure one of them was an Enterline, and it was funny when he photo-bombed someone in the front row, but referees aren't supposed to be funny, they're supposed to be ignorable.
Minimal timeout entertainment, so no real commentary on that.
Depth worries me for Michigan tomorrow. For Texas Tech against Rutgers, I'd be concerned about their shakiness at the point and how one-dimensional their offense seemed to be.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Another sterling performance from Aliyyah Handford fueled the Red Storm in their 76-66 win over Quinnipiac. Handford posted game highs of 27 points and 11 rebounds. Briana Brown added 16 points for St. John's. Brittany mcQuain and Gillian Abshire each had 14 points for Quinnipiac.
For slashing, signs of the end of the world, distractions, miscounts, and revenge, join your intrepid and avenged blogger after the jump.
It's been two whole days since you've heard from me. You guys must be going through withdrawal or something. Tonight we're back at Carnesecca Arena for the revenge match, St. John's hosting Quinnipiac and hoping to explain to the former NEC team that they don't get to sweep them.
Decent crowd tonight, though part of it is because a lot of the student athletes are in the house. The men's basketball team, with their awesome letter jackets, sent several representatives, and I've also seen gear from track and field, baseball, volleyball, and golf.
Amazing anthem from a freshman. Almost had a country feel to it.
At halftime, St. John's is up 36-27, and Aliyyah Handford is doing what Aliyyah Handford does, with 15 points at the break. Quinnipiac really does seem to be a hockey school- Fabbri sends her players in in full waves, like a hockey line change. Calling them the collection of misfit toys sounds harsher than it should, but by that I mean "body types that do not fit neatly into a positional mold and therefore are not highly sought after, but are still talented". They play very well together, and coming in waves means that they're always fresh.
I think I was expecting St. John's to put up more of a fight, even in the win, but I was definitely expecting Quinnipiac to come with the kind of fight and ferocity they showed. Do not sleep on the Bobcats, because they will claw your face off if you do. I love the Gaels, don't get me wrong, but I suspect Quinnipiac and Marist will be the ones fighting for the MAAC title when you get right down to the real nitty-gritty.
Camryn Warner showed some moves in the paint, but seemed surprised that using her posterior to clear out space would be considered a foul. Nikoline Ostergaard got a bit grabby. Shaina Earle was part of the wave in the first half; Morgan Manz was part of it in the second half. I think I had a recollection of speed from Maria Napolitano. Adily Martucci picked up a nifty poke check on what would have been a fast break by Ashley Perez. The bench players in general worked together really well as a unit (which I guess is the point of that system) but it makes it hard to remember specific things about specific players.
Jasmine Martin went to the paint without fear for a guard of her size. Brittany McQuain used her build well on the inside- size is the wrong word, because she's not necessarily tall, but she's thick and broad-shouldered, and she's not afraid to barrel in after rebounds, on either end of the floor. Samantha Guastella showed off a little bit of range and a little bit of flair. She and Gillian Abshire both put up pretty floaters in the lane that were good. Abshire went in hard and often.
Quinnipiac crashed the boards exceptionally well. They were after everything. I think I would have liked that better about them if they weren't playing us.
Jade Walker does exist! Like many a freshman post, she needs to get into the weight room and do some conditioning, but I like what I've seen from her so far. She had a really nice block in the first half, and she got into position reasonably well on both ends of the floor. Sandra Udobi's knee has been bothering her, so I'm not surprised that she wasn't as effective as she could be. She wasn't chasing rebounds at all, and that makes me sad. Kelantra Langley did that thing where she hits the shot at the endo f the shot clock, because that's what Key does. She took some of the ballhandling pressure off the smaller guards late in the second half, too.
Amber Thompson started the game off like a house on fire, but cooled off later on. Looking at her, I sort of felt like I was looking at an incomplete jigsaw puzzle- you could see the picture forming, and where the pieces were missing, but it's hard to tell where the pieces were. Ashley Perez was a hot mess tonight. I like her, but she's either got to improve her ballhandling or her ability to handle pressure. Bad things happened when she tried o bring the ball up against pressure, and I think the frustration got to her all over the floor. Her shot wasn't falling, her passing was suspect, and she generally seemed irritated with all things related to the game. Coach had to take her aside during one of the timeouts for some one-on-one time. Aaliyah Lewis is so very tiny, and needs to put a little more oomph into some of her shots, but I like the way she runs the team. I think once she's got a little more seniority and confidence, she'll be even more solid. Briana Brown is sneaky. I can't quite get behind calling her "the captain" the way the St. John's Twitter does, even though she's team captain, because The Captain is either Derek Jeter or Mark Messier, depending on the season, but I love her composure and poise, and her defense, and her willingness to go up against anyone and anything, even players bigger than she is by a lot. And then there was Aliyyah Handford, who continues to slice through defenses like a hot knife through butter. She even hit a jumper, which is known far and wide as one of the signs of the apocalypse.
The only thing that worries me about Aliyyah continuing to be awesome is that most of her teammates seem to be looking to her to bail them out instead of shooting. Briana is immune, for the most part, because she's not afraid of anything. But as awesome as Aliyyah is, she can't do it alone.
The officials had both coaches hot under the collar, Fabbri because she wanted travels, Joe because he got sick of his players being called for charges. I don't think there was a single block called in the game. Everything was player control.
I am immensely jealous of the guys' letter jackets. Old-fashioned and awesome. I want one, but I know what I would have to do to get it, and I think my husband would object.
