Friday, December 13, 2019

December 5th, 2019: Fordham at Manhattan

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Fordham held Manhattan to 27.4% shooting from the field in a hard-fought 51-45 win. Bre Cavanaugh had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Rams, with Kaitlyn Downey also notching a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Emily LaPointe had 13 points and Courtney Warley had 11 rebounds for the Jaspers in the loss.

For rivalry renewed, terrible shooting, precise announcements, strangers on a train, donuts, shiny things, and being en garde, join your intrepid and well-traveled blogger after the jump.

Basketball never stops, and neither do rivalries. Your intrepid blogger comes to you live, or at least on indeterminate tape delay, from the boogie down Bronx, where the Fordham Rams are paying a visit to the Manhattan Jaspers in the Battle of the Bronx.

Manhattan's band is getting into the spirit of both the holiday season and the basketball season, wearing festive hats (or antlers) and their “The 6th Borough” shirts.

Look, Mr. DJ, I get that no one cares about the lyrics, but maybe the refrain of “everything's better when I'm drinking” is not an appropriate choice on a college campus?

The Usual Suspects have arrived for Fordham. I'm flying solo today, though; the husband is off at Seton Hall for the UConn game. I expect this one to be more competitive.

15-4 Fordham end Q1. Manhattan is not shooting well and one of their players spiked the ball out of bounds off her teammate. The band is already razzing them. This is so far less competitive than the UConn game.

That is some glitter on the Manhattan cheerleaders' sweatshirts there. Wow.

24-18 Fordham at half. This has been all kinds of ugly. Bre Cavanaugh is already one rebound away from a double-double. No one with more than four points for Manhattan, but shoutout to Courtney Warley's eight rebounds. (Even if I would like her to maybe not roll-block people.)

On the other hand, Lynette Taitt probably wishes people would stop confusing this with dodgeball. She's already had two people spike the ball off her. And one was her own teammate. That is not how that play works, people.

I forgot how much I like Manhattan's band. The sound system s a little overcranked, because it has to be prepared for when Draddy is in use as a track facility, which is a much larger venue. But the band has a nice jazzy rhythm to them. I think one of those dudes is playing an electric clarinet, and I have no idea how that would even work, but it's fun.

The 6th Borough is arguably putting in a better night's work than the team they're rooting for.

There appear to be two different nets on the baskets. The one closer to Manhattan's bench has a traditional long one, while the one by the visiting bench appears shorter and thicker, making the rim look a little like one of those kiddy baskets.

Manhattan's intro video is interesting. I don't think I've ever seen one completely devoid of highlights.

38-36 Fordham end Q3. The refs are starting to call some of the physical play, but not all of it.

I don't know how accurate this claim is, but Manhattan claims to be the place where the seventh inning stretch was created, so we had a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” between the third and fourth quarters.

It's final at Draddy, 51-45 Fordham. Game MVP coming up, and if it's not Bre Cavanaugh I will find a hat and eat it. No, I will willingly be seen in the vicinity of the “Make Christmas Great Again” sweatshirt. Fortunately, Bre is our winner.

I like everything about the experience of a game at Manhattan except the home team's playing style. The people are all really nice, the PA guy is on point (every sub properly announced with name and number), the concessions are reasonably priced even if they're minimal, the student section shows up, the band is really good... but watching that team is painful. I thought Vulin was developing something, but her players have regressed since her first couple of years.

Nyala Pendergrass made a cameo in the second half to shoot a little bit, but the bulk of the bench play went to the trio of Lizahya Morgan, Gabby Cajou, and Pamela Miceus. They entered in the first and third quarters as a unit, but were situationally subbed as necessary throughout the game. Cajou is still lightning fast on the break- she had a beauty of a steal that led to a lay-up for the Jaspers. She also had an amazing o-board where she soared over a forward who had a good eight inches on her. But when she was out of the fast break, her decision-making deteriorated. Morgan provided some outside shooting, though she suffered from the same lack of accuracy most of her teammates did. Miceus brought a midrange game, with mixed results. Her form is terrible, and she's a senior, so it's not likely to get better.

If you leave Julie Høier open for five-six seconds, yes, she's going to hit the shot. That's if you give her enough time to get the ball, consider the shot, double pump herself out of it, and then set back up. I try not to make blonde jokes in the blog, but she was doing her best to live up to them. I mean, I guess she sets okay screens? But I'm about 50% certain she's the one who spiked her own teammate. It was either her or the freshman Emily LaPointe, who does have a respectable shot. She needs a lot of work, being a freshman and all, and in a lot of places I'd say she has time to develop. But I haven't seen a lot of development at Manhattan, so I don't know why she would buck the trend. Courtney Warley has a somewhat more respectable midrange game than her bench counterpart, though today it did not extend out to the three-point line as it has done in the past. She was ferocious on the glass and was able to outrun our guards to pinballing rebounds.

