Gotta give props to the Marquette fans. While we may not have agreed with their opinions on several of the calls, they were loud and proud, and very supportive of their team. Hey, as long as all y'all who have the questionable taste not to root for St. John's sit in the section by your team and you don't make a fuss right next to me, do your thing and do it right.
WE NEEDED THAT. Okay, maybe I'm overstating things a little, but you can't talk enough about the importance of early-season momentum, especially in a dog-eat-dog conference like the BEast.
The band is slipping in quality, especially in the horn section. Percussion is still good, though. But maybe the rest of the band is just still on break.
I like that Marquette goes deep and gets everyone into the game- keeps people fresh and keeps the reserves on their toes just in case someone fouls out- which, if this game was any indication, is a frequent concern. I was very surprised that Jocelyn Mellen didn't play more, but I assume she's still working her way back from last season's injury. I'm getting lax on noting down good plays, but I was impressed with Janelle Harris's defense. (Does every Janel(l)(e) get called Nellie, though? Is this some secret tradition I don't know about?) Marquette brings a lot of broad-framed players to the table, and they took advantage of that a lot- but it also got them in trouble with the fouls.
Angel Robinson is for real, and then some. She's got some moves- she had one beautiful shot where she faked Nadirah left and went right for the easy two. She really imposes her will on her team. Sarina Simmons is a very physical forward- she had four fouls and was lucky not to foul out. Nice block, though. Jessica Pachko impressed me early on, but she started to get a little chippy later in the game, and then the refs started catching her at it, and she ended up fouling out. She's only a sophomore, though. She'll learn how to use her body without committing fouls. That's a matter of time and experience. Tatyiana McMorris seems to be a slashing sort of guard, with some fancy moves that didn't always go down. Lauren Thomas-Johnson stepped up in the second half to try and bring Marquette back, but with the foul trouble for so many starters, she couldn't get much help.
Buzz, we still love you, but please don't have blonde moments at the end of the half. She committed a foul against Robinson right at the first half buzzer that got the Golden Eagles within six (because, well, Angel Robinson missing free throws doesn't happen too often). Coco got a lot of minutes because we needed someone more physical than either Joy or Day in the post, but her mental lapses were more evident than usual. There were a lot of plays were she was slow to react and therefore couldn't make the play, whether it was a rebound, the recovery of a loose ball, or a bad pass by Marquette. Eugeneia... I can't say enough about her toughness. She took a couple of hard hits in this game and got right back up again, and there were a couple of possessions where either the assignments were blown or they were trying to create mismatches, but she was trying to defend big Jessica Pachko, and the fact that she denied Pachko position is a demonstration of how awesome she is. Shenneika started this game on the bench, but played more than half the game.. Once again, her offense was solid, and if we ever get to the point where the offense is running through her as the first option, she's going to be very dangerous. She needs to work on some of the basics before she starts getting really fancy; faking out opponents on a jump pass is good, faking out the recipient is not. Perhaps cueing up game tape of a young Taurasi would be a good idea. Defensively, she also wasn't as strong as I would have liked- when she was in position, she was very good at keeping the offensive player from getting things done, but she blew a few assignments and gave up position too easily.
Kelly, take the contact already, would you? I know you're nearing the end of your NCAA career, which will probably be the end of your career, which probably means that you want to avoid causing yourself any permanent damage, but you can't be shying away like that. Shoot the ball. Take the hit. She hit a couple of big threes tonight, but she can't pass up open shots, not if she's going to start. Nadirah has to be more willing to shoot when she has an open shot as well. She's a great distributor, and I guess word about the shortlisting for the Lieberman got to her, because she was fighting for rebounds like nobody's business, but even Ticha Penicheiro found a jump shot eventually, even if it took her ten years. Becoming an offensive threat, even if it's just long enough to put a couple of points on the board, frees up teammates who sorely need freeing up, which in turn allows the offense to flow more freely. Sky didn't hit a lot of shots, but both her field goals came at critical points in the game. Sometimes you just have to know when to pick your spots. I have no excuses for my favorite player, other than the real Joy McCorvey must have been abducted by aliens and replaced by someone who isn't quite sure about these crazy concepts of defense and holding on to the ball. If I weren't trying to keep my language clean, well, there's a Lin Dunn impersonation I could insert right about here.
I would also happily insert it about the officials. I am, unfortunately accustomed to inconsistent calling and the apparent inability of referees to count up to two, though their laxity on the traveling rule gave Eugeneia a few extra shots and a few less turnovers. The Marquette fans across the way were irked at quite a few calls as well, though I would advance the argument that if you want your team to stop being called for fouls, perhaps they should stop committing them. What set Angela Lewis apart from the bad referees I've seen was her attitude. I've never seen a referee so disrespectful of the players on the floor. There was a play where, while the ball was dead, Lauren Thomas-Johnson was trying to get her uniform back in order- you know, tuck her jersey in, adjust her shorts, that kind of thing. Before she could finish, Lewis shoved the ball at her midsection. Later in the game, she was on the sideline by the St. John's bench, close enough to the bench that Joy had to dart in front of her to get to the scorer's table. Lewis gave her a rather hearty push along. Now, I don't know whether Ms. Lewis just has an unusually high sense of self-importance for an official or if she's new to high-level D-I (this being judged by the way she cringed away from potential contact after a huddle broke), but that's unacceptable behavior from a referee. You don't intrude on the game like that, and you don't disrespect the players- you certainly don't disrespect the seniors, including one of the team captains.
Let me take a moment to express my appreciation of the Storm red boots that Sky Lindsay's mother was rocking. It takes a lot of personality to carry those off, but no one has ever questioned whether the Lindsay women have personality.
We needed this. We needed for Da'Shena to have a breakout game. We needed a BEast win against another team in the middle of the pack to assert our place in the pecking order.
Marquette, despite the margin, should hold their heads high. They fought hard, and that's the best you can ask for. A little more work on body control, and Simmons and Pachko will both be major threats in the future, and I can't say enough about Angel Robinson.