Good afternoon, fellow basketball-type people! Your intrepid blogger and about a hundred of her closest friends (at this point) are gathered in Carnesecca Arena for the Red Storm's game against Providence. I'm going to allow myself a few minutes of bitterness at this point- there are four games on my schedule that I would have loved to be at, and if this weren't St. John's it would probably be third on the list. (Iona was at Manhattan, George Washington at Fordham. Though I think I had my Ivies mixed up.)
Providence is wearing pink sneakers with their black jerseys, but if you have a Yow in your school's athletic heritage, you can wear whatever pink suits you at whatever time.
There's a guy in a St. John's jersey who either did something accidentally brilliant or did something intentionally brilliant- his little daughter is wearing an NC State jersey. It's probably an accident, but it looks soul-satisfyingly right.
Someone in the band really likes Qdoba.
The stands are filling up a little more now that the kids from the clinic are showing up. As long as they stay on the other side of the arena and go look good on camera, I'm okay with that. Go be annoying somewhere else, small children who don't really care about basketball.
Small pregame ceremony for Eugeneia McPherson's 1000th point, garnered at Seton Hall last weekend. (Poor Briana Brown had to run back to the locker room and missed the whole thing, such as it was. I'm assuming she did the stalwart stoic captain thing during the entire locker room talk, then realized she had to ue the ladies' room.)
We're also trying to figure out if there's some kind of flu bug going around the team- a lot of people running off to the side or looking under the weather, and Gina's shot has been weirdly off.
It's 43-30 St. John's at halftime, and Joe Tartamella is confident enough in his lead that the next to last offensive play of the half was an attempted alley-oop from Aaliyah Lewis to Mallory Jones. Unfortunately, Mallory has about as much vertical as I do. It was 15-11 Providence at one point, and then St. John's got angry. There was a 21-4 stretch at one point. Providence has the leading scorers, but it's been an all-around offense for St. Johns, with good defensive plays as well.
It stayed a solid team effort all the way through. The defense came up with big plays when they needed them, and everyone was looking to pass- almost too much. This might have been the best game, 1 to 11, that I've seen out of St. John's this year.
I suspect that Providence was short-handed, since I can't think of any reason to play only eight players in a game that was pretty well out of hand for about twenty-five minutes. Karin Robinson came off the bench in the first half, but started the second half. She was fearless in driving the lane and going to the basket. She seemed to be all over the place. Miranda Simpson gave some good minutes off the bench with the foul trouble for Aliyah Miller and Alexis Harris, but got into a little bit of foul trouble herself. For a guard, she's very physical. Annie Russian came in to set screens and generally be in everyone's way.
Alexis Harris was very tall, and she grabbed rebounds. I get the feeling that if she hadn't been in foul trouble, she could have caused us a lot of match-up problems. But she got three fairly quick ones in the first half, and that took her out of the game. I barely even remember her, except that she was tall. Sarah Beal seemed to be running the offense pretty well, and drove without fear to get to the line. Aliyah Miller started the game on fire- got a couple of early fouls that caused her some trouble, and seemed to retreat somewhat in the second half, though that might have had to do with the margin. She was very impressive down low. Very impressive for a freshman, too. And we kind of know from impressive freshman forwards at this point. Evi Iiskola seemed to have been inspired by watching the hockey game last night- she was very physical, a bit grabby, and seemed inclined to rush headlong into a play without properly getting ready to shoot. There were also some extra dramatics. She seemed to specialize in the Plenette Pierson arm-lock and drew a foul off Amber Thompson from it. Tori Rule looked good early, but faded out a little bit as the game went on.
Providence has a fair amount of talent, and a fair amount of young talent (Beal and Miller are both freshmen). But they don't seem to have confidence yet, and they need to work on the fundamentals- there were at least three fast breaks where they didn't finish the shot. Some of those were well-defended by St. John's, but some of them were well-defended because the Friars didn't know how to best utilize the breaks.
Mallory Jones might not have ups, and watching her try to cut to the basket is rather like watching someone try to cut steak with a butter knife, but she does have a mighty pretty shot, and you can tell that she's trying. Aaliyah Lewis needs to be a bit more assertive in her decision-making- I think there was a possession where everyone in section 2 was screaming for her to get the ball to Danaejah Grant- but that's a freshman thing, and something I expect her to get over sometime in the next four years or so. Selina Archer contributed good rebounding late in the game and got inside for a couple of shots. Danaejah Grant brought the offense and stepped up when Aliyyah Handford was hurt briefly. We got a lot of offense from her, but not as much defense as I or a coach might have liked. Keylantra Langley started the second half after Sandra Udobi was less than stellar. She came up with big stops and big shots. Jade Walker had another spectacular game on the inside, using her size to get to the basket and then showing off the long jumper from the perimeter. I don't think she should have been called for a foul on that block, but I could be wrong.
Sandra Udobi looked out of sorts all day. I don't know if her knee was bothering her, or if she was feeling under the weather, but other than the big block at the end of the game, she really didn't have much of an impact. Amber Thompson went strong to the basket and was big offensively early, but she missed a lot of shots in close near the end of the game. The rim was not kind to either her or Danaejah. She came up with plenty of boards. Eugeneia McPherson couldn't get her shot to fall- I do wonder if she was having issues seeing the basket for whatever reason. She more than made up for it with her passing. Briana Brown was consistently playing over her size, snagging rebounds and playing tough defense. She started scoring more in the second half, when Providence made a little bit of a run. Aliyyah Handford was solid, though not the spectacular superstar she was in the first half of the season. Still, I'm glad she seems to have gotten her second wind.
Facepalm inducing moment of the day: Jade Walker on a fast break, deciding to get cute and try to pass behind the back to the trailer (Aaliyah Lewis?) when she had had an outlet on the wing (either Aliyyah or Danaejah). Joe was not amused, but no one really was.
We all held our breath when Aliyyah went down, and there was a moment of facepalm when Joe tried to put her back into the game after the trainer had come out onto the floor. Joe, you can't do that.
Officiating was the usual blend of unbelievable and ordinary.
I love my team. I do occasionally want to smack them upside the head, but I love them, especially when they pretty much all do all the things.