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Defense Fails Liberty in the Clutch

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A 24-10 fourth quarter allowed the Indiana Fever to overcome the New York Liberty, 86-80. Essence Carson led all scorers with 23 points, while Tamika Catchings led Indiana with 19. Rookie Jeanette Pohlen had 14 off the bench for the Fever.

For face painting, far too much standing around, tropes being describes, shrieks of rage, and sheepish confessions, join your intrepid and hurried blogger after the jump.


Different city. Different arena. Surprisingly different team. Same old FFO, though I think much of this may have to do with lack of communication between the FFO and the fans, and the FFO and the Prudential Center. Something tells me this will be a recurring theme for games that have pre-game events.

It did not help the FFO's standing with many season ticket holders that they canceled the Fan Fest the morning of, due to rain. Some of us were already en route, because some of had errands to run and lunch/dinner to eat before hiking two hours out to Newark, and thus some of us were a bit annoyed at an additional hour of standing around and shooting off our mouths.

The season subscriber Q and A turned out to be more of a tour, which was a bit annoying because I've been to the Prudential Center before, thank you, I know where the bathroom is. They gave us some useful information about the perks of being a season ticket holder, though, and once they got organized, it was great. But they had to get organized first, and I think that was more on the Prudential Center people than that was on the Liberty staff.

We hit up the tag sale afterwards, scoring some very cool autographed stuff for him and a poster for me. I almost bought my mom one of the balls signed by Ashley Battle, but I've already bought her a jersey and given her a card, so maybe I need a new theme. Maybe when we play San Antonio...

I have talked a lot of trash about Sidney Spencer in the past. I will probably talk a lot of trash about Sidney Spencer in the future. But I'll give her her due as a shooter: if you can hit shots- even if they're practice shots- in the dark, or with disco lights flashing in your face, you're a baller for real.

You can't really call it a "guest DJ" series if you only ever have one or two people there, y'know.

Amy Bonner almost tripped Shannon Bobbitt as the Fever ran onto the floor. Nice job breaking it, officials.

And after the game, my happy, excited mood of "oh, how good it is to be home, how nice it is to see all of the Usual Suspects, and Essence Carson finally figured out where the three-point arc is!" has dissipated in a haze of "GODDAMNIT PLENETTE GODDAMNIT KIA WHAT IS WITH YOUR SHOT SELECTION?" and seething frustration at Whiz's sub patterns.

Unrelated to actual gameplay, we saw a few luminaries there. Kym Hampton and Sue Wicks were in their usual seats on the endline, and I think I may have temporarily died of squee at the sight of Sue in facepaint. We were about four rows back from April Sykes of Rutgers (and possibly other Rutgers players, but sadly, Sykes is the only player on that team I recognize anymore). There were two tall, striking women in front of us, and I kept thinking that they looked familiar. They disappeared at halftime, and the next time I saw them, they were sitting with Chelsea Newton, so I think they may have been Rutgers alumnae.

I can't tell you much about the halftime show, except that it involved entirely too much Justin Bieber, because we spent it showing off wedding pictures to our neighbors. Really, though, I think the fact that it included Justin Bieber should be enough for you not to want to know more.

Jeanette Pohlen might be the best point guard on Indiana's roster right now, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. Things seemed to go more smoothly when she was in. Of course, it didn't help that we weren't guarding her, because apparently no one on our team watched college basketball last season! Jessica Davenport is still too fond of using the glass, but I like that she's using her size more. Of course, I recognize my own bias, because I like her and want her to do well despite her alma mater. She was very effective as a reserve for Indiana. Erin Phillips is still a little crazy. I was surprised she wasn't looking for her offense, but I guess that's not what she's in for. She sacrificed her body a couple of times. Dunn didn't go into her bench that much- a bit of a surprise in the back end of a back-to-back.

Would someone please keep Katie Douglas from going left or going behind the screen and getting open behind the arc? Please? Somebody? Anybody? Just so she'll shut up and stop whining to the refs, and so she'll stop scoring on my team? Briann January is developing into a nice little shooting guard. This is a bit of a problem when you're supposed to be a shooting guard, though. Her passing savvy is not where I imagine a coach with any pretensions of glory would want it to be. Tammy Sutton-Brown is possibly the least popular Rutgers player ever, which actually takes a fair amount of effort with these fans. She did some nice work on the offensive boards, though. I'm impressed with Tangela Smith's grace regarding her number; given that she has seniority over everyone in this league short of Swoopes, Thompson, and Penicheiro, she could have asked for 50 back from Davenport and gotten it, but she changed her number instead. I honestly don't remember much of what she did out there. Some screens, some questionable shots. She looked like a player who was in her fourteenth season.

