Just the Facts, Ma'am: 36 points from Angel McCoughtry wasn't enough for the Atlanta Dream, as the Connecticut Sun put up 33 points in the fourth quarter for a 99-92 comeback win. Renee Montgomery led four Connecticut players in double figures with 19 points.
For delicious and not so delicious food, rules lawyering, incense and peppermints, and Renee Montgomery doing amazing things, join your intrepid and sneaky blogger after the jump.
Good evening, everyone, from beautiful, lilac and urine-scented southbound I-395! If you're wondering why your welcome isn't coming from Mohegan Sun, well, their security is awfully inconsistent. Three games in June, I brought this bag and this computer and went through security without a problem. I even used it in the stands during the Tulsa game, because I remember Tweeting in rage when Cambage went down. Today, they decided that it was prohibited. I just went on the site, and nothing is said about laptops. Ruthie? Jay? Please feel free to contact me and explain the rationale behind making me check my belongings. Thank you.
Anyway, moving on from personal vendettas and crankiness. For a little positivity, major props to the pickup game going on by the bus pickup in Flushing. It might not have been West 4th level, but it was pretty damn good. When you've got guys canning NBA threes and running plays in a pickup game, you might have something good.
This was autism awareness day, so it was a very nice touch that one of the security guards was wearing a puzzle-piece tie. I've said this before and I'll say it again: Atlanta is one of the most approachable teams in this league. Everyone stops, everyone signs, they'll chat if you approach them with chatting in mind. I do think that harks back to Meadors being an inaugural coach.
Who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to dress a teenage dance troupe in tied-up white blouses and schoolgirl skirts for the halftime show? Is it even legal to watch this sort of thing?
I don't think Angel McCoughtry approves of this bench concept and wishes to inform Marynell Meadors that this must not happen again. She'll shoot you into a game and back out of it with equal alacrity, but this was one of her good days. Sancho Lyttle looks a bit like she's coming back from the injury, but I don't like her emphasis on playing more with her lower body. With knees and ankles being more of a concern in the women's game than the men's, that goes from being physical to being reckless, dangerous, and dirty. I love her offensive game, but her defensive game terrifies me as a fan of women's basketball. Courtney Paris had one series (maybe two?) and looked... out of shape and like she and Danielle Adams did their jersey shopping together. (Adidas, perhaps you need to look into bigger sizes.) Shalee Lehning looked good until her right knee went into the stanchion. We feared the worst when she couldn't put weight on it and went right back to the locker room, but when she came back out onto the bench, we felt a little better for her. Still. Get well soon, Shalee! Sandora Irvin committed some dumb fouls, but now I know what the Dream fans are talking about when they talk about her hair. It's cute. Reminds me a little of Charde Houston about four styles ago. When did Coco Miller become a star? Seriously, she was coming up so ridiculously clutch in the second half that it wasn't funny. She also appears to have taken courses at the Mery Andrade School of Drama, because some of those flops were inspired.
Iziane Castro Marques was actually on today. She looks like she's lost a little of her speed, which could be a problem, since that's an important part of her game. Alison Bales was good at being tall, and showed off her outside jumper a bit, but was otherwise not an effective complement to the other Atlanta posts. Érika deSouza was a force inside, and she's getting a little better about planting herself in the lane. Lindsey Harding still looks like she's not sure what she's doing with these people. Be careful what you wish for? It's pretty clear that she wants to run, and heaven knows McCoughtry and Castro Marques want to run, but Bales and deSouza aren't running posts. There were plays when Atlanta was shooting and Bales hadn't even crossed halfcourt. Armintie Price took a couple of hard hits, including one to the tailbone, and was all over the place in both good and bad ways.
Allison Hightower! Long time no see! Nice little offensive explosion there! She could have used a little more practice in the defensive scheme, but it was nice to see her play and play well. Jessica Moore decided to demonstrate blatant fouling after a sketchy call went against Connecticut, and that was the extent of her contributions to the game. Kelsey Griffin put in work on the offensive boards and on the pass coverage. Kara Lawson's shooting chose opportune times to reappear, and she flirted with a Penicheiro double-double. Tan White had the opportunity to be more of a factor in the game than she was, given the pain Price was playing through, but she didn't have to be in the end.
Danielle McCray saves all her good performances for when I show up. I really appreciate it, Danielle. She was shooting lights out. Tina Charles seemed a little intimidated by deSouza's size, because she was taking a lot of bad shots, but she still got her double-double, which is pretty impressive. Kalana Greene brought her usual defense and hustle. Asjha Jones was steady and consistent, but we did worry about her for a while after that elbow from deSouza; she went down hard, stayed there a while, didn't look all that coherent while she was down, and looked like she needed some kind of medical attention- but since she was allowed to go back into the game, I guess there was no permanent damage. And then there was Renee Montgomery and her excellent sense of timing. She hit the floor a lot. We're talking Debbie Black levels of floor burn here. Of course, it doesn't hurt my impression of her game that the end of the third quarter was her time, plain and simple; her lay-up, followed by, oh, a halfcourt three that was nothing but net, turned the tide for Connecticut. It's not a coincidence that Connecticut took the fourth quarter by ten points.
I loved watching these two coaches work against each other. You could see the moves and the countermoves being put into place. I think where Meadors fumbled was in the third, when she had Price hobbled by the tailbone, Bales shaking off a minor hand injury, and Castro Marques pulling on her shorts, and didn't bring the subs for a good three minutes after I thought she should have. Connecticut didn't press the issue as much as they could have, but they pressed it enough that the way was paved for Montgomery's shots.
I loved the way that all the Connecticut players were diving for the ball. Montgomery was first and foremost on the list, but everyone got some floor. (Well, except for Jessica Breland, who didn't play, but does that count?) And the crowd appreciated it too. The place was rocking and the fans were loud. Sun crowds can be hit or miss, but this was definitely a hit.
The officiating in this game was... interesting. On one hand, the refs let the physicality get out of control early in the game; on the other hand, the calls were fairly evenhanded, and the refs recognized when to allow a no-call as retaliation for a previous no-call; on the disembodied hand, that gave people the idea that it was okay to retaliate in the first place, and that's not the lesson we're trying to teach here, right?
Things I highly recommend: Sol Toro. Yes, they're expensive, but they're so worth it- and remember, if you picked match play coming off the bus, you have $20 to play with there. We had a full dinner for two, including a beer, and paid $60 out of pocket with tip. The flautas are excellent, and the quesadilla picante is tiny but fierce.
Things I do not recommend: the Johnny Rocket's in the Hall of Lost Tribes. Lousy fries and the chicken tenders were too salty. Shake was tolerable, though.
We ended up waiting an hour and a half for standby seats (thanks, line-cutter!), which ended up being the last row on a bus with dicey air conditioning and a backed up toilet. Which, once the tour guide sprayed it with perfume, the door was wedged closed, and the emergency hatch was opened periodically for ventilation, was mildly tolerable, though unpleasant... until, on the freakin' Whitestone Bridge, someone decided he needed to use the bathroom. Just as a reference point, the Whitestone Bridge is about fifteen minutes from the end of the route. And there's a 24-hour Burger King one block over from the stop. Seriously, man, you couldn't have held it? Especially since the door kept opening while you were in there? If I had an ear for languages, I think I would have learned how to say "You idiot!" in Chinese.
So, around the bits and pieces of people screwing with me, it was a great day. But come August 13th, I'm bringing the printout of the list of prohibited items.