Just the Facts, Ma'am: On Camp Day in Newark, 22 points from Cappie Pondexter wasn't enough to save the day for the Liberty, as they fell to the Washington Mystics 70-53. Crystal Langhorne's 24 points led Washington, with Monique Currie chipping in 16.
For lost keys, running away from balls, doin' it all for the cookie, planting Stanford Trees, embarrassment, and the courage of Natalie Novosel, join your intrepid blogger after the jump. (I'll be spending the Olympic break resuming my social life and finding new adjectives other than "intrepid".)
The bad news was that this was the day we forgot the Sharpies, so "Project Get This Carson Jersey Signed By The Team And Framed" is on hold until after the break. Since we ended up setting up camp on the wrong side of the arena, it turned out not to matter.
There are groups in the upper deck, so let's hope this is the big attendance boost the team's numbers need. It's embarrassing, it really is.
Thundersticks are the giveaway, so expect great deafness.
I cannot believe this team is down nine to the Washington Mystics at half. We just can't shoot. I thought we'd be better with DeMya and Kia back, but the rest of the team seems to have regressed. I'm not sure how back they really are, since Whiz has gone more to the Powell-at-the-4 lineup that DOES NOT WORK on the professional level. Kia does look a little out of it. Cappie can't shoot straight to save her life, and no one- and I mean no one- can stop Crystal Langhorne.
I'm worried that the refs are letting a lot of things go. It's been physical, and with Ajavon's mouth and Snow's elbows, I don't think letting it get rough will end well. Snow and Currie both looked like they were joking around about elbowing Maddie during the pregame, so my opinion of them has decreased further, which I didn't even think was possible.
The cookie-on-the-forehead video was... interesting. It certainly demonstrated which Liberty players have better control of their facial muscles and who can open their mouths wider. And that's all I'm going to say about that. There are kids around, after all.
To the guy who asked us to be quiet while we were counting down the shot clock: really? REALLY? I think he calmed down when he realized that the people around him were saying much worse things. (I have the horrible feeling that this was the same guy who thought "Jesus Hypothetical Christ" was enough to call for an usher. Go, me.)
The only thing worse than being down at the half to the Washington Mystics is losing to the Mystics. I can't. I just can't.
Natasha Lacy was better on defense than on offense, being pesky towards ballhandlers and putting up strange shots with odd leg movements. Also, her dive was not bought. Ashley Robinson was a shot-blocker and a truly awful shooter. Also, I don't even know where to start with what was wrong with that hairdo. No. Just no. The shaving and the braiding and the dying and the coiling, no. She and Snow were almost straight switches creating havoc on the inside. Natalie Novosel played briefly at the end of the first half, presumably for defensive purposes, but I mostly remember getting a ball to the head from Leilani Mitchell. Noelle Quinn seems to have settled into a role as a three-point shooter, whether it is suited to her skill set or not. She did a good job picking up stray rebounds, too, working the long balls. Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton bodied up against bigger posts better than I liked, but while she wasn't a zero out there, I don't remember her impact other than perhaps an extra body on the boards. Shannon Bobbitt looked lost initially, since we were throwing much bigger defenders at her (we're talking Alex Montgomery here), but she was able to adjust and get the ball in motion after a couple of reps, and that allowed the offense to work. She's so tiny! It's hard to believe.
Other than selling a first-born child that will likely not exist, I will do anything within my power to get Crystal Langhorne in a New York Liberty jersey. She goes about her business, sneaking backdoor for lay-ups and hitting those midrange jumpers, cleaning up the boards and generally being awesome. I'd like to avoid another round of griping about why she wasn't in the pool for USA Basketball, so let's just say she's awesome and move right along. Monique Currie played sparingly, for reasons known only to Trudi Lacey, but still managed to cut her way through the lane and get her points in the paint and from the line. She's not as much of a rebounder as I remembered, which maybe has to do with the knee. Stupid ACLs make me sad. Matee Ajavon spent a lot of time sitting on the ground, which I am more than okay with, and got her points from the line on stupid fouls by the Liberty. I have no idea how she racked up the assists, because she never looked like she was looking to pass. Maybe they were on breaks? But I am biased against Ajavon, and I'll admit that I'm biased against Ajavon (she's why I no longer cheer for Rutgers). Jasmine Thomas did not impress me, but didn't make me shake my head in horror, either. She was just kind of there. Michelle Snow was a defensive monster with the most amusing facial expressions whenever she disagreed with the officiating. She should be up for Best Actress in the comedy category (unlike DeMya Walker or Danielle Adams, who are pure drama). She wasn't looking to shoot, but she did her job, as much as it grinds my gears to say it.
