So the season started with a bang- or, more precisely, a thud. Your intrepid blogger's notes may be a bit blurrier than usual because my bathroom ceiling caved in at quarter to five on Saturday morning. So that was exciting, and don't worry, we're both fine, we just don't have access to a bathroom right now and we're a bit sleep-deprived.
I don't know if it's paranoia after some of the crackdowns on other buses, or if the economy is just that bad, or if today was just an off day, but the bus I take out of Flushing was barely half-full. I have a row to myself to write notes, which means that I can actually write notes while the Chinese edition of "America's Got Talent" plays on the screen above me. (I still can't believe the middle-aged women dancing badly in the short skirts got more votes than the troupe of guys doing slam dunks on springs while wearing matching Jeremy Lin jerseys.)
No free tickets, but we got a pretty good deal in the endcourt on the visiting side, where we could visit our usual blend of criticism and love on our team. And we do love them. Spoon and Whitmore were behind the bench, both wearing all black- not sure if that was old-school Lib black, dignified and stylish black, or Japanese stagehand "don't look at me" black. I think the entire team was singing along in bits and pieces to "I Gotta Feeling".
It is good for my soul that New York is back on the Liberty jerseys. Yeah, I know, sponsorships are money. I still like having my city on the jersey again.
So the Sun have basically the entire Liberty staff from the Donovan era, and the Liberty have half the Detroit Shock franchise? This is going to be confusing for a while. It feels like a shuffle game. The ball is under cup number 2! (Also, have fun, Sun fans- if Lisa White is involved with your training staff, watch out for stress fractures and shin splints. There's a reason we called her the Bone Collector...)
Loree Moore's fantastically overbuilt shoulders have been reduced to mere mortal levels. That makes me sad. She looked several steps slow, but heady. I wonder if she's showcasing herself not for a regular roster spot, but either to be a standby replacement player (someone who at least knows part of the system and can fill in in a hurry) or as an assistant somewhere. There are a couple of schools in the New York area looking for staffs, after all. Leilani Mitchell looked competent, but out of place. She played well with the veterans, but she knows a lot of these players- that's her only advantage over the rookies and Loree. That's not going to last. Alex Montgomery looked very tight at the start of the game. She was pressing, like she knew her job was probably on the line. Her second tour of duty, she looked much better and much more under control on the offensive end of the floor. Her defense was solid most of the night. Toni Young froze under pressure. She didn't look like she was ready for WNBA competition. I'm reminded of Clay Kallam's remarks about Laura Harper when she was drafted- "raw as a side of beef". Hopefully Bill can develop her into something. Kelley Cain pretty much just took up space- one of Plenette Pierson's shots was basically because Kelley blew the catch on the inbounds pass and Plenette was there to catch the tip. Kara Braxton is not as decorative as she thinks she is- I would appreciate if she would stop standing around just above the paint, and actually move her butt towards the ball. Her block in the third quarter was pretty sweet, though. Plenette Pierson looked like she was working off a little rust- I think she'll be fine, though she's slower than I remembered from last season. I know Father Time wins all battles, but he's not usually this efficient about it. She and Kelley both got burned badly by Chatilla van Grinsven. We all know I'm hopelessly biased when it comes to St. John's, but I think Shenneika Smith played well, once she got her head into the game- the first foul that was called on her (which I thought was on Kelley) threw her off- she was arguing with the ref, then looking to Essence to back her up. I suspect Essence told her to build a bridge and get over it, or words to that effect, because she was much better in the second half. She was cutting to the lane, she was going hard for rebounds, she was good on defense.
