Thursday, February 9, 2017

February 6th, 2017: St. Francis at St. Francis

Just the Facts, Ma'am: After a slow start, the Red Flash of St. Francis University found their three-point shooting groove and put away the Terriers of St. Francis College, 75-59. Katie Reese, with six treys among her 19 points, led five Red Flash players in double figures. Maria Palarino led the Terriers with 13 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

For so very many threes, careful phrasing, alliances, and brevity, join your intrepid and snowed in blogger after the jump.

Weeknight games are not unusual for your intrepid blogger, but they aren’t usually at teams she loathes. But St. Francis of Pennsylvania is one of the schools we follow somewhat more loosely than our core six, and we can’t see them at LIU because LIU is one of our core six, and we can’t see them at Wagner because I am tired of climbing that ridiculous hill. Therefore, if we want to go see the high scoring Red Flash, we have to do it at St. Francis College. (I refuse to refer to them as St. Francis of Brooklyn. They don’t represent Brooklyn.)

It’s already been a heck of a day. I realized I forgot to give my mom back her keys yesterday (no, I don’t want to talk about the Super Bowl, thanks for asking); fortunately, mom lives fairly close to both my job and St. Francis. The transfers were tighter than football pants, though. I’m all sweaty and I didn’t get a chance to bring dinner.

I don’t applaud recorded anthems. Or recorded anything, unless there’s a performer pretending they’re singing it.

The Red Flash got off to a slow start, but the three-point shooting came on big in the second quarter to power them to a 39-31 halftime lead over the Terriers. Katie Reese is channeling her inner Katie Smith with 15 points on five threes.

Jessica Kovatch is that masked woman, but the mask doesn’t seem to be working for her. She looks super uncomfortable in it.

That awkward moment when the gym is so small, and you’re so close, and you’re so loud, that when you yell at the ref about a detail in the rules, the coach turns around and asks you the same question about the rules.

There’s a halftime free throw shooting contest going on, and the kid in the UConn sweatshirt had the worst performance. There’s a joke in here, but I’m too tired to find it. You do it.

I apologize in advance for any oddity about the notes. I’ve had to borrow my husband’s computer for game notes, since the hinge on Jocelyn is no longer working. I’m saving my notes on the most awesome flash drive (no pun intended).

Lost Michigan fan is lost, but I think she’s aligned with us, so I’m cool with this.

I get the feeling that being a full-time Red Flash fan is a fabulous and frustrating experience, one laden with the highest of highs and the lowest of “WHY DID YOU DO THAT STOP DOING THAT” moments, and the ratio of those moments is the difference in the game.

(Side note and somewhat shameless plug: we’re taking a late dinner at Hill Country’s lower-end chicken joint, and that is some good chicken, with some nicely complex biscuits and crispy fries. Brooklyn is definitely winning the post-game eats war.)

Coach Haigh got to put his deep reserves in at the end of the game, so we got to applaud for Jillian Scott and Sam Marino (seriously, she looks like she needs ID to see a PG-13 movie). Taylor Allison got spot minutes, but she impressed me more on the bench than on the floor. That’s not an insult or to say anything about how she played- that’s more a commentary on how sharp she was in supporting her team even when she wasn’t playing. She was the one who reminded everyone about the ten-second possibility (this is the play where we and Coach Haigh both wondered about the application of the ten-second backcourt violation) and she was encouraging and helping her teammates on the bench. That’s the sign of a leader.

Jill Falvey was scrappy out there, but not much of a threat offensively, which made her somewhat of an anomaly among the fire-at-will shooters the Red Flash sent out there. Courtney Zezza brought the thunder down low, with plenty of blocks inside. She had a rough start to the game, being the victim of that inbounds play where the inbounder throws it off the defender's back and gets an easy lay-up, but she recovered defensively. I'm not sure I like her as an offensive threat, but it's fun to watch her blast opponents' shots out of the air. Ace Harrison turned it up in the fourth quarter, laying the boom down on a shot and slashing through the lane. She was big, both in the important sense and in the physical sense.

I understand that Jessica Kovatch is rocking the mask, and that since this is college, it is a generic mask with quite a lot of padding shoved into it, not one that's designed to fit her face. I understand that her vision is compromised. But her shot was way off today. So was her passing. She seemed surprised when rebounds came into her general vicinity. And let's not talk about her defense, because there's nothing there to talk about. So I came in hearing the hype and came out provisionally not believing the hype. Fortunately, the Red Flash have a lot of shooters, and her teammates stepped up around her. Maya Wynn, which is probably one of the best names going in women's basketball right now, was shooting from the general vicinity of Altoona and hitting them, and she disrupted a lot of passes. Samiah Bethel was also very active on defense, bringing the energy and keeping the energy up.

