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Hart, Red Storm, Tame Lions


Just the Facts, Ma'am: Behind double-doubles from Da'Shena Stevens and Coco Hart, the Red Storm defeated Columbia 65-41.  Hart's 16 points and 12 rebounds led all players, with Stevens adding 12 and 11 with six steals.  Diana Lee led the Lions with eight points, with Tyler Simpson contributing eight and Brianna Orlich notching four steals.

I love my team. The feeling might even be mutual. That's sort of weird, but in the best of ways.

For defensive pressure, coiffure, mini basketballs, and far too many Girl Scouts, join your intrepid and somewhat gobsmacked blogger after the jump.

I love Fridays, and not just because that means the end of the week. It means Casual Friday at the office, which means joyously wearing a Red Storm t-shirt and beads instead of having to make like Supergirl with a blouse over the shirt all day. It means slipping out two minutes early to catch the bus that takes me to the train that takes me to the train that takes me to the bus that takes me to the arena. (Seriously, it is impossible to get around Queens easily via mass transit.)

Unfortunately, they forgot to tell us that there was some kind of Girl Scout Day going on. I think I've mentioned a time or five that I hate kid-related events: the shrill pitch of the kids hurts my ears, they never know when to scream or who to scream for, and in this particular case, the chaperones were even more clueless than the children. Is it asking so much for all y'all not to mill around like you've never been anywhere near a large gathering area before? I had to double back to get my scorecard. We all know that I need my scorecard.

Respect the anthem. I don't think that's asking so much. That means you, chattering girls in front of me who kept going across the aisle all damn game. That means you, Nadirah, Shenneika, Jennifer, and Tesia. I saw what you did there. Stand up, shut up, and look at the flag. (Unless you are getting your Toni Smith on and making a political statement, then you can turn away from the flag.)

Columbia carries a lot of players. I had to adjust the fold of my scorecard because the halfway point left three players under the fold. Objectively, I like that the bench players stayed involved in the game even when they were down twenty-five in the last minute. Subjectively, the cheerleaders and I all wanted them to shut up, and I think that encouraged the cheerleaders to step their game up, because the "DE-FENSE!" chant got old after a while.

I'm still surprised Tyler Simpson doesn't get more time. Good things tend to happen when she's on the floor. She was one of the few Lions to get to the line. Diana Lee's become more assertive this year... which is not necessarily a good thing for Columbia, because her shot isn't that good. Nicole Santucci saw limited time as a big body.

Since Columbia is an Ivy League school, and therefore doesn't give athletic scholarships, I can't make the usual comment I make about players who are on the broad side. Mary Beato has pulled her shorts down a bit, much to the relief of those who had to suffer through her cameltoe last year. Her shot was fairly awful, though. Blaine Frohlich, who despite the best efforts of my AutoCorrect is not related to Linda Fröhlich, played briefly and got fouls. I know Melissa Shafer played, and I know she did things, but I don't remember much of what she did other than the airball.

I don't know who peed in Kathleen Barry's Cheerios this morning, or if someone was talking trash at her or something, but in the second half, she got a pretty nasty chip on her shoulder. It's one thing to dive. It's another thing to dive low like you're either going for someone's knees or like you're pretending someone went for your knees. I expected her to be a lot more assertive in this game, but she really didn't seem to be.

Courtney Bradford is a big body, and she's not afraid to use it, but she's got to be more aggressive on offense and lay off the elbows. For a freshman- sorry, Columbia, first-year- she's not bad, and I'm looking forward to her banging in the post with Rasheed at Princeton. I'm not sure what Brianna Orlich brings to the table that she should be starting- whatever it is, she didn't bring it today, unless it was the ability to actually get to the line. Lauren Dwyer got two early fouls, and I think that affected her o the offensive ed. Defensively, she used her body very well, taking advantage of the fact that only one player on our active roster is her height, and, um, LOL Jennifer Blanding. (Which I mean in the nicest way possible. Please don't hurt me, Jennifer.)

Our freshmen are definitely freshmen. All three of them showed their rough edges tonight. Right now, Briana Brown shows the most potential of the three. I love the way she hits the floor for loose balls. Keylantra Langley really needs to work on her ballhandling. It's never a good sign when you're messing up on the drill. She's showing better shot selection than she did last game, though. Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin needs to be ready or the pass. If it's the last five minutes of a twenty-point game and the other team's deep bench players are on the floor, expect the guards with some common sense to attempt to feed you so you can get a basket in the game. If you have position in the lane, don't let the pass bounce off your hands. She only committed the one foul tonight, which was an improvement over last game. She showed a lot more confidence in the scrimmage- I'm wondering if she's worried she might get hurt or something. Amanda Burakoski had one stretch where she had three steals in something like a minute. She was just getting into the passing lane and making like she was, I don't know, Darrelle Revis or something. She really has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. I love that about her. Jennifer Blanding got a nice little steal at the end of the game. She needs to be more assertive with her build- when you're the biggest player on the team, you've got to be willing to do more than just box out so players with a little more pep in their step can get the rebounds. Eugeneia McPherson's threes were both exceptionally well timed, though I'm not thrilled with the number she's hoisting form that distance. Then again, she wasn't doing so well right at the rim- she's got the vertical lift, but somehow she wasn't able to get the shot off high enough. A couple of her lay-ups were short of the rim. It was sad. I expect better of her than that. I loved her defensive intensity, though. Then again, I love this whole team's defensive intensity.

