The things I do for my team. :D I slog out in the rain, put up with a gods-awful anthem from the regional bad anthem singer, hit myself in the head with my clipboard, and get stuck behind a Rhode Island player's family. But would it sound horribly cheesy if I said that the beam and wave from our team captain when she spotted us in the stands during warm-ups was worth it?
Dear my team, I love you so very much, but please don't chat during the anthem. Yes, I saw you. Not cool. I don't care how lousy a rendition it is, and for the love of all that is sweet and holy do not play around with the lyrics for 'emphasis'. I have a clipboard and I'm not afraid to use it.
Cathy Inglese came out late from the locker room during warm-ups. Since I know Carnesecca has cable, I'm going to assume she was watching the Maggie Dixon. You can guess for yourself whether BC's former coach was rooting for or against the Eagles.
Heartwarming Lynx link moment before the game: SJU assistant Megan Duffy and URI assistant Amber Jacobs chatting it up on the sidelines. Glasses are quite flattering for Ms. Jacobs.
Coach Louis's suits continue to impress me. Any sharper and she'd cut someone. GNoD approved!
We were sitting behind family and/or friends of reserve guard Anisha Wilson, a stocky combo guard who played the bulk of the bench minutes for Rhode Island with, ah, mixed results. Lara Gaspar was the primary offensive spark off the Rams' bench, hitting some little shots in the lane. We weren't very thrilled with Julia Barac's physicality, but given that she's Canadian and we kept comparing URI's defense to a hockey game, I'm less surprised than I was before. Inglese didn't go very deep into her bench, relying mostly on Gaspar to give her frontcourt players a break and on Wilson to step in for the backcourt players.
Rhode Island couldn't buy a basket in the first half, and not all of it could be credited to our defense. A lot of shots that had all the reason in the world to go in spun out or bounced off the rim. Megan Shoniker drove the lane a lot, and when our defense started to soften in the second half, she got more shots out of it, but she also committed a lot of turnovers. Sort of the same for Ashley Rivera, but more intelligently and to a lesser extent. Lindsay Harris reminds me in appearance of a miniature Erlana Larkins, but other than the rebounding, I can't say the resemblance goes much further. No one really stood out for Rhode Island. I think there's a correlation between that and their 4-6 record.
If Coco Hart keeps this up, I may have to apologize to her. Okay, she still commits dumb fouls and tends to fumble the ball in open-court situations, but this is the second game in a row she's come in and given good minutes without Da'Shena Stevens available- in this case, the problem was three first-half fouls, so Coco only needed to be a temporary stopgap, but she was still solid. And when it came to the offensive boards, she was more than solid. I think she followed everyone's shot but her own. I don't know what's gotten into Kelly, but despite the turnover problems and badly-missed two-point shots, I think more of it would be a good idea. She showed much more moxie than I've seen from her in a long time. Her steal and fast break were beautiful, even if she did blow the lay-up because she couldn't take the contact (but that was all right, because Coco was there for the putback). Eugeneia showed off her range, and set up Kelly on her only three. The play that impressed me most, though, was a save on the endline that she rifled like radar to Nadirah, even if the play ended in a turnover. Buzz continues to bring hustle and enthusiasm, though she couldn't hit her shots. Jennifer continues to bring on the urge to smack someone over the head with my clipboard. She's got to stop being so passive, hold on to the ball, and use her size. Also, not bouncing a rebound off a opponent's head is highly recommended. I find it interesting how her physical passivity contrasts with her vocal aggression- she's one of the loudest players on the team, and she's the ritual greeter during introductions. (You know- the player who's at the end of the line as the starters come out and with whom each starter does their handshake/high-five/secret dance? Like Maddie does for the Liberty.)
Whatever had Da'Shena shivering and looking miserable against LIU must have cleared up by tip-off today, because while she looked ready to go all Jessie Hicks on us during warm-ups, she was on her game in the first half, and then in the second half, with foul trouble somewhat less daunting, she went from two points to double figures in a matter of a few minutes. Sky showed a distressing tendency to lose track of her assignment on defense- she had to be reminded of where she was supposed to be at least once. She, like most of the team, spent a lot of time on the deck after loose balls, though. Shenneika, follow your shot. Follow your damn shot. I mean it. Shenneika has a very funky shooting motion, so her shots can be pretty unpredictable, but she was going back on D every single time without even waiting for the shot to hit its apex. I applaud the dedication to D, but FOLLOW YOUR SHOT. Joy can't do all the offensive rebounding around here. That being said, Joy's work on the boards was phenomenal- she snaked her way through and around everyone time and time again for rebounds. We knew she had a lot at the arena, and we figured that she would have a double-double, but 15 rebounds is unreal. Just about all of her shots were contested putbacks, too. Now that I'm completely certain her listed 6-0 is malarkey, I'm even more impressed with what she manages to accomplish at the 5. Nadirah also had a really good game. I love having her at the point- the offense flows much more smoothly when she's playing the point than when Sky or even Eugeneia is running things, because everyone's moving without the ball.
Most memorable sequence of the game: Shenneika cans a three while Lara Gaspar knocks over two SJU players. After a long consultation, it is determined that the foul was after the shot, which means the shot counts and we retain possession (as opposed to before the shot, which I think would be two shots and the ball, or during the shot for a four-point play, but I'm not a ref). On the ensuing possession, Da'Shena goes to the hole and is fouled by our kind benefactor Gaspar again. She hits the free throw to complete a six-point trip down the floor.
The rims were kinder, the defenses somewhat less intense, and the offenses more potent in the second half; the Red Storm's splits were 26/43 for a total of 69, while Rhode Island's were 13/31 for a total of 44 (and a lot of those came in the last one-eighth of the game; until about the seven-minute mark, URI was on pace to score less than a point per minute for the game, which I deem to be the absolutely minimum acceptable scoring rate for a Division I basketball team.
The refs. I just. Make up your minds, people, are you going to call every little touch, or are you going to let 'em smack each other around like hockey players? Learn to count. That goes double for you, Mr. Holds Up 3-0 When 3-2 Has Committed The Foul And 3-0 Hasn't Even Played For Rhode Island Yet.
I would have stayed for the men's game against Fordham and written somewhat less detailed notes for my blog, but they wanted to exile the women's fans who didn't have tickets to the men's game into the corners of the upper deck. I'm not so interested in free basketball that I want to stare at the stanchion for two hours, so we left. The doubleheader was badly organized, so whatever. No tiny scrap of free press for you. I appreciate not being thrown out on my ear into the pouring rain, don't get me wrong, but I don't think there would have been that many people there that we couldn't be given seats with a real view.
I'm happy with my team, though. The defense was pretty solid, we got good minutes out of the freshmen, we did well without Sky contributing much, and all of that is good, but the thing that really stands out for me is the rebounding. Just about everyone was crashing the boards, almost to each other's detriment. Good place to be as we head into a holiday tournament.