Katie Reese's shot left the building at halftime, but made a quick, triumphant return in the fourth quarter, to the point where my scorecard indicated she was going to need to share the wealth. Strangely, the moments I remember of Halee Adams were not good ones- dubious shots, the one sequence where she didn't seem to know where she was supposed to be on defense- but she hit threes late when Reese and Kovatch faltered slightly. Her teammates did a great job setting her up- Kovatch and Harrison each had flashy passes to hit her for threes.

It's not the most complicated offense to explain- everyone cuts, everyone passes, and the person with the best three-point shot takes it. Like Villanova, there are one or two players whose specialty is not the three, just to keep the defense honest, and to penetrate for the kickout. Unlike Villanova, the offense moves at a pace not comparable to glaciers. The pressing defense was fantastic to watch- getting two consecutive ten-second calls will fire up any team.

This is not a shameless plug, because regular readers of the GNoD know that coaching one of my teams, providing me with tickets, or sending t-shirts does nothing to keep me from saying how I feel about a coach. (See: "why does Coach Tartamella yell at people who aren't playing?", "why doesn't Coach Bozzella switch to decaf?", "is it at all possible for Coach Oliver to turn off the sarcasm?", and other such questions.) But I like watching Coach Haigh work with his team- he has a knack for teaching, and for keeping his cool.

I'm really starting to wonder if John Thurston has a rotation, or has any idea who his players are, or where he's going and why he's in this handbasket. Every game he seems to be trying something different. This makes it even more difficult to write about the Terriers. You're expecting me to differentiate among nine white girls with ponytails who have no names on their jerseys, are playing wildly inconsistent minutes, and are being shuttled in and out.

At least Meg Crupi wears braids. It makes her easier to spot among the ponytails when she hits threes or goes inside for rebounds. I understand why Thurston's cooled on Olivia Levey- her conditioning isn't where it should be. She's a load in the paint, and she plays physical, but I don't know how long she can sustain it, and she doesn't really finish on the other end. Samantha Keltos did a nice job cleaning up in the paint on some of the Terriers' misses, and probably should have gotten more minutes than she did.

I'm really not exaggerating. I had a lot of trouble telling apart Mia Ehling and Etta Andersen- similar builds, single-digit numbers, scattered minutes, and the PA announcer's tendency to not announce when either of them came into the game. They were there, and they were in motion, but it's hard to place what impact either of them had on the game. Tori Wagner got in really, really briefly at the end of the first (I think) half. Dana DiRenzo got in briefly in the second half after being DNP in the first half, which I thought was strange because I was used to seeing her get more playing time.

Rachel Iozzia's three-point shot annoys me, but that is because I root for teams that she plays against, so I don't like when she does things. She has pretty good range. Kat Phipps looks to have gotten a little heavier since the Battle of Brooklyn (or I didn't get a good angle; either way, probably not my business). She drove well in the lane.

Alex Delaney did not get up to the shenanigans in this game that she did against LIU, for which I was grateful. She was good at setting screens. Maria Palarino was a favorite of the PA announcer (about whom more later), and used her height to create mismatches inside and on the perimeter. Lorraine Hickman did a good job on the boards- she was a pleasant surprise, since I hadn't seen much of her before.

I really don't know what to say about St. Francis College. They seemed disorganized- their defense looked good for stretches, but they weren't able to adjust when the Red Flash started hitting their shots. The offense looked like they were trying to run similar things to the Red Flash, but with less success (but slightly more paint play).

Other than the play where Maya Wynn got knocked down with no call, then got called for the foul for being on the floor, and the ten-seconds that should have been, the officiating was up to the usual standard for NEC WBB.

Announcer dude, please go back to the '90s. I say this as someone who does her earnest best to imitate the MSG announcer, so you know it has to be pretty egregious. This dude was annoying, and totally gnarly about it. He had the vocal mannerisms of a particularly obnoxious surfer bro, which is kind of strange for a program in the heart of Brooklyn. We're not even near Rockaway Beach, dude.

Not much of a crowd. They got into it a little bit early on, but as the Red Flash poured on the threes, they fell out of it.

It's a confusing layout, but the cafeteria's nice.

I'm not allowed to adopt any more teams. Six is enough. Six is more than enough, and I don't need any more teams that share conferences with someone who got there first. But if I could, I would totally adopt the Red Flash.

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