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St. John's declaws Pitt

Just the Facts, Ma'am: 10 St. John's players got in the game, scored, and rebounded in the Red Storm's 61-32 win over Pittsburgh. Shenneika Smith's 14 points and nine rebounds led St. John's; Loliya Briggs had 10 points to lead the Panthers. For the cruelty of rims, the revelations of the bench, missed jumpers, sparkly vests, and ramping up for the weekend, join your intrepid and somewhat purple blogger after the jump.


I do enjoy watching my team lay a good old-fashioned smackdown sometimes. There's something to be said for a competitive game, and something to be said for a tight game, but sometimes you just need to see the end of the bench get some minutes and cheer for them.

Nice job on the anthem tonight by the band, and the dance team was on point as well. Good luck at nationals, guys! (And let me know where I can get that vest in XXL. Shiiiiny!)

I think a couple of the guys from the men's team were sitting behind us. If they were, I hope they enjoyed our antics. We aim to please.

So, Pitt. I'd love to blame Pat Coyle for this, but that's just an old habit as a Liberty fan. I don't think she really has enough influence to explain just how bad this team was. There were hints of the things that drove us nuts in New York- shot selection, long-running offense that led nowhere- but I don't think it's all on her.

They dug pretty deep into their roster at the end, putting Brianna Brizzi and Bridget Higgins on the floor in the last minute. Marquel Davis really brought the intensity in the second half on defense; there were times when I thought she was the only player who was interested in trying to win for Pitt. The odd skin condition on Krista Pettepier's shoulder kept distracting me from her play, but that's because I'm insufferably nosy, and I've accepted that. She had an unfortunate tendency to pass and save the ball directly to Red Storm players. Okay, I don't think it's unfortunate, but I'm a bit biased in that matter. I remember when Ashlee Anderson was a factor for the Panthers, but she was mostly just in both teams' way. The box score says that Chyna Golden played, but I don't even remember seeing her number on the floor, which just shows how effective she was. There's a difference between not hearing a player's name and not seeing them, you know.

Asia Logan took a lot of good shots... and missed them. She had at least three open jumpers that she clanked, including one that she seemed to leave short like she thought Shenneika was going to swoop upon it like Batman. If a defense is going to leave a scorer like Logan open, she should at least educate them on why this is a bad idea by hitting the shot. I feel vaguely disappointed, because players from opposing teams that are leaving the conference totally have some kind of obligation to help out young players learning defense. Loliya Briggs, despite her amusingly distracting first name (it's the spelling, there are too many jokes available, I'm sorry) played... not necessarily badly. Unremarkably might be the best word. I was impressed with Brianna Kiesel's defensive effort. She snagged a nice steal in the first half. Cora McManus was a big tough presence rebounding in the paint, boxing out effectively even if she couldn't pull down the rebound herself. When she went to the line at the end of the first half, I was so hoping that she would either miss both free throws or hit both free throws just so ESPN's graphics would be messed up.

Ladies and gentlemen, this game was so out of hand that Jennifer Blanding got into the game in the unofficial third quarter. We all love Big Love in the stands at Carnesecca, but you know a game's a blowout when she's playing half of the second half. And she looked good! She totally should have been credited with at least one steal and another block, and I think the rim just didn't like her. What I liked seeing from her was the way she set screens and made sure her teammates used them- that's the kind of thing you see out of a senior, and I'm wondering if Coach might use her in spot situations like that now. Ashley Perez still needs to catch up to the speed of the college game, but she's a raw freshman, I think we can give her time. She's become a little more confident in her shot, which is good, and I like her hustle. Cedrica Gibson got some first half minutes at the point, as well as garbage time in the second half. She definitely needs time to develop as a point guard who can create an offense; she mostly killed clock and dribbled in this one, though I don't know how much of that was coach's orders to not humiliate the opposition. Sandra Udobi showed muscle in the lane, if not great shooting. Amber Thompson seems to have developed an aversion to catching things. She blew passes (one of those turnovers was an iffy pass from Shenneika, but still) and had trouble coming down clean with rebounds. You're six-two and awesome, Amber, grab the ball!

Mary Nwachukwu seemed to have taken inspiration from the men's big win over Notre Dame- her hands were quick and high, and she was smothering shots beautifully. I also saw her setting screens and picks, which was a refreshing flashback. Did a little too much standing around on the boards for my liking, but I can deal with that. Shenneika Smith continued to do that thing where she swoops in and makes shots not go into the basket for the other team- even if she doesn't block them, she's like an urban legend and they get scared. Keylantra Langley got the start for Briana Brown (who was not present, suffering the aftereffects of getting her face stepped on versus Seton Hall- get well soon, Bri) and showed flashes of her old offense, but I'm not thrilled with her defense when the ball's being brought up the floor. She hasn't been quick to react to the pass. And if you get the role of defending the point guard as she brings the ball up the floor, you should probably be ready for the pass. Nadirah McKenith ran a solid game- not remarkable, but not needing to be. Aliyyah Handford continues to impress me all over the floor, doing all the things and doing them with the poise of a junior, maybe even a senior. Seriously, this kid is special.

Officiating was interesting, though there was one funny moment when Jennifer Blanding accidentally (one hopes) swatted a shot hard into one of the refs. And Norma Jones did show off a little bit of her dance stylings when she couldn't quite get clear of the end of the dance team's routine. There were a couple of calls that we'll charitably chalk up to game management and move on. (There were also some hilariously bad flops. David Stern does not approve. Neither does Mery Andrade; show some technique, ladies!)

Overall, there's not much else I can say about this game. We played well enough to win even when our deep bench was going against Pitt's starters; that's good seasoning and a nice win to build on before our next... oh, we're at Notre Dame on Saturday. :-/