Just the Facts, Ma’am: 20 points from Aaliyah Lewis and an 18-point, 13-rebound performance from Danaejah Grant spurred the Red Storm to a first round WNIT victory over Army, 64-56. Kelsey Minato and Olivia Schretzman each had 19 for the Black Knights.
For deferral, splitting up the band, defensive energy, bad body language, ticket gripes, and tedium, join your intrepid and apathetic blogger after the jump.
You thought you were done with me, didn’t you? You thought the time of Game Notes had safely passed and you could breathe a sigh of relief, safe from giant blocks of text and irrelevant observations.
You forgot about the WNIT.
Your intrepid blogger is once more ensconced in her familiar perch in section 2 at Carnesecca Arena as the Red Storm host the Black Knights of Army.
Because it’s the WNIT, and thus technically sort of neutral, Army brought their band, and they did a rendition of the national anthem that gave me goosebumps. I guess that’s to be expected, but still, rock on, West Point Band.
(The Mighty Sound of the Red Storm is not so mighty, since most of it is off to Charlotte for the men’s tournament. It’s, uh, actually kind of pathetic look I’m sorry guys but you have like eight people today.)
There’s nothing quite as disconcerting as seeing an Army officer in dress start yelling his head off at a game.
When St. John’s was making their run to end the half, I thought for sure Dave Magarity was about to Reeve his jacket, but the Defcon level was lowered in time to keep the jacket on the chair.
I am not thrilled with the $2 jack-up of ticket prices for this one, especially since for me it’s more like a $7 increase, since I normally buy season tickets. I blame the WNIT and its organizers.
The crowd is uninspiring, and heavily in Army’s favor. They brought family and officers, and even the SJU ROTC seems to be leaning towards their future employers instead of their present location.
Our dance team has been dislodged from their usual baseline, since that would be where Army’s cheer squad would be if they joined us today.
The defensive energy is high for both sides, but St. John’s looks like a hot mess on offense.
This was not a fun game to be at. By the end of the second half, I had reached a state of ennui where I genuinely no longer cared whether St. John’s advanced or not, and was starting to slide towards, no, lose, end it, I’m tired and I want this to be over. The body language was awful. Maybe they all felt the way I did, but they get hefty scholarships to play basketball- you have to at least pretend to care, or at the very least, your coach has to pretend that he cares whether you care or not.
Fun moment before the game, though. ESPN was red-hatting the tip to extremes, and at one point I may have burst out, “C’mon, ESPN, some of us have to go to work tomorrow!” Or words to that effect. Whereupon Joanne Aldrich turned around with an amused smile and a gaze to the heavens, as if to say, what can you do?
Army brought excellent defense, but was tentative and unfocused on offense. Most of them didn’t seem willing to shoot, and insisted on passing to one of the two scoring options.
I loved the defensive intensity of Janae McNeal. She was always on the ball and always moving. She’s got great potential, and she’s only a freshman. Brigette Ocran was a big body in the backcourt, creating some mismatches with her strength. Dani Failor possesses an unfortunate last name, but solid rebounding ability. Ciara Jackson played briefly in the first half and was so unremarkable that the PA announcer initially announced her as Jordan Elliott. Destinee Morris threw me off because I mistook her for who I presume is her twin sister.
Daizjah Morris left no impression, though, again, that might be because I had trouble keeping her and her sister straight. Aimee Oertner pulled down the boards near the basket. Jean Parker spent a decent amount of time in foul trouble, which opened the door for McNeal to get minutes. Olivia Schretzman got good looks near the basket and in whatever one calls the area between the high post and the low post, and took care of her turf. Kelsey Minato has good speed, and she shoots quickly, but I don’t know what to think of her release- it seems a bit crossed up. I think Army also relies on her too heavily- when the game was still close at the end and winnable with swift offense, they passed the ball around too much, looking desperately for their leader to save them.
Imani Littleton saw daylight in the second half, and of course it was after her first positive play- a defensive disruption that ultimately led to an Army turnover- that Joe pulled her. Kyra Dunn played briefly in the first half, but was so ineffective that Joe pulled her in a hurry and started yelling in her general direction, at which point she evinced no indication that she was absorbing his words. Crystal Simmons saw some time and played very stiff.
Jade Walker hit some shots, but did not have what I would call the world’s greatest shot selection, and fell into the trap of staring at her shot instead of following it. The only thing I’ll say about that is that she seemed to be doing a lot of switching on defense, so she might have been short on energy. Amber Thompson rebounded all the things, hit some nice shots, and even dropped a slick dime to Aaliyah Lewis on a backdoor cut. Aliyyah Handford was hassled by Army double- and triple-teams all night. There were flashes of her unbridled athleticism in the second half when she hit the fast break and when she rebounded. But I’m more worried about her increased penchant for dramatics. Flopping isn’t going to succeed as a long-term bodily protection strategy- in the end, you get fewer calls than you would otherwise. (Exhibit A: Coco Hart, who was once knocked briefly unconscious at center court by a West Virginia player without even a stoppage of play.)
Danaejah Grant continues to be an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a mini-hawk. She’s a brilliant scorer, and without her work at the basket and beyond the arc, Army would be visiting Fordham on Sunday. On the other hand, her body language was that of a woman who cared only for her numbers and had completely lost interest in the game. She consistently gave up on plays, and no one did anything about it.
Two examples, both from the second half. First: Nae gets stripped of the ball and doesn’t even bother to chase, preferring to marinate in her own pity party in the backcourt. Second, she’s the one in an Army 2-on-1, with McNeal and Minato running. She bumps Minato and then immediately starts arguing with the ref that Minato bumped her… meanwhile, McNeal goes for the lay-up. Thank goodness we had Aaliyah Lewis, because Tiny Aaliyah fears nothing. She went to the basket and made plays, and she sealed the deal at the line. She took what she was given, and she took full advantage.
Officiating was loose. I think it was clear that everyone involved just wanted to go home already.
Cheer and dance were also split, with half of each team at the game.
Attendance was sparse, to be generous. Listed at 211, and that might include the West Point Band. I am not looking forward to Sunday.