It's so good to be home. Home is where the heart is, and now it's where my team is again, and I love pretty much everything about it. Right now, the only thing I object to is the teams' tunnels being on opposite sides of the arena- hard to collect all the autographs I want that way, but it is what it is.
The new court, with its black paint and seafoam green end zones, looks wonderful. The font is plain, but light-years better than the official W font they were using before. I like pretty much all the things right now.
As Cappie is still in Turkey, the team is still wearing last year's fashion in warm-up jackets and pants. But the t-shirts are pretty awesome. I like the new home jerseys, bright white with black lettering, the team name outlined in seafoam green.
We upgraded our seats, thanks to my favorite windfall, and we're about fifteen rows off the court, catty-corner behind the Liberty bench. I like being behind the bench- you see some great by-play between the players and the coaches. It's fantastic- though we lost some of our neighbors, we gained a whole bunch of new ones, including friends we've known for some time who are now in our vicinity.
You can tell it's preseason, because the pregame entertainment wouldn't get off the court when the team came out for stretches, and was bound and determined to do their routine, no matter how in the way they were. Laura Ramus's glare could punch holes in steel right now. She's doing what she can with the lack of space, but she's still cranky.
The compromise between the fans' preference for "Strike It Up" and the players' preference for current rap hits appears to be a mash-up. Not sure if want, but the players seem really intent on coming out to their choice of song.
The scoreboard currently has two versions of Nicky Anosike, one who wears 13 and one who wears 55. I assume one goes by Nicky and the other by Nkolika. As it turned out, the other one goes by Anna- Cruz got the start.
Katie Smith looks like she's about to execute a hostile takeover on some unsuspecting start-up. That suit's sharp enough to cut glass. I think she might need to button up one more, though.
No Plenette Pierson, no Tina Charles. Well, Bill did warn us that Tina wouldn't play.
Kara, you still need to get to the bra shop, I have sympathy pains in my chest.
The new scoreboard is amazing, and it has a scoreboard in the scoreboard! (Yo, dawg, I heard you like scoreboards, so we put a scoreboard in your scoreboard, so you can keep score while you keep score.)
Okay, there are Plenette and Tina. Plenette, what is that jacket, and exactly what did you imbibe to make you think it was a good idea?
At halftime, it's 36-13 Connecticut. We can't shoot and we can't hold the ball. Essence Carson has pretty much all the offense, with nine out of the 13 points. Chiney Ogwumike looks good for Connecticut, with eight points. Shanece McKinney has done an excellent impression of Tina Charles- at least, I think that's why she's playing so many minutes and plays are being made to her that were designed for a taller player.
Today comes with the usual array of groups arriving late and strolling to seats during play, with the additional wrinkle that half of them seem to be in the wrong seats, and seem determined to defend those ill-gotten seats. I hate school days. I hate camp days. At least most of the groups are in the upper deck. The ushers have not been as sharp-eyed as they should be about that.
Well, there were moments of hope, but overall, the reserves continued to be a hot mess, and more questions were raised than answered. Connecticut still seemed to be playing a lot more to get into season form than to figure out who was staying on the team, while New York looked more like they were running drills and figuring out plays.
Kelly Faris didn't see her first action until near the end of the game, and seemed to be in there to prove whether she could shoot. Results were mixed, though the case wasn't helped by her teammates missing her when she was wider open than she's probably ever been in her life. She hustles, and she seems to be a good kid, but from what I've seen from her on the floor, if she makes the team it's because of her pedigree. I think Danielle McCray showed a little more than she did on Sunday- more involved in the offense, more intensity on defense, more general awarenss of where she should be on the court. Renee Montgomery still looks like the odd woman out- not quite suited to the bench, not playing nearly well enough to knock Alex Bentley out of the starting lineup. I don't know if this is working for her, but we'll have to wait and see how things are during the actual season. Kelley Cain used her size well on the inside, although if I were Anne Donovan, I would have been annoyed at the number of times she punched rebounds up into the air instead of seizing them with both hands. Someone 6'6" with that kind of build needs to be controlling the rebound, no matter who ends up with it after the scrum. She also seemed to take it kind of personally that shorter players were blocking her shots. Kayla Pedersen came up with a lot of those loose balls down low, especially on the baseline- that area behind the basket almost seemed to be her personal playspace. Alyssa Thomas looked solid. She showed a little bit of her strength when she ripped down a rebound while being thoroughly held by Toni Young. She still seems a little pleasantly surprised by the presence of teammates who aren't expecting her to do everything at once. Kalana Greene played a little bit, played a little defense, and was mostly out of the game.
