I needed a day off. Of course, I spend it heading out to a basketball game. At least I got the sleep I'm going to need for this weekend. I'm currently on a crowded N6 bus headed to Hempstead, there to make a transfer to the bus that will take me to Hofstra University for their game against Fordham, on what your intrepid blogger and your dashing reporter have dubbed "transfers will be persecuted" day, though that's overstating the case a little bit. We're only going to root hard against them...
What can I say? Loyalty matters to us, and when you turn your back on that, we remember. It's not the act of leaving that's disloyal, it's the baggage that comes attached to it.
Not sure if playing "Only the Good Die Young" tonight is a veiled shot at the Jesuit institution that is Fordham, or just a nod to Billy Joel's Long Island roots, but whatever the reason, I'm enjoying it. I love me some Billy Joel.
Not to say that I got here early or anything, but I think I just beat the cheerleaders in.
I forgot just how much I liked Hofstra's arena. I think I say that every time I come here, but it's a beautiful midsize arena, the seats are gently cushioned, it's bright, and it's well-kept.
There are a lot of Fordham people here tonight, to the point where I'm not 100% sure which bench is which. There are people in maroon behind both benches. I really hope Hofstra was ble to get some Girl Scout troops or something up in here, because otherwise it's going to be kind of depressingly pro-Fordham up in here, and I refuse to lead the cheers for a team I barely tolerate against a team I flat out am not talking to this year. Seriously, Hofstra is like seventh on my list.
Oh Hofstra those stripes on the sleeves no. You gave up the striped logo, like, ten years ago, why are you resurrecting it now? Though it works on the soccer shirts the student section is wearing.
I also forgot that Hofstra has an active and involved student section, even if it's small. Oh, Hofstra, why do you have to be three buses away from me? I would adopt you and hug you and squeeze you in a second if it didn't take two hours to get here.
Anthem singer, I can't even with you. That was all kinds of a hot mess.
34-26 Hofstra at half, but Fordham had a quick 5-0 spurt in the last minute that worries me. Hofstra has good hands on defense, not so much on offense. A lot of fumbles, a lot of hesitant gathers, rebounds that should be caught instead of being fumbled. But they're kicking the daylights out of Fordham's ball movement, and they've been face-guarding Corning and Missry, Fordham's two dead-eye shooters. Hofstra's gone very deep into their bench in the first half- I think only one player hasn't played. Anma Onyeuku leads the Pride with 13; Erin Rooney leads the way for the Rams with 9.
It was nice for Hofstra to get that win, but I wonder if it might help paper over some of the underlying issues with this team.
Of course the first thing Mary Nwachukwu did was hit a lay-up in the paint, which she was only avoiding for something like three years at St. John's, but then she proceeded to not rebound, not hang on to the ball, and generally be the player I remember swearing at at St. John's. In the second half, Danielle Burns got the bulk of the bench minutes in the post, and she was serviceable. She needs to show a little more judgment with her shot, but she plays well inside for a player who's listed as a guard/forward. Khadijah Gibson came in right at the end of the game, as if Gaitley were admitting that the game was over. Danielle Padovano gave decent minutes, though unmemorable ones.
Hannah Missry missed the memo about points of emphasis. Granted, she's a freshman, and they make stupid mistakes, that's part of being a freshman. But she genuinely did not seem to get what she was doing wrong, even when the contact was obvious. I think she was frustrated at her inability to get her shot off against Hofstra's vicious defense. Samantha Clark is a load in the middle, and I really think they should be running more through her, both because she can finish in the middle and because that will then open up space for Missry and Corning to get loose for threes. Abigail Corning rebounded well enough, but she couldn't get her shot off. Emily Tapio didn't play a lot- bad fouls, bad passing, generally nto having her head together. Erin Rooney drove through the Hofstra defense like they were stationary cones, and used her body well to get contact. I'd like to see a little less diving from her, though. It got annoying after a while.
Dianna Thomas-Palmer (who goes by Dee on the roster, but the announcer uses Dianna) seems to have been inspired by Shante Evans in all the wrong ways. She's a big girl, and not necessarily in the best ways. She rebounded better in the second half, though. Kelly Loftus seemed to be the only player on the floor at the end of the game who had any sense of what to do with the clock. Krystal Luciano might be the only person for Hofstra who is tinier than Andreana Thomas. She gave them decent minutes at point near the end of the game. Anma Onyeuku started the second half, but not the first, and I think she's expanded her game since the last time I saw her. She seemed equally comfortable inside or outside, playing in transition or playing in the halfcourt game. I was very impressed with her. Asia Jackson showed good touch in the second half, but questionable judgment. Elo Edefenoka showed a lot of potential down low- still needs to work on her hands and her shooting, but she's going to be good for them.
Andreana Thomas is the engine that makes this team go. When she's not in, they look very lost. When she's in, she's like a lightning bolt, both in terms of energizing her team and in terms of her first step speed. Sydni Epps got the first half start, and I sort of understood why she didn't get the second half start after the two quick fouls she picked up in the second half- questionable judgment, not the most useful shot in the world. I can't even think of anything that Alexis Carter did. Annie Payton was called upon for outside shooting and senior leadership. I'm not sure she was the right person to go to on the senior leadership. Ruth Sherrill showed a little bit of potential, but overall looked like a freshman. She'll be serviceable for them, one of these days.
That is, if Hofstra can figure out how to get out of their own way. They have talent, but they have no sense and no discipline. Their passing is bad. And after that hot mess last weekend, I know from bad passing. They all seem afraid to shoot. They have no clock awareness, either of the shot clock or of the game situation. Kilburn-Stevesky was all but begging them to slow the game down in the last three minutes, and no one of them seemed to be listening. She had to put in the backup point guard just to get them to slow down. You do not need to chuck corner threes when you're up fifteen with three minutes to go, or throw up off-balance shots on offensive rebounds with twenty seconds on the shot clock.
I've also come to the conclusion that Kilburn-Stevesky coaches the way I would coach, and that's not necessarily a good thing. She's constantly yelling, and usually in frustration. I don't know if she knows her team. "Annie, get your team together!" she yelled at Annie Payton, but from what I saw, that didn't look like Annie Payton's team, it looked like Andreana Thomas's team. Leadership doesn't necessarily come from seniors, it comes from leaders.
I think the men's team was in the house. Tall guys sprawled over a section of seats in athletic gear tends to mean that. In which case, Pride dude playing imaginary drums to "Beat It", go on with your bad self.
Hofstra's cheerleaders are not the traditional pretty skinny girls, but their routines rely much more heavily on lifts, so I'm not surprised. Lots of good stuff in there.
I really hate the new points of emphasis. The games grind and there's no flow. And if you're going to call every little brush of contact, can you at least call it when a player takes four steps on her way to a lay-up, or call Erin Rooney for undercutting a player? I really need someone at some point to adjust to this, or I'm going to want to be blind.
The N6 is really an experiment in social engineering, isn't it? Don't lie to me, Veolia.
I ultimately think that Fordham will come out of this game with more useful information, unless Hofstra manages to learn from their mistakes in this one... but I don't know if this team and this coach can learn from a win.