Just the Facts, Ma'am: A 16-3 second-half run by the Connecticut Sun put away the New York Liberty 92-77. Tina Charles had 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sun in their home opener, while Asjha Jones added 20 points. Cappie Pondexter led the Liberty with 18 points, and Plenette Pierson had 16 points to go with a team-high five rebounds.
For a disturbing lack of faith, defective All-Stars, brown Sharpies, a note of class, and tiny Huskies, join your intrepid and perverse blogger after the jump.
The third weekend of May. The New York Liberty. The Connecticut Sun. Stop me if you've heard this one before. Hockey-style, it was a back-to-back home-and-home over-hyphenated opener for both teams.
I'm surprised there wasn't more of a spectacle made of the Sun's home opener. Last year I recall there being more pyrotechnics and stuff being given away. They're doing a lot of stuff through the season, though, so maybe that's it. I do like how they use the catwalks to throw t-shirts from above. The upper deck appreciates it.
I am also quite squee at the Banner of Honor. They started with Margo Dydek and Nykesha Sales, and yes, I did take off my hat in honor of Margo's memory. I hope we're able to see a few more numbers go up.
There were sound issues during the pregame kids' cheerleading routine, which led to the routine being extended, which led to an annoyed Liberty team having to navigate around a tumbling mat for the first three or so minutes of their warm-ups. Between that and the Sun's very extended, through-the-crowd intros, Whiz was already screaming for a delay of game before the game even started. Given that he's lucky he didn't get an administrative technical for playing silly buggers with the starting lineup last night, he really didn't have a leg to stand on.
Before the anthem, there was a moment of silence for a long-time season ticket holder and one of the arena riggers. It's nice to see one of the lesser-known people shown a little appreciation, even if it's posthumous.
Kelley Cain played a couple of long stretches due to the back-to-back and foul trouble for both Plenette Pierson and DeMya Walker, and she looked... well, she looked like a player with bad knees, bad hips, a bad back, and no high-level experience, traveling up on a bus for the second half of a back-to-back. She blew free throws, couldn't hit lay-ups, and was out of position on both ends of the floor. I am not optimistic about her prospects. Alex Montgomery also got extended time, due to the fact that Nicole Powell was awful, and she showed her defensive skills, but she was a liability on the offensive end. She's there, and she doesn't do anything bad, but she wasn't an option. DeMya Walker seemed to be taking the return to Connecticut badly, getting a little slap-happy and not necessarily smart. She's a defensive player, and her defense was sub-par. That's not going to fly. Kia Vaughn got burned so badly by Tina Charles at one point that I thought her uniform might have been singed, but she was otherwise not too bad. She's got to play smarter if she wants her starting job back, because Kara Braxton is the more talented player; the only way she's going to outshine Kara is with effort. Maybe, with a little more familiarity with her teammates and a little time under her belt with Whisenant's facocta system, Kelly Miller will not look awful out there, but right now she looks old, she looks slow, and she's a worse liability on offense than half the team (which is not a good sign, because the consistent offensive options on this team are fairly limited). She did have a couple of nice passes, so there's hope yet. Essence Carson has got to be more assertive on offense, especially if she's going to be playing the 2/3. We need someone to be offensively assertive off the bench, and Kia misses too many chippies for that.
Our Nicole Powell is defective. I demand a replacement. If she can't shoot, and if she can't keep her defensive positioning, and if she can't rebound, she is a load. She is a waste of space on the floor and on the roster, and now that Shameka Christon is active with the Silver Stars, she is going to be judged harder and more often. Alex is outplaying her, and she has more talent than that. Leilani Mitchell's shot selection leaves a little to be desired, but she's got a better idea of how the team and the system need to run. When she came out in the first half with a 37-30 lead, I bet my husband a quarter that by the next PG substitution, the Liberty would lose the lead. He owes me a quarter. Plenette Pierson is playing her tuchus off out there, and if things keep going the way they are, she's going to snap and go full on Detroit Shock on her teammates. She's playing defense, she's going to the hoop, she's rebounding- there's only so much she can do, guys. Some of the rest of you need to start pushing the wagon too. That includes you, Kara Braxton, and your remarkable ability to stand there and look decorative. She was able to get some of her offense going, but she needs to be more reliable down low. As big a target as she is, she can be a monster if she puts her mind to it. Cappie Pondexter took some stupid shots, but I get it. She was out there with some offensively inept lineups. (I found them pretty offensive, too, rimshot.) If you're in a position where you gotta be the man, you gotta be the man. (Woman. Whatever.)
