Just the Facts, Ma'am: A balanced attack and a 43-27 second half score fueled an 82-70 win for the Chicago Sky over the Connecticut Sun. Epiphanny Prince's 15 points led five Chicago players in double figures; Courtney Vandersloot's 11 assists off the bench kept the Sky's offense ticking smoothly. Allison Hightower was high scorer for Connecticut, with 17 points, adding five assists. Kara Lawson had sixteen points and six assists.
For inexplicable choices, an understated tribute to Nykesha Sales, a good cause, wild theories, the smug self-satisfaction of a Johnnie, and seriously bad ideas, join your intrepid and juggling blogger after the jump.
That seemed like one of the most uncharacteristic games I've ever seen from either of these teams. I don't think I like it when the Sky and the Sun are uncharacteristic. It doesn't look good for anyone or anything.
I do not know what the crazy woman in yellow was screaming about on our bus, but I'm glad she stopped in time for the movie with a very young Jackie Chan to start. Not that we could understand anything that was going on, but it was refreshing to recognize one of the actors for a change.
Whatever that pregame show was, please never let them do anything anywhere near a microphone again. Bad rapping, bad scratching, bad random screaming into a microphone- it was just bad. Not only was it horrifying in every single aspect of the actual performance, it was a horrifying mismatch of artist- and I use the word artist as loosely as it is possible to use it- and audience. The people who were arriving early at this game were mostly white, mostly older, and mostly not interested in anything this man had to say, scream, sing, or chant at high volume directly into the mic, while his free hand lingered in the Michael Jackson grab area. By the end, he was practically pleading for hometown sympathy and reminding people he was working with a seven-year-old boy. The only saving grace of this debacle was that it didn't involve prepubescent girls in inappropriate costumes attempting to display body parts that had not yet blossomed.
The anthem singer was solid and very Irish. His accent was pronounced while singing. This is not a bad thing.
Demonstrating my superior acuity, I didn't even notice that Tamera Young wasn't with the Sky. Fowles I noticed, but not Young.
Major thumbs-down to the Sun MC, who boasted about the TWO Olympians going up against each other, Asjha Jones and Swin Cash. First of all, nice job forgetting that there are two Olympians on each of those teams. Second, nice job forgetting that Asjha Jones was in street clothes. Granted, this was before we noticed Fowles wasn't with the team, but how do you forget Tina Charles?
Courtney Vandersloot demonstrated an amazing ability to end up in corners and on the floor after loose balls, both the ones her team fumbled and the ones she forced from the Sun. I never even noticed her getting the assists- she didn't look as good as the stats showed. Le'Coe Willingham set screens well, and did do some work on the inside. She was called on for serious post play when the Sky went small in the second half, and she answered. Ruth Riley wasn't able to hit some of the chippies inside (and a 12-year veteran should be able to hit a lay-up from the left side of the basket), but you'd think someone would have figured out that she has that pretty little midrange jumper that she's been hitting for a very, very long time. She also made her presence felt on the boards and with her picks and screens. Sonja Petrovic was pretty much there to bring the offense and switch up some of the matchups- her height made her a bad assignment for Tan White or Kara Lawson, and she burned both of them badly.
Carolyn Swords is a bulldozer. This isn't an insult. She uses her body well for a young player and isn't afraid to get physical with players she knows are more skilled than she is, or with players who are just as willing to bang with her. She only showed one or two moves- spin and lay-up, or drive and scoop- but they were effective. Swin Cash woke up in the third quarter, going off both from long distance and in the lane. In the first half, she looked like she wasn't sure what she was doing, and like she was letting the officiating take her out of the game. Ticha Penicheiro didn't stand out for me, except at the end of the game where she was getting awfully excited about winning- look, I know it's been a while for Chicago, but you lose the right to dance around in the end zone for winning a regular-season game when you have a title under your belt. Epiphanny Prince was almost more of a factor on defense than offense, helping force and chase loose balls. If anything, on offense, she was as much a decoy as she was a threat, forcing the Sun to spend resources on stopping her and letting other players get loose. Shay Murphy was more effective from beyond the arc than inside, and she is about my third choice for person to take the shot when the clock is running down in that Chicago starting lineup from today. Not sure why the ball kept ending up in her hands at that point.
