Sunday, March 19, 2017

March 17th, 2017: Sacred Heart at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma’am: St. John’s erupted for 29 points in the third quarter to take control over Sacred Heart, winning their first-round WNIT game 72-43. Jade Walker and Akina Wellere each had 18 points to lead the Red Storm. Hannah Kimmel had 13 points and 14 rebounds to pace the Pioneers.

For lateness, similar colors, inappropriate drumrolls, and finding another gear, join your intrepid blogger after the jump.

Good evening, everyone! So we didn’t make the Big Dance. You blow your chance to win big games, that’s what happens. So we’re in the WNIT, what I like to call the Medium Dance. It’s Sacred Heart tonight; let’s hope the box score doesn’t mix them up with that other SHU like they did last year.

Buses are terrible evil things, so I missed the entire first quarter. All I know is that St. John’s is up 27-25 at the half, and Jade Walker needs help with that recto-cranial inversion again, and I love Maya Singleton so much.

Someone needs to remind the Sacred Heart drummer that you’re not supposed to be active during play. Lay off the drumroll after every basket.

What exactly makes visiting fans look at a section, see the home band, and look across at the home bench, and decide this would be a great place to settle down? Honest question. I see it more and more, and it is super annoying.

I see you behind the bench, Shenneika Smith. Don’t think I don’t remember. I’m not sure who the woman behind her who looks vaguely like Cappie is, but she looks familiar too (though maybe because, y’know, she looks vaguely like Cappie).

These kids in the biddy game are hitting the floor for loose balls harder than half our starters. Someone needs to have a pointed talk with Jade about hustling for boards.

So after halftime, St. John’s decided to start taking the game seriously, and the offense roared to life. Sacred Heart couldn’t contain the shooters, and the defense of St. John’s firmed up.

We saw a lot of the deep Pioneer reserves in the fourth quarter. Madison Cheatham looks like she can be a very interesting player for Sacred Heart if she settles into her body and maybe tones up a bit. She seems awkward, but she’s a freshman post- that’s always a tough combination. Allyson Murphy had a cheering section in front of us, so I couldn’t be mad when she got to the line. Kiana Ye was last off the bench, and unmemorable. Tykera Carter brought speed and on-ball defense- she had a beautiful steal for a fast break lay-up. I guess I shouldn’t feel so bad that she did it to both STJ and LIU. Erin Storck got blocked a lot. She hustled hard after loose balls- there was a save she almost made that turned out to be a turnover that was still really tough.

Hannah Kimmel saved the day for the Pioneers. She was everywhere on the glass, and solid on the inside. She was the star of the show. We threw a few different looks at her (my favorite was when Aaliyah Lewis was on her). I feel like I should remember more about Adaysha Williams- she was out there a lot, and I remember seeing a lot of the back of her jersey, but I don’t remember anything particular she did. Katherine Haines brought good interior offense, at least after I showed up. She got good post position and took advantage of it.

Kelcey Castro wasn’t afraid of contact, and with her build she’s pretty good at taking it. She drove headlong into the St. John’s defense, which did not always work out well for her. Driving directly into Jade Walker is not a good plan. Shelby Hickey was active, but unmemorable. I think I mixed her up with Kimmel a few times.

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this game, because I missed the first quarter and because it took such a sudden turn in the third quarter. I never really got a grasp on the Pioneers. They relied on their seniors to carry them, and I think they’re going to change their style a good bit with the personnel they have returning next year.

We also saw the deep Red Storm reserves in the fourth quarter. I will miss the sheer joy Kendyl Nunn plays with. Her shot is quick, but not necessarily accurate. Jordan Agustus, still rocking the goggles, pulled down a rebound, almost by accident, and brought the hustle. The starters chilling out on the bench really wanted to see the reserves score, but especially Shamachya Duncan, and they were disappointed when her three fell short. I also still heart Tamesha Alexander, even if she’s over-aggressive on defense in blowout games. The kids aren’t ready for primetime, but I think Machi will be next year.

I do not like the plan of trying to turn Andrayah Adams into a point guard. She’s not a distributor. Her strength is in her scoring. Yes, her shot is inconsistent. She needs to work on that. But the solution is not to take that decision out of her hands. She doesn’t look comfortable as a distributor. Crystal Simmons was a one-woman fast-break destroyer. She blocked shots like no one’s business and was extremely disruptive on defense, even more so than usual.

Jade Walker was really frustrated for much of the first half. She was missing both inside and out, even during the halftime warm-ups. Akina Wellere had to try to take her in hand. Whatever Akina said, it worked. Jade came out much more confident and much more physical in the second half, going hard to the basket and all but abandoning the jumper. (I am okay with her abandoning the jumper until after she establishes her paint game.) Maya Singleton was fierce on the boards. I love her defense, and her rebounding, and her toughness, and her strength. She blocked shots with authority. Akina Wellere found her offense in the third quarter- nothing flashy, but steady and efficient. She’s got to be more careful with the ball, though.

Alisha Kebbe does a little bit of everything, and does it all well. I’m so looking forward to three more years of her. She’s not spectacular. She’s not necessarily going to do anything that’s going to make your eyes pop or make you gasp. She’s just going to do everything. Aaliyah Lewis hit big threes in the third quarter, but for a change she was more the recipient of pretty passes than the provider of them. She ran the offense effectively and kept the speed and pressure up so that Sacred Heart couldn’t keep up. (Also, Aaliyah as a screener is perhaps not the most effective option.)

I love the defense of this team. I love the players who go to the floor for loose balls. I love the leadership some of the young’uns are showing, as they realize they’re not going to have Aaliyah to rely on for that next year.

I had no real issues with the officiating. The Sacred Heart fan behind me did, and there were a couple of times when I thought he might have a point.

I don’t know how I feel about pep band Ricky Martin; on the other hand, “The Cup of Life” is certainly appropriate for a sporting event. I still don’t think I like this bit where other teams are sending their band and cheer to our house. It certainly threw off our cheer squad.

There will be no arriving late for the next game. And maybe the GNoD will actually be on time? Sorry, guys.

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