That being said, what do I have to do to get my hands on the skyline socks that come with the team uniform? Because they are awesome and New York and I love them.
There are no more easy ones. It's on the road to the SEC for two games with a Harvard game in between. Let's see what these kids can do. We're going to need everyone in the game, everyone with their eye on the ball, everyone looking to contribute.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Fordham started strong and never looked back in their 84-63 win over Pacific. Erin Rooney's 23 points and 10 rebounds paced five Rams in double figures. KiKi Moore had 20 points and four steals to lead the Tigers.
For rain, buses, terror, weight class failures, bricks, and bright colors, join your intrepid and orange blogger after the jump.
The perils of a West Coast home and home is that those West Coast teams have to come back across the country at some point. Unfortunately for Fordham, their swing against San Francisco and Pacific brought them two teams that I don't need an excuse to cheer for. One of my closest basketball buddies has been a longtime Pacific supporter, and for years I've been hearing about his team in all kinds of detail. It's actually kind of strange to see a team in real life that I've been hearing about for so long. I've been cheering for them to do well and I have no idea what any of them look like. It's weird. Kind of creepy if you think about it too hard, but weird and fun all at the same time.
Instead of a student section today, there's a kids zone, with a bouncy cage and what appear to be slides and basketball hoops all tied up into one. I guess that says a lot about the crowd Fordham expects to get on a weekend versus on a weekday.
I don't know if I like the Nike striping on Pacific's shorts. It worked for Arizona, and it didn't work for Gonzaga when I saw them on TV, but I'm not sure if it works for Pacific- tiger stripes versus the sudden intrusion of white. I guess maybe they felt that black and orange would be biting Princeton's style too much?
Oooh, there's also an air hockey table! Maybe we can play at halftime. Yes, I'm a giant kid, shut up.
Pacific does a lot of shooting, running their drills extra long each time they're out there.
Nice touch playing "California Love", DJ.
Glee Club anthem, a cappella. Not necessarily the best I've ever heard, but there's something about an a cappella anthem at Rose Hill that creates a feeling of serenity. This really should be a church of basketball.
It's halftime as I type this, and Fordham is up 45-26. Erin Rooney is playing well, and Emily Tapio is contributing on offense for the first time that I've seen all season. Pacific is putting up stupid shots, (actually, to use Coach Roberts's phrasing, crappy shots) and they're not getting anything out of their stalwarts. (Of course, it doesn't help that Kendall Kenyon is about the size of Samantha Clark's thigh.) There is a particularly bad official running the crew today, and even though her biggest blooper has been in Pacific's favor, that kind of blatant incompetence really grinds my gears.
I was not expecting Pacific to be this discombobulated, and I was not expecting their stalwarts to be as underwhelming as they were today. This is a team that needs to get its act together if it even thinks it's going to think about being competitive in the West Coast Conference.
I was pleasantly surprised by Shanice Butler, who came off the bench fairly late in the first half. She attacked the rim well and kept a lot of rebounds alive. I think I'd like to see her be more comfortable on the weak side- a couple of her shots were made unnecessarily more difficult because she had to cross underneath the basket to put them up. Kristina Johnson is perhaps overly fond of the drive and dish- not that driving and dishing isn't a perfectly valid basketball play, but it's made much less effective when the defense realizes that you're not going to take the shot. They don't have to worry as much about covering you. I like the fearlessness of her driving- I'd just like to see her shoot a little more. Unique Coleman looked very freshman-y out there. Kind of lost and out of position. Marjorie Heard has some of the best "what do you mean I committed a foul/what do you mean I don't get free throws" expressions I've ever seen, and I've seen some good ones. She did a lot of falling down- mixed it up well enough on the inside, but always seemed to be expecting a call and annoyed that she wasn't getting one. I cannot remember anything that Hailie Eckles did other than get caught out of position a lot.
It actually worries me for Pacific's sake that the best player they had today was KiKi Moore, because she's only going to be there for this season. She plays beautiful defense. I was impressed with the constant movement of her hands on defense. She floated up a couple of shots that she could have taken a little more care with, but if they go down, they go down. Sam Pettinger's head was not in the game. For a senior point guard, she was making a lot of stupid plays, to the point where Moore was bringing the ball up more often than not. Erin Butler threw up bad shots, to the point where Coach Roberts actually blurted out "Erin, what was that?!" after a shot that fell particularly short into triple coverage. The three in the second half got her back on the right track, but only a little bit. She spent much of the game making bad decisions. (You will notice that as a bit of a trend here.) Madison Parrish was actually pretty solid, though she seemed a little bit gun-shy. I was very disappointed in Kendall Kenyon, who was a stalwart for my fantasy team last year (yes, some of us basketball obsessives run a college basketball fantasy league, no money and very little pride). She seemed utterly terrified of going up against Samantha Clark on either end of the floor. Rationally, I can't say that I blame her- there's a reason they call her Sticks and Samantha Clark puts me in mind of Cathrine Kraayeveld- but she made no effort until deep into the second half. When she did go to the basket, there was a sort of gawky grace to her movement. I'm not sure if the three is supposed to be a part of her game, because she didn't look comfortable taking the one that she did hit.
I continue to be amused at Mary Nwachukwu's slide down the Fordham rotation, but I willingly own my taste for schadenfreude pie. She's now behind two freshmen named Danielle. Danielle Padovano did the dirty work inside, and got called for the fouls for it. Danielle Burns seemed a little out of sorts on her shot, but kept up well with the Pacific ballhandlers. Khadijah Gibson played very briefly at the end of the game and showed why she was only playing at the end of the game- questionable court awareness.
