You thought you were done with me when the Liberty finished their home schedule, didn't you? You thought those long huge blocks of text full of perceived wit and self-proclaimed wisdom were going into mothballs until November, didn't you? Well, think again. Your intrepid blogger came into a bit of money some months ago, and the one big splurge we planned was a trip down to Washington to cheer for Nadirah McKenith.
This is the kind of logic my brain uses: I really like Nadirah. I want to cheer for her. I can't cheer for her when she plays in New York or Newark, because she's a Mystic and therefore I'd be rooting against the Liberty, and I don't root against my team. (I may wish for short-term failure for long-term gain, but even then I want to see some fight out of them.) Therefore, if I want to cheer for Nadirah, I have to do it somewhere other than New York. None of the Mystics' games in Connecticut fit into my busy schedule. Therefore, if I want to cheer for Nadirah, I have to go to Washington, and so here I am in the District of Columbia, with holes in my shoes and an Internet connection of questionable reliability.
Albert, one of the finest bloggers Swish Appeal has to offer, hooked us up with our tickets, for which I am eternally and infinitely grateful. Mystics fans in general, every time I've been to DC, have been amazing, from my first trip (tickets to All-Star practice) to the last Board Junkie get-together (poster) to this. (Especially when I saw the ticket prices, yowza.)
But you get bang for your buck, I'll say that. The inside of the arena is nice. The boards are bright and sharp, and there are stat boards in all corners to go with the giant jumbotron over center corut. The set-up for the team store is pretty sweet (and 40% off is one of the holy phrases of my people, so I bought a couple of things, and if there's a clearance sale on Sunday I might just buy a Jasmine Thomas shirt and vandalize it). I love the season ticket holder shirts- "if lost, please return me to Verizon Center" on the front, "because I never miss a game" and the schedule on the back. The staff is really nice- bonus points to the security guy who checked my bag before the gates opened, which is a practical time-saving step that neither New York nor Connecticut will take.
Well played, cameraman: during one of the "na na na-na na-na" segments of "Can't Hold Us", he stuck the camera on Nadirah.
Friendly but extremely nosy child, why are you asking me what I paid for my hotel room?
Missed the biddy game at halftime, on a wild goose chase for I know not who carrying I know not what, hence the lack of halftime notes. Your intrepid blogger will attempt to not make the same mistake on Sunday.
Cute anthem kid, less cute anthem, but when an armed forces specialist tells you to stand for the anthem, boy howdy do you stand for the anthem. A very DC touch.
Connecticut was down to seven players- I don't know what happened to Tan White (yes, I know in the box score it had something to do with her left hand). All I knew at the time was that she was in the starting lineup when we got into the building, and then suddenly Iziane Castro Marques was in the starting lineup and Tan still had her pants on. Which sounds wrong... I meant her tearaway pants.
So the entire Sun bench was Kayla Pedersen and Sydney Carter. Obviously, both of them got a lot of minutes. Pedersen got on the boards well, though there did seem to be a lot of flailing by her. Sydney Carter had a really nice game- I think she's trying to prove that she belongs in the league, and in the games that I've seen her, she's definitely proven that. She ran the offense very well, and her shot was sweet. She had a very pretty steal to start the fourth quarter while Ivory Latta's mind was perhaps not on the game. Maybe she needs to work on her defense a little, but she's got game.
You would think Mike Thibault and the Washington Mystics would know that Iziane Castro Marques likes to shoot a little bit. But they were letting her have that right corner all night, and that's where she hit both of her threes. She even tried passing the ball a couple of times, but after what Kelsey Griffin did with it near the end of the game, I'm not sure she's ever going to do that again. Come on, Sun. Y'all need to hit shots if you want Izi to even consider passing the ball again. Renee Montgomery got on the ball a lot on defense, and she seemed much less involved in the offense than usual. Her shot selection left a lot to be desired, as it usually does. Mistie Bass did work down low. I think her teammates accidentally fought with her for rebounds a couple of times. I know Pedersen was getting tangled with her own teammates. Kelsey Griffin had occasional lapses of sanity wherein she was under the impression that she was in fact a mythological griffin and could fly. Kelsey, I regret to inform you that you can't fly. Sorry. You rebound pretty well, though. And people do like to leave her open for that long two. I'm sort of grateful the Liberty aren't the only ones who do it. I don't remember what Kalana Greene did, except for one successful drive and the occasional attempt at a rebound, attempts that were not as successful as I'm sure Anne Donovan would have liked.
I suspect that because the Sun don't have a single go-to player, they have to work as a team unit a lot more. They played a lot of help defense, with a lot of switching and doubling. I also was impressed with their on-ball defense and some of their ball movement.
Quanitra Hollingsworth looked surprisingly ineffective for a player I'd seen be somewhat useful in New York. Q, stop trying to solve Fermat's Last Theorem in your head and work on calculating the angle of your shot. Nadirah McKenith ran a solid offense; I think she'd have had more assists if Kia Vaughn could hold on to the ball, but I recognize my biases. She had a shoulder sleeve on and was applying heat. If that's an ongoing situation, that might explain why she's been shooting less. Tayler Hill decided to show off her stroke from long range- she and Ivory Latta were taking turns at one point, and it was kind of awesome. She still does stupid things on the court, but that's to be expected from a rookie, and I'm glad she's making strides. Emma Meesseman hit the boards well and looked good. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt followed her shot with impressive ferocity- I think she got all her offensive rebounds on two possessions. That is not a woman I neither want to anger nor mess with in a dark alley. Michelle Snow spent a lot of time arguing with the refs and doing stupid things.
Kia Vaughn came with a lot of energy in this one, on both ends of the floor. I'd have liked if she had better hands, but we can't be perfect, and she was fierce. Ivory Latta was balling. She took a couple of those threes from Tina Thompson land, and they were nothing but net. I was taken aback by her utter lack of lateral quickness. Like any. At all. It's such a stark contrast to her usual caffeine bullet time that it becomes noteworthy. I don't remember Matee Ajavon doing much except committing fouls and taking shots that seemed designed to look good and not be effective. Crystal Langhorne hit the boards and boxed out well. I love when she gets her blue collar on. Monique Currie was hitting from deep; even the two-pointer she hit was with a foot on the three-point line (a call she does love to argue).
The shooting was amazing. Every time Connecticut tried to get a run together, Washington hit a three. And then it snowballed and suddenly they were up 20. I love seeing the kids play together- that's a very promising young core, and a very collegiate style of building a team.
I don't know if manipulating a double bungee cord is a life skill that she'll have any use for, but the woman in the Dunkin Donuts contest used momentum to her advantage.
How does one go about acquiring a Chick-Fil-A sandwich? Izi Castro Marques gave the whole arena one by missing two free throws in the fourth quarter. I don't like who they give their money to, but if I can sate my curiosity for free, I'll do it.
I thought the tech on Latta was weak, though we don't know what she said.
LOL of the game: Ivory Latta getting her groove on at the start of the fourth quarter.
I couldn't bring myself to say "Let's Go Mystics", but I can chant "DE-FENSE" real good. And if they keep using the opening clap from "Car Wash", they're going to get it from Liberty fans on Sunday.
This was fun. It's going to be more interesting next time.