Smith, Red Storm, Capsize Pirates

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A record-setting defensive performance by the Red Storm, punctuated by an 18-0 run to open the game, set St. John's up for a 55-25 win at Seton Hall. Shenneika Smith led all scorers with 15 points, adding seven rebounds and six assists. For Seton Hall, Jasmine Crew had 14 points and six rebounds.

For car rides, traumatized Pirates, accidental sex changes, spin moves, and broken bulbs on the tree, join your intrepid and celebratory blogger after the jump.

Good afternoon, everyone! We'll be coming to you on tape delay from Walsh Gym on the campus of Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, once I get the smell of chlorine out of my nostrils. Seton Hall's not the only place where you have to pass the pool to get to the basketball court, but it's one of the larger ones.

It's a lot faster to take a cab from South Orange station... if you can find one. I've never seen a station in New Jersey where it's so hard to find a taxi. But we did, and they didn't rip us off too badly, so that's a plus.

Om nom nom burgers at Stony's. Definitely a good place to stop for lunch, especially if you're one of the few and the proud who roots for Seton Hall- they're very proud to be Pirate blue, and they gave us some good-natured grief when we walked in in our St. John's gear.

Um. Seton Hall SID? Please do not give our players unasked for sex changes. I can understand misspelling Shenneika as Shanneika; that's closer to the pronunciation and it's not exactly a common name. But, um, I think you accidentally a few really important letters in Eugeneia McPherson's name. Proofreading. It's a good thing.

We kept Seton Hall scoreless through the first two media timeouts. A lot of that was good defense; a lot of that was lousy luck on shots. It's 26-12 at the half; Shenneika Smith has 13 points. Alexandra Maseko's elbow brace is not making a lot of fans in red and white after she caught Nadirah McKenith hard in the throat. I don't know if it's going to end well for most folks concerned.

That was one of the better defensive efforts I've seen from St. John's in a while. The rebounding wasn't as strong as it could be, but we went after a lot of loose balls. Hoping all is well with Keylantra Langley after she took that hit to the face/poke to the eye that forced her out of the game, kept her holding a bag of ice to her face the rest of the half, and left her in the locker room for the entire second half.

Seton Hall should have realized that their day was going to go pear-shaped in a hurry when the anthem singer forgot the words and completely lost her composure because of it. Even when she was back on track, she was trying too hard to be Mariah Carey, with the vocal skill of... well, definitely not Mariah Carey, and let's leave it at that for the poor woman's dignity.

I don't even know where to start with Seton Hall. It wasn't all defense, to be fair- they had some horrible luck with balls bouncing out that were halfway down. That would only have made it a twenty-point game, though. The rest of the way... Anne Donovan started throwing spaghetti at the wall fairly early, with mixed success. Nicosia Henry finally got them on the board in the first half, after they generously spotted their guests an 18-0 lead. I like her a lot, and if Donovan's not going to use her, I hope she transfers somewhere nearby and blossoms. She always seems to be in the right place at the right time, even if she does tend to talk after fouls. Tajay Ashmeade seems to have fallen down in the rotation, which surprises me. I always thought Donovan's preference was for taller posts than shorter but bulkier posts like Breanna Jones. Terry Green has discovered the joys of going towards the basket- which I think threw off her shot. She has also discovered the joys of the roll-block, which last I heard isn't even legal in football, much less basketball. We also had a brief cameo by Chizoba Ekedigwe, who didn't impress me.

Whatever that thing is on Alexandra Maseko's elbow, I'm not sure it's legal. Either it's too much armor for her to be wearing or, if she does need it medically, her elbow's in bad enough shape that she probably shouldn't be playing. This thing was in Barry Bonds territory, it was so ridiculous. She couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, and not for lack of trying. Jazzmine Johnson is fast, but she's not necessarily smart about how fast she is. She got beaten pretty bad by Nadirah and our guard corps. I don't even know why Alexis Brown starts, unless Donovan is trying to make a point to Mangina's recruits about whose team this is. Brittany Morris tried to keep her team's heads in the game in the first half, when they made a little run in response to the hole shot by St. John's, but she wasn't all that successful. Jasmine Crew is the show for the Hall, and that's not a good thing. She's not a franchise player. The Pirates are a mess.

Donovan bailed on doing both the radio chat and the press conference after the game, and when the Pirates came out for their post-game autograph session, they looked like they'd had several strips torn out of them. We thought we spotted people crying. I'm not sure if it was because of the bad play or because Donovan didn't like the way they reacted to getting down that much- they got very physical and dangerously so. Ashmeade with the feet, Maseko with that elbow... it got nasty.

Jennifer Blanding! Hit a lay-up, wouldja? We love you, Big Love, but it's hard to show it sometimes. Good to see her get in the game, along with Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin and Mallory Jones, even if the improvised lineup with them, Amber Thompson, and Tesia Harris didn't really work at the end of the game. Kim Barnes Arico's face was the face of "we're up 30, therefore I am not going to KILL YOU ALL right now" after the two consecutive shot clock violations. Tesia's threes were falling, which was nice, and she was amazing on the offensive boards. She reminds me a little of Kelly McManmon on days like these- a three shooter who gives it her all in all other faces of the game and has one unexpected strength that is subtle yet awesome (for Kelly, it was the ability to make big plays on the sideline and baseline). Keylantra Langley played very briefly before getting hurt, and I hope she recovers quickly. (She's got some muscles on her! Someone's been hitting the weight room.) Briana Brown got the minutes, and she impressed on defense. She's very tenacious. I still cringe if she comes in early, but she's growing on me. Amber Thompson was tough on the boards when we needed her to be- she had the grit that we weren't getting from Mary.

Da'Shena Stevens is back. Be afraid, Big East. Be very, very afraid. She's crashing the boards, she's going in against the big posts, she's showing the balanced skill set that makes her one of the most dangerous players in the Big East. Shenneika Smith went from brilliant in one play (forcing a shot clock violation by bailing on a loose ball) to facepalm on the next (yes, Shenneika, if you hop backwards it's a travel), but she was big when we needed her to be. Nadirah McKenith ran a solid offense, and she wasn't asked to do much more than that, though she pulled out a couple of nifty ballhandling moves that had her cheering section going wild. Mary Nwachukwu was a little scared of Maseko- the elbows worked to intimidate her- but she did what she had to do. I find it interesting that she's the player who gets the most attention from the coaches. There's potential there, but she has to do her role. Eugeneia McPherson got past the typo (we showed her later, she found it amusing) and had a great defensive game. She has the most interesting facial expressions when she's on defense. It's fun to watch.

Roll blocks are not legal. Hands to the face are not legal. Brooks, Aldrich, and Sidlasky were on top of most things, but some of the physical play got out of hand.

Good student support, but they left early. Oh, New Jersey.

I was glad we came out. Defense is an amazing thing when it's played well. On to the next one, and let's all bring our earplugs for this one.

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