Saturday, January 21, 2017

January 20th, 2017: Creighton at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Creighton broke open a close game in the second quarter, and St. John's was never able to fully recover in the 55-43 Bluejay win. Lauren Works had 12 points to lead Creighton. Aaliyah Lewis had 12 points to lead St. John's.

For harsh words, a lack of effort, very short possessions, contenders, and pretenders, join your intrepid and exasperated blogger after the jump.

The grudge match is upon us. It's St. John's and Creighton all over again, a rematch of last year's memorable for sentimental reasons championship game.

Solid anthem by an alum.

Something may actually be wrong with the basket in front of the St. John's bench; at halftime, the maintenance crew is putting in a new net and making some adjustments to the rim.

At halftime, Creighton is up 28-19. I am not amused. St. John's appears to have abandoned the offense that works for a half-hearted attempt to emulate Creighton's offense, only also attempting to up the difficulty level by putting the conference's most accurate three-point shooter on the bench while doing it. Our posts are shooting jumpers and standing there to admire them. This is somewhat understandable for Jade Walker. This is somewhat less understandable for Maya Singleton. Crash the boards and follow your shot!

The biddy game at halftime is actually pretty good, and has been a halfcourt game by necessity, since the rim's still being worked on. Oh, dear. The game may end up being delayed. They just started redoing the net again. They got it done in time, not that it seemed to help much, and St. John's came out of the locker room fairly late, not that it seemed to help much.

That could have gone better. That could have gone a lot better. I'm not angry at Creighton- well, except for Lauren Works taking down Alisha Kebbe, I'm pretty angry about that. But I'm angry at the inconsistent effort from St. John's that was so often a lack of effort. You have to know going in that Creighton will outwork you- they even have a player *named* Works, to demonstrate! You have to match that effort if you want to win, because otherwise the Bluejays will win time of possession and every loose ball to make up for the talent level.

I was very impressed with the redshirt freshman Jaylyn Agnew. She set good screens (though her best was wasted on a terrible shot by Janning) and scrambled well. Kylie Brown has that awkward adolescent gazelle look to her, where she has the potential to move that long lanky frame with grace, but currently isn't quite sure what to do with her arms and legs. She had a couple of shots in the lane that went in through very strange angles. Myah Mellman played point for bits of the first half- I know she was the point guard because Coach Flanery was yelling at her to take point. Bailey Norby saw some time in the first half and set picks. Creighton tightened up their already tight rotation further in the second half, and Flanery used his subs effectively to keep everyone reasonably fresh.

Maybe this was a bad night for Marissa Janning, but if this night was average, then she hasn't recovered from the ACL. There's no oomph in her shot- her threes were all short in various ways and angles. She still showed good heart, but her offense was utterly absent. As mentioned above, Lauren Works is not my favorite person in the world right now, though I don't think she was aiming to hurt Alisha. She brings the defense and the effort.

Sydney Lamberty lists as a guard, and on offense she plays like one with her three point shot- but on the boards, she crashes as hard and as tough as any forward. She came up with the rebounds that the Red Storm's posts should have been chasing down. She got a lot of help from Audrey Faber, who was remarkable at boxing out. She's not good at handling passes, but for a tall forward, Faber's got a pretty good handle for bringing the ball up. Brianna Rollerson takes no nonsense from anyone- she was deflecting and disposing of weak shots thrown up at the basket with no real aim or forethought. Her physical play in the middle was key for Creighton, and Flanery juggled her foul trouble well, albeit with the help of convenient stoppages.

Oh, my Johnnies. I am so cranky at you right now you wouldn't believe it.

Tamesha Alexander saw a few seconds at the end of the first quarter so that Aaliyah could get a break. She fought hard for that one rebound. Joe was trying rather a lot of different things- he used Sandra Udobi often in an attempt to tighten up the interior defense, but Creighton was able to exploit her lack of mobility, and her elbow jumper was not with us this evening. Andrayah Adams was used to try and spark some offense, with no luck, though I like how her defense is improving.

Maya Singleton does not have a jump shot. I feel like I shouldn't be revealing this in public, but anyone who really wants to know these sorts of things is getting game tape, not reading the long-winded rants of a blogger. Maya does not have a jump shot, and thus if she takes a jumper she better be calculating where it's going to come off the rim, not standing there admiring it. She pounced on any moment of hesitation or weakness by Creighton; if a forward took a moment to gather a rebound, that moment was going to be full of Maya. I wish she'd finish better at the rim. Crystal Simmons brought that bizarre, sort of underhanded, three-point shot, but her defense wasn't as strong as usual, and she was too hesitant to shoot anything other than threes. She had good lane penetration a couple of times, and passed out to teammates who had no reason to expect the pass.

I love Jade Walker as a player, I really do, but there are many times when I want to love her with a two by four upside the head. I'm super proud of her hitting 1000, and I wish I could have been there for it, but I think she let it go to her head a little bit tonight. She was slacking on her effort, both on offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds. She was happy to settle for bad shots, or to put up weak shots and then throw up her hands when she didn't get the call from the ref. At leat she was going inside, but I'd like to see her be more forceful about it. Imani Littleton seemed disengaged again, which is more of a problem than it should be. Even on her bad days she has her good moments- a strong defensive stand on the inbounds, a smart pick- but I feel like there's another level there that we haven't been able to crack.

Can we now say that Akina Wellere is in a sophomore slump? Is that something we can admit? She's scared to shoot. She's committing stupid fouls on defense. I'm almost hoping there's a nagging injury that we haven't heard about, because otherwise there's no reason Works should have been able to take her to the basket so easily- there were two plays where Works took a first step and suddenly she was four steps ahead of Akina. Her inconsistency worries me. Aaliyah Lewis wasn't herself today- backing out when the play was to go go go, holding the ball for too long, calling her own number way more often than usual. She was stymied, and that's not a good look for her. Alisha Kebbe drove the lane well and played solid defense. I shouldn't have had to find out about her awesome Batman socks by watching her trying to get up with a bum ankle. (They are awesome socks, though.)

Some strange officiating on the sidelines and baselines, and I'd like to know how Aaliyah got taken down without a call. I really don't understand how, if the ball went out of bounds in the backcourt, the inbounds can take place in the frontcourt. Joe was just as confused by this.

You can't go up against a contender to the conference crown and not bring your best game. I expect better from my team.

1 comment:

Frisco Del Rosario said...

I think you're right about Janning.