Saturday, February 11, 2017

February 10th, 2017: Villanova at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Villanova started strong behind Adrianna Hahn and hit their free throws late to beat St. John's, 66-56. Adrianna Hahn had 17 points, 11 in the first quarter alone, and eight rebounds to lead Villanova. Akina Wellere had 16 points for St. John's, while Maya Singleton made the most of her first start with 13 points and 20 rebounds.

For injury reports, traveling in good company, a veritable flock of ducks, hitting shots, missing shots, and taking too much time for routine tasks, join your intrepid and hypocritical blogger after the jump.

Good evening! It’s game day at Carnesecca Arena, as the Red Storm of St. John’s host the Wildcats of Villanova.

It’s BHA night, which means my team is wearing pink and black uniforms with all the accoutrements, right down to pink shoelaces for those who have a non-pink sneaker preference. Villlanova has the pink accessories- headbands, sneakers, and Play for Kay socks with the inverted ribbon. T-shirts in a truly horrifying pink somewhere between pastel and salmon are being given away. I managed to avoid them. This is St. John’s. On Fridays we wear red.

There’s also a silent auction, but I do not think Shamachya Duncan or Kyra Dunn’s jersey would fit me. I’m not terribly certain about Mallory Jones’s, either, and I already have the white/pink from that year.

Oh, dear. Just got a dose of bad news, hot off the presses- Imani Littleton is done for the season with a torn knee ligament (I’m hearing MCL) suffered during the DePaul game (which means she played on it during the Marquette game, and if I talked trash about you during that game, Imani, I am SO SORRY right now, you have no idea). And Sandie Udobi is still bespectacled and wearing sweatpants, so I don’t think she’s active. Oh, dear Lord. St. Vincent, pray for us. St. John, pray for us. Somebody, pray for Jordan Agustus to have the same kind of revelation that Akina Wellere had last year.

D’awww. For as much as Da’Shena Stevens can register on the Summitt Scale, her smile is so sweet.

Ugh. Stupid pink jerseys mean that Nova is wearing home white on our court. THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Why do Villanova fans always seem to have such trouble figuring out where their bench is? It’s over there. *points*

Imaniiiiiii on crutches noooooo :( :( :( I haz a big sad, though Sandie at least has her laughing.

Welp. At halftime, Villanova is up 42-29. Adrianna Hahn had 11 points in the first 7 minutes of the game, and she’s at 14 right now. Maya Singleton has 10 points and 10 rebounds for St. John’s.

As much as this is the BHA game, this is also the Black History month celebration, so halftime has featured a performance of the black national anthem (or is that capitalized as Black National Anthem? Or does it have a title? I should check that when I have internet) and special dance performances by black dance groups. First quarter break also featured a celebration of a former Johnnie, Rita Haywood, to fit with the theme of the month.

And they’re taking down the net in front of the St. John’s bench again. Second game they’ve had to do this. I am confused.

Guys. Y’all. Harry Perretta has been coaching Villanova for literally longer than y’all have been alive, except for some of the coaches. He’s been doing the same damn thing for pretty much that whole time. Y’all know this. You don’t leave anyone open for three, even the center.

This dude in front of me thinks he’s got dance moves. Think someone should tell him STJ only takes on champions?

I am surrounded by college students and not hating it. It’s an odd experience.

That could have gone better. Granted, it could have gone a lot worse, but I feel like Villanova left the door open repeatedly at the end of the game, and we looked at it and said, "Well, yep, that's a door right there, sure is," and proceeded to walk repeatedly into the doorframe.

Everyone on Villanova shoots threes. This includes Megan Quinn, who is listed as a center and doesn't have a terribly pretty shot. But guess what? If you leave her open, she'll hit it. That's what she does. Mary Gedaka appears to be the heir apparent to Samantha Wilkes in the role of "person who sets the most screens". Grace Stant played in the second half and seemed to be in a little over her head- careless mistakes, and missed free throws; the latter stood out more because Nova was so consistent from the line. Kelly Jekot brought a little offensive flash off the bench, though she had a couple of moments where she looked like a freshman who was still learning the ropes.