Lynette Taitt will drag this team to at least one victory that they in no other way deserve simply because she's that stubborn, that tough, and that physical. She did her damnedest on Bre Cavanaugh, and the fact that I'm complimenting a defensive performance that allowed 21 points should say something about the night Bre was having. They went at each other all night. Game recognize game. I have no idea why Sydney Watkins is starting. I don't know, maybe Manhattan just had a historically bad shooting night and this isn't really them, but about all she was doing out there was shooting threes on offense and attempting to jiggle distractingly on defense.

Manhattan is unafraid to play physical basketball. They drive headfirst, or at least shoulder-first. There were an awful lot of plays where they went low and suddenly there was a Fordham player lying on the floor wondering where the foul was and maybe what the number of that truck was. I applaud their fight, but at some point, they need to learn a little bit of control. And again, I don't see that happening under Vulin.

Zara Jillings's incredible disappearing act continues. I don't know what's going on with her, but I don't think I like it. Katie McLoughlin was first off the bench to shore up the defense slightly and promptly committed a reach-in foul. She did have a nifty putback lay-up off an offensive rebound. Megan Jonassen looks like she's lost a step- she was having trouble keeping up with Manhattan's movement.

One of these days. I know I've said this before, and since this is the first half of only her junior season I'm sure I'll say it again, but one of these days Kendell Heremaia is going to cause me to facepalm myself right into the concussion protocol. I love her hustle, and I love her rebounding, and I love the heart she has to play above her height. But if she takes one more stupid dipsy-do lay-up when going straight up would be enough, or if she keeps missing easy shots right at the basket, I will not be responsible for my actions. I don't like being this harsh or this frustrated with her, but she just goes from extreme to extreme. Kaitlyn Downey did a nice job on the boards, picking up plays that ricocheted out to the elbows. She looked like the physicality of the game was taking a toll on her by the end- that was one of the highest levels I've ever seen her register on the Kraayeveld-Adubato Scale. We really need another post to help take the load off and maybe allow Kene to actually be a guard one of these days. I thought that player was going to be Vilisi Tavui, but she's had a rough start to the season.

In some ways, it's a bad sign that the freshmen guards looked out of sorts against a team as bad as Manhattan. Anna DeWolfe looked hesitant, and that cost us with turnovers on sloppy or telegraphed passes. Her ability to snipe threes from the corner countered LaPointe's shooting and kept Manhattan's runs from being anything more than brief jogs. Sarah Karpell brought the defense, or at least tried to; there was a sequence where she was on Julie Høier, who was doing everything but waving signal flags to tell her teammates she had a height advantage on the play. She was in over her head, but she did her best. Bre Cavanaugh got off to a little bit of a slow start, but once she got the first make, it was like a match to a pile of dry leaves- she lit up Manhattan beyond the arc, in the paint, and on the offensive glass. She pretty much had her way with Manhattan. I'm a little worried about the amount of contact she was taking (Manhattan's approach to defense can sometimes be categorized as "body slam") but she has parents for that and I need to stop fussing.

Officials let most of the contact go in the first half and tightened up on the hand-checking in the second (but still let the heavy contact keep going) If this rivalry weren't on the right side of the line between heated and competitive, we might have had more issues. But the closest thing we had to a problem was very late in the game, when Kaitlyn Downey accidentally nailed Julie Høier in the face with an elbow on a loose ball scrum. That was reviewed for a hostile act, but the review was very short and nothing came of it.

Manhattan hosted an autograph session after the game, and disorganized doesn't even begin to describe it. The poster is fantastic- a great design printed on thick glossy stock- and the squad even had the metallic Sharpies to sign it. But they needed at least one more table to fit everyone, and there was no sense of order. Imagine me hovering nervously and shyly around the fringes, trying to figure out where to start and where the line is, only to realize there is no line. (And of course, with my Fordham scarf shoved in my coat and my coat zipped all the way up.) It was awkward.

Fordham brought a small student section! Or possibly some of the guys from the band, I don't know. But they were seated in the other endcourt section, across from the 6th Borough, and two of them would fence with drumsticks while Manhattan was shooting free throws. I cannot personally condone disconcerting the home team on the line, but I can appreciate their efforts. Apparently security almost freaked out when one of them successfully got through the other one's guard and poked him in the chest. Lot of mutual respect between them and the Manhattan band after the game.

The trip was chaos and the execution was terrible, but I'm still glad I went. It's good to see Bre looking like Bre again.

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