Hello, internet! Did you miss me? You missed me, didn't you? Actually, it's all right if you didn't. But your intrepid blogger, like her or not, is back in action with a preseason tilt at Walsh Gymnasium, as the Seton Hall Pirates host the Philadelphia Rams.
Why are there so many people on this train? It's not even 9:30 on a Saturday morning, and it's standing room only. Go back to sleep! I want to be back in bed, but it's a noon tip, so.
That awkward moment when you wait twenty minutes in the lobby for the nice folks with the ticket table to come out, then realize that there aren't actually tickets for this game since it's a preseason game.
Why would you drive onto the campus of Seton Hall with a Rutgers R stuck to your car? They're magnetic. Take it off when you're in South Orange.
Seton Hall's season ticket shirts are absolutely awesome, and our homies at South Orange Juice need to find a way to hook me up. "If you can't see, stand up!" is the creed I live by as a sports fan, because if I'm standing, there's probably a reason. (It does take on a bit of dark humor when the first guy you see wearing it is in a wheelchair, though.)
I feel like some sort of perverse ninja. No one here seems to know me without my husband around. (Well, except Coach Bozzella, but he pretty much knows everyone. He's that kind of guy, which is how we got into this mess in the first place.)
At halftime, Seton Hall is up 47-32, after allowing a small Philadelphia run to close the half. Monica Schacker leads the Rams with 13 points. Ka-Deidre Simmons leads the Pirates with 12 points.
Philadelphia's coach seems to be a statement kind of guy, between the technical foul and the "I chose Division II shirt" he's wearing.
Janee Johnson going down on a drive by Bria Young is an early contender for Best Performance by a Supporting Actress of the 2014-15 season. There were a couple of early submissions, though I don't know if preseason games count towards those awards.
I don't know if saying I liked what I saw from Seton Hall would be the right turn of phrase, but I like the potential that I saw there.
Philadelphia sent in a big chunk of their reserves late in the game, so they didn't have much of an opportunity to make an impression. Erin Rafter's shot release was noticeably awkward, though. (Sorry.) Mary Newell played the majority of the bench minutes and was pretty solid down low. She was called upon to do what I thought was a surprising amount of ballhandling for a post player, and she had an equally surprisingly delicate touch with the ball at midcourt, so perhaps the ballhandling shouldn't have been a surprise. She seemed to disconnect from the game in the second half, when the ball was going to her less and the Rams were down big- her facial expressions were those of a young woman who didn't want to be where she was and didn't care who noticed.
Tori Arnao had a nice knack for finding the ball at the basket, and for finding space for herself down low as well. Bria Young reminds me of a smaller-scale Sky Lindsay, as if someone had taken Sky and gently compressed her so that she was a little bit smaller and her face was a little bit less long. She looked like she was often in the right place at the right time to make the play. The box score does not bear out my perception of Monica Schacker's stroke, as she looked like she had an utterly pure stroke and couldn't miss, but there are a lot of misses in that box score. She got open a lot and made Seton Hall regret it. She cooled off a bit in the second half, but I wasn't able to determine if it was because the Pirates improved their defense, if she was tired, or if her teammates were less able to get her the shots she preferred. Najah Jacobs had some very nice baskets on the fast break, including one spin move where even the ardent Seton Hall fans next to me basically said, "all right, you can have that one, we ain't even mad". She's a nice, solid player. Alex Heck took a hit to the face that awakened the wrath of Philadelphia's coach, but I don't remember what else she did on the floor.
I was impressed with Philadelphia. For a D-II school they hung well with a D-I team that's on the rise. I don't think they were going to be able to satisfy their coach's expectations on defense in this one- he seemed pretty intense about it.
Seton Hall put in a lot of players, so this part is going to be pretty thick, just to let you know.
Lubirdia Gordon has a solid build and sets a good screen, but she seems to have small hands for her size, and that worries me. She's still trying to find her place in the defense- she needed a lot of direction. Jordan Molyneaux was impressive in her short minutes, positioning herself well on the defensive end. Jordan Mosley rebounded well for a guard- she found ways to be in the right place at the right time. She needs to work on her shooting touch, though, which is a recurring theme with this team. There are some horrendous shooting motions there. Claire Lundberg has a pretty stroke from the corner, and so far it's clear that her role is to be a three-point specialist. She has height, and they're using her a little bit in the middle, but she still needs a lot of coaching to be more of a three. She also needs to get used to the college line. I think she was still ranging. Tara Inman looks determined to prove herself- she hustled right through a chair and into the bleachers at one point. I like her intensity. Teresa Kucera appears to have misplaced her shot, and I hope she finds it again soon, as that's been her strength for this team. Chizoba Ekedigwe got in and proceeded to pretty much flee contact at the slightest excuse. She was more interested in going inside on offense than on defense, but still backed out when Newell was in the game. She's got to learn to not be afraid of contact, or someone is going to end up tearing their hair out. Kathleen Egan hustled but otherwise left no impression.
I got the sense that Coach was using the bench players not so much because the exigencies of the situation called for them, but to see who they were in game action, what they would do in a game, and how they would react as compared to practice situations. There were a lot of bench minutes.
I love what Janee Johnson brings to this team. She's tough on both ends of the floor and loves to go after the ball. I don't know if she still has the shooting range she thinks she does, but she does create space with that jumper a little bit. Tabatha Richardson-Smith took a lot of threes. I mean a lot of threes. She got on a little run in the second half, but otherwise, her shots were going all over the place. I liked her work on the press. If she's going to play three in this lineup, I'd like to see her get some more rebounds (granted, Bra'Shey and Janee don't leave a lot of them for other forwards, but still). Speaking of Bra'Shey Ali, I think I was sitting behind her family, and I'm glad I was, because she had an awesome game. She was all over the boards, holding on to a lot of the balls that she was tipping out last year, or at least tapping them to teammates instead of opponents, and she was able to finish on a lot of shots close the basket. I do like her rather a lot. Daisha Simmons was hobbled by foul trouble early on, to the point where I was starting to wonder if any of the officials were Alabama alumni. She looked good, and she had fantastic synergy with Ka-Deidre Simmons. I can already imagine the mattress jokes. Ka-Deidre Simmons ran her team well and took over at key intervals. She makes this team go, and I think she knows it. Possibly to their detriment, so do her teammates. Much like sometimes happens with the Liberty, if she's playing well and their shots aren't falling, they expect her to pick them up, and she expects herself to pick them up. If they're going to go far in this conferene, or in the NCAA in general, they need to get over that.
I was disappointed in the officiating in the second half. It's not that there were a lot of blatant no-calls and missed calls, but there were a couple of block/charges that seemed inconsistent, and Jordan Molyneaux got all ball on that second foul. But when the differential is at 10-1, it does tend to cause a fan to raise an eyebrow or two. The total fouls were even in the first half, so I suspect that the Philly coach's T might have played into the officiating in the second half.
Seton Hall has very odd rims. Lots and lots of shots rimming out for both teams.
I think they've switched from Pepsi to Coke. Point in their favor.
That hike to and from South Orange station is a doozy, especially alone.
I'm looking forward to seeing how Seton Hall develops this year. You should be too.