Image: Kathy Kmonicek/AP
Just the Facts, Ma’am: Devereaux Peters had 18 points, 15 rebounds, and five blocks, and Notre Dame withstood several Red Storm runs to knock off St. John’s, 71-56. Skylar Diggins led all scorers with 24. For St. John’s, Shenneika Smith and Da’Shena Stevens each had ten points.
For the hand of Touchdown Jesus, shenanigans, classless behavior, and post envy, join your intrepid and proud blogger after the jump.
Part of me cares what the scoreboard says; part of me will always care what the scoreboard says. Another part of me is full of righteous indignation and the urge to do unseemly things to Devereaux Peters’s smirk at the refs. Most of me is fiercely proud of my team’s heart, hustle, and effort.
I have no beef with most Notre Dame fans. (Though someone is going to have to point me to where I can get team logo earrings. Rutgers has them, Tennessee has them, Notre Dame has them, St. John’s should have them.) I do have a beef with the one family who came into our section, ignored our warning that they were in a section full of Red Storm die-hards (and oh, yes, the Arico family), held up a sign and blocked people’s view, kicked popcorn onto the court, stepped on people’s feet, and generally acted like rude, entitled brats- both the children kicking popcorn, and the parents mildly chiding them but nothing more. You stay classy, you. I also have beef with the woman in the blue and gold shamrock shirt sitting behind the St. John’s bench; she better be part of Megan Duffy’s family tree to pull a stunt like that in front of the ROTC coordinator.
Fashion fail of the day: wearing gray pants, a white jacket, and a pink-and-white striped shirt is rummage-through-the-closet enough. But why in the world would you wear Seton Hall blue shoes with that ensemble?
Excellent anthem from the Metropolitones, a favorite of the Game Notes of Doom. Always good to start off on the right foot, even if the start wasn’t great after that.
Ariel Braker played long enough to establish why she wasn’t playing earlier in the game. That was a pretty dumb foul. Kaila Turner came in for a couple of rotations and was almost called for a foul while she was on the bench because someone couldn’t count fingers. Natalie Achonwa made more of an impact in the first half; she was less of a necessity in the second half, but she still impresses me. (But do her stats only count 95% or so depending on the exchange rate?) Fraderica Miller got the bulk of the minutes off the bench and brought good on-ball defense.
Skylar Diggins is beautiful- not necessarily as a physical specimen, but with her grace and speed as a basketball player. I’d probably like watching her more if she weren’t in my conference and if she didn’t bitch the refs so much. (It’s especially galling to watch her complain to the refs when Notre Dame hasn’t been called for a foul yet in a game.) Devereaux Peters is the kind of post I wish all my teams had. She’s physical, she’s tough, and she’s got an array of moves. This is not to say I don’t appreciate Da’Shena, Amber, Mary, Zakiyyah, Jennifer, Plenette, Kia, Quanitra, Kara, or Ta’Shia. I’m just saying. Natalie Novosel knows an awful lot of football moves for a kid from a football dead zone. She also had the shot of the game, a three that bounced hiiiiiiiiiiiiigh off the rim and then dropped smoothly in. That was some Touchdown Jesus magic. Kayla McBride didn’t seem to do anything, and then you look up and she’s rebounding her butt off. Rebounding is one of the harder stats to track by eye; there are so many bodies going for the ball that it’s hard to tell who comes out with it eventually unless someone does something remarkable. Brittany Mallory got hit with fouls pretty quickly in the second half, and she didn’t have a chance to be much of a factor.
Mallory Jones tried so very hard in her twenty-three seconds, she really did, but you have to hold on to the ball. Briana Brown came in late in the game, as one of what I like to call a “throw spaghetti at the wall” move. Love her defensive hustle, but she needs to play a little smarter. I don’t know what Amber Thompson is doing or not doing in practice, or saying or not saying to KBA, or what’s wrong with her, but either she needs to get her head together or Kim needs to stop fighting with her, because going up against the size and strength of Notre Dame was not the day for Amber to only play eight minutes. She’s the kind of player who needs to be on the floor if she’s going to produce; she’ll freeze up if she’s on the bench too long. I think she could have been more of a factor if she had had the time. Keylantra Langley came in for defensive purposes, and she did her job.
Nadirah McKenith, whatever you may or may not have said to the refs at some point in your life, don’t ever say it again. That’s the only reason I can think of for two of her shots to be waved off and turned into offensive fouls. One of those was made, one didn’t go in, but that’s up to four points wiped off the board on reprehensibly bad calls. I can’t say enough about her leadership, though. Every time they came out of the timeout, she was gathering the five on the floor together and talking to them. No matter how far down they were, she never let them get discouraged. She also showed up some ups that I hadn’t expected from her on that bad knee; she was right up there with Diggins, who’s taller and also has pretty damn good vertical. Shenneika Smith was all over the place today. I like when she has well-rounded games, when she’s bringing both the defense and the offense, when she’s scrapping for boards and going for loose balls. I think today was the first time I actually saw Mary Nwachukwu get a rebound in this calendar year. She played like someone had lit a fire under her, with some spectacular blocks and some good rebounds. I do wish she’d either step in on that long two or take the extra step back and shoot it as a three; long twos do no one a favor, especially when there’s no one there to rebound. Da’Shena Stevens did her thing- got in underneath, sneaking around bigger posts and hitting her shots. I don’t think it helped her that she went stretches without a break where it was obvious that she needed that break (again, those were the times Amber should have been in the game- if Day is missing short and bailing on plays, and especially if she’s in foul trouble, get a sub up). I don’t know where Eugeneia McPherson’s head was in this one. I really don’t. She just couldn’t hold on to the ball. She was careless, she was sloppy, and she couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. If this had been a close game, she would have been the goat, but this wasn’t a game that any one person could control.
These refs. I thought Kim Barnes Arico and Eric Brewton were going to drop the gloves. And she would have been well within her rights as a frustrated coach watching her team get hacked and shoved with no call. She let him have it two or three times. The second time was when, somehow, a second and a half was added to the end of the first half, which gave Notre Dame juuuuuuust enough time to get off a decent shot. Her inspiring speech to the refs seemed to work in the beginning of the second half… and then Notre Dame committed the seventh deadly sin and wasn’t called for another foul for eight minutes. Were there calls in our favor? Of course. But it always seems like Notre Dame gets preferential treatment from the officials, and I’m sick of it. They’re good enough, talented enough, skilled enough, that they don’t need the officials to protect them.
There have been Red Storm teams in the past that, if they were down by 20 to the #2 team in the country, would have lost by 40. This is not one of those teams. The core of this team learned from the debacle at Stanford not to give up, not to surrender, not to let up. I’d take this team at gun-to-the-head time over half the teams in the poll.