The good thing about there being relatively few weekday games for St. John's this season is that very few of my game notes are started on one of the least reliable bus lines in the fleet, while I grind my teeth in eternal frustration at just missing the bus no matter when I try to sneak out of work, and thus biting my nails to the quick when I'm not grinding my teeth, hoping that I'll make all my connections before 7PM.
Tonight's a revenge match, St. John's looking to make up for that inexcusable loss to Xavier. I'm rocking my red- the supporter's scarf and hat are useful in this cold cold cold cold weather, and the jersey is a nice extra layer. The gates are open by now, and I'm still winding my way down a street in Elmhurst. I hate the MTA so much.
At halftime, St. John's is up 44-23. Amber Thompson has 10 points, at least two blocks, and what feels like ALL the rebounds. Keylantra Langley leads all scorers off the bench with 13 points and sticky defense. Ashley Wanninger has seven to lead Xavier. There's been a lot of hesitation by St. John's, but they're playing excelltn defense and pretty muc h not giving up any offensive rebounds- I think there were maybe two possessions where Xavier got another look.
Lots of offense in this CYO game. I'm impressed.
When Keylantra Langley traveled to keep St. John's from running out the clock at the end of the first half, Selina Archer demonstrated a most epic face palm. It was a good three seconds long and included downward action. I love me a good face palm, though not the reason for one.
Xavier seemed a little short-handed tonight- they only played nine, so there was always at least one starter in the game. It didn't look good on them when they were down thirty and their starters were still going to the basket, but we did the math later. Sydney Neal got to the lane late in the game and had a couple of and-1 opportunities. She was scrappy on the floor as well. Maddison Blackwell showed off a little bit of range- our bigs weren't sure how to handle her taking threes. Kayla Davis was a bit confusing, even with the different spelling, but ineffective.
Shatyra Hawkes decided that she was going to go to the basket, come hell or high water. She's very, very short for a basketball player, but she's determined, with more vertical than you might expect from her build. I'm working under the theory that she's another reincarnation of Hawkgirl, as her name is similar enough to pass and that would explain the levitation. Aliyah Zantt was in the middle of a lot of plays, which was to her team's detriment in the endgame, when she went down in a collision with (I think) Mallory Jones and came up holding her ankle. Ashley Wanninger looked more to distribute than to shoot. I'm not sure this was to her team's benefit. We weren't guarding the three well, and I thought I remembered her being a shooter. I could be wrong, though. Leah Schaefer set screens for her teammates, but couldn't buy a bucket. I don't remember Briana Glover. I honestly don't remember when she was in.
Xavier really did not seem fond of timeouts. They broke the huddle early almost every time, which disrupted a couple of the cheer routines. Please don't run over the flag boy, yo.
Mallory Jones can shoot, but that's really about it. She doesn't defend well, she barely held on to the one rebound she was able to get, she doesn't pass well... at least she shot well. Selina Archer could do with being a little more assertive on the boards, but I liked seeing her get easy buckets on the inside. I approve of big posts getting the job done down low, and I think it should happen more often unless those posts are playing against my team. She also helped disrupt a couple of loose balls. Aaliyah Lewis finally got to pick on someone her own size, and her speed came in handy during her first run in the second half. Later in the game, her speed was not as much of a necessity because we were trying to run down the clock. Her decision-making and her decision-making speed will hopefully improve with more experience. Jade Walker got called for fouls, to the point where everyone just assumed the foul was going to be on her if she was on the floor- there was a play where Danaejah Grant got called for the foul and the announcer initially gave it as Jade's foul. I'm not sure if Jade was amused or not. Danaejah looked to score, which was good, but I'd like to see a little more defensive effort out of her. Keylantra Langley brought the offense tonight, and for once it wasn't all at the end of the shot clock. She got to the line, she went to the hole, she sank threes, and she even kept up her sticky defense. She had one particularly fierce board where she made it clear that no one in any universe had any chance of taking that ball away from her.
It didn't seem like Briana Brown was shooting a lot, though I think a couple of those misses were really tightly contested. She came up with big shots in the second half- not that the lead was in very much danger at any point, but she abused the corner three, and rebounded well as well. Eugeneia McPherson was the offensive catalyst early, driving hard to the lane and then setting up her teammates. She cooled down later, but by that point she really didn't need to do much scoring. Sandra Udobi provided good defense late in the game and even got a little jumper to fall. I worry about here a little bit, though, if only because that brace on her knee was huge. I think it was actually bigger than the one Rebecca Lobo wore after her ACL tears, and we called that the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Amber Thompson grabbed all the rebounds. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but only a slight one, given that she out-rebounded Xavier all by herself in the first half. She didn't have to be quit as awesome in the second half, because the game was pretty well in hand by that point, but she was still pretty fierce. She owned the paint on both ends of the floor, cleaning up rebounds and swatting shots with authority- and keeping those swats inbounds, which is a pretty impressive feat, since most of the big dramatic swats tend to end up out of bounds. Aliyyah Handford continues to worry me- she showed flashes of her old confident self in drives to the basket, but there was a lot less of her defensive acumen present than I'd grown used to. We need her to contribute at both ends of the floor, not just on offense. I like when she cuts to the basket; I like when she's awesome. I just kind of want her to be ALL the awesome.
The team's defense was good tonight. I was pleased. They didn't deny the three as well as I would have expected them to try, given the way that we lost the last game, but there's only so much complaining you can do when you win by as much as we did. They ran the lane very well and got easy baskets right at the rim.
The officiating crew was quite communicative with each other, getting into huddles at pretty much every timeout. There was a long delay because of some clock issues late in the second half, which was sort of frustrating when we were up thirty and just wanted to get this over with so we could all go home. I think at least one of the officials was new and another was relatively inexperienced; the oldest of the three did a lot of talking. They let a little more contact go than I was comfortable with, but that's a personal preference.
Hello, young alumni! One of you forgot your pen, but we were very glad of your company for this game. We always like people who chant and stop with us.
I don't know what Xavier's coach said or did to earn the tech- we didn't see anything, and when play stopped we thought it was a timeout- but I can't say I'm surprised. He spent a lot of time out on the court.
Well, someone at St. John's listened. The team wore "We Back Pat" warm-up shirts, and Gina hooked us up with shirts in our size. Highly approved.
I think this team took the loss in Cincy personally, and this team is good at having a chip on its shoulder. It's when they're the hunted that they have a problem. I'm worried about what we're going to do at Seton Hall, and not just because that's going to be a very awkward game for your intrepid blogger. Seton Hall presses, and I don't know if we can handle the press. But we'll find out on Saturday.