I'm not sure how a team coached by a point guard, starting one of the best point guards in the league's history, and having another distributing point guard on the roster, managed to commit two shot clock violations in the first quarter. Overall, their offense ran very slowly- which became an advantage for them when they got the lead in the fourth quarter, because they were able to combine running the clock down with their offensive rebounding to really put the screws to Connecticut. Swords took exceptionally good advantage of Connecticut's rotations, sneaking to the basket as much as a 6-6 player can sneak when her defender sagged off her.
Oh, Renee Montgomery, no. This was not one of her smarter games- for every quick poke-check she made against Chicago, she fumbled the ball or took a bad shot or just made a very bad mistake of some kind. This was just not her day. Danielle McCray made her usual cameo appearance followed by a swift disappearance, never to be seen again. So did Jessica Moore, when it was made clear that she was once more in over her head. I have no idea why they signed her, other than her pedigree; she's lost too much weight to be physical, and hasn't demonstrated the skills to be a finesse post. Tan White played out of control, and while her hustle was appreciated, it wasn't very useful. Kelsey Griffin did a great job on the boards, scrapping hard and hitting two strange shots, but she needed to be more careful with her handle and her catching of passes. It was nice to see her doing her job, but she needs to get her act together.
Tina Charles was surprisingly passive. I'd really like to see her get more into the paint, on both ends of the floor. Her rotation out on defense led to too many easy baskets for Chicago. She had a beautiful block, though, which led to Connecticut possession after Murphy fumbled the recovery out of bounds. But she should have been able to work around Swords and Riley, and she didn't. Kalana Greene started and had a nice defensive play in the first, but didn't play much in the second half, to the point where we wondered whether she was injured and that was why she wasn't playing. She would have been useful in the fourth quarter. Mistie Mims brought the physicality that we've all learned to expect from her, but she's got to convert those easy shots inside. It would have been a lot worse if Allison Hightower hadn't played out of her mind today. She did a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor, and was especially hot in the first quarter. Watching her develop has been one of the joys of this season. Kara Lawson was her typical solid self, though I thought she took some panic shots that were atypical of her.
The fourth quarter played out as if Coach Thibault had attempted to plan it like he'd been hit in the head. Repeatedly. While under the influence of mind-altering drugs. And suffering from amnesia. He ran his five into the ground in the fourth quarter, and either his team refused to execute his game plan, or his game plan involved having the team take stupid shots and rotate away from open players repeatedly. When he needed a stop and someone to take the right shot, Kalana Greene remained on the bench; whatever Greene's flaws are, she's learned to pick her shots, and she's an excellent defender. When he needed a steadying hand on the offense and someone with solid judgment, Montgomery was at the point instead of Lawson, and Montgomery's tendencies to pound the ball for five, six seconds did not help the Sun at all. It was a badly strategized fourth quarter, which is so atypical of Mike Thibault and the Sun that we were starting to concoct conspiracy theories about injuries or trades to explain it.
The officiating was mostly unremarkable, though Kara Lawson hit the ground a lot. The crowd tends to be unhappy with them a lot in Connecticut, but most of the calls that they detested, we felt were reasonable.
It was Autism Awareness Day, so blue totebags were handed out, announcements were made, and we attempted to keep from scaring people with loud noises (the woman in front of us flinched at some of our comments; I think she might have been high-functioning, but I'm not a professional and didn't want to ask). The people around us in general were very nice. It's sort of strange to be that friendly with Sun fans, but that's because I was undercover, en una camiseta del Sol.
The crowd really didn't get into it until late. I was kinda disappointed. But then, I have a weird love-hate relationship with the generalization that is Sun crowds.
Shoutout to the woman in the Tamika Whitmore shirt. I may have a strong distaste for Whitmore, but I can appreciate the level of fandom it takes to still wear that shirt all these years later.
Overall, I was disappointed in the ending of this game. I don't like seeing a game decided because of incompetence, and I think that fourth quarter was sheer incompetence.
Apologies for the delay; the bus was very full and had very narrow seats; of course, this is the bus we get stuck for three hours on because of very badly placed road work in Bridgeport.