Good morning and afternoon, everyone! I'm coming to you on slight tape delay from beautiful Carnesecca Arena, and since this is two days of double-headers, you're going to be hearing from me a lot. Since I'm borrowing a computer that is the laptop equivalent of Debbie Black, I sneaked it into the arena under my clipboard, so I'm writing up my usual pre-game.
It's sort of discomfiting, or perhaps just strange, to have a team praying on a Catholic school's court and not have it be the home team. Tennessee Tech, aren't you a public school? But I do like the Golden Eagles' purple, and the purple that their supporters are wearing behind the road bench. Some St. Mary's fans have also joined us, despite the early hour.
Mrs. Claus and the elf are here with the band. I haven't seen Santa, but this is a busy time of year for him, so I understand if he can't make it out.
Poor Cedrica Gibson. Still in street clothes. Not how I think she imagined her freshman year.
Looking forward to seeing how Jala Harris fares in her second Chartwell's; she played for UAB when they came here. I remember her being a bit of a wild thang, but liking her nonetheless.
Santa did put in an appearance, and so did Amber Thompson, and so did the cutters of Tennessee Tech. It's 29-24 St. John's at half. Amber didn't get the start, but she's got 10 points and a couple of blocks. Now, if she could just hit free throws. Tennessee Tech has a very fast-moving offense that we haven't been able to rattle as much as I'd like.
To be honest, right now, my biggest concern is that my purse has been missing since before the game, so I've been venting my frustrations during gameplay and sobbing at other times. Stupid hormones. Like I needed any more proof this week that humans are scum. (False alarm. It turned out to be at home. How I managed to hallucinate wrapping the strap around it and putting it in a bag I haven't used in years on top of a computer that isn't mine, I don't know. Hopefully my ability to have detailed delusions won't affect your opinion of my game notes.)
That was a closer game than I was expecting it to be. St. John's turned it up very late in the game, just enough to make it look more like what happens when a Big East team runs into an Ohio Valley team, even a good Ohio Valley team. Both teams were on the ball when it came to picking off errant passes.
Tennessee Tech got good minutes out of Mariah Dean in the post. She went at it in the paint with Amber. I don't know how her shooting is, but I'd be giving her the ball more if she gets in position in the paint as well on offense as she does on defense. Lashay Davis did an impressive job playing the passing lanes- she snagged two steals that might better be termed interceptions in the open court. Katherine Barker was first in off the bench, but left no real impression on me. Pretty much the same story for the rest of the Golden Eagles who came off the bench.
Diamond Henderson shredded the Red Storm defense a couple of times with her crossover. Pretty impressive, since her defender on those plays was the taller and long-limbed Shenneika Smith. I was very impressed with her. I still like Jala Harris and her ability to drive the lane- Tennessee Tech, and the Ohio Valley, are perfect fits for her, especially with the hot shooters of Tennessee-Martin out there. Someone needs to put those games on TV. T'Keyah Williams demonstrated a tendency to throw elbows which displeased me greatly. Molly Heady started the game off hot, and I think they wanted to do more with her, but a five-nine player trying to work the post against a Big East team, even one as short as we are, is not a good plan. I think Kellie Cook was trying to take the long shot, but it might have been Kylie Cook.
They were pesky, those Golden Eagles, and they read plays well. We were just a little bit better than them at the end.
Ashley Perez and Sandra Udobi both played very briefly off the bench, raising and then dashing my hopes that Coach T was going to give them some actual time. Keylantra Langley came off the bench first, bringing her defense and a three-point shot. Odd footwork, though. Amber Thompson finally broke through the way I've been expecting her to all season. I'd like to see her work on her free throw shooting, though that's a long-running problem with St. John's posts. But she went in hard in the paint and had her wonderful shot-blocking going. I love to see her kick butt like that, and I'd like to see her kick even more butt going forward this season.
Mary Nwachukwu was very disappointing today. She had one rebound and was lucky to get that. Too much stuff was going off her hands. Aliyyah Handford is developing very nicely- she had what might have been her breakout game in this one, taking advantage of Tennessee Tech's defensive breakdowns and working the backdoor lane very well. She and Briana Brown also did a lot of work on the offensive boards. Briana never saw a loose ball she wasn't going to dive on the floor and try to tie up. She's grown so much this year- not in height, because that would be awesome- but in maturity and playing to her strengths. Shenneika Smith did not have a great offensive game, missing shots that she should have been putting into the basket, and that one moment that even she knew was stupid when the ball went right between her legs on a pass. But the one thing about Shenneika is that if she's not playing on one end of the floor, she's making things happen on the other end of the floor. Her hands were very active, both high and low. Nadirah McKenith takes a lot of contact for very little reward. She had a rough time from the field, but there's still no point guard in the NCAA I'd rather have on my team than Nadirah. Yeah, that includes Sims; yeah, that includes Diggins; yeah, that includes Goodrich; yeah, that includes Hill.
Have I mentioned that Nadirah took a lot of contact today? And somehow managed to get called for a foul when she got elbowed to the floor? Other than that, the refereeing wasn't too bad. We did give everyone the fair warning that any game with Bonita Spence should receive: watch your footwork, travels will be called. In this game it was more about the double-dribbles; three were called.
I don't like Christmas music, but the St. John's band doing "Carol of the Bells" was awesome. I do miss the flutist, though.
Little things that also pleased me: Keylantra is really stepping up as a leader on the sidelines, even with players who are older than her (yes, Love, Mary, I saw that little conversation during the moment of silence for Newtown that Key hushed you up on).
The big test is tomorrow. I'm not sure I'm looking forward to it.