Your intrepid blogger was bound and determined to go to Bridgeport, whether or not her team made the trip, so here we are three rows back in the endcourt behind where the bands will be, watching as the arena starts to fill up in shades of blue. Unsurprisingly, the dominant groups are UConn and Delaware. Delaware brought at least three buses, and it pleases me that they're genuine Delaware...ites. Ians. Ers. Whatever one calls a person from Delaware. I'm pretty sure a couple of folks from the men's basketball team are here, and I saw someone in a jersey that wasn't 11.
There appears to be some sort of strategic alliance between some of the Delaware fans and the Maryland fans. I find that fascinating. I guess regional loyalty beats out the mutual tie of Delle Donne.
If someone behind me doesn't stop spreading pistachio shells around the section like an ill-mannered health-conscious baseball player, I'm going to have to go Noo Yawk on them. Really, people.
My husband and I are the only people wearing St. John's gear, and yes, we've gotten some peculiar looks, but I don't actually care. I'm going to represent my team even if they're not here.
Delaware band is in front of us. Love the guy with the YouDee on his trumpet. Will have to acquire a foam YouDee at some point to add to the souvenir collection. They did a good anthem with a very colonial feel to it (which makes sense, since they have the Revolutionary-era name history).
It's 41-27 Kentucky at halftime, and so far only Elena Delle Donne and Danielle Parker have looked capable of playing at Kentucky's level. I'm impressed at Delle Donne's speed and ability to absorb contact, something which she seems to have improved upon. Parker is rebounding like crazy. These may be the worst officials I have ever seen- at the beginning, everything was a jump ball, then everything was against Kentucky, then everything was against Delaware- and by everything I mean leg whips and forearms to the face. We're lucky no one got seriously hurt.
Kelsey Buchanan really mixed it up on the inside with the Kentucky posts, and then acted surprised when she got called for a foul. Aww, that's cute. Jaquetta May came off the bench first in the first half, and from what I can glean from the box score and my obstructed view from around the stanchion, she worked loose a lot of offensive boards (I think two or three of the were on a play near the end of the game, when Delaware had four chances at the basket and couldn't come away with a basket). Trumae Lucas was an offensive catalyst in the second half, and had some great defensive plays too. Stephanie Leon's minutes were near the end of the first half- I think she was just there to fill time.
I loved watching Danielle Parker rebound. Loved it. She was tough. Couldn't shoot (though the rim in front of the Kentucky/Maryland bench wasn't kind to anyone), but I loved her rebounding. Lauren Carra got in foul trouble early, and though her three at the end of the first half was cold-blooded and key to keeping the Blue Hens in it, she didn't wake up until the second half. I think I remember Kayla Miller bringing up the ball every so often, but also that she didn't seem to be bringing it up as often as one would expect from a point guard- the responsibility for that seemed to fall to everyone else on the floor (Parker, Delle Donne, Carra, etc.). I think Delaware would have needed her to be more of a factor to survive. Same for Akeema Richards. I think she was in for her defense, but I'm not sure.
Elena Delle Donne took over the game for Delaware, for both good and ill. She was spectacular, and she's been working on the parts of her game that were weaknesses when she was younger. She'll always be a step slow on defense, but she's been improving on the offensive end, and when she decides she's going to get aggressive, no power on this earth is going to get in her way. She deserved every moment of the standing ovation she received, and I wish her all the best. She seems like a really sweet kid.
Azia Bishop gave some good minutes in the lane. Brittany Henderson got on the boards, and even if she didn't pull the rebounds down, she made room for her teammates to get them. Bria Goss was solid, especially on defense. For me, the real defensive star was Jelleah Sidney, who drew the unenviable task of having to guard Elena Delle Donne when Plan A didn't work. She was also a constant presence on the boards, especially on the offensive end. I remember seeing her under the basket a lot. They also got good if unremarkable minutes from Janee Thompson.
A'dia Mathies seems to have decided that she needs to take over for her team. This is both good and bad- good because they need her not to have a game like she had against Navy, bad because her judgment is not necessarily the greatest. Jennifer O'Neill missed her first three shots badly, I started swearing, and then she started hitting everything in sight, so I shut up. She was a little careless with the ball, but she was the offensive catalyst they needed her to be. It was great to see Kastine Evans starting to look more like herself. Her three at the end of the first half was cold-blooded, and she hit a second big one in the second half as well. Love it when a player's moments are choice. DeNesha Stallworth spent most of the game on the bench because of early foul trouble. When she was in the game, she mostly stuck to turnaround moves with limited success. But the foul trouble really got to her. Samarie Walker was fierce on the boards. She really went after it, though she came up oddly short on some of her shots.
The referees were... oh, let's just call them interesting and decide that they hope to stay home for Monday's game. The Delaware fans were complaining that they were biased towards Kentucky, the Kentucky bench was screaming at the differential, and I was screaming that maybe they should figure out how to call something other than a jump ball.
Really liked YouDee's performance. So far, he's the best mascot I've seen in the tournament
and the redheaded guy who plays him is, like, way hot omg. Also seriously impressed by the biceps on the male cheerleaders for Delaware. Those three guys could probably in combination bench-press the team bus.
Lots of Delaware fans there, and I think most of them were actual-facts Delaware fans, not UConn fans flying false colors because OMG ELENAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. And they got loud. And I hope to God they stay loud without Delle Donne.
I think every man in the SEC is required to slick back his hair with industrial-grade gel unless physically impossible. Search your feelings, you know it to be true.
Very surprised that Kentucky's defense wasn't more frenetic. They seem to have been sitting back more. They're going to need to ratchet it up against UConn.