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Liberty Bench Leads the Way Over Tulsa

Just the Facts, Ma'am: The New York Liberty struck early and often, leading by as many as 34 points in a 88-57 win over the Tulsa Shock. Cappie Pondexter led all scorers with 18 points in 21 minutes. New York had four players in double figures, and put everyone on the floor for at least four minutes. Tulsa was led by the 17 points and 11 rebounds of Tiffany Jackson.

For the shame of a proud franchise, the awesome that is Teresa Weatherspoon, team chemistry, burgers, and at least one hot guy, join your intrepid and well-fed blogger after the jump.

I realize that it's a nice Sunday and people don't want to be indoors. I realize that it's still three minutes before tip-off. I realize that the Women's World Cup final is going on right now. BUT WHERE IS EVERYONE? I devoutly hope everyone's in the bars and lounges, because otherwise, this is NOT how we honor Teresa Weatherspoon, this is how we spit in her face and in the face of what she did for this team.

Just for the record, guys? Just because I'm wearing a Rebecca Lobo jersey, that doesn't mean I'm voting for her. I'm voting for Tari! Leave me alone!

Trumpet anthem. I approve of this message, though I'm not sure whether Pondexter did (that was an... interesting look on her face that was either of great pain or great... um, enjoyment).

After hearing several different announcers do different things to Liz Cambage's last name, your intrepid blogger took the direct approach and asked her. I'm wondering if some of the cross-up is because of the different accents.

And Spoon just walked in the building and we gave a cheer and the kid in front of me gave me a dirty look and if he keeps doing that I'm going to kick his chair and if he keeps doing it I'm going to kick HIM.

Halftime, and we're up in a lot of categories. We need to be more careful with the ball, though. A disappointing crowd, but maybe some of them will filter back to their seats now that World Cup is almost over.

What I'm loving about this team is their willingness to go to the wall for each other. Jones drew a charge on Essence that was sort of dicey, and got in a shot on Quanitra while she was on the ground. Nicole, of all people, was the one to throw the shoulder block as they came back up. You didn't see a lot of that last year. Now you've got players stepping up to defend and protect their teammates.

One of the luckiest women in the world is holding the flowers for Spoon, and Spoon retains her ability to work a room. I don't know if she was genuinely stunned at the level of applause she received, or if she just did a good impression of it, but... here we are, T-Spoon, and we're giving you back the passion you gave us for so many years. I almost cried- I don't know how I didn't.

Om nom nom, thirty-point win. Om nom nom, burger. Here's an example of the real communication network in MSG and its properties: in the lounge behind our section, we ran into one of my mom's friends, who asked whether we were going to the barbeque. "Barbeque?" we asked with identical stunned expressions. "Yeah, the barbeque. Go over to section 19 and sign up." So we did. So I'm full of burger and chips and typing up Game Notes of Doom in beautiful, sunny, muggy Newark.

I didn't like Marion Jones before this because of her previous scandals and shenanigans. I don't like her now because she was flat-out gooning out there, going low on players. She contributed one nice flying block, but other than that, I wouldn't mind seeing her out of the league. Betty Lennox, unsurprisingly, looked rusty. Sheryl Swoopes still has the shot, but her famed defense is not what it was. She committed a lot of holding that the refs either didn't see or refused to believe that Swoopes could be committing, and it ticked me off. Liz Cambage really needs a post coach to show her how to use her size, because she's not using it well as often as she could. She needs to get it together and lay off the dirty play, because I know she's a nice and exceedingly dorky kid. Doneeka Lewis appeared to have found her shot in this game, and she's a lot faster than I remembered, but then she lost the shot, and I'm really okay with that.

Jennifer Lacy does not contribute all that much on the floor. She must be out there for the intangibles. (Or her accessories.) Amber Holt really looks like she was hurried back too soon, and I think that's part and parcel of the problem they're having with the training staff (two staph infections? Really, guys?) She should probably still be rehabbing, or just coming back now. Kayla Pedersen contributed nice defense and got going a little later, but didn't seem ready for this level. She'll be good, but not right now. Tiffany Jackson was allowed to travel, so she was an offensive threat, and what Cambage lacks in rebounding ability, she makes up for in boxing out ability to let her teammates get the boards, which allowed Jackson to have room. Andrea Riley has no sense out there. I've met her, and she's a very nice kid, but she doesn't have the basketball sense God gave a gnat. She's fast, and she's okay defensively, but... she should not be a starter in this league, which only goes to show what's going on with this franchise.

