So you remember the part of the SJU-Georgetown notes where I mentioned we were sitting with half a dozen St. Francis players because one of them was Selina Archer's sister? I sort of kinda maybe a little got shanghaied into going to their game tonight against LIU, which is a little awkward because I tend to prefer to root for New York teams, but I made a promise (and Selina could probably stomp my face in if I broke it).
It's also awkward because the MTA is the devil itself and it's taken me half an hour just to get to the place where I can pick up the bus. HATE. Haaaaaaaaaate.
Of course this is the one night LIU decides they care about people carrying food in. My eyes, they are rolling.
At halftime, St. Francis is up one on LIU, and I'm seriously wondering why I passed up Big Monday for this. Well, no, I'm not, because Selina's across the court and we're going to have enough issues on February 1st without me breaking promises. Ali Williams is trying to do everything for the Red Flash, but they're missing a lot of makeable shots and throwing really, really, really dumb passes. Guys. How many times does Letava Whippy have to cut across the passing lane like Antonio Cromartie wishes he could to come away with the ball? St. Francis has also not been able to shut the back door- Cleandra Roberts and Fanny Cavallo have both been scoring pretty much at will back there. St. Francis is living and dying by the three, and that's probably going to come back and bite them in the end. All that said, I love their press- it's driving LIU up the wall, though not quite into a 10-second call yet.
St. Francis took their time coming out of the locker room. Also, for some reason I have the devil's own time getting a signal here, and it's upstairs. Logic? (No Iowa jokes, please.)
So that turned out to be more fun than I expected, though I suspect that ND-Maryland was a much more interesting game. There were big shots late, and big defensive plays. There were solid performances, and moments of facepalm. And hugs! More on that later, though.
Hope Phillips gave decent minutes, mostly in the first half. Bridget Murphy came off the bench with a lot of firepower, providing jumpers and a beautiful defensive disruption in the first half. Erin Blaine came in fairly late in the rotation in both halves- fought hard underneath and came up with a big bucket down low in the second half. Rebecca Keegan had a very nice sequence in the first half where she came up with a big block, then was the recipient of the pass for the lay-in as a result of the play. She's a good shot blocker, but she's what Board Junkies used to call a big oafy girl: tall, wide, broad-shouldered, not terribly mobile, and slouches badly (or at least looks like she's slouching). (For some reason, they used to end up at Oregon a lot. Think Jenny Mowe or Cathrine Kraayeveld early in her career, before Kraay decided that she was actually Erin Thorn.) She started the second half, a move I'm not sure I would have made, but I admit my bias in this matter. Shaqeia Stokes got a little run in the first and less in the second- got to the line once.
Samiah Bethel is really kinda fast- almost too fast for her own good, because much like Jessica Bibby or Sherill Baker, the speed does not come with brakes. She can keep up with any ball-handler out there, but the second that ball-handler decides they're going to stop, she's three steps out of position. She committed some dumb fouls out there, but you know how it is. Freshmen gonna freshman. Aisha Brock also committed fouls that she regretted later, but she regretted them much faster, and more than made up for them with hot shooting in the second half. She was feeling it, both inside and outside the arc, with sweet jumpers, including a three that glanced high off the glass before dropping. Alexa Hayward also came up big in the second half, making defensive stops and slamming the door with free throws down the stretch. Corissa Archer could do with some work on her rebounding, but I like a player who listens to her coach as intently as she seems to do on the floor, and she works hard out there. She'll always find a way to be open, and everyone in the room will know it by her scream. Ali Williams could have done with being more efficient, but she was hard-nosed in the paint and determined to catch every miss. I don't know if I would have had her doing as much ball-handling as she was, but this is around the time of year that every forward who would be a tweener on the next level really starts honing their ball-handling skills.
Demi Tomlinson did not dress for LIU. That might actually have been an advantage- that's not to take away from her, but given how often they were getting the baseline, having an additional three-point shooter as an option might have encouraged them to kick out to her more often instead of going back to the well.
Genise Presley came in for defensive purposes late in the game, but didn't do anything of note. Likewise, Brianna Farris, though she almost got called for a foul while she was sitting on the bench (people were mixing up 2 and 22 all night). Sophie Bhasin seems to have toned down her shooting instincts- I think she only hoisted a couple of shots all night. She seemed more involved defensively. Shanovia Dove had a big game off the bench, with a three late in the game that kept LIU competitive. She picked up the two fouls quickly, but played good defense otherwise. Courtney Sullivan was in and did things, but I think they were mostly defensive and missed threes. I know she was there, but I don't have a box score in front of me and I can't remember her doing anything, which is a very frustrating feeling for someone who wants to present an accurate picture of the game.
Kelly Robinson has a lot of flash and flair to her game. She blew into the lane for lay-ups that had no business going down. Of course, a fair number of those were shots that had no business being taken, even the ones that went down. She also had some gorgeous assists down low, helping the bigs get their baskets. I don't think I've ever seen Fanny Cavallo score that many field goals in a game, but I guess she figured that if the Red Flash were going to let her have that kind of space, she was going to take every advantage of it that she could. She set a lot of screens and picks as well, though with a certain lack of grace, much like a small bulldozer. Cleandra Roberts was very much in her element with the baseline exposed. I don't know how many easy shots right at the basket she had with a couple of simple cuts and a quick first step. She rebounded decently, but the key was her scoring. Aleisha Myers showed off a pretty jumper and some tough defense- she and Sullivan always seemed on the ball. Letava Whippy was on fire today, even if the offensive stats don't show it. She fought for every rebound, sneaking at least two of them out of the arms of larger St. Francis posts. She made cross-court passes an unspeakably bad idea. She ran down loose balls, and I think she put the brakes on a Red Flash fast break by catching up to the play. She was fierce and very impressive.
I think these refs were watching Illinois-Purdue. They weren't watching our game, that's for sure. I've never seen so many block/charge calls finessed by calling them travels. In fact, they were paying so little attention that Archer almost sweet-talked them into letting her inbound on an LIU possession. I LOLed. No one was happy with these guys by the end.
My favorite play of the game: St. Francis inbounding on the sideline, Archer with the ball. She and Ali Williams decide they're not going to wait for everyone to set, and while the other eight players are running around like headless chickens, Archer rifles a pass to Williams streaking to the basket for two.
St. Francis really likes when you keep your promises, apparently. As soon as the game was over and the hands were shaken, Alexa Hayward came through the tensile barrier, up into the stands, and thanked me for coming with a hug. Three of her teammates followed suit. I'm sorry that I'm bad with names, or I would thank you all individually. My team doesn't hug me for showing up. :( It's sweet. A little weird, yes, but sweet.
So I think I have another tertiary team to keep track of now. Great. I just felt so bad and and wrong rooting against LIU. I'm a New Yorker, damn it! I cheer for New York teams!