Your intrepid blogger has decided she doesn't like working Fridays, so we've decided to swing down to Philly for the NY metro teams' road trip to Villanova. Seton Hall is first up, on this cold-but-hey-it-could-be-worse Friday. As I tap these words out on my trusty laptop Jocelyn, we're sitting outside the Pavilion two hours before tip (we, ah, slightly miscalculated how far across campus we were going, and the bookstore's on the other side of campus, so we can't even kill time and buy tchochkes there).
(Also, Jocelyn isn't particularly trusty, but I love her anyway.)
(Ironically, we're staying right off Drexel's campus and among Penn's academic buildings, but neither of those teams is home on Saturday. But we did stop by Drexel's bookstore and buy a souvenir for Moooose.)
The Villanova men are passing us by on their way to a team expedition to a Sixers game. No, I don't know what they did to spark Jay Wright's ire either, but that's just cruel and unusual punishment there.
We mistook Nova's bus for the SHU bus, but I think the Pirates are coming now. Woo! Go Seton Hall! I should probably put gloves on. Poor Jocelyn is frozen. Literally- I think part of her screen got damaged from the cold.
Villanova's band rocks hockey jerseys, which is pretty awesome. I'm pretty sure one of them is also a Queenie. And 55 is a number high on my list. (5 is my favorite number and Vickie Johnson is one of my all-time favorites.)
The Pavilion is a fascinating blend of the old and the new- shiny video boards across from hard wooden bleachers, a slick track-cam sliding past the peculiar contours of the building's roof, retro-styled banners honoring players recent and not so recent. Not sure what to think about all the Wildcat women shown with the t-shirt jerseys, as I'm pretty sure that they weren't wearing the t-shirts in 2003.
Many of the usual suspects have come up from Jersey for this one, and there are rumors of buses yet to come. Serious business, yo.
Child in UNC shirt, you are ridiculously lost. I guess the shade of blue is right.
Good Lord. The Nova player in this ad has eyes that are Villanova blue. Either they need to lay off the filters or that is taking team colors TOO FAR.
Wonderful acappella anthem. I do love a good vocal group.
You may have noticed there were no halftime notes, and that's because your intrepid blogger needed refreshments after screaming her head off in the first half. I never thought I would see the day where Seton Hall had fans energized enough to organize a bus down to Villanova. I never thought I'd hear a group chanting and cheering and clapping the way the Seton Hall travel crew did. I never dreamed that the second time I saw a team's cheer and dance squads follow them on the road and cheer from the stands would be for Seton Hall. But Seton Hall sent a bus, and that bus had cheer and dance, and they had their signs and pom-poms, and we couldn't NOT get loud. It was exhausting and exhilarating and glorious. It's also a little harder to focus on individual performances, especially for the opponent, when you're screaming your head off like a crazy person, but I'll do what I can.
The bench didn't necessarily play a lot, and they didn't necessarily rack up the numbers, but they did their jobs and shone in brief spurts. Lubirdia Gordon saw time in the first half and had a couple of nice baskets down low. Jordan Mosley had a nifty steal and a couple of strong boards. Kathleen Egan provided a little defense down low, but when Villanova gets low, they get very rough, so she was outmassed. Tiffany Jones played the bulk of the center minutes for her more polished offensive game- she was a bit awkward defensively, and only a pass foul kept her in the game. But she came up with big shots and big boards.
I swear Daisha Simmons gets taller every time I see her. She drove the lane without fear and occasionally without sense, throwing up shots at the slightest hint of contact, whether getting the call was a realistic expectation or not. She tore it up on the boards, both at the rim and reading outside. Tabatha Richardson-Smith got hot early, then cooled down (the looooooooong three attempt that went wild was, IMO, the beginning of the end). Chizoba Ekedigwe contributed defensively, though she was a bit reluctant to come out to the arc (which you cannot be against Villanova). Janee Johnson killed it on the boards today. I'd like to see her take fewer long shots, but if they go down, I won't protest too much. Ka-Deidre Simmons took over in the latter portion of the game. She was solid throughout, but when it got tight and Villanova looked like they were ready to do that thing where they win the tight game because that's how Harry Perretta rolls, Didi decided that wasn't happening. She and Daisha made the hustle plays. She got hit in the head and kicked in the stomach on two different plays (only one of which was called a foul) and still made the right play at the right time.
There were a couple of stretches, at the end of the first half and in the middle of the second half, where it seemed like the Pirates were content to play at Villanova's pace, stalling the ball and taking jumpers. Can't let that happen.
Villanova's rotations seemed inconsistent from half to half, but I'm not sure if that's a Villanova thing, or a me not noticing thing, or a Perretta changing things up thing. I liked what I saw out of Samantha Wilkes, both on the boards and on the pretty pass to Taylor Holeman for the soft finger roll. I have a block down for Jordan Dillard, but I think I accidentally credited her with one of Katherine Coyer's plays, so I got nothing for her, or for Brandi Teague. Alex Louin is tall for a guard, and needs to pick on people her own size. Taylor Holeman brought the offense, but she always has; she makes sure that the pace doesn't fall off when the bench comes into the game. She had a stronger midrange than long-range game this time around, with some odd hitches in her shot.
Katherine Coyer crushed a big block in the first half on a corner three. Killed it. She's longer than her sister. Caroline Coyer did a little bit of everything, and thus was not easily remembered for any one thing. She hit a lot of threes. That was annoying. Kavunaa Edwards was hot very early, but we remembered to close on her eventually. We were not so clever with Emily Leer. She hit threes, she established space down low, and I wish to do unprintable things with her beautiful hook shot. (I have a thing for hook shots. Not the players who take them, per se, but the shots themselves.) Her foul trouble was helpful for us. I do not remember Lauren Burford doing anything of note.
Villanova had really nice ball movement, and they can shoot- but some of them look like they were taught to shoot the exact same way Shelley Pennefather shot the ball... except that Pennefather was double-jointed in her wrists. Doesn't quite work as well. You see some very strange exaggerated motion in their shots.
I expected nothing good out of an officiating crew that included both Maj Forsberg and Joseph Vaszily, and I was right. There were a lot of ticky-tack calls for the home team, but what really got me was when Ka-Deidre Simmons was hit in the head with no call. I was disappointed and distressed. Don't ignore headshots!
We managed to wangle a ride back to our hotel from Aleesha Powell's family (Aleesha must wonder why her dad likes the crazy people who can't shut up). So we were hanging out a little after the game. Jordan Mosley's family was there (which did neatly explain why someone was hanging out at a Nova game in Temple gear; my understanding is that that is frowned upon in that establishment). Tab still doesn't seem to like me, but y'know what? I was a Johnnie long before Tab was a Pirate, and I'll be a Johnnie long after she graduates. I like Seton Hall, and I love what they're building there, but my team is my team.
Villanova band is very solid. I prefer DePaul's arrangement of "All of the Lights", but Nova sells the song better, and they bring in the cymbals to end each phrase, in a wonderfully dramatic fashion. It took a while for the Nova crowd to get started, but I think we shamed them into it.
Their cheer team pulled off what was essentially a non-ice version of the Death Spiral, only with two female cheerleaders per dude cheerleader, and it was amazing. SHU cheer was professionally impressed.
That was an emotionally satisfying experience, and not just because we won. Being part of something bigger is always special.