Hannah Missry got her shot back. You know what happens when you don't stick to Hannah Missry and what happens when you give her even a moment of space? She fires up a three. She has one of the fastest releases I've seen in a long time. Maybe not Crystal Robinson fast, but right up there. Emily Tapio had an offensive explosion the likes of which I haven't seen from her this season, making moves under the basket and getting herself to the line. Abigail Corning was a little shaky on defense, or at least on sensible defense, but solid on offense, a steady hand for her team. Samantha Clark really needs more touches, which I'm going to keep saying whenever I see a Fordham game, because she has something closer to a miniature Big XII body than an A-10 body, and she can back down most players in the metro area. She showed off a little outside touch today, too. Erin Rooney sliced through the lane like a hot knife through butter, weaving around defenders and going to the basket without fear. I'm really starting to take a dislike to that Kiwi. Not because she can't play, but because she's good for a team that I don't like this year.
Questionable officiating, to put it mildly. As discussed in the halftime notes, the biggest blooper was in Pacific's favor, allowing a bucket that came well after the shot clock buzzer. One official seemed particularly zealous about the points of emphasis, while another appeared to have a distaste for tie-ups, blowing the whistle as soon as the second player dove in, giving them no opportunity to get possession. They were not popular with either coach. (Granted, Coach Roberts was probably too busy despairing at her team's inability to hit free throws to worry about earning the attempts. Doesn't matter if you get them when you can't hit them.)
Cheerleaders only got involved in the game when Fordham was up 20. That's cute. Not.
We never did get to the air hockey table.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Just the Facts, Ma'am: St. Francis played a tough first half, but St. John's pulled away in the second half to notch a 66-56 win at home. Aliyyah Handford had 19 points and eight steals to lead the Red Storm; Amber Thompson had nine points and 12 rebounds. Leah Fechko led the Terriers with 15 points and eight rebounds.
For dramatic hairstyles, bad shooting, promise, adjustment, and the sheer concentrated awesome that is Aliyyah Handford, join your intrepid and colorful blogger after the jump.
It's a gorgeous autumn day outside, not quite Indian summer in New York but beautiful all the same, so it's a perfect day to walk the three-quarters of a mile or so to St. John's for their game against St. Francis College.
There's some kind of honoring veterans thing going on today, judging from the Wounded Warriors Project shirts that St. John's is wearing.
We have a lot of injuries or something right now. Gina McPherson still hasn't been cleared to play, the two transfers don't become eligible until next semester, and now Aaliyah Lewis is in street clothes along with Jade Walker. If it weren't for Cynthia, we wouldn't have any freshmen at all. I'm sad. I wanted to show Tiny Aaliyah's vertical off to my mom, who missed the Iona game. Joe's going to look like he has an entire entourage.
Good anthem, but she could use a little breathing work.
St. Francis doesn't have the talent yet, but they are the soundest team I've seen all year. Which, granted, isn't saying much in the second week of the season, but given how low the expectations were for the Terriers, I think that says a lot about what Thurston's been able to do with this team.
Tiny Jasmin Robinson cut to the lane like nobody's business- couldn't get a shot to fall but hit her free throws when she got to the line. She's pretty fierce, but I guess that comes with the territory of being a small guard in Division I basketball. I found myself wondering if she was St. Francis's token Brooklyn kid, the way UConn always has a token Connecticut kid. Sarah Benedetti gave them good shooting and key minutes when some of their guards were dealing with foul trouble. She hit a beautiful floater at the end of the shot clock in the first half, and I was all "okay, if you can hit that you can have it". I think I kept mixing up Olivia Levey with Jaymee Veney (it's the surname similarity and the numerical closeness, I think). Colette Hounshell mixed it up inside, not necessarily to her team's advantage.
Jaymee Veney was good on the inside and on the boards. Leah Fechko showed flair and range. I was expecting more from the Aussies, Eilidh Simpson and Jessica Kaufman. The shooting was just not there for them. Katie Fox was unmemorable.
These notes got briefer because as individual players, St. Francis wasn't necessarily memorable, but they worked well together as a team and remained as dogged as their name would suggest. They were stubborn, they were tough, they were sound except for their passing (and that was as much related to the Red Storm's ability to jump the passing lanes), and they never gave up. If they can get some talent in there, they can be a very dangerous team in the NEC and be one of those mid-majors that stuns a BCS school (kind of like Quinnipiac did last year).
So, yeah, as we were down to nine healthy bodies, two of those being very tiny walk-ons, there wasn't a lot of bench play. Mallory Jones had a realy, really bad first half, but seemed to get into more of a rhythm in the second half when her shot started falling. She still has a long way to go before she can be an effective player for the Red Storm. I don't know if she knows what her role or her position are, and that's not a good thing for a junior. I know she's been out of commission for a while, but I sort of expected her to be a little less lost once she finally saw action. Sandra Udobi seems to have missed some of the memos on points of emphasis- she went in strong, but she got called for a lot of fouls. Using your head in basketball does not involve letting the ball hit you in the face.
