Sunday, February 1, 2015

Seton Hall 78, St. John's 73: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

South Orange, NJ - They make it so difficult. You wear the press credential around your neck. The seat is courtside. With that comes the price of impartiality. ’No cheering in the press box’ is the oft-quoted axiom turned directive. All that considered, they still make impartiality an arduous task.

The Seton Hall women are battling St. John’s on a Sunday afternoon. The Big East meeting at Walsh Gym on the Seton Hall campus sees the Pirates in quest of win number twenty. Through it all, not just today, one finds this Seton Hall team is one you really admire, one you want to root for.

Maybe it stems from the family-type atmosphere; postgame interviews in coach Tony Bozzella’s office, assistants with their offices open as well, an obligatory stop and chat with Director of Operations Marissa Flagg as we discuss the game in general and lament our beloved Knicks.

Maybe it is the players. Competitors on the floor. Off the floor, polite and willing to give interviews or just talk basketball or school in general in a cordial manner. Wonderful representatives of their university especially with their time, meeting and/or giving autographs to youth groups.

Then there are the spirit groups, the Sapphire Dance team and cheerleaders; the latter coached by alum Jean Marie Romanella, who graced the baseline herself as a Seton Hall cheerleader, during the Louis Orr days. Both squads talented, entertaining, and also outstanding ambassadors of Seton Hall athletics.

On this afternoon, things were going well for the Hall. Suddenly, a 70-50 Seton Hall lead with eight minutes left begins to evaporate. St. John’s has the hot hand. Clock watching by those clad in blue at Walsh, is in vogue. The seconds seem in slow motion like tantalizing sands in an hourglass as St. John’s shots continue to find the bottom of the net. The deficit dwindles.

Notes are being taken on my charts on press row. Meanwhile, the pulse quickens and heart is racing. These reactions do not even happening covering my St. Bonaventure alma mater, well, maybe when they face Canisius. Thirty-two seconds to go. A St. John’s player penetrates. Foul.

The ‘rooting’ side may say charge, but my officiating side overrules. It’s a block and a good call. It doesn’t affect anything. Seton Hall never relinquishes the lead and holds on to win.

No cheering by yours truly, but there is a definite feel-good mindset over this group securing win number twenty. Truly, this Seton Hall team has captured the imagination and emotion. Mine definitely, but I am not alone by any stretch.

St. John's coach Joe Tartamella in deep thought studying the action:
Defending Aliyyah Handford was a Seton Hall priority:
Aaliyah Lewis sets up the St. John's offense:
During a timeout, Seton Hall coaches huddle prior to addressing the players:
Ka-Deidre Simmons looking for an open lane in the St. John's defense:
The scoreboard tells it all for the 9-1 (in Big East play) Seton Hall Pirates:
The alums are coming back, as yours truly poses with a Seton Hall All-American from the 1990s, Jodi Brooks:

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