We're at halftime of Cal and UConn right now, and Breanna Stewart has a slender lead on the Golden Bears, 21-20. Unfortunately for Cal, there are 19 other Connecticut points to consider, and they're being doubled up 40-20.
I'n not a big UConn person, but their arrangement of "Light 'Em Up" is on point.
If Cal could shoot, this would be a serious game, but Cal couldn't shoot and I couldn't write too much at the half because the people next to me were kind of jerks and I ended up having to collect my pen and tickets from various parts of the Garden floor. You have no idea how much I dislike that Ohio State fan right now, you really don't. Even less than my usual disdain for Ohio State, I dislike that guy.
Lindsay Gottlieb went to the end of her bench earlier in the second half than UConn did, so we got a couple of minutes of Avigiel Cohen (nice little drive) and KC Waters (that's a big player there). Brittany Shine went in earlier and put together some decent minutes. Mikayla Lyles is a very substantial guard. Justine Hartman took up space in the middle and put in a pretty hook in the second half. She didn't seem to fit in with the rest of the very fast, very bouncy team. Kyra Dunn was pretty solid.
Reshanda Gray started the game off pretty hot, but like many of her teammates, she had severe issues with actually putting the ball in the basket. She gets good position, but she can't finish. This is not a recording yet. Courtney Range didn't seem to do anything, but there were rebounds. I've always had trouble with rebounds on teams that aren't mine. Hard to tell bodies apart when I'm not used to them. Brittany Boyd seemed to think that she could solve all her team's woes. Sometimes, you have to learn when not to shoot. She missed all kinds of shots: hard shots, easy shots, fast breaks, everything and anything. Her hands were exceptionally fast on defense, as she wrestled away plenty of loose balls from Connecticut players, but that didn't quite make up for the lousy, abhorrent shooting. Afure Jemerigbe always seemed to be in the middle of the play, but like her teammates, shooting was an issue. Hind Ben Abdelkader seemed to be the only Cal player with a fundamentally sound jump shot, even if it didn't go down very often. The folks around me were impressed with her, though that might just be because she didn't look as bad as the rest of the Bears did on offense. I still have to remember this is a very young team, but I can't help but feel that Gottlieb might need to bring in an assistant who specializes in fundamentals and mechanics. Cal's got the athleticism, the drive, and the instinct, but they don't have the skill- but skill can be learned.
We did not get to hear the alternative pronunciation of Briana that Briana Pulido uses (it does amuse me that Breanna, Briana, and Brianna are all pronounced ever so slightly differently). We did see Tierney Lawlor can a late three like it was nothing. She's got a real pretty shot. She could probably be in the rotation anywhere else in the state of Connecticut, but there are basketball players in the state of Connecticut who would rather be walk-ons at UConn. I sort of get it. I don't necessarily agree, and I think that mentality is bad for the game, but I understand it. Morgan Tuck seemed to be under orders to practice the midrange jumper- late in the game, she took three of them in a row, to go with the threes she hit earlier. She doesn't look like she should be taking threes, but they work. She's also physical underneath. I like her, and I know I'd like her more if she weren't a Husky, and I recognize that bias within myself. Kiah Stokes played well defensively once she was in the game. Saniya Chong looked a little tight- I think the Cal defense got into her head. Either that, or she felt the pressure of the contingent from Ossining staring down at her from the endcourt every time she came back to her side of the court. They cheered very loudly for her and even bought a Sweet Spot on Gardenvision to wish her luck. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis technically didn't start, but given that Geno brought her in before the first basket was even scored, and given that she started the second half, I think that was just a technicality. I think everyone held her breath when she went down on the elbow again, but the brace held. For a change, she wasn't just a three-point shooter- she brought other offense as well.
Bria Hartley missed a lot of easy shots, but demonstrated a fair amount of speed. This was the kind of game where people who think she should get drafted high will point at her physical gifts and people who don't think she should be drafted high will point at the mistakes she made, and everyone will walk away with the same opinions that they had before. Stefanie Dolson was limited because of early foul trouble, and by the time the number of fouls wasn't an issue, she was no longer necessary. Moriah Jefferson (whose first name was repeatedly butchered by the PA announcer, either as Moira or Moria (like the mines where lots of dwarves died), for the entire first half) was very quick and took a lot of hits to land hard on the ground. She had a gorgeous find of Dolson down low on a drop pass that a lot of players might have taken up themselves. Brianna Banks did work on the boards, and I like seeing her do well; it wipes out the memory of her writhing on the floor at St. John's. And then there was Breanna Stewart, who pretty much did all the things with the kind of cavalier... grace isn't the right word, neither is attitude, but in a manner that made it look entirely too easy. She had a baby hook that I rather liked. She took threes. She blocked shots with authority. She rebounded. I don't know how to put into perspective how good she was without just saying "she did everything", but that's the quickest way to sum it up.
After some dicey non-calls in the beginning of the game- one of the Cal players kept receiving hands to the face- things settled down, officiating-wise. Not that that would have been a concern in a thirty-point blowout. We were somewhat disappointed that Geno left Dolson in so late, but I've seen a lot of UConn games; I know that sometimes they have to leave a starter in just to make sure the deep reserves don't run the score up.
I don't think I'm ever going to develop a true tolerance for UConn fans, especially not in arenas I consider to be mine, but at least they spend money. It is what it is. :/ I'm tired of seeing UConn blowouts, though. Step your game up, y'all. If a team like St. John's can go toe-to-toe with UConn for a couple of years, teams with way more talent can do it.
Okay, so UConn was down a player each time, but they were close games! There's only so much of the glorified practice I can take.