I don't know what was up with Ashley Perez's game today, but it makes me sad whens he does badly. Her shot showed up a bit in the second half, but her defense was sorely lacking and her passing was iffy. And swearing loudly in front of children is not a good idea, young lady. (started with f, ended with uck, wasn't firetruck). I understood her frustration at that point, but manners are important too. Briana Brown, our team captain and the most level-headed person on the team, was solid. She had a pretty floater to answer Benedetti's buzzer-beater. She took a lot of hits. Keylantra Langley demonstrated more range than we were used to from her, and got to the line in the second half, when things were getting uncomfortably tight. Amber Thompson rebounded well, and started the game of well on offense, but then her shot went to hell in a handbasket. She's our de facto center- missing shots close to the rim is unacceptable. She has the moves- the moves look perfect- and then the shot doesn't go in. So frustrating. But I like her anyway. Aliyyah Handford came back down to earth somewhat, which isn't saying a lot, given how incandescent she's been in the first two games. What she did instead was demonstrate a superb ability to jump the passing lanes. She gambles a lot on defense, and I don't know if that'll work as well against a more talented team, but she had three steals before the first media timeout, which was kind of awesome. I just wish she'd find a jumper somewhere. She can have Gina's, it's not like Gina's using it right now. If she had a jumper she'd be completely unstoppable and manage to make Da'shena Stevens not be the greatest #3 in St. John's basketball history.
The officials today seemed a little discombobulated. There were two block/charge overturned calls, one at each end of the floor, and a couple of mixups with who a foul was allocated to.
Band had to do double duty after an event in the morning, and they seemed kind of tired, but the music was much more energetic than usual.
I think St. John's overlooked St. Francis on their way to the revenge match against Quinnipiac. We pulled it off in the end, but we're going to need to give Aliyyah some support if we're going to beat anyone coming up. The rest of the schedule is not easy. Not by a long shot.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Hofstra induced 21 turnovers and clamped down on exterior defense to come away with a 77-64 win at home over Fordham. Anma Onyeuku led the Pride with 23 points, while Andreana Thomas added 21, 19 of those in the second half. Erin Rooney led the Rams with 23 points.
For juggling, slaps on the wrist, mockery, and distraction, join your intrepid and sleepy blogger after the jump.
I needed a day off. Of course, I spend it heading out to a basketball game. At least I got the sleep I'm going to need for this weekend. I'm currently on a crowded N6 bus headed to Hempstead, there to make a transfer to the bus that will take me to Hofstra University for their game against Fordham, on what your intrepid blogger and your dashing reporter have dubbed "transfers will be persecuted" day, though that's overstating the case a little bit. We're only going to root hard against them...
What can I say? Loyalty matters to us, and when you turn your back on that, we remember. It's not the act of leaving that's disloyal, it's the baggage that comes attached to it.
Not sure if playing "Only the Good Die Young" tonight is a veiled shot at the Jesuit institution that is Fordham, or just a nod to Billy Joel's Long Island roots, but whatever the reason, I'm enjoying it. I love me some Billy Joel.
Not to say that I got here early or anything, but I think I just beat the cheerleaders in.
I forgot just how much I liked Hofstra's arena. I think I say that every time I come here, but it's a beautiful midsize arena, the seats are gently cushioned, it's bright, and it's well-kept.
There are a lot of Fordham people here tonight, to the point where I'm not 100% sure which bench is which. There are people in maroon behind both benches. I really hope Hofstra was ble to get some Girl Scout troops or something up in here, because otherwise it's going to be kind of depressingly pro-Fordham up in here, and I refuse to lead the cheers for a team I barely tolerate against a team I flat out am not talking to this year. Seriously, Hofstra is like seventh on my list.
Oh Hofstra those stripes on the sleeves no. You gave up the striped logo, like, ten years ago, why are you resurrecting it now? Though it works on the soccer shirts the student section is wearing.
I also forgot that Hofstra has an active and involved student section, even if it's small. Oh, Hofstra, why do you have to be three buses away from me? I would adopt you and hug you and squeeze you in a second if it didn't take two hours to get here.
Anthem singer, I can't even with you. That was all kinds of a hot mess.
34-26 Hofstra at half, but Fordham had a quick 5-0 spurt in the last minute that worries me. Hofstra has good hands on defense, not so much on offense. A lot of fumbles, a lot of hesitant gathers, rebounds that should be caught instead of being fumbled. But they're kicking the daylights out of Fordham's ball movement, and they've been face-guarding Corning and Missry, Fordham's two dead-eye shooters. Hofstra's gone very deep into their bench in the first half- I think only one player hasn't played. Anma Onyeuku leads the Pride with 13; Erin Rooney leads the way for the Rams with 9.
It was nice for Hofstra to get that win, but I wonder if it might help paper over some of the underlying issues with this team.
Of course the first thing Mary Nwachukwu did was hit a lay-up in the paint, which she was only avoiding for something like three years at St. John's, but then she proceeded to not rebound, not hang on to the ball, and generally be the player I remember swearing at at St. John's. In the second half, Danielle Burns got the bulk of the bench minutes in the post, and she was serviceable. She needs to show a little more judgment with her shot, but she plays well inside for a player who's listed as a guard/forward. Khadijah Gibson came in right at the end of the game, as if Gaitley were admitting that the game was over. Danielle Padovano gave decent minutes, though unmemorable ones.
Hannah Missry missed the memo about points of emphasis. Granted, she's a freshman, and they make stupid mistakes, that's part of being a freshman. But she genuinely did not seem to get what she was doing wrong, even when the contact was obvious. I think she was frustrated at her inability to get her shot off against Hofstra's vicious defense. Samantha Clark is a load in the middle, and I really think they should be running more through her, both because she can finish in the middle and because that will then open up space for Missry and Corning to get loose for threes. Abigail Corning rebounded well enough, but she couldn't get her shot off. Emily Tapio didn't play a lot- bad fouls, bad passing, generally nto having her head together. Erin Rooney drove through the Hofstra defense like they were stationary cones, and used her body well to get contact. I'd like to see a little less diving from her, though. It got annoying after a while.
