Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 18th, 2017: Sacred Heart at LIU

Just the Facts, Ma’am: Sacred Heart used long-range shooting and clutch defense in the fourth quarter to erase a seven-point deficit and come away with a 51-41 win to spoil LIU’s Senior Day. Hannah Kimmel had 15 points to lead three Pioneers in double figures. Shanovia Dove had 18 points in the losing effort for the Blackbirds, with Aja Boyd adding 10 points and 13 rebounds.

For seniors doing all the things, collages, small children, signs, balloons, the efficient use of personnel, and absolutely no sense of urgency, join your intrepid and transiting blogger after the jump.

It's entirely too gorgeous a day for mid-February in New York City. I'll take it, but at the same time I'll worry about it as the harbinger of climate change that it surely is. In either case, it's almost too nice a day to spend inside. But I did say almost, and it's game day, and it's Senior Day in Brooklyn. The Blackbirds of LIU Brooklyn are hosting their last home game of the year, taking on the Pioneers of Sacred Heart.

We didn't realize until this morning that it was a double-header with the men, and frankly, I was not leaving the house for a noon tip for a game I don't really care about. We got in early enough to catch the very exciting end of the men's win over Sacred Heart. I'd be hoping that some of the magic could rub off on the women, but since about 80% of the crowd has left, I'm not taking any bets on that. It looks like it was Senior Day for the men, too, judging from the large framed photo collage of Iverson Fleming that one older couple (presumably Mr. Fleming's parents) carried out with them.

Making your injured players useful: Paris Jones and Mackenzie Freeman were deputized to put into position the silver number balloons for the three seniors.

Looks like Stylz Sanders will be wearing a mask for this game- she's got it tilted up on her forehead, but I would think she'll be wearing it for the game itself.

The victorious dudes have emerged from the locker room. Bring your mojo! We need all the help we can get.

It’s a little confusing, but the clock on the center-hung scoreboard is counting down to about quarter to three. So Senior Day festivities are definitely before the game.

Fans from the state of Connecticut travel fairly well, and the Sacred Heart contingent is no exception. I think we might end up being outnumbered by the time the game tips off, which is not okay.

NEC basketball at its finest: the table for the Senior Day presentations was the table that the summer camp literature was on when we came in.

As befits an acolyte of Tony Bozzella, LIU opens Senior Day ceremonies by acknowledging the opposing seniors, though LIU doesn’t have flowers for the Pioneers. They do, however, get the opportunity to give flowers to the senior members of the dance team before the game.

It’s kind of hard to keep a straight face at the listed accolades of a player who’s only been here for one year.

Okay, cool, the photo collages are the same for the women as they are for the men. I mean, font and everything, not just equivalent. Though now I’m wondering if they’re in stead of framed jerseys...

I kind of feel either bad or confused for Shanovia Dove, who has a cousin with her but not her parents (Dionne Coe and Brianna Farris both have their parents with them). D’awww, Brianna’s dad has one of those “Most people never get the chance to meet their favorite athlete; I raised mine” shirts.

Heh. Someone tried to start a noise war with the LIU band. You can’t win a noise war with the LIU band. The only people who win those are the people who make hearing aids.

At halftime, LIU is up 27-18. Aja Boyd and Shanovia Dove have both been solid for the Blackbirds, and Brianna Farris has brought the energy. For Sacred Heart, their seniors have done all the scoring. They seem rather more reliant on the three than today’s shooting indicates that they should be.

There’s someone sitting in the endcourt nearest the opposing bench who looks an awful lot like one of last year’s seniors, Shanice “so what I sprained my ankle, y’all need me” Vaughn.

The kids sitting near us have been pretty cool, but I’m worried that they’ve moved over to set up camp right next to the Sacred Heart contingent. They’ve brought the noise, and it seems like that might not be a good idea near the opposing fans.

There’s a hook from my college years that seems to be making a comeback as part of a remix, and I am totally okay with this. Sugar, how you get so fly, indeed. I expect this to be a new Cheesy Musical Hook for Sugar Rodgers this summer.

Still getting used to this new computer and this new version of Word. Not sure how I feel yet. I think this computer is slower than Jocelyn, my Envy, but I’m only asking this one to be a mobile typewriter that can access the Internet. (Jocelyn’s casing is falling apart, her hinges are so-so, and if I touch her without properly grounding myself I electrocute her.)

