Bleeping expletive unspeakable, it's cold out there. Yet here we are, at Carnesecca Arena for a night game against Georgetown.
Attendance is surprisingly robust, considering the Fimbul-winter going on out there. People keep trickling in, which I was not expecting. I mean, okay, it's Joe Tartamella Bobble-Head Night, but how many people genuinely care about that kind of thing? (Joe joins our bobble-head coaching staff, which is now up to four- Richie Adubato, Brian Giorgis, and Kim Barnes Arico are the others.)
I don't think Katie McCormick is dressed for this game, which is a break for St. John's- she won't be bombing threes and she can't provide on-court leadership.
The band appears to have called up reinforcements, though Kevin is absent. Fortunately, the chain of command is clear-cut. No, never mind, there he is, wearing a nice warm cozy sweater.
Nice anthem. A little nasal, but good technique.
Random Red Flash are random. Someone there knows Selina Archer, I think; they only got into the game when she was there. I don't know what they're going to do with half a dozen Tartamella bobble-heads and a medium St. John's shirt, but I wish them joy of their trophies. (Roster check: well, #23 on St. Francis is an Archer from the same hometown as Selina, so I'ma take a wild guess that they're related.)
At halftime it's 37-30 St. John's, but it should be more- the Red Storm started with four missed free throws. Eugeneia McPherson's got three threes among her 13 points, and there have been stretches of excellent physical defense on Natalie Butler, especially from Sandra Udobi.
However, sustainability, we no haz it. Why we don't press when our entire backcourt is more than capable of it and the one time we did so we induced a 10-second violation, I don't know.
Jim Lewis didn't go heavily to his bench in the first half, though we saw more of the subs in the second half. Dominique Vitalis did well on the boards and threw a couple of nasty trips that didn't get called. Samisha Powell started the second half and played heavy minutes, scoring at the basket and playing good defense. Logan Battle also started the second half- got to the line, was otherwise unmemorable. I was surprised not to see Vitalis much in the second half- I think she would have been very handy, especially with Andrea White in foul trouble late in the game (White eventually fouled out).
Natalie Butler got the job done down low, though I still think a large part of that is strictly based on her height and size. She tried to mix in a midrange jumper, a la Ruth Riley from the free throw line or Tamika Whitmore from the elbow, with mixed results. You can't teach size, but you can make size highly uncomfortable, and our posts got low to disconcert her. Tyshell King got the start, as Lewis went heavy with his freshmen in the first half. She did all right trying to set the offense. Jade Martin got physical on defense, and seemed distressed when calls didn't go her way. Faith Woodard has a lot of potential, and she came up big in the second half, always seeming to be on the play, but she makes stupid freshman mistakes, as all freshmen do- ill-advised shots and accidentally took out Samisha Powell right after the buzzer on a collision. Oops. From what I've seen of Georgetown, though, they're going to rise and fall with Andrea White. She goes hard to the basket and hard on the boards, and when she fouled out, I think the tide turned. There's a toughness to her that I think her team relies on- senior leadership by example, not by word.
Georgetown really needs to work on court awareness, or at least knowing where they are on the court. Andrea White and Natalie Butler fought each other hard for a rebound, leading to a traveling violation. Ms. Butler was not pleased. At the end of the game, Faith Woodard accidentally wiped out Samisha Powell. I felt kind of bad for her, but I laughed. It's human nature to laugh at pratfalls.
The St. Francis contingent was very happy that Selina Archer got two separate appearances, which I think is more playing time than she's gotten in any other game this year. She bodied up decently on Butler, but she needs to be more assertive down low. Can't stand around and watch, can't let things go out of your hands. Jade Walker got called for fouls pretty much for breathing. I know she's foul-prone, but there was one point where I hadn't even registered that she was in the game before the foul was called and she was off to the bench again. She's got to be more careful, but still. Keylantra Langley was good defensively- that missed free throw is uncharacteristic, though. Aaliyah Lewis still drives a little too frequently for my liking, but the jumper was pretty, and she was a much needed change of pace in this game. Danaejah Grant got big minutes and made big things happen on the offensive end. She picked us up in the second half, when we needed someone to step up offensively.
In the first half, that player was Amber Thompson, who showed off a nice array of low post moves and easily got around Butler planted in the paint. She swatted shots with very loud authority, too. Amber made things happen. Briana Brown never gave up on a play- she wasn't shooting a lot, but her defense and her work on loose balls was crucial. She went toe to toe with Butler on one, and came away the victor just after the whistle. Eugeneia McPherson lit up the scoreboard with threes in the first half, but seemed to become more shy about shooting in the second half. She remains a capable, but uninspired point guard, which I think suits Tartamella but might not work in the long run- both of them like to slow things up, and while that works when you have a lead, it's not the world's greatest plan when you're down. I think there's also a lot of cringing when she takes any contact. Sandra Udobi didn't play a lot, but she gave excellent defense on Natalie Butler- played her tough, played her physical, and knocked her off her marks. Aliyyah Handford still looks like she's trying to find her confidence again, but she was good today. Not as incandescent as she was to start the season, but good.
St. John's-Georgetown hasn't been a big rivalry on the women's side for a while, if only because it hasn't been until recently that both programs have given enough of a damn about women's basketball to make it anything worth mentioning. But it's a school rivalry; each school takes beating the other one seriously, no matter what it's in, and it showed. There was a small student contingent that got loud today, and Georgetown certainly played with more passion today than they did at Seton Hall.
The officiating was pretty putrid today. A lot of contact was missed, and some of it dangerous. We're lucky no one got badly hurt, because it was hit and miss with Amber near the end of the game. I still don't know what she injured, though the ankle seems most likely. (Fortunately, I think her big ol' pile of hair partially padded the impact on her head.)
Tonight was the post-game autograph session, so we got to say hi to our team, talk our way out of awkward situations, and congratulate them on the things they did well. There may have been a miscommunication or two somewhere along the line. I'm pretty sure my husband's not actually related to the coach at Seton Hall, though it's an understandable mistake. They're both loud. My team is adorable, though. Gina's so used to us. It's like she's been here an extra year or something.
One of these days, slowing down the game is going to bite us somewhere soft and vulnerable. But I'll take the wins as long as we get them.
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