Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Connecticut Sun put four players in double figures and kept the Tulsa Shock at arm's length most of the afternoon, winning 90-79. Tulsa's Ivory Latta led all scorers with 26 points. Tina Charles led the Sun with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Kara Lawson had 12 of her 17 in the second half.
For danger to life and limb, a distressing lack of cookies, trading cards, and yak herding, join your intrepid and indignant blogger after the jump.
Damn nice crowd for a mid-afternoon game against Tulsa. See, Libs, this is why afternoon weekend games work, not plopping people down at Penn Station at ten at night.
I think it's a bad sign that we've got Sue Blauch tonight. We're already prepared for fail.
Shoutout to Mohegan's free Wi-Fi. Hint, MSG; hint, Prudential Center. I like getting started before the game.
Please, for the love of all that is sweet and holy, please don't let Girl Scouts sing the anthem in registers they don't have. Please. My eardrums despair.
At halftime, something very scary has happened. It looks like Swoopes and Latta have figured out how to use Cambage. The rest of their team might not be familiar with the concept of the entry pass to the post, but if their backcourt players are... they might be on to something. Also, Connecticut appears to have taken up with Three-Point Shot, and we all know how fickle she is. Kelsey Griffin really needs to stop shooting and Danielle McCray needs to start.
I'm surrounded by Girl Scouts. They have no cookies. WASTE.
There were never any cookies. I am not amused. What's the point of having Girl Scouts at an event if you don't have them selling cookies? Honestly, it's not going to take that much away from your concessions, and you'll rack up goodwill with the new league president.
So, the Tulsa bench. The Tulsa bench was actually a bit less organized than usual today, because Nolan Richardson randomly decided to insert Chastity Reed in place of Tiffany Jackson in the starting lineup right at the tip, when Jackson had already been announced. Tiffany Jackson, I still have some lingering fondness for you from your Liberty days, but please do not hit your teammates in the face. This is a bad plan and you should feel bad for following it. Also, watch your footwork. Andrea Riley is a nice kid, but if she ever belonged in the WNBA, she doesn't now. No judgment, no sense, lousy on-floor attitude, and she's still carrying the baby weight (you can tell around her face). She's going to have to have an epiphany soon if she wants to play in the W. And there was a brief Jennifer Lacy sighting.
Chastity Reed reminds me weirdly of Shay Doron around the face. I don't get it. I think she's trying to learn how to play defense, but as this is a new and novel experience for her, she's having a bit of trouble adjusting. I think the only shot she'll have of having time to learn is the fact that she's on rookie scale and can shoot a little. She's barely a possible W player and she sure shouldn't be playing 34 minutes. Unfortunately, Sheryl Swoopes has reached the point where she's barely a W player as well. The instincts are still there, and so is the gorgeous shot when she has time for it. But the flesh is far too weak. It's rough to see a legend play out the string. I was impressed with Kayla Pedersen's hustle and stroke. Assuming Nolan Richardson doesn't make her want to take up yak herding or living in trees, she will be a crucial piece for the future of this team. Liz Cambage definitely looks like she's still nineteen and getting into the groove of the league. Her temper gets the best of her a bit, and she's not always in the right place at the right time, but in the second quarter and until she left the game, she established herself well in the paint and was getting her shots. But she needs to get on the boards. She's six-eight. She needs to do better than two rebounds. Hold onto the ball, Liz!
Kelsey Griffin, stop shooting. I mean, we'll see how things go next game, but if you're even thinking about shooting right now, stop. Her rebounding was on point, and she worked hard on defense, so that was nice. Tan White seemed to have become the shooter of choice at the end of the shot clock, and I do not know if that's the role she was born to play. Danielle McCray looked good- like a player who had been lightly seasoned in overseas basketball but was still new to the WNBA. The numbers do not do justice to DeMya Walker's presence. She bodied up on Cambage and made her uncomfortable.
Tina Charles started off on fire, and then she backed off. I don't get it. She's seen tall. She's seen big. She's seen skilled. She started acting like she was afraid of Cambage, like something was going to come flying out of Cambage's hair or out of her shorts. Go towards the hole, Tina, it's okay. Asjha Jones was hot early, faded a bit, then got hot later in the game, after Cambage was out. I'd like to have seen her be a wee bit more assertive on the boards. Renee Montgomery, you do know you don't have to take everything from beyond the arc? It got ridiculous. Kara Lawson found her stroke late in the game, and was pretty solid throughout. Kalana Greene had a couple of boneheaded moments, but had one stretch in the second half where she made several good plays in a row on both ends of the floor. I still don't think she should be starting for a team that has any pretensions of glory, but it is what it is.
I almost let Kara Lawson's block of Liz Cambage go by unremarked. I AM SO SORRY, KARA. It was awesome.
There were some strange lineups out there. At one point, Richardson had Riley and Latta out there together, and Thibault answered that with a three-guard set. I'm not sure this was the right time and place for small ball.
I spent a fair portion of the fourth quarter with elevated blood pressure and seething fury coursing through my veins. Here's the sequence: Tulsa has the ball. On the rebound, Liz Cambage crumples to the floor, first curling into the "oh God my knee" position, then rolling over to show our side of the arena that she's holding her face. Meanwhile, the Sun have the ball at their end. Asjha Jones misses a jump shot at the Sun's end of the floor and everyone comes back up towards the Shock's end of the floor. Play is still going on. Cambage is still writhing. Someone damn near tramples her. Play is still going on. Finally, Tan White is called for a blocking foul and play stops. Finally, someone comes over and tries to get her up. The first attempt does not succeed as her legs fold under her and she sits down heavily. The Shock trainer makes his way over. They work on getting her upright. Teresa Edwards comes over. She works her way upright. Nolan Richardson ambles over when she's almost completely up. She never leaves the bench area, even while they're checking her for concussion (which, by the way, she has). Richardson acts surprised that he needs to get a sub into the game. Your center has a concussion, you idiot, YOU NEED A SUB. He also seemed surprised that he needed to get a sub when Chastity Reed fouled out. I swear, that man has lost his marbles. There are no marbles left.
But I'm more furious at the refs. I understand letting play continue at the other end of the floor. But it's a hazard to everyone involved if you're letting play continue when a player is lying on the floor. Especially if, judging from how quickly they mopped up and the tissue up her nose, there was blood on the floor. Let's rewind and review. There is a very good chance that Sue Blauch, Felicia Grinter, and Byron Jarrett allowed play to go on with blood on the floor. Let's forget any other calls they may or may not have made that day; if this is the case, they are so far up the creek without a paddle that they will not be able to find the paddle without the help of a native guide. I mean, I know there were a couple of calls that had me raising my eyebrows, but that sequence took the cake. That's a reckless disregard for players' health and safety right there.
After the game, we headed up to the usual spot to work on this year's t-shirt, but after half an hour of trying to find Tulsa players, some Sun fan decided to give me flak about my team, so I snarled a couple of curse words in her general direction and stomped off in high dudgeon, thinking unkind thoughts about UConn fans who don't have anything better to do than scream for Jessica Moore. For the most part, I like Connecticut fans and I like Sun fans, but the UConn fans who are there solely for UConn alumnae can be ridiculously obnoxious. (And trust me, I'm a New Yorker. I know from obnoxious.)
Tulsa has more promise than I thought. But Nolan Richardson has to go for any of it to be realized.