It's not quite home, but it'll do. I've always maintained that my biggest issue with the Prudential Center is that it has the misfortune to be located in Newark (don't tell Nadirah, or Amber, or Aliyyah, that I said that). But it's a nice arena, and the hockey boards are so very useful for autograph gathering.
Of course, both the MTA and PATH were doing track work, so everything was slowed up. We get no respect.
Only Teresa Weatherspoon can pull off a breast-cancer-pink button-down shirt. I love watching her work the room.
Whoever sang the anthem needs to be retained and used often. The way she sings the anthem is the way Kym Hampton thinks she's singing the anthem.
Spotted several members of the St. John's staff. For some reason they recognized us. I think it might have been the volume. And we do tend to yell the same sort of things at players no matter what season it is.
At halftime, the Liberty are up in in a game that's been very sloppy, but the shots have gone down when they've gone up. Both teams are fumbling a lot and throwing strange passes. (Shenneika. I am looking at you. Like, seriously. THAT WAS YOUR BREAK.) Ashley Walker is playing out of her mind (someone wants to make sure there's a summer income for the family, I guess).
Starters: Griffin, Lawson, Hightower, Charles, and Greene for the Sun; Mitchell, Young, Carson, Pondexter, and Braxton for the Liberty. Yes, that lineup has Toni Young back at the 4. I think Laimbeer is enjoying all the opportunities he has to mind-screw people.
I approve of the name and number tees being black. I'm not so sure how I feel about it being first name and number. In that scenario, the only one I'd buy is Essence Carson, only because she has a really cool first name.
Biasedly, I'm worried about Shenneika. Leilani is playing better, and Neika looks lost. Like, almost go down the wrong tunnel lost. She does tend to fold under expectations...
Kelley Cain did not dress. Well, she dressed (in a darling blue sun dress and her hair out), but not in uniform. I think she's just waiting for the paperwork to clear. Cheryl Ford and Plenette Pierson are also in street clothes. Cheryl is going with the pastels. Plenette's flowered pants are an abomination unto the Lord and ought to be burned at the stake.
Unsurprisingly, attendance is a bit sparse. I think there are 3 Sun fans here. Donovan got a pretty big hand from the audience, such as it is.
I like the VIP card concept. Discounts make me happy. And I do wonder if it's a step towards tickets on cards, which I think would be ace. (I'd probably never have the "forgot my tickets" dream for W season again.)
The standardization of the font annoys me. I want my block letters back. I feel like we're fighting harder and harder for less and less individuality.
78-67 is the final for the Liberty, and they look improved by leaps and bounds from last week. If only I could say the same for the front office... but that's a rant for a later part of this round of GNoD.
Kelly Faris does exist! Anne Donovan only put her into the game very late in the fourth quarter, and I think that might just have been to make sure that her foot wasn't going to shatter into a thousand pieces if she put any weight on it. Her defense looked okay, but it's hard to get a read on a player in the last four minutes of a foregone conclusion. Latoya Williams really looked undisciplined out there, and missing half her free throws probably didn't endear her to Donovan. Ashley Walker had it going on on offense, bringing the versatility that Donovan had lauded in a couple of newspaper articles. She might have spent a little too much time beyond the arc, though. If you want to establish yourself as a reserve post, you might want to play a bit in the post. Natasha Lacy did a lot less shooting than she did last week, and somehow she ended up on the boards. I don't remember how, but she isn't afraid to mix things up. Tan White showed off her speed and a bit of her veteran craftiness (oh gods I'm getting old). She was all up in everyone's business on defense. Mistie Bass got the job done down low, making plays happen around the basket. Renee Montgomery jacked threes and flopped once or twice. Johannah Leedham kept doing that thing where she was all over the ball and kept ending up with it when it was Liberty possession. She deked Shenneika Smith pretty hard. It was not pretty from where I was sitting, though you would disagree with me if you were a Sun fan, or a British women's basketball fan. Or from Franklin Pierce College, I suppose. Are there a lot of you reading this blog?
The original plan for the Liberty appeared to be letting Tina Charles take jumpers. This fell apart later in the game. She still seemed to be imposing her will on the game. Kelsey Griffin sets a mean pick and follows her shot like nobody's business, but she misses too many point-blank shots for my liking. If, of course, I were a Sun fan. Which I mostly am not. I don't know if they need both Bass and Griffin. Allison Hightower kept trying to call glass and failing miserably. She didn't play a lot, though. I think Donovan already knows what she has in her and needed to test out the players auditioning for the last role or two. Kara Lawson got her shot pretty much whenever she wanted it. If she had looked for it more, the Sun might have won the game. Kalana Greene was not much of a factor, but she continues to be an awesome human being. We miss you, Kalana. Come back to New York someday! We know how to pronounce your name, no matter what the PA announcer does!
