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Liberty Survives Shock

Just for the record, these notes were started Thursday night and finished at about 11AM Friday.

For antisocial tendencies, Taj's amaaaaaaazing hair, and squee in boundless measure, join your intrepid and verbose blogger after the jump.


You know, I should have seen this coming. Everyone knows that Tulsa is so awful that they play down to the Shock's level, and that plays right into the Shock's hands. Organized chaos is the name of the game for Tulsa.

You don't want to know about the crazy people I had to deal with today. In short: know what you're ordering, hold your child when he's screaming, and never tell a New Yorker to shut up on the subway. So if these notes are a little snappish, you can blame the Midvale School for the Gifted's Alumni Association.

I don't know what Nolan Richardson's done to what was a perfectly nice bunch of young women, but the Shock as a unit were the most antisocial of any team in the league this season. I mean, yes, special thanks and appreciation have to go out to Tiffany Jackson, who works a room quite well; to Ivory Latta, whose larger-than-life personality is much more suited to offcourt interactions than oncourt ones; to Kiesha Brown, who helped make one girl's night fairly special; and to Chante Black, who stayed back and signed as her teammates ran by. But I'm not sure whose bad behavior angered me more: Marion Jones, for signaling that she would sign on the way back and ignoring the people who signaled; Nicole Ohlde, who pushed our clipboard out of the way as she ran off the floor, or Rashanda McCants, who's injured, and who heard someone call out her name, because she turned around, but who ignored everyone. Ladies, you and the horse you rode in on. Enjoy your losses. The thing that makes me think Richardson is in play is that I've dealt with some of those players before, and dealt with Ohlde during bad years for the Lynx, and they've been nice enough.

(Of course, Tulsa might have been cranky that their warm-ups were interrupted by either a tour group or a special events package wandering out onto the court. I could give them the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not inclined to, because two of the four players on the floor at the time were Black and Brown.)

The good news was that the semi-required rendition of "God Bless America" was a beautiful, operatic performance by an older woman who I've heard sing the anthem before. The bad news was that the rendition of the National Anthem was by a little girl who I heard butcher "God Bless America" two games ago. STOP MAKING CHILDREN SING, OKAY?

Chante Black was quietly effective as a rebounder. Her height gave her an advantage, and her hands were sure enough that she was able to get at a lot of the batted balls that went up in the air whenever Kia Vaughn was in the game. The goaltending call was sort of hilarious, though. Not something you see every day. Shanna Crossley should be getting her starting job back any day now. She was stroking it from deep. Kiesha Brown put the Roaring Rampage of Revenge on hold- I guess she felt she had already made us pay for cutting her, and that she needed to move a couple of teams further down the line. She did an admirable job boxing out our posts. Marion Jones looked like a basketball player in the first half, and like a stupid basketball player in the second. The lay-ups she was hitting in the first became wild heaves and long jumpers in the second; the loose balls that she turned into rebounds became fumbles out of bounds.

Scholanda Robinson looked very much like she had taken lessons from DeMya Walker in the fine art of draaaaaaama while in Sacramento. I applaud her athletic plays, and her ability to play the passing lanes, but she has got to stop whining to the ref after every halfway questionable play. I wish I could remember what Amber Holt did on the court other than suddenly have her, um, assets seem to grow at halftime, but all I can think of is how awful her hair looked. Don't you think I want to be substantive? Ivory Latta has no fear of anyone or anything. Unfortunately for Tulsa, that includes bad shots. Tiffany Jackson started off red hot, mostly because the refs weren't calling steps on anyone, and she worked hard on the boards. Like some of her teammates she cooled in the second half and was off her game after that start. She still collected enough points and whatnot to make me a very happy Pick One player. Nicole Ohlde was unmemorable.

Sidney Spencer was not completely awful! The extended minutes that she had to play because of the injury to Nicole Powell took their toll on her- she looked positively wiped during a couple of the timeouts. And someone needed to inform her earlier that even though she and Crossley are BFFs, that doesn't mean she doesn't have to play defense on her. She got the message later on, but took it almost to extremes. I nearly died when she got the jump ball on Jones, though. Kia Vaughn looked awful. The fact that most of the time, she looked like she wasn't sure what she was doing on the floor was only heightened by the people behind us chanting "We want Kia!" every time the lead got to double figures. This was REALLY annoying when they started it when she was ready to check in. I mean, what were you expecting her to do, barrel onto the court while the game was still going on and shove Janel or Taj to the bench with both hands? I was sort of hoping she'd foul out so we didn't have to hear the cries for her again. Plenette Pierson was solid, and I wouldn't be surprised if she was part of the reason why we woke up in the second half; no way was she going to let us lose to the Shock. Essence Carson and Kalana Greene both seemed to disappear. Neither of them made any major errors, but neither made any game changing plays, either.

