Good evening, everyone! We're coming to you from the lofty heights of Draddy Gymnasium on the campus of Manhattan College. Your intrepid blogger realized that she would have a few hours to spare after an off-site training session, so it was off to a trio of buses and a series of elevators to the very green home of the Jaspers.
Strangely enough, it's a Pink Zone game- late for that, which is why I'm surprised.
Aaaaand just as we were about to tip off, Draddy went all Superdome on us. The power was out for a second, and the lights are still out. One of the Iona parents knows his electricity, and he's thinking about twenty minutes. Not like I wanted to get home at a decent hour tonight or anything; fortunately, I think his estimate was a bit conservative. Or not. Of course, the last lights to come on are over the court, and therefore we no can haz basketball.
We do seem to have fallen in with the right crowd, though, sitting with the families of three of the starters. Cheering for Iona, especially on the road, is different from cheering for St. John's. There's a higher expectation for boisterousness.
At halftime, it's 45-37 Iona, with Manhattan cutting the lead back to single digits on a three right before the buzzer. A CYO scrimmage is currently going, with the cheerleaders improvising chants for the kids, which is adorable. Toni-Ann Lawrence leads Manhattan with 16 points, while Joy Adams leads Iona with 13. It's been a game of spurts- Manhattan went up by 8, at which point Iona released the
kraken three-point barrage and ran it up to an 11-point lead.
The defensive pressure tightened up a fair bit in the second half, so it wasn't nearly as much of an offensive explosion as the first half was. Both teams had bouts of what I can only call pure stupid, with Iona showing a remarkable tendency to throw the ball to people wearing the opposing jersey. It came down to clock management at the end- bad clock management gave Manhattan a chance to get back into the game, good clock management kept Iona's lead safe, bad clock management wrecked Manhattan's last possession.
Interesting drum work by the Manhattan band. Not sure if I liked it, but the wandering sax work during "Careless Whisper" was brilliant. Overall, a very jazzy/funky feel. As I joked at the game, "The Manhattan College Transfer?"
Karita Brown impressed me with her intensity on the glass and her defensive prowess. There's something to be said for a player who knows her role and embraces her skill set. Katie Reese's brief stints seemed to be for when an extra three-point shooter was needed as a threat on the floor. Ondya Morgan also seemed to be on more as a defensive player than anything else. Maggie Blair came off the bench in the first half, but started the second half and played the bulk of the minutes for the reserves. She had a nice three-point shot and good hands.
Monica Roeder is going to be All-MAAC in her senior year- if she isn't this year. She's a match-up nightmare for any team in the MAAC with her physical build and outside shot. She's not afraid to bang, either. If I were a Manhattan fan, I'd love her; since I was rooting for Iona, I wasn't thrilled with her existence. Toni-Ann Lawrence demolished the Gaels on the inside- they just kept inexplicably leaving her open on rotations, and whether it was with backdoor cuts or little jumpers, she made them pay. They tightened up on her in the second half, but that let Roeder loose, and they had no one who could stay with her. Fortunately for Iona, the Jaspers weren't really getting much from the rest of their starters. Neither Ashley Stec nor Allison Skrec could really get their shot going (and I spent most of the night confusing them because of their similar names), and Stec got nailed with a flagrant for pushing Damika Martinez to the floor on a fast break. Shayna Ericksen has a little bit of size, but I don't know if she knows how to use it yet. She's just a freshman, though. She'll learn.
Aaliyah Robinson got the unenviable task of having to guard Roeder (and I think she also drew Lawrence a few times), and the results were a mixed bag- she's the biggest of the Iona guards, and plays excellent defense, but she didn't have the height to match up well with her assignments. Cassidee Ranger got off one of her threes, but her defense was off, and Coach chose to go with Diana Hubbard for all his long-range shooting needs. Hubbard had a solid game- nothing spectacular, but nothing spectacular was asked of her. Shonice Hawkins had a few minutes' run as a defensive sub.
Joy Adams was all over the boards, and she was about the only Gael who was. She cooled off from the field in the second half, but she got the points when it mattered, and she was red hot in the first half. For a while, the game was a duel between her and Toni-Ann Lawrence. Damika Martinez was unusually passive shooting the ball- actually, that was a general problem for the Gaels, but it stood out especially for Martinez. She also got called for a couple of stupid fouls in the second half. Aleesha Powell got going near the end of the first half with a couple of fast breaks and a few lucky bounces. Her speed helped her, though her size was a bit of a liability on D; the more I see her, the more she reminds me physically of a slightly larger Leilani Mitchell, both in her build and in the way she carries herself. Sabrina Jeridore's head was not in the game, IMO; I suspect I'm going to spend the next two years bemoaning both her and Amber Thompson for the same issues. She got her blocks, and as the game progressed she got easier shots on the inside (with a little help from the rim). But she was not reacting on defense, which was part of how Lawrence was able to slice through the paint so easily. Haley D'Angelo helped get the team back together when it looked like they were starting to lose focus a little bit, and stepped up her scoring in the second half when she was open more. She's a very heady player, a good floor general for a young team.
The Iona family around us were irate at the officiating, and the hip check on Stec that wasn't called was rather blatant (hitting from behind is rather uncouth). D'Angelo got away with a lot of holding, and Jeridore could probably have gotten called for a shooting foul or two. Overall, it was mediocre but more or less consistent. I've dealt with worse.
The stakes are these for the Gaels: if they beat Rider, they'll likely finish second in the MAAC, unless Fairfield pulls off a miracle and beats Marist in their last game of the season. Therefore, if the seeds hold, Iona gets to go to the WNIT, and I don't think I have to tell you what that means for a team that's primarily composed of underclassmen.