Whiz is entirely too married to his system. It's not working with this personnel. Worse, the team is showing a lack of discipline in committing stupid fouls and stupid turnovers, with such a deliberate offense that Stringer is probably screaming for them to shoot. The fundamentals are lacking, and we expect better than that in New York, even when we're in Newark.
Allison Hightower got good looks, but they didn't go down. Where she made her mark was with sticky defense and heads-up loose ball plays. I really, really like her. Sun fans probably don't appreciate her enough. I'm putting in a very early nomination for Sixth Woman of the Year. Renee Montgomery got six of the quietest assists I've ever seen; it took looking at the box score and thinking about her drive-and-dish plays to realize that Asjha Jones or Tina Charles completed those passes. Mistie Mims kept getting called for fouls. I'm not sure how deserved one of them was; the other three seemed like pretty solid calls. Kelsey Griffin has slid down in the rotation for a reason. I think it's time for her to put up or go back to Alaska. I just hope that her job isn't secure for non-basketball reasons. Chay Shegog got into the game! She was really sweet at the game at the Garden, so I was cheering for her to get on the scoreboard. At least she got a rebound!
Kalana Greene sprints faster than I realized. She picks her spots well. She and Hightower are an interesting switch-off; if the minutes are to be believed, they were straight substitutions for each other. I suspect that she only starts because she's a pedigreed Husky, though. Danielle McCray has a knack for getting things done, but also displayed some impressive wrestling moves- she had one pin on (I think) Essence Carson that was more Big Ten than Big XII. I don't know how well Kara Lawson has adjusted internally to being more of a distributor, but on the floor it seems to be working (though it's mighty strange). Still, there is no excuse to leave her open for three. That is a bad plan and people should feel bad for it. Asjha Jones went about her business as Asjha Jones does. She had a nice little outside shot going, she banged for boards, she went at it with Plenette, and generally looked like the last Olympian. Tina Charles was beautiful to watch on the inside, with tips and slick inside moves. But we had to have Sidney Spencer oh god shoot me now.
I love watching the Sun's hands in motion. You'll rarely see a Connecticut player bail on a defensive play.
The Sun shot 26 free throws in the first half. Every one of them was earned. Things got dicey in the second half, but most of the questionable calls went in the Liberty's favor.
I love meeting people at games. Not just the usual suspects, but people like the Siena season ticket holders in the next line over from us, who've been going to games there for 18 years, or the former Monarchs season ticket holders who came to the game in their Lawson and Powell jerseys. (Hmmm. Maybe I should wear the Bolton on Tuesday?) I love traveling fans! Boom de yada! Boom de yada!
Seriously, though, if one more person at Mohegan had asked me "oh, are there any UConn girls on the Liberty roster?" I was going to lose my temper. Three different times I was asked that. There are other colleges, you know.
Shoutout to Star Wars Rebel Assault. The Death Star Bonus rocks. Disregard this paragraph if you are under 21 years of age. Underage gambling is very bad.
I cannot say enough good things about the pork flautas at Sol Toro. Absolutely divine. Sol Toro in general is excellent, but the pork flautas stand out. (Actually, so do the warm chips to start you off. Om nom nom.) If you've got a coupon or a voucher, or if you're feeling a touch spendy, go for it.
I maintain that our offseason moves positioned us for a tank job, and so far we're doing it right. If we're going to fail, let's fail big time. And our next game is against Minnesota. Weeeeee!