Nicole Powell was feeling it! It was beautiful to see her stroking the corner threes again. And she was really into the game- there was one play, while she was on the bench, that was called as a Liberty foul. Nicole was as animated and infuriated as if the foul had been called on her. Taj had to urge her to sit down. And she was really mentoring Spencer during timeouts late in the game, which I liked. If she hadn't gotten poked in the eye and had to sit out the second half, she probably would have broken 30. I'm still not quite sure where Janel McCarville wandered off to, but it's not like we needed her to be a major offensive option. Her battles with Ohlde were quite epic. Tulsa's defense, or perhaps the way the Liberty's offense was structured, did a number on Cappie Pondexter's offensive game. She really wasn't involved until the fourth quarter, when it became clear that the Liberty would have to actually play the game to win. She wasn't looking for her shot as much as we've become accustomed to, and when she was, it was often contested, or just not falling- there were more spinouts and bad rolls in this game than I've seen in a long time. Unlike a couple of the other sub-par games she's had this season, though, she pretty much kept her head in the game. I think there was only one bad foul that had her mouthing off (the same one that infuriated Nicole so much). Leilani Mitchell was the sparkplug again, though Latta aggravated her to no end. Taj McWilliams-Franklin, whose hair inches ever closer to true tri-color rotini now that she's added yellow to the red, continued in her pattern from last game of playing savvier, not harder. She was still a step behind Tulsa's younger posts, but she found a way to be in the right place at the right time for the perfect pass.

What I'm really liking about this team is that they're bringing the place back to life. I mentioned the "Leis for Leilani" campaign a couple of games ago, and it's going stronger than ever. Not only did the woman spearheading it bring in a huge lei for Maddie- which Maddie has worn proudly for parts of the last few games- but now Kym Hampton's joined the party (she was wearing one when she brought the Inaugural Club coffee machine over to its lucky recipient), and a couple of concessionaires have taken to wearing them on their rounds. Some of us have discussed the feasibility of a line of Taj wigs, one for each of her hairdos, or perhaps a Taj Potato Head with changeable hair.

(Oh, come on. Don't tell me you wouldn't buy one.)

I think the referees forgot how to count. There was maybe one travel and one three-second call the whole night. Great news for me- I had Tiffany Jackson in Pick One, and that's the only way she actually has offense- but as a basketball fan, I find it excruciating when the rules of the game are set aside for the sake of making the game more attractive. Also, I know that Scholanda Robinson is quite attractive, but that's no reason to give her calls that she didn't earn and to not call her for the blatant reach-ins that she did. (Besides, guys, she's married. You're not going to get anywhere with her. Apologies for the crudity of the previous statement, but these are the conclusions I draw when a beautiful woman gets preferential treatment from an all-male crew.) I thought it was interesting that the crew chief came out early to check that the replay monitor was working, but then declined to use it on a couple of situations where a shot could have been reviewed. Also, guys, make your signals clearer. If you hold up three fingers and push your hand forward twice, I will assume you have called the foul on #33; when you suddenly hold up a fist and it turns out that the foul is on #30, I will be confused and slightly annoyed.

I don't know if Ladies' Night is a great promotional idea- or if it is, make sure that the sections with the mixing people are nowhere near sections with a high proportion of season subscribers. There was almost a fight in the section below us because several such people (including one exceptional specimen of what is colloquially known around here as an SJS) kept standing up and chattering during gameplay, and one took offense to us objecting to her getting up a second time after she had already gotten a dose of "DOWN IN FRONT!" from us. This is why I am a proponent of season ticket wedges- sections that are just for season subscribers. You build a sense of community, you know where your loudest fans are, and you don't have to worry as much about interlopers who are just there to see a friend who's part of the in-game entertainment, or tourists who are more interested in taking pictures so they can say that they've been to an event at the Garden.

Just for the record: Foxwoods, I'm not interested in Cirque Dreams. Stop offering me free tickets.

Before the game, they did a phone-in trivia contest. If I knew where my phone was, I would have called in and smoked it. I hope they do it again on Sunday, because that would be awesome. (But, um, guys? Shame to whoever thought Vickie Johnson was part of the inaugural tip. How exactly would that have worked?)

If they want the Hi-Lo game to be challenging, use former players as well as current players. And don't make Plenette the next to last player you show- by default, the next player will be lower and the win is guaranteed unless the contestant is mentally deficient.

Mike W., the awesome PA announcer, was absent for this game, and the Garden brought in the guy from LIU. While we expected a misplaced Connie James or Heidi Mothershead, the only two big flubs I can think of are jumping the gun on announcing the Shock's arrival and the accidental unholy union of Sidney McCarville. Other than that, I thought he did a nice job, and I may actually like the way he does Leilani's name better than the way Mike does it. Good to see him get a shot- I hope they use him as a sub more often, because the other subs are pretty awful.

I would have liked to have beaten Tulsa by more. I think we could have; I think we should have. On the other hand, this game wasn't nearly as important as the game against Washington, and if playing back against Tulsa means that Cappie can drop 30 on the Mystics and Janel can power past Crystal Langhorne And The Miscellaneous Posts, then I'm cool with it.

It's all on the line now, New York. Washington doesn't care that you've won 10 games in a row, except that it makes them hungrier to beat you. And the Mystics have even more to gain from a win than you do. One is the magic number. So shut ‘em down, New York. Put apprehension on the back burner, let it sit, and don't even let it get lit. As this year's countdown music points out, the time has come to galvanize.

Related Links:
Swish Appeal Game Thread || Box Score - New York 95, Tulsa 85