Friday, January 12, 2018

January 12th, 2018: Georgetown at St. John's

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A game of first half runs turned into a runaway for St. John's, as the Red Storm took out Georgetown 64-41. Qadashah Hoppie had 12 of her 15 points in the first half to set the tone for St. John's and lead four Red Storm players in double figures. Dionna White had 16 points to lead the Hoyas.

For chippiness, a boring bus, cheering on the deep bench, an exchange of pleasantries, and rising above the muck, join your intrepid and foggy blogger after the jump.

Hello on this ever so foggy Friday night in the heart of Queens! It's Georgetown. It's St. John's. It's... about two dozen people in the seats if you don't include the band. I counted. I know it's about twenty minutes before tip and it's Friday night after work, but still. We're into the 30s now, I think.

Good news! Akina Wellere is dressed! We'll see if she's ready to go or of this is an "in case of emergency break glass" move, but after how bad she looked to be injured last time out.

Welp. Crew just came out, and we've got Enterline. And the four Georgetown captains and the ref crew sure looked like they were trying to freeze out Maya. This will surely not end badly.

Jumpman needs to let the Re2pect thing go already. It sort of made sense for Michigan because he's from Michigan and almost went to the school. But c'mon, Hoyas. Find someone else's coattails to ride on.

Andrayah, put a shirt on, you're making me cold.

Now that Shenneika's fully embraced the dapper look, she's working it, bowtie and all.

Substitute announcer. Dubious on pronunciations.

Not a terrible anthem. Styled after the Irish tenors and the hockey singers.

At halftime, it's 33-18 St. John's. Georgetown closed within 20-18 on a 14-something run, to which St. John's said, "LOL U FUNNY" and went on a big run. Qadashah Hoppie has been the sparkplug in the second quarter, with 12 points.

Play of the night- loose ball scrum, shot clock running down, either Akina or Alisha gets the ball up and out to Tiana England with two seconds on the shot clock. Tiana touch-passes it over to Qadashah Hoppie for the three to beat the shot clock buzzer (here via Twitter, I love having wi-fi!). Q's been clutch in this game, whether it's beating the buzzer or drawing fouls from people who who should know better. I'm going to guess DiDi Burton did not watch Tennessee-Texas A&M last night. Dionna White's the live-or-die player for Georgetown tonight, with 10 points but some boneheaded turnovers.

I don't actually know what DiDi Burton was doing last night, but it seemed to involve losing her mind, as the foul on the three-pointer and the ejection during the brawl would indicate. (Well, brawl might be an overstatement. Scuffle, maybe? I've always preferred the euphemistic "exchange of pleasantries" myself.

I expected better from Georgetown. I'm used to the physical play and the defensive play, and I'm even used to them having spurts of offensive ineptitude. But this game seemed to bring out all the worst the Hoyas had to offer, and I don't think it's just the viciousness of the schools' rivalry.

Breonna Mayfield played for a stretch in the first half, a big body taking up space inside. Honestly, she was more effective from the bench, as one of the loudest voices in their endless chanting of "DE-FENSE!" (I have a problem with them being quite so loud, and I think the cheerleaders did too. But we'll get to that later.) Tatiana Thompson is pretty much the opposite of everything the rest of Georgetown's guards are- stocky, slow, and not very mobile on defense. I'm a little confused as to how she ended up as a Hoya, all things considered. She's got a decent-looking shot, so it's not that that I'm questioning. Morgan Smith ran her mouth a bit after a foul call went against her, which I thought was rich- besides, trying to trash-talk a Philly kid like Alisha Kebbe is probably not a good plan. (Given that Alisha went to Neumann-Goretti and was around the same time as the kids who had the smear campaign run against them, she's probably heard worse than I want to think about anyone yelling at a high school kid.)

Mikayla Venson is quick with the ball, quick on her shot, quick on defense- just lightning quick all over the floor. I think I'd enjoy watching her more if she didn't play against my team. There's a bit of a chip on her shoulder, a bit of swagger in her step- she reminds me of the guard from Manhattan, Amani Tatum. She didn't back up the swagger quite as much as Tatum did in the Fordham game, but she's got the game to back it up a bit. I'm not sure if she's usually a starter or not. I expected a lot more from DiDi Burton, but while she brought some of the old intensity on defense, her head was not in the game. I don't know why she involved herself in the exchange between White and Maya. There's a story there, methinks. Dionna White is damn quick, and her shot is really nice. She made some slick defensive plays, never letting up on the ball. But her quickness cost Georgetown almost as much as it gained them- she gambled a lot on the ball and got burned, and she was careless leading to turnovers. She's got to keep her head in the game if she's going to be a big part of Georgetown's season.

Yazmine Belk is a load in the middle, able to simply power her way to offensive rebounds. If she could put back the looks she got at the basket, this game might have had a different complexion. She sets screens well for her teammates- there were a couple of beautiful open looks from deep that she created the space for. Cynthia Petke was part of the extremely persistent and insistent Georgetown defense. I don't know if I'd call it a press per se, but it was very close and very intense. There was a shot she missed that I'm pretty sure she would have made if she hadn't changed the angle of her arm to put her upper arm into the Red Storm defender.

