Sunday, February 12, 2017

February 12th, 2017: Villanova at Seton Hall

Just the Facts, Ma’am: Villanova led from start to finish in an 87-52 dismantling of Seton Hall. Jordan Dillard spearheaded a strong Wildcat bench with 15 points, one of six Villanova players in double figures. Lubirdia Gordon of Seton Hall led all scorers with 18 points.

For the bad old days, a lack of effort, free food, the ridiculous to the sublime, shame, dismay, embarrassment, and sore knees, join your intrepid and disgusted blogger after the jump.

These are not the Game Notes of Doom you would have been led to expect from the Big East schedule. Someone else will have to chronicle Georgetown’s visit to St. John’s. I promised Seton Hall I’d be at Senior Day, and even after realizing the games conflicted… well, I promised. It’s Senior Day.

The weather is impressively lousy out there, a horrid combination of sleet and freezing rain that’s slippery and gross. Doesn’t seem to have depressed turnout, except for those annoying Nova fans who were at the game on Friday.

Yes, ma’am, I know it’s Senior Day. We have season tickets. You don’t think I know this? Even if I hadn’t known it coming in, the signs on the wall would have been a hint.

Oh, here we go. Here come the feelings. We’re about to get started. As always, they start off with flowers for the visiting seniors, who seem nonplussed by this sort of thing.

How many coaches grab the mic for their senior managers? How cool is that?

Nice touch for Kaity Healy to be the one carrying Kat Egan’s flowers- they were both Iona commits who chose Seton Hall after Tony moved on.

D’awwww. Lubirdia Gordon doesn’t seem to know what to do with herself. Like, she genuinely doesn’t seem to believe she’s as good as her statistics say she is.

Shoutout to band, cheer, and dance, who will get their senior honoring during timeouts. Apparently the Big East has a rule about how long pregame ceremonies can be? That explains why Tony sounded so rushed when he was speaking about his seniors, too. His speeches are usually longer.

There’s somebody behind the scorer’s table who looks a lot like Aleesha Powell. It’d be cool if Leesh decided to get into the game that way.

Wow, that is some suit that guy is wearing. Seton Hall printed all over. Think Don Cherry meets NCAA.

Y’all. Y’all bring a group in less than five minutes before tipoff, you are not thinking terribly far ahead.

Okay, Seton Hall, we need to have a talk. And it needs to be a long talk. Because I did not hike my ass out the door at 10:30, take the J out to the PATH, wait through the train delays, and haul myself on board the 31 bus to watch you puke all over Senior Day. It’s 48-22 Villanova at halftime. The only player on the floor who seems to have come to play is Bird Gordon, who is like, “This is my Senior Day and none of you are bleeping ruining it for me.”

I don’t know what happened with Shadeen Samuels, but she’s behind the bench in a gray hoodie, looming like the Ghost of Christmas Future. Deja Winters has a shoulder problem and is not dressed. (Is very not dressed. She’s wearing a t-shirt so you can see how her shoulder is taped up.) I don’t know why JaQuan Jackson and Kaela Hilaire haven’t played. All I know is that Seton Hall is serving up hot trash on a platter, and I did not make my way through three different transit authorities to accept hot trash on a platter when I could be at St. John’s.

Oooh. That kid in the biddy game just hit a sweet elbow jumper. I think it’s the first one I’ve seen all day.

There’s no defense. There’s barely any offense. No one in the history of the state of New Jersey has been able to drive with as little traffic as Villanova has seen.

You. Little girl in the Villanova shirt. What are you doing behind the SHU bench? Go away and stop it.

I’m dead-red serious, I think we’re one incident away from burning our bridges at Seton Hall. Too much nonsense has been going on here. Shenanigans, even.

Well, that could have been better. I’m sure there’s some way it could have been worse, but other than catastrophic injury and other flukes of nature, I can’t think of anything. I can’t remember the last time I saw a team give up so emphatically and so disastrously as Seton Hall did in this game. I know they’re capable of better. I know they can be better. I have no idea what happened, and I’m kind of terrified at the idea of what it could have been.

