Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Bonnies of St. Bonaventure spoiled opening day for the Red Storm of St. John's with a strong second half that overcame a five-point St. John's halftime lead, posting a 64-58 win. Megan Van Tatenhove's 16 points and seven rebounds led all players, with the Bonnies getting 14 each from three-point shooter Jessica Jenkins and slashing guard Armelia Horton. Eugeneia McPherson led the Red Storm with 15 points.
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Hello season! It's nice to see you again! It would have been nicer to see you again with a win, or at least with a consistent three-point shooter in the corner, but I'll take what I can get.
I guess they chose today for Military Appreciation Day because it was the day after Veterans' Day. A lot of ROTC were in attendance and were acceptably loud. Someone needed to tell the DJ that "Born in the USA" was an inappropriate choice of song on so many levels- not just is it about how being a veteran kinda blows, but when your group is approximately a quarter East Asian, perhaps a song involving "to go and kill the yellow man" is not the best choice. But the nice thing about having ROTC in attendance is that you're guaranteed to get an excellent color guard, even if the anthem is a little pitchy and out of whack.
The cheerleaders were off their game. There were a lot of fumbles, a lot of missed moves, and a general lack of cohesion. But the season is young. I'm going to need them to get off the spelling chants if they want crowd participation, though. You put in too many parts, and people aren't going to be able to keep up. Keep it simple and listen to the crowd noise.
Kim Barnes Arico was honored pregame for entering her tenth season as head coach at St. John's. After a truly amateur Powerpoint that I found myself forced to heckle, the student section (all three of them) were redubbed "KBA's Krazies" and given a banner. They proceeded to vamoose at halftime. Your intrepid blogger and her sore throat were not amused.
No, I do not want to chuck a duck, though I might if it weren't pink; no, I do not want to be "upgraded" to floor seats off in a corner.
Jordan McGee's only contribution to the game appears to have been fouls. CeCe Dixon, I like your hustle, or I would if you weren't playing my team, and your shot's kinda cute. But if you're actually 5-7, I'm actually Ta'Shia Phillips. I have statistical evidence that Jennie Ashton and Chelsea Bowker played, but I can't remember anything they did. Apologies to our readers in Olean.
Would someone please guard Jessica Jenkins from beyond the arc? Oh, what a pretty stroke, and she's not afraid to take it deep, either. We really needed to find a way to shut her down, and part of what irks me about this game is that I think we had it and then we let it slip away. I'd be more impressed with Megan Van Tatenhove's array of moves if they didn't all seem to involve at least three steps. I like her nose for the ball on the boards, though. Armelia Horton's willingness to go into the paint would please me if I were a St. Bonaventure fan; she forced a lot of contact and drew fouls. Doris Ortega brought a loud contingent who sat in the next section over from us and made us sad. If she hooked Nadirah McKenith's arm one more time, though, there was going to be bloodshed, since I don't think Nadirah is into square dancing. Alaina Walker had a solid game for the Bonnies, with a pretty spin move that had me begrudging her a bit of respect.
St. Bonaventure played physical, played tough, and cranked up the defense more and more as the game went on. I can't necessarily say they kept their composure, but they kept it better than the Red Storm did. Packing the paint and forcing St. John's to slow down their offense was critical in the second half.
Zakiyyah Shahid-Martin, when your team is attempting to make a run, it is perhaps not the most brilliant use of your arm to hook it around your defender's waist and shove her to the ground, thereby committing an offensive foul. I like her hustle, and she's more willing to go to the floor than the average player, but generally, it's not a good idea to send other players to the floor. Briana Brown played just long enough to establish that she'll be spending a lot of time on the bench this season. Tesia Harris has a pretty shot, and once she's more settled into the offense and the defense, I think we'll see more of her in the rotation. Keylantra Langley had one of the better games I've seen from her in a while, and she looked like one of the only players comfortable in her role- more of a 2/3, and more of a defensive player, which makes sense, since she's one of the more strongly built guards on the team. She's broken my heart by showing this kind of promise before, then regressing, so I'm not going to hope yet. I was very impressed with freshman post Amber Thompson, though. She's as rough as sandpaper and raw around the edges, but I like her instincts and I like her hustle. She needs to become more familiar with her teammates, and more familiar with the way things are called in the college game, but that'll take time, and I refuse to tear her to pieces in her first collegiate game.
Jennifer Blanding. You need to get your act together yesterday. Part of my hopes for the season was that Jennifer, the biggest player we have on the team, was going to recognize the injury to Da'Shena Stevens as an opportunity and make the most of it. Instead, it's Amber and Z stepping up to the challenge, while Jennifer gets benched for anyone and everyone. As demonstrated, this team has no time for anyone to play like a D-III scrub. That margin of error went out the window with Da'Shena's knee injury. That goes double for posts, and both Jennifer and Mary Nwachukwu dropped the ball on that. Mary, at least, has more room for improvement. I think she's smart enough to realize that she no longer has behemoths like Stefanie Murphy and Carolyn Swords roaming the paint; for this team, she is the behemoth. She shoots well from midrange, but we don't need another player taking midrange shots, we need someone going inside and banging. And if Jennifer can't bang inside, then Mary's going to have to do it. If someone starts going in and being physical, then, yes, Mary can play like the post-championships Tina Thompson instead of the dynastic Tina Thompson. Eugeneia McPherson went on a hot streak in the first half, but that was pretty much the last we heard from her on offense for the rest of the game. I like her and Shenneika Smith on the backcourt trap, but you can't run her on the trap and have her covering assignments for players who are injured and unable to rotate properly. Can't have it both ways, Kim. Nadirah ran a good offense, but had to call her own number more than I think she was comfortable with. She also took a couple of hard hits near the end of the game, and that screwed things up for her- she was breaking her own ankles by the end, and that didn't look good. At one point, it looked like she was signaling to get out of the game, but Kim didn't take her out. Shenneika also took a hit near the end of the first half, but she seemed to shake it off. She had to rely on her outside shot for her offense, which is not a recipe for success.
I abhor incompetence. That's what got me about this game. We were so close. We made stupid mistakes. Our starting center gave us nothing. Our coach refused to admit weakness, and the clock management at the end of the game was abysmal- does anyone here know how to foul?
I wasn't thrilled with the officiating, either, since it got dangerous out there with the tripping and the shoving, but not much you can do about that.
Six points. Two three-pointers. Or three baskets in the paint. That's all it came down to. Two three-pointers, or three two-pointers, depending on how you look at it.