With all due respect to the Southland Conference, this is how a Big East team should treat a Southland team that comes visiting. Smack 'em down, be nice enough to let 'em in a little, then slam the door. As much as you need to learn from big opponents, conference opponents, and people who are on your own level, you also need to learn how to properly lay the smackdown on opponents who are clearly below your talent level.
I have an inordinate fondness for cute little holiday tournaments, as at least one team is someone I'm interested in seeing and most teams are ones I've never seen before, especially in the New York area. My home team's tournament is certainly no exception.
Since the Columbia game pretty much established that Sky is not a morning person, someone obviously decided to make up the difference with espresso, Pixie Stix, or some other artificial and unhealthy stimulant. She was dancing and strutting like nobody's business during shootaround and warm-ups. Shame it didn't last... but we'll get to that.
The anthem singer was unimpressive, though I'm glad that she didn't perform "God Bless America" as well as the anthem, because I've always thought that was overkill and her voice was too dramatic anyway.
UT-Arlington traveled very well. Lots of folks. They weren't very loud, but there was a long stretch before the game where there were more of them than there were St. John's supporters, and they stayed longer than most of the Red Storm folks into the second game. Shame their colors are so... not necessarily ugly, but badly put together. The uniforms are pretty heinous, though.
The Mavericks went pretty deep into their bench, which I guess you can do when you're down 45-18 at the half. The unfortunately surnamed Donna Dike (say it aloud... does she have to throw herself out of games for slurs if she curses at herself?) was their first sub, but didn't contribute much beyond foul trouble. It really seemed like UT-Arlington was trying all sorts of combinations to see if someone could light a spark. We saw a lot of Kiara Parker and LaTosha Duffey, and at least Duffey provided a little offense.
I want to like Shalyn Martin, because at least she has the nerve to go for the shots that her team needs, but she plays obnoxiously up-close, in-your-face defense- right near the start of the game, she almost kicked Da'Shena in the gut because she raised both her hands and her foot on defense. Despite all that, she was one of the few Arlington players who was in for heavy minutes who didn't get into bad foul trouble- the fouls really mounted up in the second half for both teams. Meghan Nelson stepped up offensively in the second half, driving the lane for the Mavericks when the Red Storm defense softened a bit. They were really up a creek, though- Martin and Nelson were the only ones really scoring for them, and you're not going to get very far with only two scorers. They were committing a lot of errors, and getting rattled into a lot of unforced errors as well. They played like a team that knew they were there to play two games, take fourth place, and enjoy the sights and sounds of New York City.
I think Kelly's found her shot. I could be wrong, but five of six from beyond the arc tells me otherwise. A couple of them were pretty deep, too. Coco was on the boards, though she had one of her Moments of Epic Fail on the endline and wasn't doing much scoring. Good thing we didn't need it. Eugenia tested her range more than I would have liked, even if she did hit one. She hit the deck a lot too. I swear they were marking her. We had brief bursts of Buzz, who swatted a shot, and Jennifer, who was exceptionally passive, even for her. Girrrrrrrl. You're built like Kia Vaughn. Start playing like her already, would you?
I love to watch Shenneika move. She's so slick. And if sticking her finger in the electrical socket helps get her game going, then she can do it whenever she wants as far as I'm concerned. Great defensive work by Nadirah, who notched four blocks on the shorter, slimmer Maverick guards. While she was credited with a lot of turnovers, I still like the way she runs our offense. Sky. Please actually play defense. It's bad enough when your teammates have to remind you of where you're supposed to be, but when you're not actually doing anything while you're there, that's even worse. Time and time again she was out of position or slow on the move, and we probably would have won by 40 if she'd been on her defensive game. Da'Shena started the game hot, and used her body well against the smaller UT-Arlington players. Joy snaked her way into the paint for boards, and had one block that left Nelson sitting on the court from the momentum.
As much grief as I give Jennifer Blanding, I'll say this: when she's on the bench, she's one of the loudest and most involved players on the team. She and Joy both talk a lot.
I wasn't thrilled with the officiating, but I liked how one of the refs- Dillard, I think- managed the game: he was very organized and very clear with his calls, even if I didn't always agree with them. I think it's a very good idea for a referee to call a game clearly and authoritatively.
I think Coach Barnes Arico might be pregnant again. She's wearing loose-fitting tops, and the last time she did that, little Emma came along a few months later. I'm a little worried. Her focus has historically and rightfully been elsewhere when she's in the family way.
A satisfying win. We slacked off a little near the end, and I'm disappointed in Sky's defense, but overall a good thing.