If Seton Hall hadn’t given Villanova Senior Day flowers, I would have been a lot angrier that Karlie Crispin was jacking threes when Villanova was up 30 in the waning minutes. But she’s a senior deep on the bench, and as tiny as she is she might even be/have been a walk-on, so I think I can make myself okay with this. Besides, it’s not like we played like a team to be respected. Nicolette Juliano also came in late, and I think she took a shot, but I’m not sure. Bridget Herlihy got extended fourth quarter run and played physical inside- a little too physical at times.

Mary Gedaka showed some nice moves in the paint. I’m a sucker for a girl with a hook shot, what can I say? Eventually she’ll slow down enough to fit Villanova’s system better; right now she still has the youthful freshman energy that keeps her going just a little too fast for Harry’s liking. She had a good deflection to shut down an ill-advised fast break attempt by Claire Lundberg in the fourth quarter. Kelly Jekot has a good stroke. I think I would like her if I were a Nova fan.

Jannah Tucker brought smooth moves and a quick three-point shot off the bench. She uses her length well and gets around quickly on the court. Jordan Dillard is the oddball among Villanova’s three-point shooters, the player who goes for midrange shots and paint plays (though the Wildcats were cutting inside a lot more than usual). She had herself a very good game.

This was Samantha Wilkes’s day to shine. She got off to a hot start, with eight in the first quarter. Seton Hall lost her on defense, and she took advantage. She kept setting those hard screens, too, including one that set up Adrianna Hahn for a trey. (The people around us thought it was a moving screen, but I thought Wilkes didn’t move until Kaity ran into her.) Megan Quinn showed her unexplained outside stroke late in the game, and outside shooting from the big girls was something that the Pirates just couldn’t handle. She laid a most painful block on Kaity Healy early on.

Grace Stant was quiet until near the end of the game, when she got a basket on a fast break. Her teammates were really happy for her. Alex Louin’s shot is very weird-looking; the way she winds it up, I wonder if Harry dragged out old film of Pennefather for her to study. (There’s no polite way to ask, “Are you double-jointed or something?” to a complete stranger.) She’s physical when she wants to be, but I think she likes to shoot more than she likes taking it inside. Adrianna Hahn is really tough. I like what I see out of her (well, you know, except for the part where it happens against my teams). If she were a couple of inches taller, I think she’d be a serious W prospect. Quiet game for her, but she commands the floor even when she’snot scoring.

Villanova is good at taking what the defense gives them. Today they were getting driving lanes, and they took advantage of them. They got a lot of really good looks. Once I get my hands on a box score, I want to see what their shooting percentages were, especially first/second half splits. I think it’ll be very edifying.

Jayla Jones-Pack has an enormous wrap around her left hand and wrist, and it’s really affecting her play. There were sequences where she had the ball, but couldn’t get a good grip on it, and fumbled, or couldn’t put up the shot. She’s hurt, and I think it’s worse than she wants to let on, but her team needs her. Without Shadeen, and with Deja hurt, and with Jordan Molyneaux so hurt she can’t dress, we have no post depth. We had a JaQuan Jackson sighting in the second half, and while she started quick, hitting her first two shots, I think she had too much pent-up energy to expend- she was consistently missing hard off the rim. When her shot started missing, her engagement was gone, and I think that was the death knell for Seton Hall’s chances of mounting a comeback. LaTecia Smith came off the bench in the first half and started the second half, and there seemed to be a little more cohesion when she was in the game. I think she needs to work on her clock awareness, but she’s not the only one.