Dianna Thomas-Palmer (who goes by Dee on the roster, but the announcer uses Dianna) seems to have been inspired by Shante Evans in all the wrong ways. She's a big girl, and not necessarily in the best ways. She rebounded better in the second half, though. Kelly Loftus seemed to be the only player on the floor at the end of the game who had any sense of what to do with the clock. Krystal Luciano might be the only person for Hofstra who is tinier than Andreana Thomas. She gave them decent minutes at point near the end of the game. Anma Onyeuku started the second half, but not the first, and I think she's expanded her game since the last time I saw her. She seemed equally comfortable inside or outside, playing in transition or playing in the halfcourt game. I was very impressed with her. Asia Jackson showed good touch in the second half, but questionable judgment. Elo Edefenoka showed a lot of potential down low- still needs to work on her hands and her shooting, but she's going to be good for them.
Andreana Thomas is the engine that makes this team go. When she's not in, they look very lost. When she's in, she's like a lightning bolt, both in terms of energizing her team and in terms of her first step speed. Sydni Epps got the first half start, and I sort of understood why she didn't get the second half start after the two quick fouls she picked up in the second half- questionable judgment, not the most useful shot in the world. I can't even think of anything that Alexis Carter did. Annie Payton was called upon for outside shooting and senior leadership. I'm not sure she was the right person to go to on the senior leadership. Ruth Sherrill showed a little bit of potential, but overall looked like a freshman. She'll be serviceable for them, one of these days.
That is, if Hofstra can figure out how to get out of their own way. They have talent, but they have no sense and no discipline. Their passing is bad. And after that hot mess last weekend, I know from bad passing. They all seem afraid to shoot. They have no clock awareness, either of the shot clock or of the game situation. Kilburn-Stevesky was all but begging them to slow the game down in the last three minutes, and no one of them seemed to be listening. She had to put in the backup point guard just to get them to slow down. You do not need to chuck corner threes when you're up fifteen with three minutes to go, or throw up off-balance shots on offensive rebounds with twenty seconds on the shot clock.
I've also come to the conclusion that Kilburn-Stevesky coaches the way I would coach, and that's not necessarily a good thing. She's constantly yelling, and usually in frustration. I don't know if she knows her team. "Annie, get your team together!" she yelled at Annie Payton, but from what I saw, that didn't look like Annie Payton's team, it looked like Andreana Thomas's team. Leadership doesn't necessarily come from seniors, it comes from leaders.
I think the men's team was in the house. Tall guys sprawled over a section of seats in athletic gear tends to mean that. In which case, Pride dude playing imaginary drums to "Beat It", go on with your bad self.
Hofstra's cheerleaders are not the traditional pretty skinny girls, but their routines rely much more heavily on lifts, so I'm not surprised. Lots of good stuff in there.
I really hate the new points of emphasis. The games grind and there's no flow. And if you're going to call every little brush of contact, can you at least call it when a player takes four steps on her way to a lay-up, or call Erin Rooney for undercutting a player? I really need someone at some point to adjust to this, or I'm going to want to be blind.
The N6 is really an experiment in social engineering, isn't it? Don't lie to me, Veolia.
I ultimately think that Fordham will come out of this game with more useful information, unless Hofstra manages to learn from their mistakes in this one... but I don't know if this team and this coach can learn from a win.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Aliyyah Handford had a career-high 32 points to go with 10 rebounds, and St. John's cruised to a 78-48 win over Iona. Briana Brown added 13 for the Red Storm. Joy Adams led the Gaels with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
For fizzling, amazing things, tiny guards, homophones, and entirely too many Aaliyahs, join your intrepid and weary blogger after the jump.
Finally! I get to cover my team!
I mean, don't get me wrong, I'll roll with Iona (when they're not playing us); I love their potential and their talent, and Damika's family would kick my butt otherwise. I'll roll with Seton Hall (when they're not playing us); Tony Bozzella's a good guy and the Pirates need a renewal. I'll roll with Michigan (when they're not playing us); Kim and Joy still remember us, and loyalty deserves loyalty. I'll roll with my New York teams (when they're not playing us) (and not Fordham this year); I'm a New Yorker, I love basketball, and I love seeing good basketball in my city. I'll roll with whoever at the drop of a hat... but in the cold, cold winter, I live and die with my Johnnies, the red and white of SJU.
So here I am on the Q46, the Union Turnpike bus, as it wheezes and whistles up Union, getting ready for the home opener against Iona. It's going to be tough. It's going to be heart-wrenching (I do like those Iona kids). It's going to be exciting. It'll be good to be home. Tickets are at will call, so we'll see how long the warm and fuzzies last.
Well, the ticket office managed to put our tickets in the wrong section of the ticket office, so that was a fun detangling, and one of these days they're going to annoy me enough to make me a Seton Hall booster. Of course, while we were at the will call window, we ran into Damika Martinez's family, along with an Iona fan who got excited when she recognized us and was heartbroken when she noticed our St. John's gear.
Excellent, powerful anthem.
