Hello again! Or should I say "Hallo?" We're coming to you in stereophonic sound from Walsh Gymnasium on the campus of Seton Hall University for the Pirates' matchup with the Georgetown Hoyas. My first Seton Hall game since the first matchup with St. John's, after which there was much awkwardness, so I'm expecting more awkwardness. Look, guys, I have my team and I will root for other teams, but I can't root for you against my team!
Stupid MTA. I hate the MTA. We left at about 9:50, and it took us until 10:30 to actually get on a train. A bit troublesome when you're trying to make an 11:11 train at Penn Station.
Janee Johnson has a plethora of dance moves. In that regard she reminds me of some of my Johnnies back in the day, especially Sky Lindsay, who couldn't seem to walk without shimmying if there was music around.
Not to say that Georgetown's rebounding needs work, but a ball pretty much crashed into the Seton Hall bench off a missed shot. As long as they remain unaware that Natalie Butler can't do everything until January 26th, I'm okay with this. (Why, yes, St. John's hosts the Hoyas on the 25th, thank you for asking.)
Entirely too much vibrato in that anthem.
At halftime, it's 34-25 Seton Hall. Bra'Shey Ali is making some noise, with 11 points and a fair number of boards. Janee Johnson is playing through at least two hard hits, and I think she's my new favorite. A lot of sloppy play from both teams- inbounds issues, missed rebounds, fumbles, that kind of thing. Neither of these teams seems particularly strong on the fundamentals. Katie McCormick scored the first nine points for the Hoyas, then went quiet.
I like the Kashmere Joseph shirt that one lady is wearing, with a British flag replacing the Pirate's bandana.
It was closer than it needed to be, but apparently it takes a full half and change to get the Tab delivered to Seton Hall- Tabatha Richardson-Smith dropped 17 of her 22 in the second half, and I think about 12 of those were in the third quarter or equivalent thereof.
Jim Lewis went deep into his bench, especially in the second half- I think he wanted to give his reserves more of an opportunity to produce when the game was just out of reach. If they could get them back in it, great; if not, then at least he knows what he has and they have a few more minutes under their belts that might help them somewhere down the line. It was easy to mix up Jade Martin and Tyshell King if you were just going by hairstyles- rare to see two sets of braided pigtails on the same team. It doesn't help that they were in during the same part of the game, or that they both did their part bringing the ball up. Martin was bigger and a better rebounder; King was more defensive-minded, especially on the traps that the Hoyas threw near the end of the game. Ki-Ke Rafiu came in briefly, long enough to snag a nice pass, hit the shot, and get fouled. (She missed the free throw, but Georgetown came out with the rebound. I think. Unless that was one of the ones Shey stole.) Dominique Vitalis slithered in on the offensive rebounds well- she found nooks and crannies and exploited timing mistakes by Seton Hall. Faith Woodard, I suspect, only comes off the bench because she's a freshman and not quite as indispensable as Natalie Butler. She was very impressive on the inside today. She has to work on her passing, but she was dangerous.
Katie McCormick scored the first nine points of the game for Georgetown, canning threes and getting to the line. Our defense did a better job closing on her in the second half, though she did sneak open a little bit more as more of the defensive pressure focused on the paint late in the game. She had a nice little leadership moment late in the game with Faith Woodard. Logan Battle didn't play a lot. I think she was there for defense, though I'll freely admit that I might be thinking that because her last name is Battle and she wears #22, and I really like Ashley Battle (though I don't think they're related). Samisha Powell was unmemorable, except for being solidly there- it's hard to put a finger on what she was doing while she was there, but I remember her being out there. Natalie Butler is a load in the middle, but if referees decide to call three seconds, she's in a lot of trouble, because she's not very mobile. She's powerful, and she's tall, and she rebounds well. She'll get her numbers. She'll get the job done. But she's vulnerable if you keep her running. Andrea White is a crucial glue player for this team. She gets the boards, she gets the big shots. Her team needs her in the game if they're going to do well. I'd need to get a look at the plus/minus, but I think she's one of those who has a strong one. Wouldn't surprise me.
