I'm really trying not to think about this game, because the refereeing still makes me want to go punch people in the face, and since I thought it was inappropriate when Brittney Griner expressed her displeasure in that way, I shouldn't give in to the same temptation. I'm still proud of my team, and I still love them, and no three blind mice can make me do anything other than hold my head high and pop my Red.
There's nothing in the world like flying down I-95 at what was probably an illegal speed with two other die-hard fans, with the windows rolled down, blasting "We Will Rock You" at 20 notches on the volume dial, on your way to the Big East tournament. There's nothing in the world.
By no means were we the only St. John's fans to make the trip. There were a few swaths and spots of red in that crowd. Much love for the ladies in 118 who brought the "Seeing Red" sign, because signs are important for establishing who you are.
The Notre Dame band is better than ours, but ours got to do the anthem and didn't completely mess it up. I take my victories where I can get them.
Devereaux Peters absolutely destroyed us inside in the second half. I'll give McGraw credit- she recognized that and started Peters in the second half. (Of course, she got a little help, but we'll get to that in due time.) Bruszewski wasn't as much of a factor as I thought she could have been- which I'm grateful for, mind you. Mallory was more of a factor defensively than offensively. I find it interesting that McGraw tightened her rotation even more than most coaches do in big games- there were a couple of players who I remember getting time against us last time who didn't get in this game.
Erica Williamson did what McGraw asked of her- she's a very big, physical presence inside, and I think I liked her better before her shove sent Da'Shena to the floor and out of the game for a few minutes because of a twisted ankle. Schrader started to find her rhythm in the second half, but she didn't really strike me as being as important to the Irish as I was expecting her to be. Barlow had great hands on defense, but I don't know that she's as good of a three-point shooter as she thinks she is. Diggins's game followed the same pattern as it did in our previous match-up- she was good but not great in the first half, then in the second half she got a little more aggressive and got rewarded for it with some very generous calls.
I know Eugeneia didn't score, and part of that has to do with her bad habit of trying harder to draw contact than hit the shot, but I think she played really well today. She was a key part of our defense, and I like her rapport with Coco- bodes well for next year, when both of them will have to step up with the graduation of our seniors. Coco, while she had her usual hustle plays, also had more than her share of moves that made me want to go down there and hit her upside the head with the Clipboard of Doom. Kelly was on fire beyond the arc- I suppose the luck of the Irish would be with Kelly McManmon, even if the PA guy persisted in calling her McManamon; I thought Mama McManmon was going to go down there and set him straight at some point.
Would whoever kidnapped the real Sky Lindsay please give her back? Please? The Pod Person in #1 for St. John's right now is absolutely incompetent at this whole basketball thing. She can't shoot, she can't pass, she can't catch the ball, and she can't defend. She's not even dancing like Sky. We need the real Sky back for the tournament. Da'Shena was doing great until she got hit from behind and twisted her ankle. Even twenty-something rows up, we could see her face twisted up in pain. She's a tough kid, and we would greatly appreciate it if people would stop trying to break her. Joy was really hampered by foul trouble in the first half, and I think that impeded her ability to sense the flow of the game, which she's usually really good at. She made a couple of good defensive plays to break up fast breaks, though one of them got given right back. Shenneika put the team on her back in the first half. She was determined to keep us in it, and she did a great job of that on both ends of the floor. The turnovers disturb me, but she's a high-risk/high-reward player. Nadirah... most of the time, it's hard to believe she's a freshman, because she has poise and patience beyond her years. She loves to run a high-tempo offense, but when her team's running too fast and needs to take a long, deep breath, she'll step back and slow things down. Her court vision, while I'm not sure it's in the same class as Ticha Penicheiro's or Diana Taurasi's, is exceptional. All the fuss is about Shenneika, and it's well-deserved fuss, but Nadirah's going to be the better of the two players when all is said and done.
I'm very glad I don't work for the Big East. I can say that Notre Dame's leprechaun went to his rainbow at halftime and gave out some gifts to the referees. The officiating in the second half was sharply tilted towards ND. A lot of things that went uncalled in the first half were getting whistled in the second, and there were a couple of calls on Da'Shena and Coco that were very questionable. Of course, Coco doesn't help herself by flopping blatantly enough to bring a tear of joy to DeMya Walker's eye, but sometimes there's actually a foul there, y'know? The foul differential iin the second half was 15-9, and for a long time it was 9-1 or 9-2. It was ridiculous. More than a few people in UConn gear came up to us after the game and said that they had been rooting for us and we got jobbed- even hours later, as we finished dinner in a restaurant half a mile from the arena.
A special note on the UConn fans: I've always been harsh on Husky fans, because I've rarely had a good experience with them. That really changed today. Maybe changing shades from Scarlet to Red made a difference, but all of us had UConn fans telling us that they were rooting for our team in the first game. It was disconcerting to have the Hardcores as an ally instead of an enemy. That all being said... guys, I know you love your team and all, but could you perhaps hold your applause for them until after our injured point guard stops clutching her ankle on the court? Just a thought? Because it's really not a good feeling to hear cheers and applause while Nadirah's writhing in pain.
I'm still proud of my team. I love them. And they know we love them. We arrived about forty minutes before tip, and our seats- while in the lower bowl- were fairly high up. My mother, God love her, gets to her seat, puts her hands around her mouth, and belts out, "LET'S GO, ST. JOHN'S!" Da'Shena and someone else- I want to say Jennifer?- look up at our section and we see the smiles on their faces. They did us proud. We tried to do the same for them.