All right. Sky Lindsay is one of my favorite people on this team. She knows how to work a room, she's got a great personality, and she's got a way with people. I'm happy to have her in a Red Storm uniform. All that being said, if she doesn't hurry up and get her head... back together, let's just say (because SB Nation is not so fond of profanity) she's going to find her senior privilege revoked and Eugeneia or Buzz starting for her. She came out very flat in this game, and she made some stupid plays that I'm not thrilled about a senior making. We only have two real seniors on this team (I'm not counting Tesia Harris, because she's a transfer). We can't afford to have them messing up.

Now, on the other hand, if Coco Hart keeps up what she's doing, I stand ready to take back just about every bad thing I've said about her in the last few years. I know we've been playing smaller teams, and maybe that helps, but the way she's been hitting the offensive boards is phenomenal. If she could convert some of those putbacks, or at least improve her free throw shooting to guard-level standards, she might make herself into a Euro prospect. Nadirah McKenith's decision-making was not up to her usual standards, but everyone has an off day and I'll blame it on the two hits she took to the face- the second one definitely looked like it rung her bell. Again, she was short on her lay-ups. Shenneika Smith's been taking the opening tip the last couple of games, showcasing her athletic ability. She looks like she's been sharpening her offensive moves. She looks really good, like she's got something to prove. And she's playing both ends of the floor. Da'Shena Stevens very quietly got things done. I found it hard to believe she had six steals, but that might just be scorekeeper's choice; a lot of those defensive plays took two or more players to get done.

Officiating in this game was extremely loose. I don't necessarily mind the travels not being called, but please don't hit our starting point guard in the face. Twice. Columbia started the second half very physical, and once they hit six fouls, the officials seemed unusually disinterested in calling fouls on them. Were there plays that should have been called against St. John's? There always are. (Nadirah, I'm looking at you for that stupid reach.) But when there's a hip check that seems like it should belong in the Rangers game, we have a problem.

Favorite small things: Buzz, knocked flat on her back on a play, tracking the arc of a ball and getting up in position to help get the board. Shenneika's gorgeous pass to Coco. Da'Shena's authoritative blocks and recovery. Sky getting some of the pep back into her step. The fact that Trevor Arico is a pretty darn good player for his age.

Of course, since it was a kids' day/Girl Scout Day/whatever day, that meant that today was the autograph session. That was another thing it would have been useful to know before the game so that I could pack my nifty season subscriber gift, which is a mini-ball signed by Coach Kim Barnes Arico. I figured that might make an interesting change of pace from the innumerable posters that decorate home sweet home. Of course, that's a bit hard to do when your ball is in Fresh Meadows and you're in... um, whichever of the myriad of possible neighborhoods that St. John's is claiming to be in this week. Fortunately, my mom is also a season subscriber, and picked up her gift that day. We're swapping balls at the next game. I always try to be friendly at these things, say "hey, how are ya?" to everyone so they're not feeling so much like they're on an assembly line, let them know how much they're appreciated. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it takes a little time. Traffic got a bit clogged in the middle because people got sent the wrong way down the line. Did I mention that the middle was where gregarious Sky was sitting? So we chatted a little, and she commented on my haircut.

Sidebar: at the end of last season, I had hair down almost to the small of my back. I got it cut in September, and right now it rather resembles Katie Smith's 1999 look with the Lynx. We're talking about going from the Utah Starzz' Dalma Ivanyi to the San Antonio Silver Stars' Dalma Ivanyi. It's a pretty drastic change, to be sure.

But, y'know? The last time Sky and Coco, who also commented on my hair, saw us was back in March. It means a lot to a fan to be remembered like that.

It was also nice that Mary the-redshirt-whose-name-I-need-to-copy-and-paste-to-get-right and Tesia Harris were with the team for the autograph session. Usually the kids who aren't eligible don't join the party. To me, that suggests some cohesion among the group. Yay cohesion!

So life is good. I get to rest up before Thanksgiving and the game on Friday... except, wait, LSU visits Seton Hall tomorrow. On to the next one, on to the next one, on to the next one...