Just The Facts, Ma'am: The New York Liberty surrendered a 15-point first-half lead to the Connecticut Sun, but rallied back to take out the Sun 89-84 in triple overtime, holding Connecticut to one field goal in the final eight minutes. Tina Charles of Connecticut led all scorers with 22 points and 13 rebounds, getting help from Kara Lawson's 16 points, Tan White's 15 bench points, and DeMya Walker's 13 rebounds. In the win, the Liberty's Cappie Pondexter finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but came up two assists shy of a triple-double. Janel McCarville also registered a double-double, with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Too dry for you? Join your intrepid blogger after the jump for adventures in the land of schoolchildren and double-doubles.Triple overtime in the preseason? Are you serious? Yeah, I'd say the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun are pretty serious.
Let's start with one basic statement that might indicate whether my report is colored by any lingering negativity. I don't like kids, and the more of them there are in one place, the more my nerves start to jangle until I'm a menace to society and breakable objects. So School Day, Camp Day, and other excuses for a team to fill its arena with children are, for me, exercises in pure masochism. And yet I still endure them, because I love this game and because this is my team (and because we paid for the bleeping ticket and I refuse to be chased out of my seat by dilettantes). Still, I have to resist the temptation to do inappropriate things with thundersticks to the next group that doesn't know when to sit down while play is going on.
Ashley Houts is not going to endear herself to fans if she continues to ignore one side of the tunnel that's calling her name. This may be a moot point, as she did not play particularly well in the few minutes she got, and I think she's fighting with Sidney Spencer and Kalana Greene for a guard spot on the bench. But if attitude is an important part of the 10th or 11th player's makeup, then I think the behavior she showed says as much about her chances as her step slow on defense did. April Phillips and Erlana Larkins were both unimpressive. Erlana showed a bit more familiarity with her teammates, which makes sense, given that she's played with a few of these people. April, I think, brings a little more to the table. But if I'm Anne Donovan, (and if I'm still actually interested in coaching young players for the Liberty, something she may not be) I'm scouring the waiver wire for post players who lost out in numbers games, because there's got to be something better out there. Sidney Spencer was not completely awful, but her lack of speed on defense really showed against the Sun's guards. I do wish she'd remember she's 6-3 and play with a little more length- extend her arms a little more, make herself bigger. I liked Kia Vaughn's aggressiveness, but it could do with a little tempering. Perhaps we could transplant some of it into Spencer and thus kill two birds with one stone? Tiffany Jackson, sporting a short 'do that brought back fond memories of the Vandellas and Barbara Farris, looked a bit lost on the court- well, until Renee Montgomery went flying into her and left her in a heap that left my heart in my throat. She walked off under her own power, which was a relief, given that she had suffered enough of an injury that April had to take the free throws for her. She was out of control for much of her time, though- charging and traveling.
The Liberty reserve- well, reserve for this game (we'll get into the finer points of who's a starter and who's a reserve in the next paragraph, if you can stand me that long)- who impressed me most was Kalana Greene. I wasn't high on her when we drafted her, because I appear to have seen all of her worst games and none of her good games. I like her as a complementary part for this team, combining the best defensive instincts of Ashley Battle and the offensive instincts of Lisa Willis. She still has to get some of the rough edges sanded off so that the veterans don't keep fooling her like they did today, but she'll be good for us. She's what we need. I think she's what we thought we were getting with Essence Carson.
Because Nicole Powell is on her way back from Turkey, Essence got the start as small forward (shades of Vickie Johnson back in the day), and Leilani Mitchell started at point guard, moving Cappie Pondexter over to shooting guard. I'm not sure if I personally like that lineup, but if Leilani can play like she did today, I think it could work. Leilani really did work on the defensive end, going after loose balls and forcing tie-ups with Debbie Black-like abandon. She got into two in rapid succession, first against DeMya Walker and then against Renee Montgomery; the second time around, we started hollering, "Finally, Leilani, you're picking on someone your own size!" And if she keeps launching three-balls this way, we're going to have to make sure she didn't body-swap with Erin Thorn when she changed her number. Essence looked confident out there, but I can't remember any of the plays she made. This is depressing. Pondexter filled up the stat sheet, and she had some pretty passes, but the percentage disturbs me. I'll admit that I'm biased against star-centric teams, but I worry that this might turn out like 2006, where we had a guard who could make plays for herself, so everyone just let the guard make plays for herself and didn't help her out. 'tis still preseason, and the kinks need to be worked out. Gotta remind myself of that. Janel McCarville has a nice passing thing going with Taj McWilliams-Franklin. I like that. She does have her occasional moments where she thinks she's Lindsay Whalen and will try a pass that is either not terribly doable for a post player or she'll throw it right to a Sun player. She took advantage of a lot of confused boxing out by Sun players of Sun players to snag her rebounds. Taj looked old. I hate to say it, mostly because I don't want her to find me and have words with me, but she was more than a step slow, losing rebounds that she would have grabbed not so long ago, losing track of the clock in a critical situation, committing stupid fouls (if, when she committed the sixth, you heard someone yell "Taj Madona McWilliams-Franklin, what the hell were you thinking?", hi, that was me, because I read the Guide and Register for funsies and know entirely too many full names).
