Just the Facts, Ma'am: Cappie Pondexter's 19 points led all scorers in the New York Liberty's 58-56 win over the Seattle Storm. Sue Bird led Seattle with 17 points, 12 in the first half.
For pink, lost signs, training, more pink, temporal anomalies, missed connections, and protestations of innocence, join your intrepid and easily distracted blogger after the jump.
I'm a little worried about this three-point halftime lead. We've given Seattle too many chances and developed too much of a habit of leaving Sue Bird open. You cannot leave Sue Bird open. I didn't think it was rocket science, but apparently it is. Seriously, guys, rebound the ball. Just because your jerseys are pretty doesn't mean you should stand around and be decorative.
Also, Tanisha Wright? Kia Vaughn will probably splatter you across the court the next time you go knee-to-knee on anyone, especially Cappie Pondexter.
Rebecca Lobo didn't speak a lot, though she did say that now her kids have proof that she played in the WNBA. I have to say, she looks damn good, all things considered. (She appreciated my jersey for some reason. I can't imagine why. ;) I didn't have the heart to tell her that VJ and Sue were my favorites, or that I voted for Tari.)
Seattle has their players well-trained. You don't even have to ask for an autograph; if they see you, they'll come over. I'm not sure if it's because they're such a veteran team, or because they have such a veteran coaching staff with experience in the earliest days of both the WNBA (Darsch with the Liberty, Boucek with the Rockers) and the ABL (Agler with the Quest). Though Allie Quigley also mentioned that she got yelled at for missing someone once, so maybe they also have especially intense training.
I thought we saw a lot of the deep Seattle bench in the first half and never again, but I hallucinated Belinda Snell. Ewelina Kobryn had a little bit of physical presence, but looked lost on the floor. This is what happens when you don't give your reserves real playing time, Coach Agler. Le'Coe Willingham got the bulk of the minutes off the bench for Seattle, and used her lower body effectively inside. She's got a deceptively quick first step for a woman of her size. Katie Smith got the bulk of the rest of the minutes, and I don't care how old she is, you don't leave Katherine May Smith open for a jump shot. She's been hitting those since the Paleozoic Era, you might want to guard her. She also got into it a little bit with Plenette Pierson; between one thing and another, and one player and another, it got awfully Detroit Shock out there at times.
(Please note: Paleozoic Era is a slight exaggeration.)
Foul trouble kept Camille Little and her tush from being a major factor. She got around us a couple of times, but I think our height bothered her. And while the topic of guarding people who are good at hitting jump shots is in the general vicinity of discussion, who in their right mind leaves Sue Bird open? Don't you know what her nickname is? Don't you know what she does to Dick Fain's pants? (Oh, God, that did not come out right, but if you heard his call of Seattle and Connecticut...) This goes double for point guards who grew up in Washington State during Bird's career, Leilani Mitchell. And for Big East players who might have heard of this UConn chick, Essence Carson and Cappie Pondexter. I was surprised she was looking for her offense as much as she was, but I guess that had to do with taking what the defense gives her. It also didn't help that Tanisha Wright had it in her head to go after Pondexter instead of the basket. Seriously, I have no idea when their paths crossed, or whether Cappie has made a practice of kicking Nittany Lion cubs in her spare time, or what happened there, but Wright spent a lot of time throwing shoulders at Pondexter. When she went knee-to-knee with her in the first half, I thought someone was going to splatter her across the stanchion, because that's dirty. It's not a good idea to do crossovers in front of her, though. Swin Cash hit a couple of big shots and got in on the boards, but also spent a lot of time whining about calls. It's not an attractive look for you, Swin. Ashley Robinson's height was a defensive factor, but it didn't feel like she was using it as effectively as she could have. I'm not feeling the hair, either. Sorry, Ashley.
Someone please get Kara Braxton a decent sports bra. Please. I cannot take a month of her running up and down the floor with those things flying loose. Part of Breast Health Awareness should be awareness of how to keep them from bruising oneself or other people. Save the ta-tas, my fellow fans. Save the ta-tas.
