Sunday, January 29, 2017

January 28th, 2017: Quinnipiac at Iona

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Big performances from Alexis Lewis and Marina Lizarazu powered Iona to a 58-44 win over Quinnipiac. Lewis had a game high 22 points and 15 rebounds, 15 and 12 of those in the first half. Lizarazu finished with 24 points, 14 of those in the fourth quarter. Sarah Shewan's 10 points and six rebounds off the bench led Quinnipiac.

For line changes, soulless gingers, big games, defensive stands, not finishing at the rim, and making statements, join your intrepid and exhilarated blogger after the jump.

Good afternoon from the Hynes Athletic Center on the campus of Iona College. Today is a good day for MAAC action, as the Gaels host top-of-the-table Quinnipiac.

Bee-Line seems to have the slowest wheelchair lifts in all the land. We must have lost a good five minutes to that thing's grinding.

Okay, dude, your fellow Bobcat fan has explained to you that you are sitting behind Iona's bench. Why have you not moved? Go away. Just because your team's shooting over here doesn't mean you're actually welcome. Stay on your own side of the arena.

Looks like it's cheer clinic day. There are many children with pom-poms mixed in among the regular cheerleaders. This might be painful.

At halftime, it's 29-13, which I rather sort of expected. I didn't expect Iona to be at the 29 end, though. Alexis Lewis has had herself a day, with 15 points and 12 boards at the break.

Quinnipiac is most definitely a hockey school. You can tell not just by the line changes but by the physical play. It doesn't help that one of the chippier players, who got in a shot to Marina Lizarazu's face and got a little bit of a shove in return, is Carly Fabbri, daughter of Tricia Fabbri, Quinnpiac's coach.

The cheer and dance clinic actually wasn't too bad. They kept it simple enough to be doable and complex enough to look cool. The kids who are now playing the biddy game have been fun and noisy, so we're enjoying their play. Helps that they wear Iona colors. Someone might want to get these kids off the floor before the players come back, though.

No, Jen Fay, I am not okay with you tripping Trey and then laughing at her. Or with you checking Tori into the scorer's table. You know even women's hockey doesn't have checking, right? (Which is the primary reason it's hard for me to get into women's hockey, even though I love hockey and support women in sports.)

Come at the queen, you best not miss. And Quinnipiac missed a lot... of free throws. The Bobcats played good defense, but you know what happens when a team misses fifteen free throws? They lose by fourteen. Iona didn't need to be perfect, which is good, because heaven knows we weren't. We did enough, behind two super efforts, and made hustle plays.

I've mentioned that teams that play a lot of players are the hardest to write game notes about, right? Have I also mentioned that Quinnipiac rolls deeper than pretty much everyone else in the NCAA? They played more players today than Iona has on their roster, period. So we'll try to give everyone a little bit of shine, but no guarantees.

Vanessa Udoji didn't play in the first half, but started the second half. The ways of Fabbri are strange. She brought height, but not much else. Aryn McClure was tough defensively, and I think she's got a lot of potential to grow, and I'm not just saying that because her family was sitting near us (and shouldn't have been, but I'm not going to tell someone's grandma with a cane to move after she's already climbed stairs). Sarah Shewan really shone on offense- she stepped up to rebound missed shots and missed free throws. But she was the worst offender among the many Bobcats who missed free throws.

Brittany Martin was great on on-ball defense- really intense, really agile, really good at positioning herself to disrupt the ballhandler without committing a foul. Carly Fabbri carried herself like she knew she was the coach's daughter and thought that would shield her from getting fouls called on her. We got lucky leaving her open- she's usually a better shooter than she was today. It is probably impolitic to refer to someone as a soulless ginger when you're at an institution with an Irish heritage, but Jen Fay's behavior on the court earned her that kind of moniker, and anyway, this part of the notes got written on a bus. But I can find nothing to like about a player who laughs about tripping another player, and less to like about someone who throws a player into the boards. I admire physical play, but there's a line, and Fay left the line behind her.

Honestly, I thought Quinnipiac got stronger play out of their second unit than their first unit. The first unit seemed to run the system better, but the second unit had better overall play.