Chizoba Ekedigwe played briefly in the first half when Janee Johnson was hurting and Breanna Jones needed a breather, but it's clear that her knee is bothering her, because she's lost most of her mobility. Tara Inman got some run at the very end of the game, which I think was just to test her defense in a late-game situation. Teresa Kucera showed off her pretty three-point shot and her willingness to work on defense, the latter of which appears to have improved immensely in the last couple of months. Breanna Jones worked hard on the boards and on defense, and proved why she's one of my favorites, but more about that later. Sidney Cook seemed to have her timing off all day- shots weren't falling, she wasn't staying on the play as much, she mistimed her leaps on rebounds (not that she didn't get her fair share of them).
Before the game, Alexis Brown was actually practicing the wild, throw across the body from one side of the basket to the other, sweeping lay-up. It served her well in the second half. She seemed to be everywhere, especially on the fast break. She found players, and players found her. Ka-Deidre Simmons took some stupid shots, and had some ill fortune with the rim, but hit the free throws when it came down to crunch time, a talent that's very important to shut the door on teams you should be beating. Bra'Shey Ali is a high-risk player- when those little reaches are successful, she gets steals on rebounds the opponent thought were secure; when they're correctly called as fouls, she doesn't get either the rebound or the steal. She's got to do a better job of not reaching. Either go for the rebound or go for the boxout, but if you try to do both at the same time, things aren't going to go well for you. Tabatha Richardson-Smith spent a lot of time beyond the arc. In the first half it was a bad plan. In the second half, it was a good plan. See above regarding the availability of Tab in South Orange grocery stores. She needs to be more consistent defensively, and I'd like to see her attack the rim more, instead of camping out beyond the arc and making like Laurie Koehn.
Whoever is in charge of shooting fundamentals and basic mechanics for the Pirates really needs to step their game up. Too many players were just tossing up too many bad shots at the rim that had no rhyme or reason to them. There's trying to draw the foul, and then there's desperation, and many of those heaves were at times that were not nearly desperate.
The officials didn't make themselves popular in this one. Georgetown got the benefit of a lot of procedural non-calls- if Natalie Butler is in the lane when the shot clock says 10, and she's still in the lane when the shot clock says 6, how is that not a three-second violation? On the flip side, Seton Hall got more than a few non-calls regarding grabby hands. It all comes out in the wash, though I was amused at Coach Lewis's pleas to the officials when his players were committing fouls near the end of the game. If Jade Martin can't keep her hand off another player's arm while trying to trap her, that's the player's problem and the coach's problem, not the official's problem.
Seton Hall actually throws shirts that fit! Well, more or less. An XL sort of works on me, but much better than the smediums that St. John's throws out. (No, that's not a typo.)
Curious about Brittany Webb- she wasn't with the team, per se, but she was in the front row and got pretty into the game at the end- she almost tried to get on the court at one point, which is not a good plan when gameplay is happening and you don't have a uniform anyway. Took a while to recognize her, but the blue hair gave her away. You gotta have blue hair.
Why Breanna Jones is my second favorite: during the post-game autograph session, I complimented her on her rebounding. Her response, paraphrased: "Yeah, but I need to hit a lay-up." Gotta love that kind of recognition of your weaknesses and that kind of willingness to get back on them.
Why Janee Johnson is my favorite, besides the dance moves, part one: very early in the game, she got an elbow to the jaw, courtesy of Natalie Butler. She winced, tried to play it off, worked her mouth around, rinsed and spat a couple of times, then hit the first three points of the game for the Hall. She took a couple of hard hits and came back just as tough.
Why Janee Johnson is my favorite, besides the dance moves, part two: I think they put her at the end of the autograph line because she's the most gregarious and the best with kids. So she signed my poster and the following exchange occurred, with a bit of paraphrasing:
"Hey, how are ya?" (because my folks taught me to be polite to people)
"Hey!" spots my shirt and side-eyes me "Oh. Hey. You want me to sign 'Go St. John's' under that?"
So: she hustles, she has a sense of humor, she's good with kids, and she's 100% into everything she does. Oh, yes, definitely a favorite.
In conclusion, Georgetown has potential, but they need a lot of work, and Seton Hall just needs to put in work on the unglamorous basics.
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