The walk-ons are really tiny. Keylantra almost literally had them under her wing before the game. Aaliyah Lewis is also really tiny, but she's got immense vertical. At halftime it's 41-26 St. John's, mostly behind 14 points from Aliyyah Handford. It was tough sledding in the early going, but after Iona got out to something like an 11-4 lead, the Storm got the offense together. Rebounding is still an issue, which is to be expected somewhat when you have no height, but we need to get after the loose balls.
Dude with the iTunes, your mix is lousy, with horrible dynamics and questionable mixing. No. Just no. Can we just listen to the band instead? Turn off the Chipmunks setting next time, and don't try to play your music while the band is making music.
What happened to you, Iona? Not that I mind as a St. John's fan, but I mind as a fan who follows your team when they're not playing St. John's.
Christina Rubin couldn't find the basket with a map and compass. Her shot was all over the place, but mostly hard off the backboard. She might have been better off trying to use her height in the paint against the utter lack of height that St. John's ran out there. Spencer Gray started the second half in place of Damika Martinez, to better protect Martinez from getting in further foul trouble, and looked very freshman-y. Aurellia Cammock wasn't bad in the middle, and showed that she might be the post that Iona is going to so desperately need when Sabrina Jeridore graduates. Cassidee Ranger is back to taking her threes from the corner instead of trying to defend the post, and we got lucky that she wasn't hitting her shots. Aaliyah Robinson was unremarkable, though I think she helped stabilize her team a little bit.
The good news for Iona is that Joy Adams wasn't bringing the ball up like she did against Bowling Green, because that is a bad plan at this point in her career. The bad news for Iona is that, for reasons completely beyond my ken, Joy Adams took five threes on the night, hitting only one. That's not her game, as it stands right now, and she's not good enough at her strengths yet to start trying to add new dimensions to her game. Get her back into the lane and get her slashing to the basket or posting up down low, and make sure she's got that element of her game established before you start trying to get her to do something she's not entirely suited to yet. Aleesha Powell looked to have more strength and confidence in her jump shot- she had a very pretty floater in the lane as well. Damika Martinez was trying to do too much by herself, which is a habit she's got to break. She's by far the best scorer on her team, but that doesn't mean she has to go 1-on-2 or 1-on-3 on a bad break. Sabrina Jeridore had a great defensive game, blocking shots, getting boards, and boxing out, but she could not get a shot to drop. She had good looks on the inside, but she couldn't hit them for love nor money. Haley D'Angelo was decent on the open looks that she got, but the ball didn't seem to be in her hands enough as the point guard and floor general to try and get the team's head back together.
We got to see one of the walk-ons! Cynthia Barboa got a couple of minutes at the end of the game and showed a little bit of fire when she went for the strip on Jeridore. Our hearts broke when that free throw bounced all around the rim and out. Mallory Jones kept trying to bomb threes from Tina Thompson land, which was not a good plan for her. Her rebounding instincts were decent, though the execution could use some work. There's also a lot of... um... bouncing going on with her. I might have to give her the card to my corsetorium. Keylantra Langley was a surprise coming off the bench, in terms of who was benched and who was starting, though I think her back was bothering her- I think she was the one getting treatment on the bench for back issues. Sandra Udobi gave good minutes down low, but she needs to hit a few more of her chippies. I'm glad the brace is shrinking.
Aaliyah Lewis is very small. I've dubbed her Tiny Aaliyah for conversational use; while Aaliyah and Aliyyah are visually different names, they're homophonic. She has incredible vertical, though, and her vision was good tonight. And she's so adorable! Ashley Perez brought her shot, along with some drives in the lane and good defense. Briana Brown was her solid senior self, getting to the basket and hitting big threes. Amber Thompson's shot could be better- she's got to make the little ones inside- but she was really good, and played a solid defensive game. And then there was Aliyyah Handford, who showed all her moves tonight. I've never run out of room on a scorecard before. Not with the great Huskies that came through with UConn. Not when Delle Donne came to town. Not with Sugar Rodgers on the other side. But Aliyyah was on fire, slashing to the hoop and getting her buckets like it was her divine mission. It got to the point where she was using the shot pass to try to get the ball to her teammates (Amber, Ashley, you gotta hit those shots).
Officiating was nothing to write home about. Neither team was particularly fond of the zero-tolerance on hand-checks.
There's a new dude on the dance team, after a couple of dude-less years. New dude needs pom-poms! He looks so naked without pom-poms!
This was much better than I was expecting from St. John's, and much worse than I was expecting from Iona. I have to wonder if Bowling Green broke them instead of telling them that they could run with the best.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Just the Facts, Ma'am: USF held Columbia without a field goal for four minutes deep in the second half to pull away in an 83-69 win on the road. Rachel Howard led the Dons with 18 points, while Taj Winston added 17. Miwa Tachibana led the Lions with 13 points.
For fouls, missed shots, fouls, reusable paint, fouls, back support, and fouls, join your intrepid blogger after the whistle. I mean jump.
The epic tour of basketball continues at Columbia today, as the Game Notes of Doom hook up with San Francisco once more.
I think they replaced the seats at Levien. The place looks very shiny. Extremely well organized.
We have a band today! Yesssssssssssssss. Here's hoping they do Korobeiniki. However, the DJ's music selection could use some work. You can't be an academic school and play "Started From the Bottom" when a) you are still at the bottom, b) Cal did it way better than you will ever dream of doing it.
San Francisco fans, I appreciate your passion, but those plastic cowbells are technically against NCAA regulations, but then again, the Columbia fanatics brought them as well, so it all comes out in the wash. Yes, there are fans with face paint and painted shirts for Columbia. Mostly older gentlemen, so I'm glad they stuck to the shirts instead of the painted chests.
