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Second Half Surge Propels Red Storm

Just the Facts, Ma'am: 22 points from Shenneika Smith helped St. John's overcome a slow start to post a 79-54 win over Nicholls State. The Red Storm posted a 56-38 edge on the boards and put three players in double figures. Richanda Bickham's 18 points led the Colonels, while KK Babin added five treys and a putback for 17.

For AWESOME JERSEYS, pensive junior coaches, control freaks, tiny annoying opponents, and other sundries, join your intrepid and troubled blogger after the jump.

I'm not sure what to make of this team. It feels like something's going to explode and I don't know if it's in a good way or in a 'someone's going to storm out in a huff' way. We have talent, and we definitely have heart and passion, but I don't know whether we have anyone who can harness all of it and direct it towards the rest of the NCAA. We have players with talent and we have players who need to lead, but not only are they not the same players, the players who need to step up and be leaders are falling down on the job. If you have seniors, you can't lead from the bottom; things will fall apart and the center will not be able to hold. Otherwise I'd say that we should look to the sophomore class.

Well, that was a depressing start to the Game Notes of Doom on this post-Thanksgiving day of rest. Let's talk about happy-making things instead.

Let's talk about the garage sale that St. John's had outside the gates, where they usually stash the scorecards and other useful things. They sold off a bunch of sneakers, jackets- and practice jerseys. Words cannot express just how my face lit up and how excited I was when I found Joy McCorvey's #25 in the pile. I was randomly smiling all day whenever I looked down at the folded jersey in my bag. My fiancé and partner in crime bought Recee Mitchell's #52, dubbing himself the "enforcer of loudness". Wonderful memories were free with purchase, and it was nice to see a lot of the old numbers again.

Since most of the band was still at home for the holidays, we got a recorded version of the anthem. Since most of the band was still at home for the holiday, we also got a mix of alumni and students. It wasn't pretty, though the trombonist and his band nerdlet were priceless. The problem is that our band has improved in the last few years, and the old players really aren't up to the challenge.

Nicholls State reminds me of what would happen if you introduced Erin Phillips and Debbie Black, then blended their DNA. None of them are over six-foot. All of them are pesky, annoying, frustrating, persistent, and frenetic. Their 5-11 forwards did a great job of getting their arms up to deflect shots, but we still could have done a better job of going in on them. Jasmine Hoskins was their sixth woman in both halves, snagging a nice block and a few points. They also brought in Kya DeGarmo, who was small and annoying.

LiAnn McCarthy brought fans, if the glittering jersey signs behind the road bench were any indication. I would have thought that was a lot cooler if she weren't prone to holding everyone and anyone who came anywhere near her. I don't mind players with a physical presence. I do mind players who darn near sexually harass my team. Alisha Allen hit shots at what would have been big moments in a game that was closer. Ricshanda Bickham did a nice job of driving the lane and getting to the line on us, but she also canned a couple of threes. Cassie Hearon always seemed to be around in the middle, even if she couldn't throw it in the ocean. (That problem was going around. You'll see what I mean later.) The player who really impressed me for the Colonels was little bitty KK Babin. Listed 5-4, but you wouldn't know it from her rebounding. There was one play where she rose up from among two or three St. John's players to get the offensive rebound and put it back up. Oh, and she was shooting threes like she was Laurie Koehn in the three-point challenge. After about the fourth one, anyone watching the game (possibly even on StormTracker) heard me screaming something along the lines of "ANYONE WANT TO GUARD THE MIDGET? IT'S ONLY HER FOURTH THREE-POINTER!" (All proper respect to people 5-4. My mother is 5-4. I'm about 5-7. If you're shorter than I am, and you're playing basketball, you qualify as a midget.) My hat is off to her.

Nadirah McKenith got herself into Kim Barnes Arico's doghouse pretty badly, so not only did she not start, she didn't get into the game until every other guard had seen time. She took it out on the Colonels with a little extra to spare. How's this for a line: nine minutes, six points, four rebounds (all offensive), one assist, and three steals? You know the play I just mentioned about Babin in the first half? Nadirah did pretty much the same thing in the second half, rising out of the deeps so suddenly and smoothly we weren't initially sure that it had been her shot. That whole mess nudged Amanda Burakoski up in the rotation, and despite her plethora of blonde moments, she was able to make some good plays on defense. Her shot was weirdly off, though- if anything, she needed to take a step back to try and get it down. Briana Brown saw extended time, and though she showed freshman hesitancy, I like her. She canned one three that was a step or two behind the men's line. Keylantra Langley really needs to not pass to the opposing team. That would be useful. Again, she needs to be more confident on the floor. Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin made a couple of brief cameos. Jennifer Blanding made one near the end of the game and was impressively not bad- a couple of good rebounds, a putback, nice presence on the floor. More of that, please, Big Love.

Eugeneia McPherson got the start for Nadirah, and she looked like she wanted to make the most of it. She went to the rack with some regularity, though she's slipping back into her old habit of trying to force the refs to make the call instead of trying to make the shot. I wasn't thrilled with her defensive placement, either. She gambled too much, and since her assignment was Babin, that didn't work out too well. Coco Hart looked like she was working off a tryptophan hangover, no matter how active she was on the offensive glass. Centhya, you are listed at 6-1. No one on Nicholls State is listed over 5-11. Go towards the &*^&(*^&%ing basket and put the ball in the basket. That goes for you, Da'Shena Stevens. Day really looked out of it. I'm worried about a habit she's started picking up in the last couple of games. She's started hooking the arm the way Plenette Pierson does, and with Day's fragility, I don't think that's a good habit to get into. That's the one thing that keeps Da'Shena from being a real star: she has no real durability. If she's not sick, she's got a lingering injury of some kind. Sky Lindsay looked sluggish (again, tryptophan, or so I hope), but she got her shots up and in, which was important. It sounds strange with a 25-point margin of victory, but without Shenneika Smith, we don't win this game. She put the team on her back on both ends of the floor, stroking that silky jumper from all over the place and going to the rack with grace. She also had one emphatic block that we heard up in the bleacher seats. We also saw her being more vocal on the floor (which sort of led to a sort of hilarious moment that at the same time was deeply disturbing). She looked like the elite player she was in high school.

Sort of hilarious yet disturbing moment: when Babin hit her fourth three, Kim yelled, "Shenneika! While you were coaching out there, she hit a three-pointer!" Sort of hilarious because of the sarcasm, sort of disturbing because Shenneika put the team on her back and Babin wasn't her assignment anyway, so why was Kim singling her out?

We were back in our seats by the band, where the Aricos sit. Young Mr. Arico brought a group of friends with him, and we were a very bad influence on them with our noisemaking. No profanity, nothing like that, but I don't know how thrilled their parental units will be the next time they're at a game. Young Mr. Arico definitely takes after his mother. He's a very observant watcher of the game, and a very passionate one. Someday, if he wants to be, he's going to be a great coach.

I'm thinking that at some point since last season, Dennis DeMayo lost it. Last season, he called a great, solid game. This year? He's been awful. I don't get it. There's a difference between letting them play and being physical, and "show us on the doll where the power forward touched you" physicality. There were also an unusual number of missed calls on the baseline. Um, Mr. DeMayo? If a player is almost sitting on Tamika Louis's lap, she might be out of bounds. Just saying.

We needed this to be a blowout, and it was, but not in the right way. This was supposed to be a game where Kim could experiment and get her bench some reps. Now, Nadirah's infraction, whatever it was, played into that and caused the slow start that led to us having to play more conservatively, but we still shouldn't have to come from behind against a team like Nicholls State.