Just the Facts, Ma'am: Shenneika Smith scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half, and the depleted Red Storm used strong opening runs in each half to fend off the UCSB Gauchos 56-47. Smith also pulled down 9 rebounds, notched three steals, and swatted three blocks. Kelsey Adrian's 10 points and seven rebounds led the Gauchos.
For exhaustion, Starbursts, horrified stares, and incoherency, join your intrepid and completely wiped the heck out blogger after the jump.
And then it was championship time. People decided to show up. The Santa Barbara fans made it in. So did the usual suspects: Sky's mom, Nadirah's family, Buzz's Barn Brigade, the Arico family, those sorts of people.
We have to give a shoutout to the St. John's band. They've stepped their game up the last couple of games. They're doing stuff that is way above their previous level of difficulty and doing it well. I'm very impressed. They're also getting more involved in the games, and I'd like to think that we're influencing them. (Hey, Coach Barnes Arico let us know we were the best fans, so you never know.)
We've also sort of been adopted by the young Aricos. They gave us Starbursts. This is very serious; they take their Starbursts as seriously as mom takes her coaching. We're honored and flattered.
Nicole Nesbit reminds me a little bit of Jessica Bibby, with her incredible speed and inability to stop. That's not completely fair to Nesbit, because I think she's better than Bibby, but it's the best comparison I can think of. Sweets Underwood had a solid game, and seemed more omnipresent than she was by the statistics. The Gauchos also got some outside shooting from Destini Mason and Melissa Zornig.
Mekia Valentine got in foul trouble again, and she got her fouls at the textbook times for bad fouls. That kept her from being anything more than a presence to shoot around in the middle. Emilie Johnson's shots weren't falling the way they did yesterday, though we kept letting her have them. Margaret Johnson got more playing time, and I think I remember her getting a couple of rebounds, but that's about it. Another unremarkable game from Angelei Aguirre. Kelsey Adrian threw her body around as if she was under the impression that this was a hockey game. In case you are wondering why I keep making this joke, she's Canadian. Canadians and hockey go well together.
Keylantra Langley looked more like a freshman than she did yesterday- a little less sure of herself, a little less confident, a step slower than she had been, and she had no excuse to be a step slow, since she was one of the few players who was not injured. Nadirah McKenith came off the bench again and though she looked to be handling the ball a little more gingerly than usual, she looked like her thumb wasn't bothering anymore than it was before the second hit yesterday, if this sentence is making sense by this point. Jennifer Blanding had her usual array of stupid plays and missed shots, but she looked like she was growing into her body a little bit and seeming more comfortable.
I don't care what you say, Shenneika Smith is Supergirl. In the first half, she looked pained, agonized, and at times doing everything but sitting herself on the bench to get out of the game. In the second half, she took the team on her shoulders and carried them to the win with athletic drives that shouldn't have been possible on her ankle the way it was. She was unbelievable. Sky Lindsay stepped up in the second half, though she was also a step slow and it was clear that her Achilles was flaring up a couple of times. Coco Hart looked a step slow, and it was clear that she was stopping short because of her ankle a couple of times. If this sounds like a recording, it's because that many of our players were injured and it was ridiculous. Eugeneia McPherson was playing more of the point today, so she wasn't looking for her shot as much, but she got to the line late in the game to salt it away. Amanda Burakoski got the start in place of Da'Shena Stevens, who watched the game from the trainer's room (and who presumably had a very good day, because she's a Philadelphia Eagles fan for some reason). Buzz canned a couple of nice threes and did good work tipping out offensive boards and boxing out. She's not a four by nature, but she does a pretty good impersonation of one.
I'm really not amused with Kim Barnes Arico right now. As injured as her team is, and as much as Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin showed in those minutes she had to play late yesterday, I would have thought we'd see Z get some time, but she was DNP-CD'd. I understand not putting in Briana Brown even if she was healthy, because she had been suspended for being stupid (that's the way I was told it, and while I can infer what "stupid enough to get you suspended" translates to, I can't explicitly state it without evidence), though I would think that this is a situation where you just use your healthy bodies no matter what. I'm sorry, but if your players are stopping short, coming up lame, wincing in pain, shooting short, not going for plays they normally jump on like piranhas on raw meat, and in general unable to move, TAKE THEM OUT. Don't berate them for not being able to make plays they are physically unable to make. It was heartbreaking how much pain Shenneika was in, and how she had to limp to the table to receive her award afterwards. That's one thing I've noticed about KBA- she'll run players into the ground. It's one thing to drive and drive and drive, the way Geno or Pat does. It's another thing to completely ignore the limits of the human body, especially after that wreck of a game yesterday.
All-tournament team: Jaleesa Ross of Fresno State, Sweets Underwood and Emilie Johnson of UCSB, and Sky Lindsay and Eugeneia McPherson of St. John's. Shenneika was MOP of the tournament.
I'm sure I'll remember other things I wanted to put in these notes, but I'm tired and it's been a long weekend, so I'm going to go crash, all right?