Good evening, everyone! We’re coming to you on tape delay from Walsh Gymnasium on the grounds of Seton Hall University.
I’m a St. John’s fan first and foremost during college season, but I’m a fan of the game, and to me it is absolutely shameful that Seton Hall’s four seniors- three of whom have been crucial contributors for most of their careers- had their last regular season game and their last game in front of their fans moved to 9PM on a Saturday night. Apparently there was some kind of conference going on to have the game rescheduled from its original 2PM start. But that’s not how you treat Senior Day. You don’t treat it as a throw-away game during spring break. There are probably as many people here in red as there are in blue, and while I’m proud to represent my team, I’m ashamed of Seton Hall and embarrassed for their team. You only get a player for four years- five, six at the most if she’s injured. Is it too much to ask that you treat her with respect for one night?
(Yes, you know it’s bad when even the cheerleaders are angry. We ran into two of them at Stony’s, the burger joint I always highly recommend whenever I write Seton Hall game notes. It’s a bad sign when one of the cheerleaders says their team has the worst fans in the conference.)
At half it’s 27-23 Seton Hall; no, that’s not a typo; yes, I’m exceedingly irked; no, I do not think this is going well. We’re rebounding like geriatric maggots. Brittany Morris is playing like her life depends on it.
I’m even more infuriated at Seton Hall’s cavalier treatment of their seniors after the presentation now. Four different young women, four different majors- and I don’t think there’s a school in the NCAA where environmental biology or political science are easy majors. Until tonight, I hadn’t realized Alexandra Maseko was interviewing for a Rhodes scholarship. I mean… this is someone who might very well make a major change in the world, and I’m sure Seton Hall will fall all over themselves to give her honor and praise after that. (They did play the Zimbabwean national anthem for her, and you could see how much it meant to her; I don’t know if she knew they were going to do that.)
Shenneika Smith turned her ankle early in the first half, and though she’s trying to play on it, it’s not going well. She’s having trouble putting weight on it, which means no elevation, which means her shot is a little shaky. We need someone to step up big time to counter the Brittanys.
I am extremely, unutterably, deeply, seethingly irate right now. You cannot see how hard I am biting my lip and glaring at the universe as I hammer at my keyboard in the South Orange NJ Transit station (because the train leaves at the 57s and the game ended at 11:01). It is also extremely difficult to compose thoughts that do not contain expletives or other unsuitable material that my esteemed admin would have to edit out, as I suspect that desiring to grant new orifices to a Division I coach is highly uncouth and would look badly upon my fellow writers at Swish Appeal, who are professionals worthy of great respect.
(Yeah, that’s how I talk when I can’t actually say what I want to say. When English Majors Attack!, this fall on Fox.)
Keylantra Langley played briefly in the first half when Shenneika Smith got hurt and briefly in the second half when Nadirah McKenith got scratched. She wasn’t inspiring, but I’d have liked to see her get more time, because it was clear that Shenneika’s ankle was bothering her more than she was going to let on. Amber Thompson gave good defensive effort off the bench, and had her shot-blocking going, but I think she let the bigger posts get into her head. She did not always make the brightest decisions on the floor. (I hate moving screens so much, you have no idea.)
Shenneika Smith did manage to get some points after the ankle injury, but she wasn’t getting lift on her shots, and as the game wore on, it was clear that her ankle was stiffening up. She was starting to limp, and the Pirates were adjusting by bodying up on her and forcing her to move more quickly. Good adjustment by Seton Hall, and Joe Tartamella’s brilliant plan was to leave her in. Aliyyah Handford got in foul trouble early, so she sat for most of the first half, which was good for her, because she played the entire second half. She did well slashing to the basket, but her freshman qualities were clear on defense. Mary Nwachukwu started the game with a little fire, but the constant banging started to wear on her, and she got very passive in the second half. Mary, there is one shot you can hit; if you don’t take it and you don’t rebound, you are useless as a basketball player. Briana Brown was called upon to play the power forward spot a lot, and she answered the bell, but there’s only so much she can do. Bri is 5-8. That’s my height. And I’m a hell of a lot bigger than she is. I can absorb a hit from Brittany Webb. I don’t know how well she was handling it. And then she gets called on to be the designated three-point shooter. I can’t. Nadirah McKenith did everything she could, and I think she added three blocks to her total Two more puts her in the St. John’s top ten. Did I mention Nadirah lists at 5-7?