Yes, Kaity, I’m looking at you. You’re supposed to be the heady floor general, right? You’re the one who was recommended by Haley D’Angelo, Tony’s quintessential faciliator from Iona, right? And you’re the one who doesn’t know time and score? Really? A player shouldn’t be able to play all forty and leave as light an impression as Kaity Healy did in this game. It shouldn’t be physically possible, and yet Kaity did nothing worth writing about. On the other hand, at least she tried to do something, even if it was miss shots or get assists. I’m looking at the box score now, and Martha Kuderer started the game and ended with the ultimate non-impact line- straight zeroes to give her seven billion. Martha’s style dovetails perfectly with Villanova’s- she should have been able to do something out there, but all she did was look scared on the floor and confused off it.

I’d really like for Claire Lundberg to figure out her offense. If she’s going to be a spot-up situational shooter in the mold of Sidney Spencer, fine. Then she needs to do a better job of getting open, and her teammates need to set her some screens. If Tony’s going to play her at the four, then she’s going to have to learn to hit shots on the inside, and she’s going to have to be a lot tougher. Right now, she’s betwixt and between, not even a true tweener. I can like the shots she hits, but they’ve been few and far between, overshadowed by the opportunities she gives away with her hesitancy inside the arc. Skyler Snider isn’t ready for the kind of minutes she got in this game- too many of her shots fell short, and she was noticeably flagging as the game wore on. I like her toughness and her heart, and I think she’ll be a great defender by the end of her college career. But she needs to be seasoned, and she needs to be a little better conditioned. (Next year, I’d love to see her versus Imani Littleton of St. John’s- I think there’s a lot they can learn from each other, intentionally or otherwise.)

The only Pirate who really seemed ready to play, really had her head in the game, really recognized the significance of the day, and left her heart on the floor, was the one senior player on the squad. Lubirdia Gordon had herself a day down low for the Pirates. She rebounded fiercely and defended reasonably well. Her teammates left her out to dry too many times, expecting her to take care of the paint by herself like she was Brittney Griner and Yolanda Griffith rolled into one. She’s a solid defender, but we don’t expect miracles here.

I can’t express enough my disgust and dismay at how little effort everyone, except Bird and to a lesser extent Skyler, showed out there. It’s Senior Day. Doesn’t that mean something to you? Instead, they went out there and laid down and died. Wide open lanes were available that should ne8 r have been available. Villanova got offensive rebound after offensive rebound. Careless, cavalier, indifferent- those are never words I should associate with Seton Hall, and those are never words that should be applied to a team’s effort and intensity on the day when they honor their seniors. It smacks of disrespect and it reeks of shenanigans.

We are currently at the post-game senior banquet, where there are delicious sandwiches and wandering players. At least Bird has a sense of humor about the ballgirl jokes. And Shadeen still seems to be welcome at the team’s table. Tony is a surprisingly good sport about the St. John’s thing.

(Okay, important life lesson learned. Do not attempt to ruffle JaQuan’s hair. Someone just did, and she looked up with quite the WTF expression.)

Tony, dear, it is customary to have the blessing given before you let everyone dig into the food. Can it still be blessed after it’s been eaten? (Also, I feel like Shadeen and I might have accidentally shared a moment of “what is this I don’t even” during the blessing.)

Tony is really, really salty about the Big East rules about pregame ceremonies. Now he’s getting to give the full speeches he had planned, and it sounds much more Tony-esque. Talking about Tara’s toughness, and Kat’s previous commitment to Iona (so, uh, Tony, did you just admit to getting a player to change her commitment to follow you), and Bird’s ability to connect to people. Awww, Deja.

They weren’t kidding about the speaker not being loud. I can barely hear the sound on the video and I’m pretty much right next to it. Background music probably could have been quieter; you can barely hear the people talking about the seniors, which is a shame, because that’s the whole point of the video. Everyone talking about Bird as the mother figure on the team, and it’s kind of adorable and a little bit weird at the same time (and also, given her nickname, replete with strange mental images).

I love how much they’re treating the senior manager the exact same way they’re treating the senior players. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no one does Senior Day like one of Tony’s teams does. I just wish the effort on the court had been a match for it. These seniors deserved better.

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