Just the Facts, Ma'am: 41 bench points from New York's reserves allowed the Liberty to withstand a San Antonio run and defeat the Silver Stars 77-72. Chamique Holdsclaw led the visitors with 18 points and 9 rebounds, while Kalana Greene had 17 points off the bench for New York, complemented by Plenette Pierson's 16 points and 8 boards.
For too many people in San Antonio jerseys, Ruth Riley's beautiful befuddlement, guys with signs, and desperate Spaniards, join your intrepid and apologetically tardy blogger after the jump.
This was the kind of game we needed. We needed to win one of those games where we coughed up a lead, and we needed to defend our house against the bitter fans who flaunted their San Antonio gear in the Garden, and we needed to have our bench step up. Now, if some of our starters would recall that the season was still underway, we might actually challenge someone in the East.
There were a <strong>lot</strong> of people in Silver Stars jerseys and shirts, and more than a few people dragging Hammon jerseys out of storage. It irked me to be surrounded by so many people rooting for the opposing team so ardently. I mean, I got the last laugh as a Liberty fan, but at seven at night, you don't know that you're going to be happy at nine-thirty and giggling about stat lines.
Beautiful operatic anthem. Now, if everyone around me had shut their traps and respected the anthem and the flag the way they were supposed to, I might have enjoyed it even more.
Can I call a technical foul on Sandy Brondello for her blouse? That was a seriously repugnant fashion statement.
Pre-game LOL of the day: there's this woman who comes to Liberty games and really likes taking pictures of the players. (Not like that. She's enthusiastic in ways that I don't think I have the proper cultural base to recognize, but she's enthusiastic, not creepy.) She must have gotten Ruth Riley going one way, because as Riley came off the court, the lady asked her for a picture. Completely befuddled and somewhat amused, Riley asked, "Haven't you already gotten me?" So weirdly adorable.
I'm thinking that Edwige Lawson-Wade suffered some minor but nagging injury, because I recall that she started the season off shooting well, and tonight she just didn't have it. She was still pesky on defense, but something was missing. We allowed two offensive rebounds to Helen Darling, so you can imagine that I was not amused. She was doing or saying something out there to needle Liberty players- they were unusually physical with her, and that's not the first time I've seen that behavior around Darling. Crystal Kelly gave good spot minutes at the post position, and she obviously learned a couple of things while she was ever so briefly in Detroit. (Perhaps she's proof that even Ivory Latta won't be safe from Nolan Richardson's mania about getting rid of Detroit players.) Jayne Appel put in a few minutes of work, and she's got some moves, but she's going to need time to develop, and I don't know that she can get that in the WNBA, not with eleven-player rosters.
As a Liberty fan, I'm quite happy and relieved that Roneeka Hodges decided that she was going to go on a bad streak tonight. Her questionable shot selection kept us in the game all night. The Liberty gave her threes, and she took them, and she missed them with stunning regularity. The Silver Stars fans are saying that Becky Hammon is injured, which is a convenient explanation for her below-par line, especially for her lack of touches. I think the Liberty defense, at certain stretches, also had something to do with her inability to get and use the ball. Ditto on Sophia Young- whatever complaints I might have about the Liberty frontcourt offensively, I don't have them defensively, for the most part. Young really didn't look like she was in her comfort zone for most of the game, except in brief flashes. Michelle Snow's long reach made her deadly against us- I lost count of how many times she was able to just shoot over the defender or sky for a rebound that our players didn't have either the height or the vertical to get from her. She really does need anger management classes, though. Her temper got her pretty close to a tech, or at least a stern talking-to, from the refs. Chamique Holdsclaw looked a lot like the player who terrorized the SEC as a star at Tennessee. Maybe she wasn't as fast, but she was as frighteningly flexible as I've read about.
Does anyone know why San Antonio's being allowed to carry just 10? Does it have to do with Megan Frazee's injury and the way things shook out with that? Or with the weird signing/waiving/theoretical re-signing of Allie Quigley that wnba.com's been sketchy about?
I can't say enough about the miraculous appearance, or reappearance, of Kalana Greene's jumper, not by a long shot. She and her shooting and her defense saved the game for us. She stayed on her assignment more tightly than the players she was spelling, and that helped us with the win too. Plenette Pierson was called upon to play big minutes off the bench, and she gave us much-needed offense along with rebounding tenacity. (Hey, wasn't that coach in Tulsa talking about how he needed a rebounder?) There were a couple of plays where either she was gassed or she just wasn't involved for whatever reason, but that was still a sight better than the other two post players. Essence Carson played a nice, solid game- maybe not any flashy moves, but no big mistakes. Sidney Spencer made a first-half cameo before Coach Donovan realized that this was Kalana's night. No playing time for Kia Vaughn, which would be a bad sign if the trade deadline hadn't already passed, because while I haven't been thrilled with her play, we need more than a three-post rotation if we want to avoid Janel turning interesting colors or Taj falling apart.
Nicole Powell started the game off like she wanted to get out of this funk she's been in, playing with a lot of energy- even if her shots weren't going in, she was working hard on the offensive boards. Then she faded, and that was pretty much the last we saw of her. Felt like she didn't play at all in the second half. Taj McWilliams-Franklin, until a flurry of brilliant veteran plays at the very end of the game, looked like someone who was going to turn 40 in October and had spent most of her life getting paid to get beat up on. She played better defensively for most of her time, but even then there were times she looked slow to react and slower to move. Leilani Mitchell was as fierce as ever, and had a great knack for finding Plenette on the fast break. I'm inordinately pleased that she matched or bettered Hammon's stats. For Cappie Pondexter, this was a quiet night, but she didn't have to look to score, so that was a good thing. She was a little more confident in her ability to get up the shot late in the shot clock when she was playing the old Rutgers offense than I was. Janel McCarville- well, it's almost to the point where I'm hoping she's hurt and just not telling anyone, because otherwise these lapses in defensive positioning and offensive judgment are inexcusable. Things a broad-shouldered 6'2" Wisconsin farm kid should not be afraid to do: take a jumper from the free throw line when Becky Hammon is her defender. She was unusually timid around Hammon, which set the paranoid part of me to going "hmmm".
Donovan's rotations mostly made sense! Well, except for DNP'ing Kia Vaughn when all three of our other posts had stretches where they looked like they weren't sure about this whole basketball thing.
Suuuuuuuuuuuuuue Wicks was in the house, and the Garden forgot to acknowledge her. I'm really not sure what to think about that. I mean, they acknowledged Wilson Chandler from the Knicks, and he never played for the Liberty. Maybe they figured that the people there to cheer on Hammon might have something to say about who wears #23. I know I still do.
Refs were mostly consistent with their inability to count steps and seconds spent in the key. I thought San Antonio got away with a little more hacking than we did, but I'm always willing to acknowledge my bias for New York and against San Antonio.
Almost forgot to mention the loud and awesome guys who the Garden shunted up to the 300s for a better view on camera. They brought signs and lots of volume. We tried to get them to come back for the LA game on Friday, which effort culminated in a rousing chant of "BEAT LA!"
When all's said and done, I'm well-pleased with this game. I just wish I weren't so tired!