The perils of a West Coast home and home is that those West Coast teams have to come back across the country at some point. Unfortunately for Fordham, their swing against San Francisco and Pacific brought them two teams that I don't need an excuse to cheer for. One of my closest basketball buddies has been a longtime Pacific supporter, and for years I've been hearing about his team in all kinds of detail. It's actually kind of strange to see a team in real life that I've been hearing about for so long. I've been cheering for them to do well and I have no idea what any of them look like. It's weird. Kind of creepy if you think about it too hard, but weird and fun all at the same time.
Instead of a student section today, there's a kids zone, with a bouncy cage and what appear to be slides and basketball hoops all tied up into one. I guess that says a lot about the crowd Fordham expects to get on a weekend versus on a weekday.
I don't know if I like the Nike striping on Pacific's shorts. It worked for Arizona, and it didn't work for Gonzaga when I saw them on TV, but I'm not sure if it works for Pacific- tiger stripes versus the sudden intrusion of white. I guess maybe they felt that black and orange would be biting Princeton's style too much?
Oooh, there's also an air hockey table! Maybe we can play at halftime. Yes, I'm a giant kid, shut up.
Pacific does a lot of shooting, running their drills extra long each time they're out there.
Nice touch playing "California Love", DJ.
Glee Club anthem, acapella. Not necessarily the best I've ever heard, but there's something about an acapella anthem at Rose Hill that creates a feeling of serenity. This really should be a church of basketball.
It's halftime as I type this, and Fordham is up 45-26. Erin Rooney is playing well, and Emily Tapio is contributing on offense for the first time that I've seen all season. Pacific is putting up stupid shots, (actually, to use Coach Roberts's phrasing, crappy shots) and they're not getting anything out of their stalwarts. (Of course, it doesn't help that Kendall Kenyon is about the size of Samantha Clark's thigh.) There is a particularly bad official running the crew today, and even though her biggest blooper has been in Pacific's favor, that kind of blatant incompetence really grinds my gears.
I was not expecting Pacific to be this discombobulated, and I was not expecting their stalwarts to be as underwhelming as they were today. This is a team that needs to get its act together if it even thinks it's going to think about being competitive in the West Coast Conference.
I was pleasantly surprised by Shanice Butler, who came off the bench fairly late in the first half. She attacked the rim well and kept a lot of rebounds alive. I think I'd like to see her be more comfortable on the weak side- a couple of her shots were made unnecessarily more difficult because she had to cross underneath the basket to put them up. Kristina Johnson is perhaps overly fond of the drive and dish- not that driving and dishing isn't a perfectly valid basketball play, but it's made much less effective when the defense realizes that you're not going to take the shot. They don't have to worry as much about covering you. I like the fearlessness of her driving- I'd just like to see her shoot a little more. Unique Coleman looked very freshman-y out there. Kind of lost and out of position. Marjorie Heard has some of the best "what do you mean I committed a foul/what do you mean I don't get free throws" expressions I've ever seen, and I've seen some good ones. She did a lot of falling down- mixed it up well enough on the inside, but always seemed to be expecting a call and annoyed that she wasn't getting one. I cannot remember anything that Hailie Eckles did other than get caught out of position a lot.
It actually worries me for Pacific's sake that the best player they had today was KiKi Moore, because she's only going to be there for this season. She plays beautiful defense. I was impressed with the constant movement of her hands on defense. She floated up a couple of shots that she could have taken a little more care with, but if they go down, they go down. Sam Pettinger's ead was not in the game. For a senior point guard, she was making a lot of stupid plays, to the point where Moore was bringing the ball up more often than not. Erin Butler threw up bad shots, to the point where Coach Roberts actually blurted out "Erin, what was that?!" after a shot that fell particularly short into triple coverage. The three in the second half got her back on the right track, but only a little bit. She spent much of the game making bad decisions. (You will notice that as a bit of a trend here.) Madison Parrish was actually pretty solid, though she seemed a little bit gun-shy. I was very disappointed in Kendall Kenyon, who was a stalwart for my fantasy team last year (yes, some of us basketball obsessives run a college basketball fantasy league, no money and very little pride). She seemed utterly terrified of going up against Samantha Clark on either end of the floor. Rationally, I can't say that I blame her- there's a reason they call her Sticks and Samantha Clark puts me in mind of Cathrine Kraayeveld- but she made no effort until deep into the second half. When she did go to the basket, there was a sort of gawky grace to her movement. I'm not sure if the three is supposed to be a part of her game, because she didn't look comfortable taking the one that she did hit.
I continue to be amused at Mary Nwachukwu's slide down the Fordham rotation, but I willingly own my taste for schaudenfreude pie. She's now behind two freshmen named Danielle. Danielle Padovano did the dirty work inside, and got called for the fouls for it. Danielle Burns seemed a little out of sorts on her shot, but kept up well with the Pacific ballhandlers. Khadijah Gibson played very briefly at the end of the game and showed why she was only playing at the end of the game- questionable court awareness.
Hannah Missry got her shot back. You know what happens when you don't stick to Hannah Missry and what happens when you give her even a moment of space? She fires up a three. She has one of the fastest releases I've seen in a long time. Maybe not Crystal Robinson fast, but right up there. Emily Tapio had an offensive explosion the likes of which I haven't seen from her this season, making moves under the basket and getting herself to the line. Abigail Corning was a little shaky on defense, or at least on sensible defense, but solid on offense, a steady hand for her team. Samantha Clark really needs more touches, which I'm going to keep saying whenever I see a Fordham game, because she has something closer to a miniature Big XII body than an A-10 body, and she can back down most players in the metro area. She showed off a little outside touch today, too. Erin Rooney sliced through the lane like a hot knife through butter, weaving around defenders and going to the basket without fear. I'm really starting to take a dislike to that Kiwi. Not because she can't play, but because she's good for a team that I don't like this year.
Questionable officiating, to put it mildly. As discussed in the halftime notes, the biggest blooper was in Pacific's favor, allowing a bucket that came well after the shot clock buzzer. One official seemed particularly zealous about the points of emphasis, while another appeared to have a distaste for tie-ups, blowing the whistle as soon as the second player dove in, giving them no opportunity to get possession. They were not popular with either coach. (Granted, Coach Roberts was probably too busy despairing at her team's inability to hit free throws to worry about earning the attempts. Doesn't matter if you get them when you can't hit them.)
Cheerleaders only got involved in the game when Fordham was up 20. That's cute. Not.
We never did get to the air hockey table.