Delle Donne, Sky, dismantle Liberty

Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Chicago Sky raced out to a 13-0 start and never looked back in beating the New York Liberty 75-55. Elena Delle Donne led the Sky with 23 points, adding six rebounds. Carolyn Swords had 12 points and five steals, Eshaya Murphy added 12 points off the bench, and Epiphanny Prince had 11. For New York, Plenette Pierson and Kelsey Bone each had a team-high 11. For epic fail, trying very hard not to swear in front of children, runaway cotton candy, drastic measures, and purported food, join your intrepid and clogged blogger after the jump. (Monopoly time at the Golden Arches, yay for cheap food!)

Good morning! I think. I don't know what this dance routine thing is supposed to be, but I don't think I like something that starts with a little boy talking about how his pants are sagging on the ground.

Chicago has a tendency to zerg rush the exit, but at least I got Carolyn Swords after two years of being ignored. I'm pretty sure Elena Delle Donne will be back at some point. That's a fair exchange.

There are an awful lot of people in Sky and Delle Donne gear around. Actually, strike that. There's an awful lot of people in Delle Donne gear around (including someone I recognize as one of the Sun's superfans; really, Judy, this is how you're gonna roll?) I was hoping the ridiculousness of the start time would keep too many visitors out, but apparently not. I eagerly await the dying down of the hype.

I don't know if I've mentioned how much I hate Camp Days. I don't like children. Being around thousands of them is not my idea of a good time. The things I do for my team. And now I've had to suffer Miley Cyrus. Someone will have to pay for this.

Gorgeous, gorgeous anthem. And it all went down hill from there. It's 41-25 Chicago at the half, and it could have been a lot worse. I'm no longer sure that Cappie Pondexter and Bill Laimbeer can co-exist, and the wrong choice might doom this franchise for the next five years. The first quarter was one of the hottest messes I've seen out of this Liberty team in... gosh, at least a week! At least the second quarter was equal-opportunity ugly. Leilani Mitchell and Alex Montgomery look like the only players working out there. I'm disappointed and sad and frustrated.

Mama Taj looks like she's wearing a bustle and fake hooves. Oh Mama Taj no.

If we had made a heroic defensive effort and held Chicago scoreless in the fourth quarter, we would still have lost this game, that's how inept we were. I'm embarrassed for them. I'm embarrassed by them. I'm also pretty sure the Chicago Sky got more fans out of that game than the Liberty did, which I'm pretty sure defeats the purpose of a camp day game. (Well, okay, we all know the real purpose of a Camp Day game is to inflate attendance, but that's neither here nor there.)

I've mentioned before that I really like Eshaya Murphy. That remains true today. She took the shots that were given to her and hit most of them, and she took care of most of the little things as well. The one play that stands out was actually a missed shot- she went for a three, and as soon as it was off her fingertips, she was crashing the boards- already sure that it had missed, she was ready for the o-board. Two Liberty players beat her to the spot, but it's that kind of effort I appreciate. Sharneé Zoll-Norman ran a decent offense the second time she was in. The first time that she was in, she looked very much like she was in over her head- bad passes, bad decisions, bad shots. Allie Quigley played very briefly in both halves and took one shot (it was a long two, to be fair, but I'm still surprised she took a shot that wasn't a three, and still annoyed that it didn't occur to anyone on the Liberty that guarding her might be a good plan). Tamera Young can't shoot free throws. She played one half with the elbow sleeve on and one half with it off. There are a lot of tattoos under that sleeve- not as piecemeal as Cappie or Deanna Nolan, but not as put-together as Augustus or Griner. (Yes, you're going to get a lot of random side observations in these notes, it's not like the game was very much to write home about.) I don't remember her doing much else than missing free throws. Michelle Campbell was very physical and very tough in the middle. I don't know what went on between her and Kara Braxton, but it got very physical near the end of the game. There was a lot harder and more vicious bumping than I expected.

I'm a bit distracted right now. There's a really tall dude in front of me and a dude in full Duke basketball kit, so I'm intrigued and trying to figure out if they're anyone in particular.

Swin Cash seems to have issues with Detroit. Gee, I wonder why. She and Plenette Pierson were going at it hammer and tongs, and her dramatics were in full force. She seemed to be settling a lot for threes, which I thought was interesting; I was under the impression that she was the four in the lineup with Delle Donne. Epiphanny Prince started the game off hot, and even though she cooled off alter, by then they didn't need her. She showed flashy hands on defense, too. Courtney Vandersloot blended in with the rest of her teammates, but in a way, that's what a good point guard is supposed to do. She didn't have to take the risks she took last time- she had open passes to her teammates and set them up well. Elena Delle Donne hit shots from all over the floor, and even though she has one of the strangest free throw wind-ups I've seen in my life, she gets the job done. The fact that she missed a free throw stuns me. I'm not quite sure how she managed four blocks- I remember one of them well, but maybe I was mixing her up with Carolyn Swords on defense. Swords played really well defensively. My beloved traveling companion brought up an interesting point: Swords is playing like the player we expected Cathrine Kraayeveld to be before she decided she wanted to be Laurie Koehn when she grew up. Boils my blood. But I'm a bitter St. John's fan. No, seriously, she was great at breaking up passes to the inside and coming away with the ball.