Joe Tartamella reverted to the rookie coach who managed to fumble at Quinnipiac and choked at Louisville, who couldn’t figure it out against Delaware or UCLA. The second half was a hot mess. Everyone- except apparently Joe- could tell that Shenneika was limping, but she only rested at timeouts and stoppages. So did Briana. So did Aliyyah. Nadirah only sat for blood. Amber and Mary were the only ones to rotate in and out of the game regularly. And then he was angry at them for not going hard on defense, not going hard on the boards, not giving 110%; he looked like he was going to pop a blood vessel when Aliyyah was late coming up on an offensive rebound off a Seton Hall free throw. Well, Coach, if you play three starters without rest and only rest the fourth because it’s an NCAA rule to take her out for blood, they might be tired. Just a thought.
Plus some unspeakable piece of excrement decided to put up a “platform closed” sign on the New York-bound platform, so we had to make a run for the train. Did I mention that I’m still suffering from congestion and shortness of breath from a lingering respiratory issue? Stairs and I have never been very good friends, either. Not helping my mood.
Brittany Webb is a load in the middle, and we had no way of stopping her. She threw her weight around like an offensive lineman, and sometimes she got caught and called for the foul, but she wore down our post players with sheer physicality. Janee Johnson exploited the backdoor on all of her shots- for some reason, no one was covering her, and she broke loose. Shoddy. Tabatha Richardson-Smith played a little bit, long enough for me to determine that her name doesn’t fit properly on her jersey. I think one of her shots was an unlucky bounce off the rim. Alexis Brown committed some stupid fouls that almost kept St. John’s in the game.
Brittany Morris decided that this was her Senior Night and we were all just witnesses. She took over from beyond the arc in the first half, and in the second half she drove the lane with impunity. One of the back-breakers was a lay-up she scored with one second left on the shot clock that was basically uncontested. She found ways to slip open, whether it was a quick crossover or the use of a screen. Terry Green got the Senior Night start and played a little, but with Morris getting hot, she wasn’t needed; Seton Hall also decided to go big to take advantage of the Red Storm’s lack of size. (See, this is why you keep your team out for Senior Night festivities. They give away valuable information about the opponent. Such as Brittany Morris being the Hall’s all-time most prolific three-point shooter. Which might have stopped them from allowing her five three-pointers.) Breanna Jones got the Senior Night start, and she threw her weight around, bodying hard on St. John’s. She’s tough. Alexandra Maseko has still not learned how to use her non-dominant hand, which cost her two baskets, but she never gives up on a rebound, and though she’s lost the Barry Bonds elbow armor she used to use, she’s still not afraid to go for the throat. Ka-Deidre Simmons runs a good offense, and she was hot from beyond the arc. (Given that she’s friends with our Newark contingent, and that she and Aliyyah would have had at least one year together in high school by my math, I’m surprised we didn’t have a more detailed scouting report. Then again, she probably had one on Nadirah and Aliyyah…)
Officiating was mostly unremarkable. There’s a spot by the baseline near the band that probably needs more frequent mopping; that’s where Shenneika took her spill, that’s where Nadirah took a bad fall, and that’s close to where Alexandra Maseko hit the deck holding her knee. (She at least put weight on it as she was leaving the floor.)
To whoever ticketed the halftime scrimmage kids behind the St. John’s bench, may you be condemned to a Purgatory of lemon-dipped Legos. I know this was one of Kim Barnes Arico’s favorite tricks, but there were a lot of St. John’s people who might have wanted to sit in the extremely limited area behind their bench. One of the many reasons I hate the layout of Walsh Gym. Parts of me hurt that are nobody’s business but mine and my husband’s. You have to choose between comfort and being able to see the baseline.
Fortunately for the tattered remnants of my physical state, we got two offers of a ride home (apologies to the person we sort of stood up). The hike down South Orange Avenue was long enough on the way up; doing it in a state of white-hot rage in the snow would have been the final indignity, especially given the coughing and the hacking and the spitting.
If it weren’t for the fact that I hadn’t been to a St. John’s road game this year, I’d have passed when I realized the absurd start time. But because we hadn’t been able to go to Rutgers, and because there were no road games in the area, and because I had to miss the Iona and Syracuse games, I felt obligated. But I regret traveling over two hours each way to scream myself into pain and watch my team’s coach screw over my team into a loss that suddenly puts us back on the bubble. I’m tired, I’m sick, and I could have been just as frustrated at home.