Beautiful anthem. I wonder if she sings opera as an extracurricular.
At halftime of a game that started as a slopfest, San Francisco is up three on Columbia. Rachel Howard had eight early, with Taj Winston adding six late from the line. Tori Oliver looks pretty tough for the Lions, but it's been Miwa Tachibana who's carried the load for Columbia, with 10.
Columbia has a fairly impressive souvenir stand, but I can't find the concession stand and I'm hungry. :( I'm also amused by the fact that they're blowing out the Adidas gear; the switch to Nike must have been very recent. No tiny souvenirs I could put on Moooose, though.
I was not expecting USF to have the moxie to make a defensive stand like they did in the fourth quarter of that game to hold off Columbia. I'd have to look at the final play-by-play to double-check it, but they went on a fairly substantial run to finish off the game, fueled both by offense and defense.
Aundrea Gordon seems to have shaken off whatever was bothering her shot at Fordham, because she brought the offense today. She was critical to regaining control of the game in the second half. Claudia Price needed to assert herself more- the coaches were yelling at her to shoot most of the time that she was in the game. She did well when she shot, so she needs to build on that. Hashima Carothers looked lost out there- fumbled a pass into her face, couldn't keep control of the ball, and generally seemed content to let the Columbia forwards muscle her out of position. My scorecard says that Alexa Hardick played, but I can't put my finger on anything that she did. Jamie Katuna committed stupid fouls- don't foul a three-point shooter! But she got the three back at the other end, so that worked out. Brief minutes for Bryn Stark, nothing to write home about.
Paige Spietz had a monster block in the first half, but her overreaching hands would be her downfall- she fouled out on a reach-in (more precisely, a reach-over) that any referee worth his salt is going to call as a foul, even if you manage to get all ball. She did all right on the boards, but was content to let loose balls go by her. Taylor Proctor got herself into foul trouble fairly early in both halves, which limited her effectiveness. She was also one of the Dons (Donnas? Doñas?) who had issues with getting easy looks to go down. Zhané Dikes didn't have much luck with the rim in the first half, but changing baskets seemed to change her luck a little bit. She drove without fear and took a couple of hard hits on both ends of the floor- at one point she all but did a somersault. Taj Winston came up big during the run at the end of the game, with a huge three and some critical shots, including a gorgeous breakaway lay-up on a deft steal. Rachel Howard brought the offense again, including a beautiful floater in the lane.
The ball movement was better this time around, but they're entirely too passive when it comes to loose balls. Fordham knocked away rebounds left and right, and so did Columbia. They've got to learn to move without the ball, as well. Can't just stand around and wait for the pass, especially when the passing is extremely sloppy.
Carolyn Gallagher and Ara Talkov both threw me off because they were wearing numbers that were not their number on the website, and then Columbia's announcer announced Gallagher as Carolyn Binder (which got really confusing when she committed a foul and Binder was sitting on four). Talkov looked lost in her minutes. Gallagher was able to provide some decent minutes in the post. Amara Mbionwu was brilliant in her few minutes, banging down low and getting good putbacks. She mostly played in the second half, which makes me wonder if she's recovering from an injury or if Stephanie Glance likes to use her as a secret weapon of sorts. Devon Roeper has an interesting release to her free throws, and still needs to work on her screens. Carolyn Binder gave decent minutes, and I'm not sure if some of those fouls were legit. I really can't remember anything that Kayla Patton did.
Miwa Tachibana is a woman who knows no fear. She's tiny, but she drives full on into the lane like no one's business. Courtney Bradford is a load down low, but her finishing could use a little work. I like the potential of Tori Oliver- there's something about her that reminds me of Le'Coe Willingham, though that might just be her build and her hair. Taylor Ward missed a lot of very makeable shots. It wasn't pretty. Sara Mead was not as memorable these hours later as I think she was during the game. I must remember not to schedule social engagements immediately after games.
I realize that there are new points of emphasis this year in the NCAA, and they're really trying to clamp down on incidental contact, but it got ridiculous in this game, on both sides. One of the guys in the front row called out, "So you've decided that everything that happens on the basketball court is a foul?" There was no real flow to the game- how could there be, with all the stoppages?
Quote of the game, after Miwa Tachibana's fourth or fifth foul, which came down low, from Stephanie Glance: "Are you serious? She's four-foot-two, how could she foul in there?"
Columbia just could not finish at the rim. San Francisco was not pressuring much, and they still couldn't convert on all the chances they got. Glance has a ways to go with her team on the basics, but I think she can get them back up to snuff.
So tomorrow (today?) I get a day off, and then it's back to the basketball!
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Jillian Halfhill's lay-up with eighteen seconds left gave Bowling Green a 51-50 lead, and a last-second scrum for the ball secured the Falcons the win over Iona. Alexis Rogers led Bowling Green with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Damika Martinez of Iona led all scorers with 25 points, while Aaliyah Robinson added 14 off the bench.
For disagreements, bright colors, intensity, pride, point guards, and a possible question of mental fortitude, join your intrepid and blanketed blogger after the jump.
On to the second game of our double-header, which features Iona and Bowling Green for whatever marbles may be relevant in a miniature tournament. Shut up, grammar check, Bowling Green is correctly capitalized.
Bowling Green's uniforms are really orange. I think TV mutes the color a lot.
Iona's been working with their academic font instead of the old athletic font. Doesn't make for a dramatic court, but it looks good on the uniforms.