Katie Douglas missed pretty much everything that she hit on Sunday, up to and including free throws. You know it's a preseason game when Katie Douglas misses two consecutive free throws. She moved well defensively, though. Chiney Ogwumike decided that she was going to put on a bit of a show underneath, going strong and hard to the basket with shoulders and spins. She looked fantastic. Kelsey Griffin was quiet- doing some work underneath, but mostly running around and getting in the way of the Liberty defense. Allison Hightower continues to be awesome, whether it's going to the basket for shot or making nice defensive plays- when she makes a block, you know about it. The offense ran well with Alex Bentley in the game, but I'm not sure how much of that is her and how much of it is increased ball movement because their lead guard isn't looking to shoot as much.
Connecticut looks like they're going to get a lot of production out of their young players, and that's not even factoring in Kelsey Bone replacing Kelley Cain (well, most likely Cain, but maybe Griffin, but probably Cain). I'm not as sure about their guards, but then, I'm even less sure about ours.
The late threes that Sugar Rodgers hit back to back in the fourth quarter are going to make her look really good, but she didn't look really good in real life. She has no defensive acumen, and much less foot speed than I remembered from Georgetown. She looked badly out of place, even among a guard corps with no real shining performances. And that's not even getting into the part where she accidentally kicked Renee Montgomery in the jaw while attempting to defend a fast break. She also falls down a lot, and not in the chasing of the loose ball sense. I liked her sneakers, though! Chucky Jeffery played a little at the lead guard, but not a lot. She made no impression. Meighan Simmons also ran some point, and once again showed a distressing willingness to give the ball to Kelley Cain. Look, Speedy, I know you and Kelley both went to Tennessee, and I think you even overlapped a year, but that doesn't mean you give her the ball. She's on the other team now! Shanece McKinney may not have put up great numbers, but she looked very good on the floor. If she were taller, a lot of the plays they ran through her would have worked much better- you could tell that they were being designed for a 6'4" center. Also, her bandages are multiplying, so there's the distinct possibility she's being possessed by the ghost of Tari Phillips (Tari, if you're out there, give us a sign that you're not dead or living in a van down by the river, we still love you in New York). Alex Montgomery made dramatic defensive plays, including one spectacular block on the sideline, but really needs to find something that vaguely resembles offense. She looks like she's taken huge steps back from last year, and that's the last thing we need. Actually, it's the next to last thing we need; the last thing we need is Toni Young taking steps back. She needs to find a jump shot, and she needs to find the common sense not to commit four fouls in the first half. We all know she can jump out of the building, which lets her get big blocks and loud cheers when she comes close to dunking in the lay-up line, but if she doesn't take the next step, then maybe someone else needs to be the one to try and turn her into a basketball player instead of just a spectacular athlete.
The good news is that Kara Braxton didn't manage to get lost on her way back to New York, which I considered to be a distinct possibility. The bad news is that Kara is still so very Kara- bouncing all over the place, lackadaisical on both ends of the floor, repeatedly leaving her hands low. She actually played less time than Shanece did, and I don't know what we're going to do with her once Tina shows up- she's too much of a headache to stick on the bench, and she can't play 4. If only there were a team out there that needed a big center for a short period of time and had cap room for a max contract... Essence Carson showed uncharacteristic lack of clock awareness early in the game, committing both a five-second violation and a shot clock violation in the first quarter. A lot of her shots that should have gone down didn't. Anna Cruz got the start, and looked good doing it. I'd like to see her hit more of those slashing drives to the lane, but we got one for a resounding CRUUUUUUUUUZ, because this is New York and that's how we roll. Her build and her general look remind me of a slightly taller Shay Doron. Tyaunna Marshall rebounded well, but still needs to step her game up on defense on the W level. DeLisha Milton-Jones didn't move as well as she did on Sunday, but she had a couple of pretty step-back jumpers.
Officials let a lot go for Connecticut in the first half and a lot for New York in the second half. I think the crews are still in transition from the college rules to the pro rules. They're still not quite sure what to call.
New York gave up entirely too many offensive rebounds. Connecticut looked like they were expecting to have third chances by the end. For all I know, this is Bill playing possum for the 16th, but it's not good to get players used to not rebounding. There was also wayyyyyy too much running down of the shot clock. We had something like three shot clock violations and innumerable close calls. It was almost to the point where I thought they were inducing those late-clock plays to practice them. But again, you don't want to get into the habit of running clock when you don't need to, because then you might do it when you really shouldn't.
Lots of questions. Too many questions. Some of them will be answered when Tina and Cappie show up. But now Plenette suiting up has become a question, and I don't like that. Not when Alex and Toni are questionable at the three. Right now, I think the cuts are Kamiko Williams, Sugar Rodgers, Chucky Jeffery, and Shanece McKinney- but if Nicky Anosike's knee is acting up, or if we can deal Kara Braxton for a pick, I'd love to keep Shanece.