Oh, right. There was another team out there. Sorry, I got distracted. Much to my regret, May Kotsopoulos and Judie Lomax didn't get into the game. I'm sure there were a lot of disappointed Catamounts and Lions in the crowd. Kerri Gardin played briefly, but I think Thibault already knows what he's going to get from her in a game situation, so he didn't need to give her the extra run. Kelsey Griffin put up the quietest five rebounds I've ever seen in my life, but if there is a Nebraska drinking game, then take a shot (as long as you're not driving), because she took a charge. Tan White continues to be a very poor man's attempt at Cappie Pondexter, with occasional spurts of amazing shots and defensive pressure interspersed with stretches of 'were you thinking?' I presume Allison Hightower was in for her defensive presence, because I don't recall her being of much use at the offensive end. Heaven knows she talked about her defense enough.
Gosh, that Tina Charles is good. Shame we couldn't have gotten her. Oh, wait, we could have. But there's no need to dwell on ancient history. It's easy for me to be impressed with a player who, in one of her first games as a professional, outplays both a good veteran like Janel McCarville and an extremely savvy veteran like Taj McWilliams-Franklin. She has a lot of presence on the floor for a young player, and positions herself well. Her shot selection still needs work- maybe 'trying too hard' is the proper phrase? She has a way of making things happen for her team. Kara Lawson seems to have extended her range. If Connecticut had been able to find her a couple of times when she was open, this game might have ended in regulation, and I might have had to fight my way through thousands of kids to get home instead of merely hundreds, so thanks, Sun. In my opinion, I think she does a better job running the team and running the offensive sets than Renee Montgomery does. She seems more comfortable in the role. Maybe Montgomery was just having a really bad day, but she didn't look good out there. Maybe she's not a morning person. I've seen people like that. Anete Jekabsone-Zogota was not in the game as much as I think Mike Thibault would have liked because of foul trouble. Her shot was off, too. I don't know how long she's been back stateside, so maybe that's an explanation. She doesn't seem to be patched into the plays, which might be a problem. DeMya Walker has truly mastered the way of using one's physical assets to one's advantage in the rebounding department. That... derriere... of hers should be classified as a weapon. I admit to missing her histrionics at a call she disagrees with.
I like the new ref uniforms. They look more like part of the equipment now. That's a terrible thing to say about people, but... refs are supposed to be invisible. I thought Denise Brooks and her crew did a good job of clarifying any confusing points, and good eye on catching Essence's foot over the line at 75-77.
Some really dicey scheduling by the folks at the Garden resulted in a traffic jam at the main exits- apparently NYU had commencement or something today at the Theater, and the people coming in for that collided with the people leaving the game, since it ran a good bit longer than it was supposed to. That also made things a bit hairy for your intrepid blogger, who wanted to pick up a few Sun autographs that she missed earlier in the day. Various VIP vehicles drove into the Garden's garage just as about half the Sun players were trying to get on the bus. I don't blame them for not wanting to risk getting run over by the new arrivals, but I'm still a little grumpy. Some of the rookies were quite obliging, though; May Kotosopoulos seemed surprised people were calling her name. I say, what's so surprising about people wanting an autograph from one of the America East's top players? Thanks also to Tina Charles and Allison Hightower.
I sort of wish we had the high-tension training camp competition other teams are talking about in their training camps, but at the same time, I like that we got to see polished (or mostly polished) products from the Liberty and the Sun. Of course things will change when Nicole Powell makes her way back to New York, or when Sandrine Gruda reports to Connecticut and Asjha Jones's Achilles is all healed up.
And it's always good to be home. Garden sweet Garden, how I missed thee. It's finally May. About dang time, if you ask me.