Paula Strautmane probably got her last name mispronounced a few times in this one, and I'm pretty sure I perpetrated most of them, so sorry about that. She boxed out well and set good picks. Paige Warfel got the start, but she didn't play a lot- much as Udoji was a DNP in the first half and started the second, Warfel was a DNP in the second half. Morgan Manz pulled down a couple of late rebounds.

Edel Thornton has to be a little more careful with her feet, both in terms of not traveling and in terms of not tripping people. She had some nice drives to the basket. Adily Martucci was the focus of the Quinnipiac offense, scoring in the lane and from the midrange (which was a sharp contrast to the long-range shooting Quinnipiac seemed to be trying to lean on).

I think the Bobcats are a year ahead of where they wanted to be. I don't think this team of mostly freshmen and sophomores is ready to be at the top. Next year, with a strong senior class and some experience under their belts, I'll be terrified of them. This year, they're still vulnerable- talented, suited to the system, but vulnerable.

Tori Lesko brought the hustle, but she's got to finish at the rim. Tori, have you met Maya Singleton? Maya, have you met Tori? I feel like you guys might have a lot in common for some reason. Kristin Mahoney was called upon to pick up a few minutes in the fourth quarter when it seemed like everyone except maybe Coach had four fouls, and while she was tentative, and she committed a stupid foul, she held down the fort, and that was all we asked of her and of Tilasha Okey-Williams. Tilasha's shot still needs work... a lot of work... or at least it needs to not hit the side of the backboard.

Philecia Atkins-Gilmore was not in top form today- her knee was clearly bothering her (she kept fussing with her knee brace, and we saw her after the game wearing a boot). She brought the intensity, but her range of motion was sharply limited. She spent a lot of time on the spinner cycle, and one of these days I'm going to figure out how to hook a battery charger to that thing. Marina Lizarazu was the fourth quarter hero, hitting her jumpers and sealing the deal with free throws. She was calling her own number a lot in general (though I noticed Phee was bringing the ball up more, so maybe Coach is using her more off the ball). Her judgment didn't seem as sound in the first half as it was in the second half, but I think the applicable phrase here might be "confirmation bias".

Alexis Lewis started the game on fire; for the first fifteen minutes, she was single-handedly outscoring Quinnipiac, and possibly out-rebounding them as well. She was solid beyond the arc and utterly tenacious on the glass, tipping rebounds away and never giving up the fight. Treyanna Clay had trouble finishing on the inside, but held it down on defense down low. Karynda DuPree seemed to spend a lot of time running away from the ball, which is not a good look. It was like she didn't want any part of anyone passing her the ball. She rebounded well, and she was instrumental in stopping the Bobcats on defense, but I just can't get over a player- a senior!- literally dodging out of the way of the ball like she thought she was playing dodgeball instead of basketball.

The defense came up with huge plays. So did Marina and Lexi on offense. I'm worried about the lack of balance on offense, especially Tori and Trey's issues finishing lay-ups, but I'm okay with getting a couple of big games to offset that.

Officiating was uneven, especially from the first quarter definition of traveling to the fourth quarter definition of traveling, but I suspect Iona was committing a lot of their fouls because they were gassed. It's not easy having a short roster against a team that rolls as deep as Quinnipiac does.

Crowd got really into it, which is one of the things I enjoy about Iona. When we get loud at St. John's, we tend to scare people off; when we get loud at Iona, people join in.

And it was an autograph day! So we got into line behind all the kids and got our poster signed- and then went back and did it again because they started the session while Marina and Lexi were doing media. We don't have the same rapport with them that we do with our Big East teams, but that takes time, and Iona weeknight games are virtually impossible to do.

So that was fun. Always good to get the big upset.

1 comment:

John Simpson said...

I have been going up to Quinnipiac for some women's hoops. It is a ten minute drive from my house. I can't get used to the five player substitutions. Florida mens team used to do that fifteen years ago and was very successful. Congratulations to Iona, this is a big win for them. On the WNBA front congrats to the Liberty getting Bria Hartley and Kia Vaughn. More New York hometown players that want to come home. I'm all for that.