No, seriously, Ashley Robinson, what was that with the hair?
Oh, if Katelan Redmon's shot had counted. The arena would have been very happy for her. She looked like a rookie, but at least she looked like a rookie who cared. I like her hustle. (But I do have to wonder if the protuberant ears are a requirement at Gonzaga, a side effect, or something in the gene pool in eastern Washington. I'm sorry, I notice random things like that about players when they don't do much else on the floor.) Nicole Powell did her job rebounding, but she can't defend the post. And when she has to spend energy going up against taller, bigger, stronger, and more experienced-in-the-post players, she's not using it to get in position for shots... or even get across the midcourt line! There was a play in the second half where she stood in the backcourt for a good three seconds before restarting, which resulted in an eight-second violation and a look of utter confusion on Cappie Pondexter's face that was priceless. Kia Vaughn came back a game too early, I think- she still looked a little out of it out there, though the officiating didn't help. We'll get back to that later. Alex Montgomery played sparingly, mostly for defense. I'd like to have seen a little more of her. Kelley Cain was lost. I don't think she's used to defense from people around her height, and Michelle Snow and Ashley Robinson were too much for her to handle.
Cappie Pondexter's stat line looks great, and maybe if there'd been more of a comeback, the narrative might be different- but from where I was sitting, it looked like she got hot just when there was no chance to come back, then quietly faded back out when we made one last push. Garbage points. Kara Braxton actually ducked out of the way of a ball at one point, a move I haven't seen since Tammy Sutton-Brown wore scarlet. She played incredibly stupid today, even more than we've come to expect. We could really use a visit during the break from Bill Laimbeer to terrify some sense into her. Leilani Mitchell was at least going after loose balls (though we like it when you at least pretend to jump on the jump ball) and trying to get something to happen. Essence Carson started out well, but Whiz's strange rotations and a couple of dings lowered her effectiveness. My opinion of this might be biased by the Cagers sitting next to me, whose constant complaints were "Why isn't Essence in?" and "Why isn't Kia in?" (Because they're human and need a rest, that's why.) DeMya Walker still looked a bit slowed, but her flair for drama was back. Whiz still limited her minutes, leading to the Adventures of Nicole Powell, Reluctant Post Player.
The officiating was... um... let's go with interesting, since that's not libelous. In the first quarter, it was actually tilted in the Liberty's favor, with some out-of-bounds calls and some non-calls going against Washington. The second half was the other way. Everything seemed to turn against the Liberty- a charge on one end was a block on the other, a hit to the arm was called as an up-and-down on (I think) Essence, every out-of-bounds was a hot mess... this is when the people around me started letting off language not suitable for young children. Do I think this was the ultimate difference? No, I think our inability to hit shots and defend Crystal Langhorne might have had something to do with it. But the momentum that built momentarily died under the pressure of the foul count. I think a 28-9 edge on free throws made a difference for the Mystics, but not the only difference.Lunch was at UberBurger, around the other side of the arena. The half hour wait was a bit frustrating, and is the primary reason why these notes weren't up two hours ago, but at least they gave us a free drink and free fries for messing up our order. Props for trying, guys.
Somehow, it seems appropriate that your intrepid blogger's last look at the WNBA before the break is running into Natalie Novosel at the hand dryer in the restroom at Newark-Penn Station. It takes nerve to use those bathrooms.
At least the Olympic break is upon us, and that gives us time to heal, time to think, time to figure out if we genuinely want to make a playoff run, time to decide if it's really worth it to go out in the first round or if a lottery pick would be a better investment for the future, time to improve, time to adjust, time to work together, time to get our act together and at least look like a professional team. Hopefully, everyone will find their heart. I'm not sure if I want to make the playoffs, but I just want them to look like they care.