Saturday, December 30, 2017

December 29th, 2017: St. Francis NY at LIU Brooklyn

Just the Facts, Ma'am: LIU finished with strong defensive play to beat St. Francis College 61-59. DeAngelique Waithe led the Blackbirds with 19 points on 8-8 shooting, plus 15 rebounds. Jeydah Johnson added 17 points for LIU. Alex Delaney had 15 points to lead the Terriers, all on three-pointers.

For rivalries, squeezing at one's favorite player, three-pointers, height misconceptions, being outnumbered, and issues with hairstyles, join your intrepid and maybe a little bit racist blogger after the jump.

All right, so that's two sets of notes done and two more to go. I doubt this is truly the official Battle of Brooklyn, at such an odd time as it is, but LIU and St. Francis are going at it today, and I'll never pass up a rivalry game. If I went to it in a blizzard and raced the clock to get home before transit shut down, I can go to it in blistering, merciless cold. I just have to remember to wear the right hat.

The right hat was worn, but Under Armour tells lies that it's one size fits all.

It appears to be a Christmas miracle. Paris Jones is in uniform for the first time that I can remember since her freshman year.

I really hope I'm not the only person here rooting for the Blackbirds. That would be unpleasant and awkward, given that this is at LIU. I don't have sufficient data to advance a theory as to the relative availability of SFC family versus LIU family.

No cheer today, but band is trying to step up on the defensive chants. If I were more confident in LIU's offensive chants, I'd try to lead some. (And band is not as sharp as they could be musically today. They do seem to be a little short-handed.)

At halftime, LIU is up 36-32, and SFC is only that close because Jade Johnson swished a three from Geelong just before the buzzer. DeAngelique Waithe is playing her ass off with 15 points and a whole boatload of rebounds. I keep wanting to yell "That's my girl!" even though I know I have no right to.

There are a lot of St. Francis fans here, but we did get some LIU reinforcements. I'm still the loudest person in the room, though.

We don't sell alcohol, so I’m not quite sure how the PA guy managed to mix up the notes from the men's game after this one with the notes from the women's game against Lehigh at Barclays a couple of weeks ago, but he was laughing at himself afterwards.

Less Destoni and more Daisha, please. And less traveling, by everyone. The poor husband would probably be a permanent falsetto after this game.

Woooooo! Now that's what I call a rivalry game! Big defensive plays down the stretch from both the senior DeAngelique Waithe and the freshman Jeydah Johnson. If this is what the non-trophy game is like, the trophy game in February is going to be a trip.

I temporarily acquired a wayward Liberty fan who was up for the holiday from Atlanta, but she disappeared a little bit ago.

If Samantha Keltos could have hit the easy looks she got right at the rim, this might have been a different game for St. Francis and she might have earned herself a few more minutes, but she missed a couple of bunnies. Being part of a three-point barrage is not as helpful as one might think when you're not using your size effectively inside. Either they lost Ally Lassen's jersey or she changed numbers midseason, because she's #31 on my roster and on the website, but she was #11 on the floor. Y'all are all ponytails without names, changing numbers like that is just cheating. I didn't even realize she was on the floor until she committed a foul. Mia Ehling gives off an impression of smallness and quickness, with a reasonably attractive stroke, but I'm not surprised neither Lassen nor Ehling played in the second half.

If Casey Carangelo could hit a bunny, St. Francis might have won this game. This is not a recording. She had three good looks right at the basket, two on the same possession, and blew them all. A height advantage doesn't help you if you don't know how to use it. (And there's a young lady in the next section over who would very much like to have a height advantage on anyone.) Abby Anderson scored in spurts and I don't even remember her doing it. (Indistinguishable ponytails. I am so sick of them.) Dana DiRenzo drew some tough defensive assignments, and was able to take advantage of our dubious passing to Stylz.

I don't know if y'all noticed this, because we certainly didn't, but Jade Johnson can shoot a little bit from outside. And she wasn't afraid to take them from deep either. She plays a good bit taller than she is. Amy O'Neill is feisty, as one might expect from a small Australian guard, and had herself a nice passing game. She wasn’t afraid to get down real low for balls, nor to get on the floor. (I actually felt bad for her on one drive when she got rolled by Stylz. That should have been a foul, as much as I love my Blackbirds.) Maria Palarino argued a lot of calls and had a lot of calls to argue. She picked up her bucket on an offensive rebound.

