Good morning, Internet! We're coming to you on our usual tape delay, this time bright and early from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Barclays Women's Invitational.
We are not, however, coming to you quite as early as we would like, as the Barclays Center was not ready for us until 10 AM. Well, we're still not sure about that, given that we were told three different opening times before they finally let us in at 10. One security guard decided to take pity on us and try to let us in, but another one turned around and made us go out again. My legs are still cramped. Then they tried to tell me I couldn't use my laptop in the seating area, but a guest services person named Candice and I negotiated it down to not using it during game play (which, duh, my favorite Michigan women did not hook me up with tickets to stare at a computer during play). Still. Barclays does not seem thrilled at having to deal with fans this early in the morning. Fine, I'm not thrilled with dealing with power-tripping security staff this early in the morning. We're even, and you're not getting money from me.
Anne Donovan is here (so ha, my laptop wouldn't be the most view-obstructive object in the seating bowl anyway).
Excellent anthem. Was amused that the color guard was facing the completely empty side of the arena across from the benches.
Michigan is up 12 at the half, on a solid team effort. Siera Thompson has 13, Shannon Smith 11. Amber Battle has been very impressive for Texas Tech.
Funniest moment of the day so far: they played the Michigan fight song, your dashing reporter led a sing-along... and the security guard posted behind Michigan's bench said, "What the [firetruck] was that?" Poor Guest Services Candice... maybe that's why she rotated to another section. Note that the Texas Tech fans didn't reciprocate at the next timeout. (She came back. We eventually made eye contact and shared the "my significant other is doing something embarrassing in public" moment.)
Something smells really good, but I'm still not giving these people money. Even if they do have the hardwood equivalent of a Zamboni. That gives my heart glee, but I'm still not giving them money.
The game got a little too interesting in the middle of the second half, but one good run helped Michigan regain control, and when it got close again it was because Michigan had gone to their reserves. Saw a couple of young players this time around that I didn't see at the Iona tournament.
The Schneiders (who I'm assuming are sisters) are awfully skinny. Everything might be bigger in Texas, but not necessarily thicker. Haley Schneider had a couple of nice defensive tips. Jasmine Caston got the second half start, coming off the bench in the first half, and provided a little boost of offense with both long-range shooting and moves in the lane. She's got pretty good speed. Audrisa Harrison played more in the second half, mostly committing fouls on defense- very handsy overall. Ivonne Cook-Taylor came in when the game was already decided and took a quick three.
Minta Spears started the game shooting well from beyond the arc, but she seemed to press her shot more in the second half- her followthrough was much more exaggerated, and I think it threw off her shot. The one time she attempted to slash to the basket was epic fail, compounded by a bad foul call. Tiny Diamond Lockhart showed a lot of fire and ran her team well. I think they were trying to run the offense through Marina Lizarazu early on, but she was in over her head- bad passes, unnecessary turnovers, poor judgement. Shauntal Nobles was a decent presence on the inside, but she didn't get a lot of shots up. I liked her rebounding. But the one Lady Raider who impressed me on both ends of the floor and drew almost all of my attention was Amber Battle. She went hard after rebounds, hit shots from all over the floor, and displayed impressive foot speed on defense. She pretty much kept Texas Tech in the game single-handedly. In build and playing style, she reminded me a little of a miniature DeWanna Bonner, but with somewhat more awareness of her shot.
Rebecca Lyttle got called for two quick fouls when she finally got in in the second half, the second of which I felt was completely uncalled for. There's something I like about her, and not just her name. Danielle Williams showed good hustle in her second half minutes, but again, got dinged for a foul that seemed to come out of the blue. Don't break the underclassmen, officials, we're going to need them for tomorrow. Val Driscoll really needs to work on her footwork, but was solid defensively- she had a beautiful block/deflection that led to a Nicole Elmblad steal that I'm pretty sure led to a Michigan fast break. Kendra Seto played late, and was not memorable other than an ill-advised attempt at a trap on the sideline. Paige Rakers had her shot going off the bench, and mixed it up inside on the boards- a lot of the time, only the headband made it possible for us to tell her apart from Nicole Elmblad, who is at least nominally a forward. But Michigan can't rely on Rakers to be their entire bench, especially not wih the injury to Shannon Smith.
I'm starting to wonder if Madison Ristovski hit a late growth spurt and she's still trying to adjust to it. She dribbles like she expects to be about three inches shorter, and it sort of makes her look like a young horse, all arms and legs and falling over. She shot well in the second half, though. Shannon Smith shot really well, both from outside and in the lane. She left in the second half with an apparent shoulder injury after a collision landed her hard into Elmblad's leg. She was holding her right arm absolutely motionless when we saw her after the game, and that's going to be a problem for tomorrow, because she seesm to be the only player with the confidence to bring the ball up the court. Siera Thompson shot lights out, especially in the first half, and always seemed to come up with the big shot whenever Texas Tech made a run in the second half. Cyesha Goree had to deal with some very tough fouls (I'm really not sure what that fourth foul was, other than inaccurate) but seemed to take the right message from the refs getting into her head and took the ball strong to the basket once she got back into the game after the fourth foul. (It also amuses me that she seems to be in charge of carrying young Aricos; that job used to belong to Joy McCorvey at St. John's. I assume Joy gave her pointers on how not to drop Coach's kids.) Nicole Elmblad was solid all around- didn't necessarily stand out, but didn't screw up.
There were a distressing number of times when Michigan seemed to ignore the play that had been called, ignoring open players and going one-on-one to the basket. Repeatedly ignoring the coach's play calling is not a good plan when that coach is Kim Barnes Arico. She tends to shriek. Use your teammates, guys. Good things happen when you use your teammates.
We were not impressed with the officiating crew. It got really tiresome whenever Whittaker started complaining about the officiating, given that Michigan usually started out in a deep hole, foul-wise. I'm pretty sure one of them was an Enterline, and it was funny when he photo-bombed someone in the front row, but referees aren't supposed to be funny, they're supposed to be ignorable.
Minimal timeout entertainment, so no real commentary on that.
I will not name names, nor affiliations, but it's a bad sign when being asked where Queens is is not, in fact, the dumbest question of the day. Yes, there was a bit of a geography quiz concerning the location of Queens and whether it was on Long Island, and how close to the Hudson River we all were during both this tournament and the tournament back at Iona. Your resident born-and-raised Queens native was nobly restraining the urge to facepalm when the woman behind her asked if the game that had just finished was high school basketball or college basketball...
Depth worries me for Michigan tomorrow. For Texas Tech against Rutgers, I'd be concerned about their shakiness at the point and how one-dimensional their offense seemed to be.