Just the Facts, Ma'am: Florida withstood several La Salle runs to win 85-74 at Long Island's holiday tournament. The Gators' Jordan Jones had 28 points to lead all scorers, while Jennifer George had 18 points and 15 rebounds. Jada Payne had 17 for the Explorers, while Jordan Mosley and Alexis Scott each had 16 off the bench.
For ugly clothes, hard hands, a strange feeling of deja vu, and bored Blackbirds, join your intrepid and woefully belated blogger after the jump.
On to the second game. Florida is intimidatingly large. They may not necessarily be good, but they're big. La Salle is La Salle. I've probably written more words about La Salle women's basketball than anyone not affiliated with the university.
Charlotte has drifted back a bit. Cara Consuegra came past us looking like a thundercloud a little while ago, and LIU appears to have acquired pizza. Florida's shoes are very, very blue. So are their socks.
La Salle seems to have decided to play for a change. It's only 41-38 in Florida's favor at the half. Jordan Jones has been otherworldly for the Gators, but the Explorers are getting great shooting from Jada Payne and Alexis Scott. I rather enjoy this game experience without the band and dance team, with the iPod going.
La Salle doesn't have the talent, and they don't have the court awareness. They're low level players for a middling program in a mid-major conference. But they played today with more heart than I've ever seen from them, and I've seen far more of them than I'd have preferred. Maybe there's hope yet.
The Explorers got amazing offense from Alexis Scott off the bench. She came up big for them when they rallied to tie it and again when they rallied to try and get it under double digits. Jordan Moseley also had a nice game for La Salle. I was surprised not to see Jess Koci in the game; I'm going to assume that she was hurt, because a rebounder might have been useful against the gigantic post players for Florida.
Ruvanna Campbell is definitely a freshman. She had some nice defensive plays, but she made some dumb mistakes that didn't help La Salle's case. Brittany Wilson came up with big shots when her team needed them, and did so with acrobatic athleticism. Jada Payne had a big first half, though she was quieter in the second. Nadia Duncan got into the middle of a lot of plays. The guards set each other up well in general.
The clock management in the last four minutes could have used a little work. Okay, a lot of work. They spent way too much time trying to get their shots.
I think Amanda Butler thinks Lily Svete can be the next Steffi Sorenson. Blonde who thinks she can shoot a little? But I wasn't impressed. Florida in general didn't get a lot off their bench, which could be trouble for them against a frenetic and relentless Charlotte team. Deana Allen shot a lot, but she didn't necessarily take good shots. I think Butler saw an opportunity to use her bench in the first half, when it was a big lead, and put in some players who I would guess don't play a lot.
If there is one thing I cannot stand in basketball, it's post players who play tentatively, softly, and stupidly. I devoutly hope, for Florida's sake, for Great Britain's sake, and for her sake, that Azania Stewart isn't always this soft, doesn't always drop these passes, doesn't always have rebounds bounce off her hands, and isn't generally one of the least effective 6'4" players I've ever seen. Jennifer George needs to not bring the ball back down to where small people can reach it. She's a big strong player; she should be able to put that back up without hesitation. When she realized that in the second half, Florida took off and put the game out of reach. If she can be more assertive for a whole game, she's going to be amazing. Jordan Jones's outside shooting was unworldly in the first half. She cooled down in the second, but I like the classic look of her shot and her release. You'd think the 33 she wears would be a pretty good hint of what she does well, but hey, I'm not the one who let her hit six three-pointers. Jaterra Bonds looked good, except for the turnovers. Lanita Bartley read long rebounds well.
I've been rough on Florida the last couple of years. I'm not impressed with Amanda Butler's coaching since the Achilles (nor am I impressed with her fashion sense; that yellow blouse should be taken out and burned), but it looks like she's putting it together to make a run in the SEC this year. It might not be much of a run, but I think they'll be a little better than they were the last couple of years. On the other hand, the lack of killer instinct that kept La Salle in the game until the equivalent of the fourth quarter might come back and bite them, given the viciousness of the SEC.
Officiating was inconsistent. Again. And for a long time I wondered if the officials were trying to protect the BCS when La Salle was keeping it close and being called for fouls almost every time that they breathed on a Florida player. La Salle does tend to commit a lot of stupid fouls, but this was a little hard to believe. I think La Salle's coach agreed with my assessment (but he's obviously going to be a wee bit biased); he pointed at the foul count on the scoreboard to back up his complaints a couple of times.
It was a much better game than I had expected it to be, and a much closer game than the final score indicates. Maybe there's hope for La Salle yet. But please, please, dear sweet deities of sport, don't let me have to write about them again.