Alex Delaney was also arguing calls. I'm not used to her setting up outside so much- I remember her being a tough, physical, interior player. That's not a change I necessarily like, and I don't think it speaks of good coaching. (Then again I might be biased, because we know how much I looooove Thurston.) The shots were going down for her, so I guess it might be a matter of going with what's working. Lorraine Hickman needs to work on her screens a little, but only a little- she had a wicked one that picked off Drew clean. She brought the inside play that most of her teammates seemed unwilling to essay, and I think that's going to be a problem for the Terriers. If you're going to only have one interior option, frankly she needs to be better than Hickman.

St. Francis understand that the three-point shots aren't going to fall forever, right? They also understand that there can only be one high-octane St. Francis offense in the NEC and the Runnin' Red Flash have long since called first dibs? (I don't really have room for another NEC team in my heart, but if I did it would be SFU.)

I am honestly not sure why Coach keeps going to Destoni Willock over Daisha Davis. Maybe the one day I saw Daisha was the best she's ever played in a Blackbird uniform, but she showed a nose for the ball that I haven’t seen out of Destoni in far more time on the floor. Destoni got out there, turned the ball over, and ended up on the bench for the second half while we desperately shuffled the lineup around to try and make four guard-type people work around DeAngelique. Ella Vaatanen, whose name I will someday spell correctly on the first try, did some work in the lane, which was a pleasant surprise. I'm not used to her going inside, but I'd love to see her keep doing it.

Seneca Richards was called upon for a lot of tall perimeter defense, and she answered the call more than I'm used to her doing. She brings more height out there than most of the squad, and I'm glad she's starting to leverage it effectively. I love watching Tia Montagne on the floor- wide-eyed, head up, shoulders square- bringing the ball up in a flash. She's got to be more careful on defense, though- move your hands, not your feet, especially if you've got the speed to cut the angle like she did in one of the late possessions. I'm really excited about her potential.

I'm also really hyped about Jeydah Johnson after the way she stepped up in the fourth quarter. I mean, I was already most of the way on the Jeydah bandwagon, but she came up with big stops and a big o-board late to help seal the win. Her three-point shot was a weapon late in the shot clock, though I think one or two of those baskets might have been "no, no, yes!" shots from a coach's perspective. Drew Winter left shots so short I'm starting to wonder if she's either hurt or has some kind of depth perception issue. There were at least three shots that she didn't put enough oomph on that were easy bunnies. But her passing game was crisp, and having a senior post have herself a day down low makes anyone's assist numbers look good. If Denisha Petty-Evans launches too many more threes from somewhere in the vicinity of the Skylands, I may have to scream just a little bit. I know, I know, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, but sometimes you need to take better shots instead of taking the same shot over and over again. I think it got to her a little bit.

Dear my Blackbirds: y'all are aware Stylz Sanders is only 5-9, right? She plays a lot bigger and has good ups, which are the primary reasons why she ends up as our de facto power forward despite her lack of size. That does not mean that attempting to throw her high lob passes when she's well-covered is a good plan. She did everything we could have asked of her, and got called for some terrible fouls as a result of it. And then there was the heroine of the day, DeAngelique Waithe, and let me tell you the only thing better than watching Angel have herself a day is watching her have herself a day against St. Francis. She cut to the basket with an authoritative first step and ripped down rebounds like her life depended on it. She stepped up on defense and on offense. She had the most complete game I've ever seen her play, and every moment of it was glorious.

(Yes, even that one, Steph. I agree she should have gone for the fast break lay-up to seal the game on that steal, but turning out to kill more clock and take the foul isn't the worst instinct in the world either.)

Moppers, y'all need to do your jobs better. Too many slips in this game, including one that could have changed the course of the game if St. Francis could inbound cleanly.

Lots of ticky-tack contact calls. They were pretty even-handed, though. I mean, I might be biased, but I didn't see anything terribly blatant against LIU except for the previously mentioned hit by Stylz on O'Neill.

I have to say, the St. Francis fans were pretty quiet except for intros and those few moments when they were able to tie or take the lead on a three (because it was pretty much always a three, you'd think we'd get the idea eventually). If you're going to travel to support your team, even if it isn't much further than you would usually travel, one would think you'd be more vocally supportive, to let them know you're there.

The local elementary school cheerleaders (which is actually not as horrifying a sentence as you might think, they're very good and very clean) showed up in the middle of the game. We were able to get them going in the fourth quarter. I was surprised they didn't perform during either the women's game or the men's game; they're usually good for a halftime performance.

The best way to open conference season is with a rivalry win. I love it. Here's to building momentum for 2018!

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