Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Just the Facts, Ma'am: Shenneika Smith put up 26 points and Nadirah McKenith flirted with a triple-double as St. John's took a 76-72 overtime decision from Georgetown. Sugar Rodgers led all scorers with 29 points, 22 after halftime, and the Hoyas also got 21 points and 11 rebounds from Dominique Vitalis. For corner threes, traveling fans, bodily fluids, second impressions, and not quite that many overtimes, join your intrepid and hoarse blogger after the jump.
I shouldn't have to end up sounding like a chain-smoking diner waitress after playing Georgetown if the Hoyas are down two starters and we have a ten-point lead at any time in the game. And yet the husband and I had to turn it up as loud as we did against UConn. I'm not pleased with the folks in the seats on this one.
Nice anthem by the band- we missed you, Kevin, but your substitute did more than admirably. They stepped up their cheering game in the second half when the Georgetown fans actually started making noise, and we needed them, since RedZone didn't seem inclined to actually cheer despite showing up in impressive numbers. I really appreciate you guys coming out, but it doesn't help when you don't cheer.
Part of me wants to credit the Georgetown fans that came out for this one, partially for simply existing and partially because organizational skills are to be credited, but at the same time, I hate when opposing fans treat a road arena like their own house, and one of the Hoya assistants even got their supporters riled up. Meanwhile, I've got people asking me not to yell during overtime of a game against Georgetown. Seriously?
I was very impressed with Keith Brown as a coach. He was always correcting something or working on something with his players. They did a beautiful job playing their zone defense. It rotated in ways that would make me very happy if I weren't cheering for the opposing team. When they promoted him to head coach, I thought it was just to keep Sugar Rodgers from transferring and to maintain an AAU pipeline, not for his coaching chops, but it looks like I was wrong, and that's something I'd like to be wrong about. (There can never be enough good coaches in the game, and I don't want Georgetown to completely fall off a cliff after Rodgers graduates.)
I honestly didn't realize that Ki-Ke Rafiu played as much as she did until I got home and looked at the box score. I mostly remember her doing stupid things and shooting two free throws that were so bad she was almost an honorary Johnnie. Jasmine Jackson was kind of handsy. I don't remember her doing much else. Vanessa Moore played the bulk of the bench minutes, and there were times when she was more of an asset to St. John's than she was to Georgetown- she saved two balls right to Nadirah McKenith (getting, um, awkwardly entangled with the dance team on the second one) and getting into stupid foul trouble at the end of the first half. She hit the boards well, though. In general, Georgetown hit the boards well. They've got long, tall players who go up hard.
I was very impressed with the freshman Dominique Vitalis. She's got a great nose for the basket. She's really tough, too. Brittany Horne found her way to the boards and the ball a lot too. She was always up in someone's business on defense. Hands always moving, always in the way, always up or out. Katie McCormick looked to be the designated shooter- she looked a little lost when asked to do anything else. I know that the Hoyas were down two starters (White and Powell) so maybe McCormick isn't always a starter? Sydney Wilson kept missing shots down low that should have been easy for her- fortunately for her, Horne and Vitalis were able to clean up the garbage. I don't think she expected the defense to be as up in her business as it was, since St. John's is not exactly known for having a plethora of post players. (Which you would then think meant that guards would be going after your dribble, but I don't play basketball, I just yell about it in the stands and write about it hours later.) Sugar Rodgers demonstrated that while she's a chucker, she's more than just a mindless automatic shooter. One of the key buckets for the Hoyas in the second half came when she gave up an easy fast break to set up a wide open Vitalis under the basket. But she showed that she's got range all over the court- do you know how rare an actual-facts mid-range game is these days? She scored from all over the floor. She did seem to take a lot of contact, and that might worry me if I were a Georgetown fan, or a WNBA scout.
No, seriously, if this game had been on television, the Big East and WNBA coaches everywhere would have been holding their breaths after that collision between Rodgers and McKenith near the end of the first half, because they both went down hard and stayed down a fair while.
I would really like to see Amber Thompson get more minutes, but we all know this. She was solid today, except for one exceptionally stupid hack on the wrist of a Georgetown player after the shot was already in the air. That, and I hope she gets the knack of running backwards on defense. Keylantra Langley chose a good time to find her stroke again, and she also had a couple of nice defensive plays.
This was the first time that I can remember in a long time that I thought Aliyyah Handford looked like a freshman out there. She's totally entitled, as super awesome as she's been for us all year. But she wasn't taking great shots and she made a couple of bad decisions. I think her teammates were trying to force the issue for her a little bit too. Shenneika and Nadirah both made the extra pass to her on plays they should have taken. I think Mary Nwachukwu was a little distracted by what's going on with the big storm- she looked a little out of it at the start of the game, and she is from Massachusetts, so I do get it. I loved how she temporarily shut up the Georgetown fans, though- they got a rip-roaring "DEFENSE!" chant going, and she proceeded to hit a lay-up off an o-board and get fouled on the play, then convert the lay-up. I'd like to see her be a little less terrified of the ball, whether she's on the court or on the bench, but you can't change people at this point, can you? Briana Brown sniped threes from the corners like there was no tomorrow, and she went to the floor for loose balls like she always does, and she valiantly defended 6-6 Sydney Wilson whenever she was called upon to do so, and she's grown by such leaps and bounds this year that it still amazes me. Nadirah McKenith couldn't get her shots to fall through most of the game, though her second-half three was crucial, but she did everything else, and I mean everything else. She was superb at finding her teammates and coming up with long rebounds off the rim, and her defense was on point. Shenneika Smith played lights out, coming up with big shots and a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor. I think she wanted to show that she was also a first-round talent, that Sugar wasn't the only future WNBA player in this game.
Officiating was mostly solid. If anything, I thought St. John's got the benefit of a lot of non-calls on travels and contact. I don't know what Aliyyah did to draw the technical, though. I suspect it may have been one of the magic words.
Nice shooting during the timeout games. That always makes me happy.
I spent halftime horking up phlegm in the bathroom (I know, TMI) so I missed the biddy game.
Crowd was a bit lacking, but that's because today was supposed to be clinic day, but then blizzard. So those kids will be at the Cincy game instead.
We finally won a game after messing it up in the last minute. I think that does a lot for the team's morale and momentum. We need every game we can get. It's a long climb, but we're ready.