Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Connecticut Sun wrapped up the regular season in emphatic fashion, beating the Atlanta Dream 92-72. Kara Lawson led all scorers with 21 points en route to setting a franchise season record for three-point field goals; she also had eight rebounds. Tina Charles added 17 points and nine boards for the Sun. Atlanta put five players into double figures, led by the 16 points of Lindsey Harding.
For free t-shirts, crashes, chips, salsa, whipping hair, friendly neighborhood hecklers, clipboards, and blessed legroom on the Flushing bus, join your intrepid and slightly swollen blogger after the jump.
The Sun's fan appreciation shirts also came in an array of sizes, which is a refreshing change on general principles. (So did the Liberty's, a fact I appreciated. Certain parts of me require XXL.) It's a simple design, but simple is good.
Nice anthem by a woman with an impressive alto and a lot of bottom to that alto. She wobbled a little bit, and her breath control wasn't great, but she sang well.
Lots and lots of giveaways, but all in one shot- "this section gets blue bags! And this section gets orange bags! And this section gets grill kits!" That sort of thing. Nothing as extravagant as in previous years, but a lot cumulatively. I also like how they utilize the catwalks to drop t-shirts from above. A good use of the space you're in always makes me happy. It gives a place uniqueness.
Danielle McCray was not in uniform for this one. I like her brown pants. I like brown slacks, period.
Does Tiffany Hayes have some kind of personal beef with the Sun or something? She was getting into it with almost everyone like someone said something about someone's mother or something. She was very physical, and I don't think she was all that far from trying to take a cheap shot at someone. Whatever her issue is or was, she's going to need to get over it if she wants to be another successful Husky in the pros. She did well picking off rebounds, though. That's part of why she was in so many of the physical battles. Laurie Koehn, who the announcer kept calling Lauren, came in, attempted to do the one thing she's good at, and then attempted to make a play on the endline. Neither of these ended well. Cathrine Kraayeveld gave them some pretty decent minutes in the post, trying to do the little things like screens that we used to love her for in New York. She matched up a lot with Mistie Mims. Ketia Swanier came in for a couple of stretches, basically only if Williams really wanted a change of pace or needed to make a sub. Aneika Henry had the moves inside, just not the finishing ability. She's still rough around the edges.
Sancho Lyttle, stop shooting threes. Do you know why teams keep giving you those long twos and the three-ball? Because you hit them with approximately the same accuracy as a broken clock has about the time of day. Why not use that first step and those long arms and legs to go towards the hole? Maybe develop more of a midrange game instead of a long-range game? Because I love Sancho's quick hands and the way she can draw the ball to her, but her propensity for jumpers is making me crazy. (Oh, my. I think I wrote half this part about Plenette yesterday. That's not a similarity I'd even considered before.) Érika deSouza was, as always, a load inside. You can't really stop her if she gets position and is allowed to maintain position. You have to try and find a way to keep her from getting position, and that's a lot easier said than done, even for Tina Charles and Asjha Jones. I'd love to see them find her more. I really don't remember Armintie Price making much of an impression, except for one nice finish on the fast break. The box score says she did things, so I have to believe it. Angel McCoughtry played almost in bursts, as if the Dream were score-watching and making sure that she stayed ahead of DeWanna Bonner. She wasn't as strong defensively as she usually is, and she was all right at the offensive end, especially in the second half. The dramatics were going, too. Oh, Angel. Oh, Lori Ann. Lindsey Harding seemed to be going for a lot of loose balls, but otherwise didn't make much of an impression. I remember thinking she was doing a lot of scoring, but not how or why.
I don't know if I like Fred Williams's style or not. Atlanta seemed at times to be trying to, er, metaphorically, um, mark their territory, which is odd when they're not the first-round match-up.