Chicago got excellent bench play; to be honest, they probably could have gotten more. But given how much grief Pokey Chatman has gotten for not having her big guns in the game at times, I can't blame her for keeping them in a lot.

I'm not sure why it seems like Leilani Mitchell has slipped to the back of the rotation, but it's clear that the offense runs a lot better when she's making the decisions. Plus/minus is nto usually a good stat for single players in single games, but the fact that she managed a +13 in a 20-point loss says a lot for what she brought to the table. She flat-out stole a rebound from Swords late in the game- and this was not her standard style of sneaking in and grabbing the ball low, this was straight up in the air over Swords's head. She's doing her damnedest to prove everyone from the beginning of the season wrong. Kamiko Williams brought energy and defense- she had a great defensive sequence on Delle Donne in the fourth quarter as Delle Donne brought the ball up. I don't know if I like how much she's looking for her shot, though. That makes me wonder if Bill's not sure where to fit her into the system. Kelsey Bone was good on offense, but she was standing around staring at a lot of rebounds today. Get on the boards, Kelsey, you're 6-3 and broad-shouldered! Throw your weight around! Her shot found her in the second half, though I'm not sure how much of that was finding her touch and how much of that was the lack of interest Chicago had in defending her during a game that was long since in the bag. Alex Montgomery has mastered the art of the baseline save, and no one fights for loose balls like her. She brought the fire that was missing from the rest of the team. Her throw from the baseline set up Leilani's first three. And she's taking more of a leadership role on the floor, too, which I thought was interesting- she was in with Cappie, Leilani, and Kara at one point, and it looked like she was the one calling the huddle during the official timeout for blood on Swords's leg. Avery Warley was a solid rebounder, and got her basket on a wild tip-in that almost didn't get credited to her.

The bench play makes the game sound tolerable for the Liberty, doesn't it? Too bad we had five other players see time in the game.

Toni Young's vaunted athleticism was missing in action for much of the game. I expect great leaping feats from Toni, and she let smaller players outrebound her consistently for the first three quarters or so. She did have one pretty putback late in the game. Katie Smith was unremarkable on both ends of the floor, which is a bit of a problem when she's our vaunted defensive stopper with veteran savvy and all those other things they like to say about players near the end of their shelf life. She was a non-factor. Plenette Pierson got the start again, and got stupid fouls. She took a lot of outside jumpers, and a lot of them didn't go down until the end of the game, when it didn't matter anymore. And it's becoming clearer and clearer that her knee is making her a liability on defense. That's a problem for a player who's as hard-nosed as Plenette in a style as physical as Laimbeer's. It's hard to be a Bad Girl when you can't move. Kara Braxton was even dumber than usual today, which takes a lot of talent for Kara. She was missing bunnies, blowing passes- I thinka t one point she actually mistook her head for the basketball and the basketball for her head, which is the only reason I can think of for how badly she blew that lay-up. She wasn't rebounding, she wasn't defending, she wasn't scoring- Braxton vs. Swords is not supposed to be a KO in favor of Swords. And Cappie Pondexter... I'm not 100% certain Cappie didn't show up to this game hung over. Her passing was abominable, when she passed. Her shooting was abominable. Her defense was non-existent. She got dinged for two offensive fouls because of her recklessness and carelessness and probably should have been nailed for a third. (Seriously, do not poke people in the face, refs notice that.) She looked like she wanted to take everything on her shoulders, except that today she didn't have shoulders.

Also, whoever's fault it was that Leilani got stuck guarding Delle Donne on that one possession, come over here so I can beat you with a "Basketball for Dummies" book, specifically explaining why having a 5-5 point guard in single coverage on a 6-5 combo forward is a bad idea.

The kids were loud at all the most annoying times, and not actually during the game, though I can't blame them. At least no one hit me with a thunderstick, though it came close.

I wanted to be stabbed in the ears and eyes during the "Libz Bop" segment, because none of them can sing and Kamiko really can't sing Adele. (Though it did establish that Essence rocks the pink leopard-print pimp hat better than either Leilani or Plenette.)

Officiating was sketchy. Quelle surprise. Can we not with the hitting Alex in the face?

Things that worry me as a Liberty fan:

* Why is Bill playing power games with Leilani? Is she not 100% physically? Right now, she's the best of our point guards/players what can handle the ball a bit.

* The regrettable recto-cranial inversion that is clearly impeding Cappie Pondexter's vision.

* Plenette's knee.

* Kara. Just Kara.

* Has Bill lost the team? Or only part of it? Because somewhere along the line, there seems to have been a general busting of give-a-damns from the veterans and a lot more intensity from the rookies.


It's a very collegiate thing to do, but if I were in Bill's position and needed to shake things up, I'd use the theory that playing time is earned, not given, and start Leilani, Kamiko, Alex, Toni, and Kelsey. Bench Cappie and let her stew. Bench Kara until someone can slap a brain into her head. Bench Katie until she finds her veteran resolve to go out with a bang instead of a whimper. Bring Plenette off the bench- she's always played best as a sixth woman, and this might get the stress off her knee. He won't do it, but he needs to make a major change in the atmosphere of this team. The last few games have been putrid and shameful. Something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

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