Just the Facts, Ma'am: Penny Taylor had 29 points to lead the Phoenix Mercury over the New York Liberty 91-84. New York was led by Nicole Powell's 16 points and six steals.
For narrowly averted swearing, crankiness, defensive lapses, and Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, join your intrepid and sweat-drenched blogger after the jump.
So there was a "Liberty Day" thing going on before the game, which seemed to consist of the Knicks van, face-painting, and balloons. It didn't exactly draw a lot of people.
Shoutout to the girl in the Penny Taylor tank top. Miss, you have excellent taste in jerseys. I also shout out the woman in the orange Sophia Witherspoon shirt and the woman in the white Rebecca Lobo jersey- both of those are old and rare items.
Olayinka Sanni is drop-dead gorgeous up close. Just breathtaking. And I'm impressed with Nakia Sanford's ability to find eyeshadow in Mercury purple.
We're sort of lucky to be only down six at the half, but at the same time, it should be less than that. We lost focus at the end of the the quarter, and I think we let the game get to us. It's been much more physical out there than it usually is with the Liberty and the Mercury, and not just because the Mercury aren't usually a physical team. Maybe the mood was set when Diana Taurasi decided to impede Maddie's progress across the logo during pre-tip rituals, and Kia Vaughn responded with a screen to Taurasi's face on the Liberty's first possession.
I am less thrilled with the officiating than usual, but that's to be expected when your crew consists of Clarke Stevens, Amy Bonner, and Sue Blauch, and Blauch is the crew chief. To be fair, it's equally inconsistent, and if anything we've gotten the benefit of more of the no-calls. (On the other hand, nice job waiting for Essence Carson to damn near get her windpipe crushed and Penny Taylor to get a finger on the ball so you can call a jump ball. Amy Bonner, I am disappointed.)
The previous paragraph was horrifyingly prophetic. The kindest thing I can say is that it felt like the Liberty were playing five on eight for much of the fourth quarter. Further suppositions would not be couched in language appropr for this space, though I have several theories as to how Penny Taylor got away with five steps at a time and Diana Taurasi drew two late whistles on questionable calls.
I'm going to take a moment to bask in the amazingness of the posters the Liberty gave out today. Such a panoply of Liberty history! And only one of the numbers was repeated, and you really couldn't leave off either Sue Wicks or Cappie Pondexter without fans from either the black era or the Foxwoods era fans erupting like Vesuvius. But they covered a lot of ground. Elena Baranova! Ashley Battle! Mama Taj! Sophia Witherspoon! Bethany Donaphin! (We felt they missed a few numbers: it would have been nice to see #12 (either Loree Moore or Ann Wauters), #30 (DeTrina White), or #54 (Barbara Farris).
Ketia Swanier should be starting for this team. She has a better sense of where her teammates are and what they should be doing when they get the ball. She should be starting and Johnson should be on the block if she isn't already. Olayinka Sanni was in for one series and did nothing memorable except wear that cutesy little bow in her hair. Nakia Sanford brought physicality and semi-legal screens, and it felt like she couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, no matter what the box score says. Marie Ferdinand-Harris fell short of our shot-a-minute expectations, and she does seem to have learned to pass. She also had one nice defensive play that had us yelling at the Liberty some friendly reminders about LSU's defensive reputation. DeWanna Bonner slipped in for some good rebounds, and she's got a pretty shot that she spent a lot of time working on before the game. (When the Mercury were warming up way before tip, she was practicing, and we blinked and she was gone. I assumed she folded herself into the second dimension, the skinny thing that she is.)
Penny. Bleeping. Taylor. The woman is insidious. She's sneaky fast. She's smooth. She has range. She also gets away with enough steps to get her back to Phoenix and possibly (given Christ-like and/or Iceman-like abilities) back to Melbourne. Phoenix goes nowhere without her. Taurasi, Dupree, Bonner- irrelevant. No Penny, no nada. Temeka Johnson was a waste of time and space. I would not be surprised if Phoenix dealt her before the deadline or flat-out cut her after the season. Kara Braxton didn't really play a lot- maybe she was uncomfortable with her shorts, which looked to be skintight. Diana Taurasi didn't have the kind of game I have become used to- she got called for a lot of fouls, and that one flurry at the end makes her look a lot better than she was. Candice Dupree did her thing, and she was decent, but I'm surprised they didn't look for her more.
Hi, Ta'Shia Phillips! Welcome to New... something! Thank you for rebounding and hitting a free throw! You appear promising and aggressive. Quanitra Hollingsworth was the victim of some dicey calls, but I love how she works on the glass. Relentless. (Really, though, a math major should never commit a three-second violation. Fairly certain graduating early with a degree in math means you can count to three.) Essence Carson's handle was off today- maybe she got caught up in trying to do some of the fancier stuff and forgot to stick to the basics. She may have been in an awkward situation visually, too; I think she's getting to the point where she doesn't think she still needs the goggles, but the goggles still do something, so she wears them during regular game play, but pushes them up when she shoots free throws. Alex Montgomery brought some great defense and a nice dose of needed energy off the bench.
Leilani Mitchell! We missed your steady hand and your ability to hit the open three! I hope this means you're past whatever injuries you had before, because we're going to need you as a point guard so Cappie doesn't have to play the point so she can score. Cappie Pondexter was supposedly fighting off a sore Achilles, and her shot did look a bit off, but she looked about as aggressive as she had been in several games prior, so just how long has this Achilles been bothering her? Kia Vaughn, while I appreciate your willingness to stretch your game out, I'd like it not to come at the expense of hitting lay-ups. Those are critical, crucial, and important. There is no excuse for a center to shoot 5-13 from the field. Plenette Pierson played well, but I think that when she started to rack up the fouls it started to get into her head a little bit, and it affected her play. Nicole Powell brought the on-ball defense, but her inability to rotate to that corner is not getting better. She just isn't fast enough for this system. Don't get me wrong, I love the steals and I love her tips on the boards, but she's exposed in anything other than a man-to-man. And man-to-man isn't much better.
Netball looks like one of those games that would only be good if played by very skilled players. These players were not skilled and it looked like something out of the 1940s.
I'm sure there are a lot more coherent things that could be said about this game, but unfortunately, I'm not the person to say them.