One of the things I was favorably impressed with from the Hoyas was their screen awareness on both sides of the court. They set beautiful screens for their shooters and did a really good job of getting around the screens set by St. John's. I don't know if they were calling them out well or if that's a point of emphasis for them.

That all being said, it is crass to make enough noise that you're drowning out the cheerleaders on your side, and it would certainly be highly inappropriate to disconcert the shooter from the bench. I can't say for certain that the well-timed disruptive noises were coming from people on the Hoyas' bench or behind it, but it sounded pretty close to the bench.

I don't know what our starters were more hyped about, the three by Shamachya Duncan or the assist by Tamesha Alexander. The family ties with Qadashah and Shamachya definitely intensify the celebrations, though. It's always nice to see Sox and Machi get a little time on the floor. They're good kids. Kayla Charles, I thought, rebounded well, though I think she lost credit for a couple of rebounds by turning them into deflections to teammates. She made some freshman mistakes, and I think Joe was too short on the leash for her. She's got to learn somehow, Joe; did you have any better suggestions than harsh experience?

I'm so glad to see Akina Wellere back in action. She's not 100%- I don't think she's getting the lift out of that ankle that she would like to get- but she's a threat even when she's not fully healthy, and I’m just so relieved she's back. It felt good to see her going to the basket. Mobility is probably going to be an issue against Villanova and possibly at the Awkward Bowl. Andrayah Adams has adjusted surprisingly well to being called on as a power forward. Her rebounding has been very good, she's making some good defensive plays, and she's still stretching out the opposing defense with the long ball. She still has moments where you can see Joe resisting the urge to face-palm in public, though.

Tiana England seemed to be going off the playbook quite a bit, and while it worked sometimes, it did not work all the time. When it didn't work, and sometimes even when it did, Joe looked furious; after one ill-advised shot in the lane, he yelled, "Run the play!" She has panache, and she has a good passing eye, but I don't know if she's as ready to go off-script as she thinks she is, and I'm not impressed so far with her mastery of the point guard position. I recognize that she's a freshman, and many stranger things have changed with freshmen. I just don't know if she and Joe are ever going to be on the same page. Qadashah Hoppie had dubious ballhandling under pressure, and boy howdy did Georgetown bring the pressure. But she got her points in big moments in the first half. (No matter what our point guards think, she's not quite Aliyyah Handford with the ups and I don't think she can pull off the Jewelly-oop, even if we do try.) I sense many years of elation and frustration wound together around each other with her. Alisha Kebbe hit the deck for loose balls and did work on the glass. She was reading angles and driving Georgetown mad. I love the work she was putting in. One of the best games she's had all year, and certainly one of the most complete.

Imani Littleton is entirely too young to have to be worrying about this, but she was moving very stiffly today and had a lot of trouble going for loose balls on the floor (she tried, but by the fourth quarter I wasn't sure she'd be able to get back up if she dove). And she does have the ACL history, and it was damp as a mofo out there. I knew Georgetown was bad news when they had her visibly riled up, because Imani doesn't get riled up all that easily. She did a lot of work today- not all of it the kind of thing that will end up in box scores, though the monster block on Thompson and the block on Venson certainly did. She made loose balls happen, even if she couldn't go for them herself, and was our anchor down low on defense. Maya Singleton started out the game rebounding like her rear was on fire. The second foul got her out of her rhythm a little bit, and I think the lack of calls for all the contact she was taking started to get to her in the second half, culminating in the loose ball that turned into a bit of a scuffle with White. A source I trust tells me that Maya did in fact start it, but I'd believe she was provoked. She got more aggressive offensively in the second half, like she was taking it personally. I'm not sure the short braids are working for her, though, and yes, that is an observation of dubious merit.

We've got to do a better job communicating on the floor. That being said, the hustle was incredible and the number of big-time plays was impressive. There were stretches when it felt like we were playing 5-on-8, and we used it as fuel. Admittedly, sometimes we used it as the wrong kind of fuel.

I did not expect better from Bryan Enterline. I did, however, expect better from Eric Brewton. These refs were a mess from beginning to end. Blowing the whistle a good five seconds after the play you're claiming the foul was committed on, when the next possession has pretty much started and almost everyone is at the other end of the floor? Really? They did call the worst of the contact, and they did manage/ to end the exchange of pleasantries before anything stupider than Burton jumping in off the bench could happen, but I still think that the way they called that game allowed the situation to degenerate to that point.

I still can't get over the terrible pun in the contest to win Netflix. They play Johnny Cash to win Johnny cash.

Georgetown-Villanova may be the strangest pod to prepare for. You go from a faster-paced defensive style to a slower offensive style. So I don't know how much this game says about us going forward. We've got to keep our heads in the game and not let other people in them, though. (And given my fondness for Seton Hall, I don't envy them that task on Sunday, either.)

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