I shouldn't have to break out "Guard the goddamn midget!" before the end of the first quarter, but Adrianna Hahn brings that out in people. "Midget" is a big of an overstatement; she's short, but she's solidly built. She uses screens and the occasional dribble to give herself the space she needs to shoot, and she likes to launch them from the general vicinity of Delaware. She's fast, and she's smart, and she doesn't get fooled, and I don't like her when she plays against my teams. Alex Louin is a stark contrast to her, taller and bigger and way more physical (she was arm-barring all night, we were not amused). But like most Villanova players, she loves her some three-pointers. I don't know why she was the player we were fouling at the end, but if that was the Red Storm's game plan, it was not a good plan. Jordan Dillard started each half off with a drive, but was mostly quiet otherwise.

As good as Hahn is, and as perimeter-oriented as Villanova's offense is, the most important player in it might be Samantha Wilkes. She's not going to be a primary offensive option, though she can score if the defense forgets about her. But the solid screens she set were the key to the Wildcats' hot shooting. I'd love to see an advanced stat that counts screens similarly to assists; I think a lot of underappreciated posts would get some recognition that way. I'm not sure what I was expecting from Jannah Tucker, but three-point shooting was not it. I think I thought she had more experience at Tennessee. She moves very smoothly.

Villanova is so frustrating because they don't care whether you slow them down. They're also frustrating because they're difficult to defend, because they move well, because they force defenses into uncomfortable situations where rim protectors are pulled out to the arc and post players are defending the ballhandler.

Jordan Agustus is not ready for prime time. This is a problem because she's literally the only forward we have left on the bench, unless Sandie gets some magic cheese on her knee or something. She doesn't seem to know where she fits in either the offense or the defense, and she's not ready for the ball when it comes to her. She's got to play closer to the basket instead of putting up ugly jumpers. Andrayah Adams wasn't ready for Villanova's defense; the confident stroke she showed in Milwaukee did not make the trip back to New York. She's improving on defense, but right now, we need her points. Crystal Simmons stuck close on defense, but she was too hesitant to shoot and awkward when she did (which is sort of a catch-22 that can only be broken by her fixing her damn shot). I really need someone to get comfortable bringing the ball up. We don't have that many games left of Aaliyah Lewis.

Look at you, Miss Maya! Maya Singleton got the start for Imani Littleton, and she came to play. It felt like every rebound in the first half was hers, and she was fighting for every single one of them. (I looked at the box score. Maya, by herself, had more than a quarter of all the rebounds in the game, by both teams.) She was rock solid, but she can't do it alone, and she can't go the whole game without some extended rest. Jade Walker spent a lot of time admiring shots that didn't go in. I like Jade's jumper, but I like when Jade rebounds her jumper too, and I thought she spent much of the early going trying too hard to be a Villanova player instead of using her strength. She stepped up inside in the fourth quarter, and that was part of what fueled the run that got us back into the game. She has such a wonderful blend of strength and finesse; I just find myself so often wishing she could manage the ratio a little bit better.

Aaliyah Lewis learned a hard lesson today, and I hope it sticks with her. Sometimes, all the fancy ballhandling in the world isn't enough to shake a defender. She tried to cross up Adrianna Hahn at least twice, and Hahn stuck with her. She tried to step up offensively, but she can't score and facilitate at the same time. Her clock awareness in the fourth quarter was sorely lacking. Really, it was the entire team's lack of urgency that irked me, but the senior point guard who's usually better than that will come in for the harshest criticism in that regard. Akina Wellere had some really solid moments driving the lane, and I like that she's adding/reintroducing that to her game instead of relying so heavily on her three-point shot, but she still seems tentative out there, and when she gets tentative, she hesitates to do the needful, whether it's shooting or fouling when Coach is screaming for the foul to be given. I love Alisha Kebbe's toughness- it seemed like either she or Maya chased down every loose ball. Her long-range jumper needs to be more consistent, but I have faith that will come with time and confidence and more familiarity with the home rims.

Y'all. If y'all are down nine with two minutes to go, and y'all shoot three pointers like y'all were in the six-on-six era, y'all do not have time to pass the ball around for fifteen seconds and drive for two. I know this and Joe knows this. You have to know time and score and manage the clock accordingly.

We got stuck with Brian Enterline. There were, unsurprisingly, plenty of missed holding calls. And I think we got the benefit of the doubt on an over and back call.

You're not going to stop a team like Nova if you let them hit shots. And you're not going to win if you can't hit shots throughout the game. We didn't do that. We fought back, and I love them for that, but Villanova is too good at what they do, and Harry is too good a coach, for us to dig a hole like this.

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