I'm going to say it here and I'm going to say it on every platform I have: Quanitra Hollingsworth got screwed by the refs. She fouled out of the game, and maybe three of them were fair calls. Tulsa got a lot of pity calls, and Q got the worst of it. She did good work on the boards, and I approve of her offense. Felicia Chester needs to bend her knees on her free throws, but I like her rebounding on the offensive glass. Alex Montgomery showed off her offense, and unlike the last game I was at, that didn't impact her defense. She looked like a first-round pick out there. Okay, so it was Tulsa, but still. Our reserves spent a fair amount of time playing against their starters. Sydney Colson had a nice low block on Cambage that got everyone going, because, hello, tiny cute Whiz Kid and big giant Cambage. She got her points from the line, because she kept her hands busy with the ball and thus was often in position to be fouled. The reserves spent a fair amount of time trying to feed Sidney Spencer, and the Tulsa defense spent a fair amount of time guarding her like she was Diana Taurasi, so it seemed appropriate that the last shot was hers. Her footwork is nothing to write home about, but I like her hustle after loose balls. Essence Carson was an offensive spark off the bench in the second half, though it looked like she needed her glasses checked in the first.

I really am worried about Leilani Mitchell. I know tiny guard is tiny and therefore often a liability, but she hasn't looked right- I think her back is bothering her again, and the only saving grace is that Alex and the Whiz Kid have stepped up their games. Nicole Powell didn't really contribute, but fortunately we didn't need her to contribute. Kia Vaughn had a big first half and didn't need to have a second half, though I certainly appreciated her presence after Quanitra fouled out as a deterrent to Tulsa pulling any more shenanigans. Cappie Pondexter did what she had to do, and not much else- but again, we didn't need her to do much else. Plenette Pierson started off hot and spent her time out of the game on the bike, cycling off to nowhere in particular.

Our bench outdid their starters. Our starters look bad in comparison, but it's hard to say a lot about them when they didn't play most of the game. So the brevity of comments on the Liberty starters has more to do with the epic fail of Tulsa and the win of the postgame barbeque.

Tulsa's lack of discipline terrifies me. I'm not even talking about anything that might resemble an offensive scheme or a defensive formation. I'm talking about the plethora of fouls they committed and the fouls they weren't called for. I can't remember the last time I've seen a team go over the limit with time to spare in every quarter, and there were times it seemed like the refs were trying not to call things they would normally have or would have earlier in the quarter because it would put the Shock over the limit. If strong officials don't make a point of curbing the nonsense early, someone is going to get hurt in a Tulsa game soon. The holding by Swoopes and Pedersen, the chop-blocks by Jones... it has to be toned down.

With all due respect to the Tulsa fans and the folks who write about them, the way this franchise has been pile-driven into the ground sickens me. I was never a Detroit fan- but the one thing Detroit did right was run the show. As bad as the Bad Girls were, there was never this sense that complete loss of control was only a couple of wrong steps away.

Ivory Latta looked very cute in her street clothes. According to my usual sort of reliable sources, she's out until at least after All-Star. (For reliable sources, read: one of the nine thousand Liberty fans named Mary was standing next to me and asked her.)

Teresa Edwards looked lonely on that bench, but at least she also looked stylish doing it. I want that blouse, if it comes in XXL.

So, postgame barbeque. No assigned seats, which translates to everyone seeking a table and occasionally sitting with strangers, which I'm okay with; if you're a Liberty season subscriber, we have something in common, and that's cool. Seasoning the burgers was a definite plus. The players were friendly and approachable, though some had longer receiving lines than others. I don't think I've ever seen Nicole smile so much. Leilani and Sydney blend into the crowd. Felicia's fiance is hot- nice work there! Kia showed off her dance moves and model poses. Essence and Cappie were fashionably late. We happily skipped around, schmoozed with our fellow fans, got autographs galore, and left happy. And promptly missed the train, but you can't fight fate, or something like that.

We needed a game like this after that disappointment against Connecticut- and we also needed a game where the team could show their bonding.