Jessica Moore sighting! You know it was getting to be a big lead when Jessica Moore got minutes! She got shoved around like a poker chip on defense, but converted her only field goal to the wild roar of the crowd. Kelsey Griffin performed a lot of full-body sacrifice- I think her willingness to get physical kept Kraayeveld and Henry from doing anything stupid when it was clear that Atlanta was not going to come back. She cleaned the glass well. She's a useful sort of player to have on your team, but I don't know that you want that to have been the player you spent a first-round pick on. Tan White hit the deck early and often going for steals and loose balls. I remember she had one particularly dumb play that had our section groaning, but I don't remember what it was. Sorry, Tan. Mistie Mims was a physical presence who punished any Atlanta player who even looked cross-eyed at her. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but she lay down the law and established herself both inside and with the midrange game. I like the role she plays for Connecticut. Renee Montgomery did that thing where we didn't notice her and then the box score credits her with seven assists. The offense seemed to be moving faster when she was in, so there might have been breaks where we were too busy looking at the shooter to see where the ball came from.
Allison Hightower had a bout of bad luck with the rims- she should have gotten a couple more of those shots to fall. She played good defense and kept the ball moving well. Kalana Greene also brought the defense and quietly racked up her points. She demonstrated the wonderful timing she liked to show off with the Liberty. Her shots always seemed to come at the right time, especially during the end of the shot clock. Tina Charles started off hot- she cooled down a little bit as the Sun backed off the pedal a bit, but still got the job done. I think she let deSouza back her out of the paint at times. It was nice to see Asjha Jones on the court again, though it's clear she's still shaking the rust off. For Connecticut's sake, I hope she's better prepared by Thursday. Not that they're really, really going to need her, but they're going to want her. Kara Lawson was the story of the day, though. She got the crowd going with her threes, and one shot that was a sweet kiss high off the glass. She was feeling it, and her team knew it.
Mike Thibault also got the crowd going, but for different reasons. He got the technical after a play where Tina Charles was called for a foul after doubling down with Montgomery on Harding in the corner with the clock running down. I blinked and missed the details of the play- the next thing I knew, Harding was holding her jaw and the arena was booing lustily. The refs convened to discuss the matter, chasing Montgomery off like a little kid at a parent-teacher conference, before giving the foul to Charles. Thibault did not approve. Vociferously. A play or two after the technical, as the ball went back down the floor, Thibault ran up the sideline exhorting the crowd to make noise. I know you're not supposed to do that, and I know he's probably going to get in trouble for it, but I loved it. He was mad, and they were mad, and everyone was mad together, and it was wonderful.
This was one of the more animated Sun crowds I've been a part of. They let McCoughtry have it when she picked up fouls, and when she tried to argue a call into an and-1. They let the refs have it on a block/charge that was eventually reversed (correctly, I might add; Griffin was outside the circle and set). It wasn't just generic crowd noise and cheering, but people who were into the game and wanted to make their voices heard. I liked it.
How they missed hands to the face, I will never know, but when your crew is Sue Blauch (there's a reason we call her Blockhead), Roy Gulbeyan (who does tend to be a bit of a snot), and Cameron Inouye (who's mediocre on her good days and worked a game yesterday in Newark), you really should know not to expect much. Gulbeyan did a good job of clarifying the aforementioned reversal for Fred Williams, though.
I still have no idea how that beer company gets away with a giant ad reading "Orange Pride" on I-95 in Connecticut. Kara Lawson must be involved somehow.
I do like when colors are actually presented at games. It makes it so much easier to figure out where I'm supposed to be staring.
We skipped watching Blaze's dance party with the kids at halftime, but at least they demonstrated proper organizational capabilities, unlike whenever the Liberty gather people in the general vicinity of the court.
All in all, it's been a pretty nifty regular season for our trips to the land of the Sun. My not-actually-Sun shirt has, I think, made a difference. I don't get as many odd looks. The husband did get hassled by one jerk who first insisted that he should stop wearing his Monarchs jersey (though the halfwit in question seemed to think he'd had it for six years, which would be a neat trick, because he originally bought it for me after the Monarchs folded, and it's been less than six years since then), then cottoned on to the fact that it's a Lawson jersey and tried to be obnoxiously helpful. Yes, we know Kara's one of the hardest signatures in the league to get, but after the fourth time, take the hint and stop offering.
As always, I cannot recommend enough the pork flautas at Sol Toro. A beautiful balance of sweet and crispy.
Here's to the playoffs, and a long run through the postseason for the Sun!