Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Washington Mystics got 16 points each from Nicky Anosike and Crystal Langhorne, but the Connecticut Sun countered with 57.1% shooting and five players in double figures to win their home opener 89-73. Tina Charles's 18 points led all scorers, while Danielle McCray made a splash with 5-5 shooting in her first game.
Season! YES! Fair warning: such exclamations of excitement may be the most coherent part of the Game Notes of Doom. It's been a long time, and it feels so good to be back in the saddle. Been fiending for this since February, because while the tournament's pretty damn awesome, there's nothing like being at a real game.
For random pompoms, a lack of post defense, halfcourt shots, tearjerkers, and Supercow, join your intrepid and multi-tasking blogger after the jump.
How do you start a 15th anniversary season? You start it with a random encounter on a Q25 bus with a woman who looks at you in your Rebecca Lobo jersey and exclaims that she used to go to games, who offers memorabilia and gives red pom-poms. You start it with the warm and fuzzy feeling of not being alone in the world, with a connection to the beloved past and the thrill of looking to the future. (Then you get on a Chinatown bus and pray hard that the driver doesn't slam on the brakes again.)
It's so hard to describe how good it felt to be back in the flow of things, it really is. The thrill of anticipation while waiting for the gates to open, the familiar faces on the lines and along the rails, the smell of popcorn, the squeak of sneakers, the hustle and bustle of the crowd... it's good to be home, even when it's not technically home.
Nearly lost it during the tribute video to Margo Dydek when they showed her with one of her kids. Tiny child! The Sun did a nice job gathering testimonials from a lot of her former teammates- I was actually more impressed that they tracked down Jamie Carey than I was Nykesha Sales or Katie Douglas.
Nice anthem by a middle school chorus. The Mohegan color guard either missed their cue very badly, or the Mohegans have different traditions about the presentation of colors. They sort of wandered in a third of the way through the anthem, and none of them seemed sure which flag should be on top and which flags should be dipped at what levels.
Karima Christmas always throws me off. It's the name. I used to work with a Karima, and I always picture her when I hear the name, so I'm all "ohhh, that's her!" She got into it a couple of times on loose balls. I don't think the Sun players were happy with her physicality. Ta'Shia Phillips saw some time in brief spurts, and she made the most of it. I'm mildly annoyed at her for taking my pen and ticket and *then* deciding she was too late to sign. I sort of wish she'd kept the pen, though; it's a prank pen, designed for that purpose. (Blow me, off, will you? Guess what, your teammates will think you're a nudist!) Victoria Dunlap showed a little range and a lot of hustle. Jasmine Thomas is really fast- we're talking afterburners and puffs of dust fast- but really needs to work on her control. She committed a lot of stupid fouls and threw some lousy passes. Oh, Lord, Washington needs a point guard.
Wow, their entire bench is rookies right now. That says a lot about this team.
Alana Beard and Monique Currie had a nice little contrast thing going, with Currie in a white suit and Beard in gray and black. I guess they're too used to this street clothes thing already.
I'll say one thing about Matee Ajavon: I'm pretty sure that the Mystics will never commit a shot clock violation when she's on the floor. She loves to shoot. She also loves to try and pick players' pockets, and not always succeed. She was really mixing it up on loose balls. Marissa Coleman didn't show up until about the third quarter. She was there, but she didn't seem to be there. Kelly Miller put up seven quiet points and three spectacular ones on a halfcourt heave, and was not completely awful. Crystal Langhorne put on a show in the first quarter with spin moves and a quicker first step than I remembered. Nicky Anosike just put on a show. The Mystics' post players outclassed Connecticut's pretty much every step of the way.
It looked like Lacey was trying to set up two separate units. I'm not sure if that's going to work or not. But as long as their post players keep doing what they're doing, they'll be good.
Danielle McCray, hello and welcome to the WNBA! So nice to meet you and that three-point shot of yours. Whether that was a one-day anomaly or not, she made Mike Thibault look like a genius for waiting for her. I was surprised that Tan White didn't start, and it felt a little sinister until I saw how badly off her shot was. She hit the deck for a lot of loose balls, both getting them back from the Mystics and losing them for the Sun. Kelsey Griffin had a nice little game off the bench. DeMya Walker's dramatics continue to be hilarious, but she was arguably the best defender of the Sun posts. At least she, er, had a bit of leverage at the, um, bottom to establish position. Seriously, her butt is a lethal weapon in this league. I think some of her flopping hurt her team, because there were a couple of calls that they should have gotten but didn't.
I have no idea why Kalana Greene started this game. I really don't. She contributed nothing on offense, and even her defense was lacking. I like her, but if she keeps starting, I'm going to wonder if it's strictly on the basis of her alma mater. Kara Lawson's shot was off, but she stayed on the Mystics defensively, and I think the Sun work better when she's running the show. Renee Montgomery had one really nice three-pointer that she shot from somewhere in the vicnity of Storrs, but she does know she can move closer to the line, right? Tina Charles looked good on offense, and had one stuff of Anosike that got the crowd roaring, but she had a lot of defensive lapses that left, for example, Lawson on Anosike, which can be safely filed under "things that are just not going to end well". Asjha Jones was much the same way- some beautiful moves on offense, but some defensive lapses that made her look a bit like Sidney Spencer.
Connecticut needs to either work on their defense or work on their defensive rotations. They were getting slaughtered inside by the Mystics' posts, and Washington doesn't have the best posts in the conference. Thibault had better learn something from this and put in the adjustments fast, before they play Atlanta or half the West.
So, part of me wonders if Jessica Moore didn't play because of her knee or because they don't know what number to give her. (Something tells me #31 is not an option...) I'm also amused by Connecticut now having two Alaskans. I don't know why this is amusing, but it is.
I think the refs are still getting used to the charge circle- they were a little unsure on a couple of calls in that area. And they took a looooong time on reviewing a couple of baskets. Really, guys, if it's a sixteen-point game and under thirty seconds, do you have to agonize over where the ball should be inbounded? Some of us have slot machines to lose money at, you know!
The pregame dance team/color guard was supposed to be empowering for special needs students, but came off as disgustingly exploitative. I'm sorry, but when it's clear at least one of the people has no idea what's going on, you're being unnecessarily cruel.
Important lesson learned: hang out after game first, then go gamble. We're working on another shirt this year- in honor of the fifteenth anniversary season, we brought out the 1997 shirt from my collection- it doesn't fit right anymore and has a chocolate stain on it, so we're going to make something useful out of it. (I'm hoping people sign over the chocolate stain so it's not so obvious.) We thought the team was going to shower first, then go back, but they did it the other way around, so we only saw the injured players and the coaching staff.
Just as a heads-up, if you're in Connecticut and want something to do next weekend: the Sun are collecting cards and notes for Margo Dydek's family at the Tulsa game on Sunday.
It's good to have the season back. Now I'm actually looking forward to the Liberty's home opener next week and seeing all the Usual Suspects again. I love this game. I love this league. I love my fellow fans. (Some more than others. :))