Yeah, Shenneika Smith is the last cut. No hesitation here. The only way she makes it is if Laimbeer deals someone for a pick or something bizarre happens. I don't know if she was under orders not to shoot or she was desperate to prove that she could be something other than a shooter, but she passed up easy, easy shots- and then when she got more offensive-minded, Ashley Walker posterized her. She did have a couple of nice defensive plays once she figured out the scheme, and it only took three possessions for her to figure out that Tan White is not Johannah Leedham and cannot be defended as such. Alex Montgomery is still on fire. I love the way she's developed. She came in knowing that she had an opportunity and needed to show her stuff, and she proved out. Katie Smith is still a step slow, but if you give her space she'll knock down the shot. She's the kind of player you can't cut, but at the same time, can you afford to keep her on the roster if the one thing she can do is hit open jumpers? Laurie Koehn's probably cheaper, in that regard. Kamiko Williams was not the offensive star she was in Connecticut last week, but her defense picked up, and she was all up on the loose balls. You like making me eat my words, don't you, Kamiko? It's okay, I like having to eat my words when a player is better than I expected. Kelsey Bone was much improved from the last game. She still needs to work on following her shot and getting on the boards (there was one play where I think she was expecting Leilani to magically box out Tina Charles), but she was more aggressive and looked more pro-ready.
Toni, follow your shot! We did a lot of yelling at Toni Young today. She played four at the start of the game and still didn't look comfortable. I'm not exactly thrilled about her getting owned by Kelsey Griffin two different times. (Though you could argue there are parallels between them.) She's incredibly athletic, but she needs to catch up to the speed of her body and the speed of the game. I think she'll be okay, but it's going to take longer than we thought. Kara Braxton was much more aggressive on the boards than I remembered, though that's always an intermittent thing with her. Depends on how much of the fear of Bill has been put into her on any given day, I guess. Cappie Pondexter was Cappie Pondexter. The fall-away was working like crazy. She looked like she was in another gear. Leilani Mitchell was solid. I still don't think Bill plans on keeping her for the long term, because that requires him re-jiggering all his lineup plans, but I think she's safe for now, even if that does make me want to set things on fire. She was fearless today. Maybe she'll be all right if she can keep up that level of metaphorical cojones. Essence Carson's offense was so-so, but her defense was really good. Going for a jump ball against Charles is a plan that's not usually going to succeed, but I'm okay with the effort.
It's the preseason, so saying that they need to tighten up the passing and ballhandling is no surprise. I think every team goes through that. I will say that Laimbeer needs to figure out who he's going to play at the point and how long he's going to play them there, and needs to figure it out in a hurry. If he keeps Leilani, he can't use Cappie at the 1 unless he brings Leilani off the bench and then Kamiko is screwed, and I don't want Kamiko to be screwed.
Officiating was all right, for the most part. Let it be said that I hate the defensive three-seconds rule, and will continue to hate it until such time as it stops bringing the game to a grinding halt and confusing the daylights out of everyone in the audience who's trying to figure out what this technical nonsense is about. It got a little chippy at times, and I'll be happy if/when Latoya Williams gets cut for that flying arm that landed damn near Shenneika's neck.
Maddie sinking the halfcourt shot backwards in only three tries was pretty awesome. I like this version of Maddie. Very enthusiastic- almost to a fault, he ran onto the court to protest a call in the first half. (Yes, I'm still pretty sure Maddie is a guy. We all know what a female dog is...)
Yes, I got a haircut, thank you for noticing. :P I do love the sense of community among the fan base. (Then again, going from nearly waist-length hair to a pixie cut is a bit of a noticeable change.)
And then there was the post-game autograph session. Good idea. Baaaaaaaad execution. If you know you're on a tight schedule, don't spend a third of that time organizing. Get your organization in order in a hurry. Then stick to your plan. Don't decide you're going to cycle fans, then cycle players, then go back to cycling fans. And if you're going to have long, looping lines, figure out how to organize them so that people aren't jumping the line or being shepherded to the wrong end of the line and confusing everyone. I like the concept, but it could have gone a lot better. (And really, what's wrong with having one long table for the players and one smaller table for the coaches and having everyone move through that way?) Got most of the team, but still need to get Kelsey- we missed out on her group because the Liberty reps decided that "if you got an autograph already, you have to leave". It was taking longer to tell people they couldn't than to send people through and have done with it. My eyes, they are rolling. Maybe if you hadn't funneled me into a picture line I wasn't interested in, I wouldn't be here 'til 7 and getting all up in your business.
Spoon looks good. Whitmore does not. Taj is flawless.
I don't know what the Sun are going to do with their last cuts. I think it'll be Lacy and Williams, though I don't know if the dynamic with Walker would be weird. Williams is more of a post and would be more of a straight swap if Gruda comes back; Walker is more versatile, but then how are you in the post? I'm not sure what position Griffin is.
And next week we play the Sun again. At this rate, I'll be looking forward to Princess Twitter, Dizzy Miss Lizzie, and the Tulsa Shock just because they aren't Connecticut.