Jessica Breland, go to the damn basket unless you tell me to my face that Whiz is telling you to shoot from the outside. Because I'm sorry, right now you're one of the biggest people we have and your outside shot is comparable to mine. Maybe it was a bad night, but she didn't impress me. Alex Montgomery lived up to her number in her one stint, stopping Douglas when no one else had managed to... and then she was buried on the bench, never to be seen again, not even when Douglas warmed back up, Catchings remembered she could occasionally shoot, and Pohlen and January were getting in on the offense. I don't understand why a defensive coach who needed a defensive stop wouldn't put in a defensive stopper. Quanitra Hollingsworth looked like someone who still needed to get used to who her teammates were- the raw material is there, but she hasn't yet developed, and she needs to do so in a hurry before she comes off rookie scale and disappears off the face of the earth. Once she stops fighting her teammates for rebounds and does a better job gauging her shots, she'll be fine. Leilani Mitchell played in spurts, but I don't think she's Whiz's style of point guard. She looked like she was having a little trouble with the Indiana defense, but not as much as I think Whiz thought she was having. Her back may be flaring up again, though; we saw her with the radiator at one point. Sidney Spencer was not completely awful, but didn't do much. Watching her on defense is painful, but I have to give her points for at least trying. It's sort of endearing.

Pretend to care, Nicole Powell? Please? At least have the appearance of concern added to your emotional subroutine? I shouldn't be gauging players by their expressions, but when the only expression she demonstrates is that of someone who's bitten into a lemon and discovered that it's not only tart but moldy, I worry. She had something like six assists tonight, so I guess she was doing something right on that end of the floor, but it just didn't look like it. I get the feeling this is going to be a long bout of love-hate with a heavy dose of WHY DIDN'T WE TAKE REBEKKAH BRUNSON WHYYYYYYY. Essence Carson was apparently replaced by her polar opposite, who can shoot the lights out and knows where the three-point arc is, but lets Briann January run by her for a lay-up and has repeated defensive breakdowns. I don't mind the scoring, but honestly, E, you were hired as a defender. The first of Plenette Pierson's skyhooks went in and was awesome, but somehow that gave her carte blanche to take two more in the fourth quarter instead of going for a higher-percentage shot. She bodied up well, and played great in the first half, but I think the minutes and the back-to-back got to her in the second half. I'm really not sure what to think about Kia Vaughn anymore. One minute she tears down a rebound or sets a nice screen. The next minute, she's trying to do Tari Phillips's show-the-ball trick without having full possession of the ball. (And given that the "show-the-ball trick involves holding the ball out with both hands and daring the defense to take it, this is not a good thing.) All the flaws that there were in her game as a senior at Rutgers are still there in her third professional season. She blows lay-ups, then thinks that she should take jumpers instead. She commits stupid fouls more than she commits smart ones or gets victimized by the refs. Her fundamentals are a hot mess. And I feel like I'm harping on her too much, but this is going to be a recurring theme, I know it.

Since the above paragraph is entirely too long, Cappie Pondexter gets her own paragraph, despite the fact that she wasn't really the Pondexter we've come to expect. Whiz is playing her at the point, and I'll give her credit, she's accepted the role more fully than I ever could have expected, almost to the detriment of the team. She's distributing and rarely calling her own number- and in crunch time, she's shying away from her number, which is leaving us with Plenette and the skyhook. She can't be the point guard in the fourth quarter when it's a close game. Leilani or Essence or hell, Sydney Colson needs to be distributing the ball. I might not like Pondexter, but given our other options, she needs to be taking the big shots for this team. We can't have her passing off when she can take damn near anyone in this league to the hole. And the fact that I have to type this hurts.

Dear officials: if Katie Douglas is in the backcourt and the shot clock says 16, that is an eight-second violation and you should give us the ball. If Katie Douglas is flying out of bounds into the backcourt, that is either out of bounds off Indiana or an backcourt violation and you should give us the ball, not her a timeout. If Katie Douglas lowers her shoulder and bulldozes Plenette Pierson, that is an offensive foul and you should give us the ball. I mean, I'm not exactly asking for fine judgment calls here, just arithmetic and spatial awareness. I'm not blaming the refs for us losing this game, because we did that all by ourselves, but it doesn't help when you're concerning yourselves with reviewing twos and threes and failing math. (Also, maybe I missed a reallocation, but they may have shorted Tamika Catchings a foul.)

If the crowd is going to arrive this late every game, we are going to have to have a long talk. Several stretches of the game were interrupted by people coming in to take their seats; I swear about a third of the crowd thought it was a 7:30 tip. And then people were leaving early to catch trains. It was a pretty small crowd. I think the people in the upper deck were irked at the vast swaths of empty seats in the center court sections of the lower deck. I'd peg attendance at about six thousand actual physical sentient beings, but they were a loud six thousand. If this team manages not to screw everything up, and they can get the place full, it's going to rock. But that's a pretty big if at this point.

This is probably going to be my last season until the team comes back to New York, so I want it to be the best that it can be. And right now, I'm not sure how good it can be. (I mean, okay, I said last season was my last too, but they fired Blaze, I had to give them another chance.) But the giant flaws in this team showed tonight, and when one of those flaws is the coach, it's hard to tell how many of them are going to be fixed by the end of the year. But we've got a game in three days, so we'll see how things go then.