Sunday, November 15, 2009

Talking Radford-William and Mary

Tired of reading the same dribble about women’s basketball? Well, we don’t want to write it, either. We call our musings“He said, she said” and here’s how we broke down Sunday’s season opener for William and Mary and Radford:

There’s a woman knitting in the front row.

Why not? She’s a Tribe fan, and this game’s already over. 36-14 at the half? Boy, what‘s up with Radford?

Well, that’s a gorgeous tailored red suit Tajama Abraham Ngongba is wearing.

I was asking about the team.

The Highlanders don‘t have much beef. William and Mary’s freshmen look like they could start for Radford -- if height got you into the starting lineup.

It’s tough when you’re counting on so many freshmen, especially in a first game. On the road, no less. Imagine how bad it would be if Tiffany Benson was going strong. Seven minutes into the second half and she still hasn’t taken the court.

She’s on the court now.

Thanks, smart-ass, but you’re avoiding my point. Why’s she coming off the bench?

Maybe she did something silly like oversleep and miss a class. The Tribe doesn’t need her today. The freshmen look like they’ve been playing on this team for years.

I don’t know. Benson’s on the cover of the media guide, and they handed out these huge posters of her lording over the rest of the players when we walked in. Seems someone like that ought to get more than just scrub minutes. Make her run some extra laps or something. But on game day, she’s your horse. Ride her.

That’s why you’re not a coach. I trust Debbie Taylor. She knows what she’s doing.

Fine. So what do you think about the rest of the Tribe?

I already love Taylor Hilton, and not just because she’s from the Obama kids' school. She just made a great move to the basket and didn’t hang her head after they called a charge. You can already see with Hilton and fellow freshman Emily Correal, that they have bought into Debbie Taylor’s system. What’s so cool about the Tribe is, Taylor is a master at teaching them to play within themselves. Take away Benson and this isn’t a team of great athletes. But they know what they can do and they do it well.

Did Taylor pay you for that testimonial?

Funny, but lame. Radford, meanwhile, is still searching -- hardly a surprise for a team with seven newcomers and a second-year coach.

Uh-oh. Little kids’ dance contest time. I hate these things.

As someone wise once told me, it’s not for you. Hey, the woman has put away her knitting.

Just like William and Mary is putting away Radford. 65-33 now. Speaking of Radford, see anyone in red you like -- besides Abraham Ngongba, that is?

Kymesha Alston is the only one on the floor who really seems to know where she’s supposed to be. No surprise she’s got all the points.

I don’t know. I like the Crosier kid. And No. 11’s not bad. I’m sure they can all play. They’re just
not ready for all this.

Hey, Taylor’s swigging from a bottle of Coke. (No cup!)

She’s the coolest coach in the CAA.

There you go again.

Reminds me of a more glamorous Debbie Taneyhill. Very comfortable in her own skin. Just like her players.

Cooler that Geno?

Geno isn’t in the CAA. Besides, as candid as he is, he’s always doing his shtick.

Face it, you’re a Summitt suck-up. Just because she invited you to her house for an interview that time…. Hey, this puppy’s done now. 70-40 Tribe. Think William and Mary is a CAA contender?

I think nobody’s going to want to play the Tribe, especially here. They’ll upset a few, but they’re not going to contend for a title. Not that they’re all that far away. Nobody in that league is all that daunting, though JMU in Harrisonburg is no piece of cake. Then there’s this kid named Delle Donne…..As for the Summitt crack, it’s pretty cool when your career winning record has four digits.

As for Radford, tough one today, but I'm going to keep an eye on them. Besides, it’s not like they play in the SEC….

Enough from us. Here’s the other side:

The William and Mary perspective

- Benson’s meager numbers (four points, 14 minutes) were no accident. Taylor said Benson was being disciplined for violation of several team rules and for a lackluster effort in the preseason. That’s not exactly what you’d expect from a CAA first-teamer. Debbie Taylor explains: “She really hasn’t worked very hard all preseason. She needs to earn it.”

The discipline appears to be having the desired effect. Taylor was pleased with the role Benson did play, which included cheering her teammates from the bench.

Said Taylor: “This is probably the greatest thing that could have happened to her.”

- Tribe true freshmen Emily Correal, Jaclyn McKenna and Taylor Hilton combined for 23 points and 25 rebounds. But what really excited Taylor about the newcomers is their infectious enthusiasm and desire to please.

“Did you see the way they sprinted off the floor?” Taylor said. “They look me in the eye and do exactly what I say. They’ve restored my faith in this generation.”

The Radford perspective:

- Seven Highlanders made their Radford debut Sunday. Unfortunately for Abraham Ngongba, the group played like newcomers. William and Mary scored 21 of the game’s first 25 points.

“Once the first few shots didn’t go down they got frustrated and it snowballed,” Abraham said. “I mean, we ran like two offensive sets the whole first half. The kids were like, ‘What the heck am I doing?’ ’’

- Although the Tribe had a huge size advantage, Abraham Ngongba said many of her Highlanders’ misses came on uncontested looks.

“It’s like we were waiting for some monster shot blocker to come and get us,” the coach said.

- A preseason first-team All Big South pick and the team’s lone senior, Kymesha Alston finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds but hit just 8 of 24 from the field and generally struggled along with the rest of the Highlanders. With such a young group, Abraham acknowledged that, at least in the early going, as Alston goes, so go the Highlanders.

“We can’t afford for her to have a bad game,” said Abraham Ngongba.

- Despite Sunday's pounding, Abraham Ngongba remains high on the team's long-term outlook and virtually guaranteed a better showing in the weeks ahead.

"We're going to be OK," she said.

The Wright stuff
In the day's only other Division I game involving a Virginia school, Monica Wright poured in 31 points as No. 14 Virginia roared past Manhattan 86-68

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