Just the Facts, Ma'am: St. John's opened the second half with eight straight points to break a 29-all tie and kept South Florida at bay the entire way to win 67-57. Da'Shena Stevens led all players with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Shenneika Smith had 16 points for the Red Storm. Sasha Bernard led the Bulls with 14 points; she and Andrell Smith (12 points) were the only two USF players to score in double figures.
For inconveniences, blatant lies, knowing where your towel is, accidental assists, and snow flurries, join your intrepid and deafened blogger after the jump.
Well, I am suddenly reminded why I abhor days built around stuffing the arena full of little kids. We got here at 10:30, and our entire section was already full; not only that, but one of the staff told us that the field trip groups had already been seated for an hour, which directly contradicts what we were told by St. John's. I appreciate the efforts of the staff to try and accommodate us- it's not your fault we got told contradictory things. In the end, we're sitting over by the band, who we've befriended over the months of loud support.
My ears are going to be useless by the end of the day, between the squealing kids (WHY would you mention Justin Bieber in front of children unless you wanted to transfer to Gallaudet?) and sitting right next to the band.
Keylantra Langley is in street clothes after that hit to the eye/head at Seton Hall. Neutral but nice.
The kids get the "True Fan" towels? NOT FAIR. Send us towels, St. John's. We're the ones who took time off work to come to this game. We're the ones who go to Hofstra, to Seton Hall, to Rutgers (though the latter is due to a little help).
In general, field trip days give me the strong feeling that women's sports aren't supposed to be for adults, and I know that can't be what they're trying to do, right?
29-all at the half, and I'm about ready to take my clipboard to these refs. They're making absolutely ridiculous calls on the Red Storm, especially on rebounding. Everyone except Briana Brown has at least one foul, and Shenneika Smith is the only starter with just one foul. We're playing tentatively because of it, and it's hurting us. Everyone's routines are also thrown off, so it's an ugly game, which is the other thing about these stupid day games. That, and the next kid who cheers for South Florida is going to be beaten with my clipboard and have all their towels stolen.
My favorite play so far is Tahira Johnson's beautiful interception which resulted in a basket by Tesia Harris. I'd give her an assist, personally, teams be damned. If Shenneika Smith had hit that tip-in at the end of the first half, it might be a different story.
Shoutout to St. John's men's soccer, the Big East champions, several of whose members have joined us in refuge by the band.
So if there's one thing I sense about this team, it's that they're seriously a second half team, almost to the point where having a halftime lead might not be a good thing. That says a lot about their intestinal fortitude and the team's leadership.
Why would you have the band there and not have them do the anthem? It was kind of cool to hear the more talented kids singing along. I think one school brought a music class. But it's not rocket science. Get up and shut up (or sing).
Akila McDonald looks to have a bit of a temper- she spiked the ball after a call went against her. Big presence in the middle, but they didn't get the ball to her. Aleshia Flowers got in long enough for a foul, and not for me to remember anything else about her. I was impressed with the outside shooting of Tiffany Conner- can't leave her open, she's a long-range sniper.
Inga Orekhova could have been a much worse mismatch for us than she was- she's a big guard, but she's a European big, so she floats around the perimeter and throws up threes from the vicinity of Kiev. We took advantage of her questionable ballhandling to slap the ball away from her. I get the sense that if I were a Floridian, I would be screaming at her the way I once screamed at Elena Baranova (since if I were a Floridian, I would have been a Miami Sol fan). Tahira Johnson seemed... I don't know, maybe a little tight playing in her home borough? She had a lot of easy shots she could have hit, but overall she played all right. I can't help but like a Queens kid, though. Caitlin Rowe couldn't throw it in the ocean. I think she was trying to, too. She's very physical to make up for it. Reminds me of a poor man's version of the lower-level Aussie posts- not quite Batkovic, but you get the idea. Andrell Smith was solid for her team- I seem to recall that she's a redshirt because of an injury, and she and her twin are coming back next year? In any case, she's a steadying influence for her team. If I were a USF fan, my favorite player would be Sasha Bernard. She executed some beautiful fakes, and one of the finest jab steps I've ever seen on the college level. She's a bit of a diver and a whiner, but she's the kind of player you're going to like if she's on your team, not so much if she's on the other team.
I was disappointed in Jose Fernandez's tie. It was... bland. Just plain mint green.
Oh, Jennifer Blanding. Only in the game for a minute, and she managed to blow a rebound and commit a foul. It's okay, Big Love. We love you anyway. Briana Brown got her points at the end of the game, which made us happy- she didn't have a chance to do much else. Tesia Harris mostly got Keylantra Langley's minutes, and did well on the boards- even if she wasn't able to pull down the rebound, she made South Florida work for it. Amber Thompson still needs to work on her shooting, but that'll come with time. When she's a sophomore or a junior, she'll be hitting those lay-ups that are now bouncing off the rim. It helps when one of the assistants is a former post with, um, similar issues. (Said with love. A lot of love. Rummage through a pile of jerseys love.)
Mary Nwachukwu, I am getting tired of asking you to rebound. At least she's improved her rebounding ability to the point where she's at least in the mix, even if she can't hold onto the ball. Hold on to the ball, Mary, at least until you have claimed the rebound- then give it up so the guards can get it back to you for that pretty elbow jumper. Nadirah McKenith seems to have awakened this morning thinking that she was five-nine- she gave insufficient ups on a few shots and plays. Ran a good offense, though, and she and Shenneika Smith were clicking on all cylinders. If Shenneika didn't play the three in our offense, they'd have a shot at being one of the best backcourts in the Big East, and one warranting national attention. Shenneika put on a show for the little kids- those go-go gadget arms were making all kinds of plays on both ends of the floor. She had one amazing shot that most coaches would have screamed at her for if it hadn't found its way into the basket. Eugeneia McPherson's offense was not as on point as I think she would have liked or expected, but she found the basket when she needed it- that three was well-timed- and was after every loose ball and tight on defense. Love it. That's the Gina I remember from freshman year.
I think Kim Barnes Arico got after the refs somewhere in the corridors, because they reacted the way they usually do after she goes after them on the floor. The first half... I don't even know what some of those calls were. A lot of strange calls on the glass. There also seemed to be some communication breakdowns between the refs and the scorer's table, or between the scorer's table and the announcer, because there were more corrections and miscounts than usual. I guess they're not morning people.
Don't ask trivia questions with open-ended answers. The correct answer to "how many minutes are there in a college basketball game" is "at least 40", not 40. This goes double when you ask the question while the game is tied! (Also, when this is one of the trivia questions at the half, leaving after the half is just ironic in an Alanis kind of way.)
Major congratulations to Kim Barnes Arico on tying the program record for wins by a coach. She can break it at Rutgers on Sunday. Oh, hey, that game's on ESPN2 at 5PM! How 'bout you guys watch? Let me know how the broadcast is- I'll be at the RAC with all of the towels we scavenged from the kids who left early (and the nice guy who gave us one of the red ones from the pile he was carrying). If she doesn't do it there, her next realistic chance is West Virginia on the 21st. I... do not think she's going to win the game in between, against UConn... at Gampel... on Senior Night. I mean, if she did, that would pretty much be the most awesome thing in the history of St. John's basketball, but I'm not betting the farm on it.
This game shouldn't have been as close as it was, and I'm sorry, South Florida, but most of it was not credit to you.