Well, that was a thing that happened, and it’s a thing I very much do not approve of. Saying that LIU fell apart in the fourth quarter might be an exaggeration, but they definitely showed that they’d been to the Herman Edwards school of clock management. There was no sense of urgency late in the game; it’s as if they not only ran out of gas, but ran out of give-a-damn in the last five minutes.

Sacred Heart didn’t go very deep on their bench. Erin Storck didn’t exactly make a great impression when she compounded a missed free throw with a foul on the rebound. She brought decent physicality off the bench from the guard spot. Tykera Carter is very fast, and she is not a good player to make bad passes around. Unfortunately for LIU, they showed a tendency to pass a little further ahead of where the recipient was going to be, and Carter read those passes for fast break opportunities.

Katherine Haines was a big body down low. While she absorbed a lot of fouls, she also made life more and more difficult for Aja Boyd as the game went on, and she was good at setting screens. The fans across from us got very excited when Shelby Hickey scored her one basket, so I guess that’s not a thing that happens very often?

Adaysha Williams didn’t seem afraid to pull the trigger from deep, and did not get the rolls on the rim inside. Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug. I think the fans across the aisle from us were Kelcey Castro’s family, or at least knew her and/or her family well enough to cheer loud and long for her. She hit a couple of big threes in the fourth quarter to put SHU in front. Hannah Kimmel is dangerous from all over the floor, and she creates an interesting match-up with her size.

Sacred Heart’s zone really did a number on LIU. That, combined with the doubles on Aja Boyd and Shanovia Dove at appropriate times, shut down any semblance of offense that LIU could muster. They forced LIU to think too much and fed into their tendency to slow the game up.

Seneca Richards is not good at defense. She got into foul trouble quickly and seemed very grouchy about the calls. She came in at the end to provide a distance threat, but she didn’t seem to be seeking her shot, nor did her teammates look to get her the ball. That rather defeats the purpose of a three-point specialist, I would think. Autumn Ashe shows promise as a defensive post, but you can't run the exact same plays to her that you would to Aja Boyd for the simple reason that she's not Aja, and she's not as tall as Aja and she doesn't catch passes the same way. Victoria Powell moved the offense slightly faster than Dionne Coe did, but got in her own teammates' way as much as she did her opponents.

Dionne. We need to have a talk about the bit where you launch threes from the general direction of Gravesend. And we need to have a talk about these stretches where you dribble the ball on the perimeter for six or seven seconds at a time, especially when it's a two or three possession game and time is running out. I don't know if she doesn't have passing vision or she has no faith in her teammates, but she holds the ball for way too long and it kills anything that looks like momentum. Shanovia Dove got fired up on offense, but for much of the game, it looked like her teammates weren't even thinking about taking shots for themselves, instead force-feeding her or Aja. Brianna Farris started the game with great energy on both ends of the floor, and I love everything she did in the first quarter, but she wasn't able to sustain that kind of intensity through the whole game.

Aja Boyd showed great moves on the inside, and if/when she can finish consistently at the rim and from the weak side, she'll be an unstoppable powerhouse. As it was, too ofen she got phenomenal position inside and then took a bad shot. Her rebounding was fantastic. I feel like she has the potential to be something truly special for LIU if she can keep developing. Gabrielle Caponegro has talent, and shows it in flashes on the glass, but she's still scared, and she still holds the ball way too long, allowing the defense to bottle her up and promptly freaking out when they accept that invitation. I'm sure a lot of this will come with time, but I'm worried about what happens if it doesn't.

The lack of urgency at the end of the game really killed me. You have to understand that you can't just be passing the ball around the perimeter and take twenty seconds to get into your offense when you're down two or three possessions in the final two minutes. You have to do something different from what you usually do, and LIU kept doing what they always do. That’s not going to work when time is short. Even Coach Oliver seemed to be urging them to speed it up, though without her usual acidic sarcasm. (Which is good. Acidic sarcasm should be saved for the stands and for those moments behind closed doors. You never let outsiders see anything that might be division.)

Officiating was the usual mess of what is this I don’t even. I do think they did a good job managing the game at the end (as compared to the Sacred Heart fans who were baying for a travel while they were up 10 with less than a full possession to go). And calling the technical on Sacred Heart’s coach had the effect of calming both coaches down somewhat.

I somehow suspect LIU won’t be sorry to see the end of this season- but there’s promise for the future, if Coach Oliver can get through to this class and instill confidence in them. Someone’s going to have to show the ability to score with Shanovia graduating. Everyone’s going to have to step their game up.

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