We're now changed into our maroon and gold. The extra layer was warming in the cold weather.
Oh, hey, cool, the mascot decided to show up. That's a change from last year.
Iona has a very tiny cheerleader with the most impressive thigh muscles I've ever seen (however, if I can see how built your thighs are, your skirt is way too short).
Bowling Green managed to get four balls in the basket. They tried to knock them out from the bottom, but only managed to get out one. It took a bit of doing to get them all out. That's either a good sign or a bad sign. So far it looks like a good sign for BGSU's shooting. It's 30-23 BGSU at the half, and the Falcons have looked stronger as the half has gone on. It also deeply disturbs me that Damika Martinez has gone full ballhog in the second quarter. There's a definite element of Lori Ann to her game tonight, if you follow what I mean.
As one would expect from a MAC team, Bowling Green's fans are out in full force. I really do love the MAC. Not when one of my teams is playing one of their teams, but other than that I love the MAC.
That was an amazing game. It wasn't the prettiest game in the world, but it was intense, and everyone was into it. The only way it could have been better, in my admittedly biased view, would have been if Iona had pulled it off at the very end.
Abby Siefker was a big body in the middle, and threw her weight around very effectively. Jasmine Matthews brought a little bit of offensive touch. Jennifer Roos almost seemed to be looking to see which guards she thought she could trust later in the season. Judging from the minute counts, she was not impressed with what she found, but they gave the starters a break when they needed it, which might have been enough coming down the stretch.
Alexis Rogers looks like a BCS player. She has the height and the build, as well as more quickness than one would expect from a woman of her build. She dissected Iona on the inside, because they had no one who could really match up with her. (And just for the record: yeah, that offensive foul for the moving screen was a bad call. Aleesha ran headlong into her without looking.) Jillian Halfhill ran a fine offense. I love to see a good floor general doing her stuff, even if she didn't show that element of her game statistically. Sometimes a player looks like she's the person in charge when she walks out onto the floor and it's clear her teammates defer to her. Jill Stein was tough in the middle. Miriam Justinger always seemed to be in the middle of the play; I remember that 30 jersey being all up in a lot of plays, especially going after loose balls. Erica Donovan had a solid game, if not one that was particularly memorable.
Very smart play by Bowling Green. We wailed and gnashed our teeth at the lack of free throw attempts that we were given, but the Falcons really didn't commit a lot of contact that would have resulted in free throws. Jennifer Roos is one of the most involved coaches I've ever seen. She yells almost as much as I do, at least when it comes to getting her team's attention. That's not a bad thing, though I wonder if it might wear on a player after a while.
Spencer Gray intrigues me. She reminds me very much of Kia Wright from St. John's, and of the freshmen she looked the least out of her depth. She might be able to move into that point guard slot when Haley D'Angelo graduates, if she learns with some speed. Cassidee Ranger looks like she's bulked up a little bit, and with the lack of height on Iona's roster, she's being called upon as a reserve post. Given that Cassidee's strengths are three-point shooting and on-ball defense, I do not think this is a very good plan. Aurellia Cammock shows a bit of promise with her size, though it's hard to get a fair assessment as to whether she can shoot, since her minutes were all in the first half and therefore no one other than Damika Martinez was touching the ball unless they happened to rebound it. Christina Rubin looked lost, which surprises me, since she was with the team last year. Aaliyah Robinson fired up the big threes. She's instant offense. (Reminds me of another Robinson in that regard.) And Iona needed everything she had to offer.
I don’t know what's wrong with Aleesha Powell, but I've met her and she seems like a nice kid, so I really hope that she's able to shake it off. But her shot was all messed up. It's like her arm strength completely evaporated over the offseason. She's always been slightly built (think Leilani Mitchell, but at 110% scale), but she looks even thinner now. Joy Adams was strangely passive today, and she didn't get down low nearly as much as I've come to expect from her. She was bringing the ball up more, too. I don't know if she's trying to diversify her game to be more of an overseas prospect, or if Coach Godsey is trying to switch her to the three because of her build, but in either case, it's not a good idea. Sabrina Jeridore was fierce on defense and hit the boards hard- I think she had four rebounds before the first media timeout. She's got to finish at the rim, and she's got to improve her stamina- she got winded a lot, and it's always apparent on her face when she's utterly gassed. Unless someone unexpected steps up to take some of the load off in the paint, she's all they have down there, and she needs to accept that responsibility as a senior and as the tallest healthy player on the roster. Haley D'Angelo has never been a shooter, and the one shot she took in this game reminded us of why she generally doesn't shoot a lot, but she needs to be a little more aggressive and force players to guard her. She's still the unquestioned leader of her team and the floor general for the Gaels, but she needs to be more of a threat. Damika Martinez was the offensive star for Iona, but she did it by volume, and the misses were bad misses. She got into a bit of a heated discussion with the coach in the middle of the first half, and her answer to whatever it was was to completely dominate the ball for the rest of the half. She brought it up, she dribbled, she shot. Not a good look. She got over it in the second half, though, and her shooting at the end of the game got Iona right back in it.
The officials in this game were not so good with the out of bounds calls. I'm really not sure how you can miss a player who's six-three and bright orange, guys.
For a mostly empty arena, the ambiance was fantastic. By the end, both groups of fans were really into the game. Iona's entire bench spent the last two defensive possessions standing and chanting. It was a heartbreaker (especially since Iona apparently tried to call timeout during the last rebound and didn't have it granted) but it was the kind of heartbreaker they would have lost heart during the second half of last year.