Okay, I'm sorry, substantive game analysis will now resume. I should have known better than to believe Whiz when he said Kara wouldn't play tonight. She played, and she played extensively, though there might have been other factors at play. She looked as lost as one would expect of a player who had only shown up the other day. (Plans that will not end well: over-the-top, high passes to Leilani Mitchell. Leilani hops pretty good, but Liz Cambage might have had a spot of trouble corralling that thing.) She needs to be more aggressive on defense, more assertive on offense, and more aware of what's going on. Many things are possible, and I'm hoping one of them is Kara settling in. Quanitra Hollingsworth was shackled by some of the physical play in the post, but she came up with a couple of big plays. Essence Carson's offense was AWOL, but all things considered (all things translating to "that stuff of Sue Bird to save the game") I think I can live with that. Alex Montgomery hit a couple of shots ,but was otherwise a non-factor.
This was one of those games where Cappie Pondexter did what she gets paid to do- she did just enough to help us win the game. It wasn't spectacular, and it wasn't pretty, and it wasn't a great VGM line, and the free throw shooting was embarrassing, but she did what she had to do, and it was enough. Leilani Mitchell had a small flurry of offense, and kept a steady hand on the distribution, but she was getting eaten alive on defense and wasn't able to rotate properly. Plenette Pierson was getting clobbered out there, and she couldn't get a call for anything short of being strangled. I consider it a minor miracle she was able to come close to a double-double. That might have been why she was backing off a little bit on defense, too. No, seriously, Willingham all but used her as a vaulting horse on one play with no call. Kia Vaughn must have gotten hurt or something, because while she wasn't all that effective (ahem, Kia, you are not Nicky Anosike, do not cheat out on Sue Bird on the perimeter), I'd rather have her in the game down the stretch than Kara when Kara doesn't know the plays and has a tendency to throw really dumb passes. The fact that Kara was in the game late, when we needed a big body, makes me think something happened to Kia. Nicole Powell wasn't much of a factor, and if she was, it wasn't in a good way. She looked frustrated for most of the night.
Hit your free throws, New York. This game would have been a lot easier to win if you weren't going 1-2 all of the time.
It was a very physical game- it got pretty Detroit out there, and not just because of all the Shock players. It felt like Seattle was given every chance to win the game in the last seconds, with some dicey out-of-bounds calls and oddities with the clock, plus it took Plenette all but getting strangled for her to get a call in her favor. Horse-collar tackles are not legal in basketball, Felicia Grinter. Other than those two trends, the officials weren't too bad.
Storm fans showed out, and only a couple of them in Bird gear. I appreciate that aspect of Storm fandom, which is why one lucky fan got the Wheaties box I'd brought with me. (The box was either going to get given to a Seattle fan or signed and used as a gift box. I have others at home, so I wasn't keeping it.) However, someone woefully misinformed the fans with the large Tanisha Wright sign regarding the location of the visiting bench; it's sort of tacky to wave large signs cheering the road team in front of the home bench.
We had pretty good music, what with the operatic anthem and the kid violinists who performed at one of the quarter breaks. I approve this message.
Some crazy woman bid up the "honorary coach for a day" package to $2000. This after they couldn't budge the Chicago road trip package past the opening bid of $800.
(A moment here to give the Mystics their due: they have traditionally done the best BHA auctions, as chronicled by the DC Basketcases, with a lot of action and the players getting very involved to ratchet up the bidding. I always enjoy reading those accounts.)
Ring of Honor nights bring out the best jerseys. Do you know how rare a 2006 Sherill Baker jersey is? Or the 2000/2001/2002 home whites? (Of course, you have to imagine me telling everyone, "This is not my fault! I voted for Tari!" when I get looks at my Lobo jersey.) Sigh. I miss the black-era jerseys.
My throat still hurts a little, but not as much as you might think. I spent two and a half years in improv theater, where I learned breathing exercises and how to project. I don't know if that's what Mr. Solkoff had in mind. "Take a deep breath, in through your nose... now let it out on a DE-FENSE! Sound." Despite the fact that it was an out-of-conference game, this was one of the more important games of the season for us so far, and the fact that we pulled it out says a lot about us.