Game day! We'll be coming to you on delay from Carnesecca Arena on the campus of St. John's University in Queens, New York, as the Red Storm take on the Highlanders of NJIT. It is my devout pregame hope that NJIT is not sufficiently inspired by their men's victory over Michigan to take down St. John's.
The dead red bird at the bus stop is probably not a good omen. We aren't Cardinals or Redbirds or even Robins, but it's probably still not a good omen.
There were precisely three other people seated when I came in, and one of them has since gotten up. I think I made it in early this time 'round.
Danaejah Grant has her shoulder wrapped, and has already had to fuss with the straps twice, including one time where she had Sandra Udobi helping her adjust them. I don't blame her for being uncomfortable, though. That strap cuts right down the middle of her chest. Ow.
Also, Sandie looks really nice today. She usually dresses well, but I really like this outfit. Can't tell from here if it's a dress or a blouse/vest/skirt combo, but she's working it.
Well, crud. They're doing extra work stretching out Aliyyah Handford. Not good if Aliyyah and Danaejah are both at half-speed. Okay, we're playing NJIT, but I bet that's what Michigan thought too. (And this is why we try to put some trust in the bench, Joe. They may be young and slightly stupid sometimes, but we need them.)
No, large troop of strangers, you can't sit in the band section. Eleven sections in this place and you want to sit in the band section?
Oh, I love that navy blue skyline in the red stripes on the sweatpants. And of course, the skyline socks, which I still want some of somehow.
At halftime it's 33-17 St. John's, and it looks like Aliyyah's quad has eased up. She's got 11 and Danaejah's got 14. Alana Dudley has eight for the Highlanders (who have really ugly uniforms, I'm sorry).
We have Girl Scouts! We don't seem to have cookies, though. Then again, I made the most gorgeous chocolate chip cookies I've ever baked yesterday, so this isn't too much of a loss.
The halftime kids got game! Not the most skilled in the world, but they have nice fundamentals and run a better break than most kids their age.
Autograph day! Get the freshmen and Kyra on the flag, get a new poster for the house... life is good. I think the trip up to Yale endeared us to them- the freshmen were all very outgoing, and even the upperclassmen seemed to have warmed up to us. (This may also be because Amber was busy being moderately embarrassed by her mother, who pulled out the dreaded Full Name Ultimatum, which Aliyyah proceeded to tease her about.) So we're planning another road trip.
(Side note: this is one thing I've noticed about women's basketball- show a team a little love and they'll reciprocate tenfold. I've seen it over and over again in my life as a fan of non-top-10 teams. It might not be that way with the elitest of the elite teams, but you show a little interest and they'll love you. It can lead to awkward situations, and possibly hugging.)
NJIT played everyone who was in uniform. Lots of minutes to go around. Bianca Picard is only a freshman, but the Trekkie in me hopes that she develops leadership skills so she can be Captain Picard. Ruta Vetra got her minutes late in both halves and hit a three against the subs. Olivia Dudley was last off the bench in both halves, as far as I could tell, and I think her team was rooting for her to do well. Ronni Grandison gave good monutes in the high post. Martina Matejcikova was a bit of a mismatch. I like her shooting, even fi her shots didn't go down. Camerin Spahn had a nice play in the second half for her basket.
Nicole Maticka is very tall, and used her height with some effectiveness against us, pulling rebounds out over players' heads. She went out in the second half with what looked like a painful neck injury- she was crumpled on the court for some time, with the trainer on his knees trying to talk her through the pain. Pinched nerve or something like that, I think- not spinal or anything like that, thank the sweet hypothetical baby Jesus. Leah Horton isn't afraid to use her size down low on both ends of the floor- I think she intimidated our reserves into giving her space for baskets in the second half. (We wondered if she's related to Mauri Horton, who played at Rutgers about fifteen years ago oh God I'm getting old.) Alyssa Albanese, despite her small size, drove the lane fearlessly- she had a pretty finger roll in the first half. Alana Dudley carried the offensive load in the first half, as one of the only players who could get a shot to go down for NJIT. The offense ran more through Horton in the second half, due to match-ups, and she didn't play as much, either. I remember very little about Kim Tullis except her look of disbelief when she was called for a foul on the fast break in the second half.
I don't know who the memorial patch on NJIT's uniforms is for- didn't get a good look.
Play ALL the reserves! Even walk-on Kimberly Spruill got into the game and pulled down a board. So happy for her! We wanted her and Crystal Simmons to get points so badly, you have no idea. Crystal was solid, if unremarkable. I think she needs to have a better idea of where she's supposed to be on the floor on defense. Imani Littleton rebounded well, but could not hold on to the ball. Go up strong, Imani! Don't bring that back down where the guards can get back at it! Love her potential. Tamesha Alexander ran a solid, steady offense, though she was firing a lot of her passes high, especially to Danaejah Grant and Kyra Dunn. Would have loved to see her hit that three- the bench was all set to explode for her. Selina Archer set screens and bodied up on Horton. Kyra Dunn continued tapping out balls and pulled down a couple of rebounds herself. I'm actually amazed she never played volleyball. She's got the build, the fingertip skills (if that's even a thing), and the shorts (she appears to have had them hemmed, and they fit her much less saddle-baggy). Tonoia Wade had a couple of baskets in quick succession, and if she can hit threes with any consistency, I am all in favor of that. Heaven knows we need a three-point specialist.
Amber Thompson was a rock on the inside. Amber rebounds all the things. She didn't have a rebound in the second half, but she played less than a minute, so I guess I can cut her some slack. Jade Walker showed both her inside and her outside game, and did not! get called for any stupid fouls, which is a minor miracle. Danaejah Grant had the jumper working today, though not the three-point shot. The rim was not always kind to her. Aaliyah Lewis facilitated, not always directly, and I think she had a deflection on one of Albanese's shots (one of the few times Aaliyah will have a height advantage on an opponent). Aliyyah Handford had lanes all day and used them freely. Her quad might have been bothering her before the game, but playing and scoring sure loosened it up.
The starters barely played in the second half. It was glorious. Not that we played super-double-plus great, but with Big East season coming up, games where our key players only play seven or eight second half minutes are fine by me. Rest 'em up.
Officiating was unremarkable. Interesting interaction near the end of the game where one official signaled to make it a short timeout for subs, and another indicated that it was the under-4.
There were no Girl Scout cookies, but I seem to have gotten a Girl Scout business card. Troop 4839, Greater New York Council, for life, yo.
NJIT doesn't prove much, but it's good to see the kids get extended minutes. Auburn will be more of a challenge. Rest up, Johnnies. We'll be there.