Kelsey Bone showed flashes of potential, but not much more. She needs to get more assertive and a little more aggressive. Then again, if she can't learn how to throw her weight around from Barbara Farris, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Cheryl Ford, Plenette Pierson, Kara Braxton, and Tamika Whitmore, there is no helping the child. Essence Carson looked great- she appears to be eschewing the goggles somewhat, and I think it's helping her shooting. She was also solid on the boards and on defense. The only thing that worries me is that she spent a lot of her time on the bench stretching out her back. Back injuries always make me nervous. Katie Smith looked several steps slow, especially on defense. Kalana Greene abused her to the point where it was almost criminal. There may be no substitute for her experience in crunch time, but I don't know if the flesh is able anymore. Cheryl Ford looks fabulous. It'll take a little more time for her to mesh with the non-Detroit players, but she'll get there, and she looks like she'll be back in the W groove the same way any veteran returning from overseas would.
Kamiko Williams, keep this up and I'm going to spend most of this summer apologizing to you for doubting you. She looked really good- I had no idea she had such ups, but she saved a couple of high passes from going out of bounds. I don't know what her position's going to be- whether she'll be a one or a two or she'll swing from guard spot to guard spot as necessary- but if she can stay at the level she was at today, she's a keeper.
Sigh, UConn fans. Kelly Faris hasn't even played in a Sun uniform yet and you cheer her louder than half your rotation. (And then you wonder why your non-UConn players want to leave.) Renee Montgomery was Renee Montgomery, fast and wild and occasionally very lucky. Natasha Lacy's streak shooting was ice cold. She would make a good defensive play, then blow the lay-up. Unsurprisingly, she has good on-court chemistry with Ashley Walker- one of them found the other with a blind pass, but then the shot was missed. Walker appeared to be unsure as to the operation of tearaway pants, but once she was on the floor, she looked all right- not great, but all right. She shoots free throws like a Golden Bear, though. Johannah Leedham kept finding her way into the passing lane and snagging steals. Stop throwing Johannah Leedham the ball, Libs, she doesn't play for our team. Mistie Bass (who I think now holds the undisputed record for name changes, to the point where even wnba.com and the PA announcer haven't caught up) bodied up and threw her weight around. She's a dirty work player, and in some ways, that makes her the perfect complement to Tina Charles. Someone's gotta work over defenders, after all. Where did Latoya Williams pop up from? She's got an interesting game, though I don't know if it's going to translate well to the W. She showed range with the long ball, but she committed a lot of stupid fouls. If Donovan can work with her, she'll be a find. But I don't know if Donovan can work with her. Chatilla van Grinsven, whose name is tricky to type, but wonderful to say, had a couple of very nice moves around Liberty defenders to get work done in the paint. I don't know if she can do it consistently at the W level, but she's showing me more than she did when I saw her against Fordham.
Kalana Greene, you've been hanging out with Essence Carson and Monique Currie too much. At least half the shots she took were two-pointers because her foot was on the line. It's the stupidest shot in basketball. It's so stupid that I had to try and type stupidest three times before I could get it right. She was better off when she was cutting to the lane and scooping shots up on Katie Smith. I like Kalana, even if she's a Husky playing for the Sun and therefore part of the occasionally cult-like atmosphere around UConn players. Tina Charles got the start, but barely played; I guess Donovan figures that she knows what she's getting from Charles. She looked good in those few minutes, though. Allison Hightower was bombing shots in the first half like nobody's business. I'm terrified of the idea of her developing a consistent offense to go with her lockdown defense. Like, absolutely petrified. That makes her a dangerous complementary part. Kelsey Griffin proved that she could be physical, but I'm not sure what else she supplied for the Sun. She was all right defensively, but not spectacular, and she didn't contribute on the offensive end. She needs to get it together in a hurry, because Bass is much better at doing the dirty work, and that's all she seems suited to doing right now. Kara Lawson was brutally efficient on offense. It's like, hey, guys, she might be known for this a little bit, you could perhaps get a hand in her face.
Nice ball movement by Connecticut, on both sides of the ball. Spectacularly dumb passing by the Liberty. I mean, really. How tall did y'all think Essence was?
Words cannot sufficiently express how much I loathe the defensive 3-seconds rule, and certainly not words that are suitable for a family show. It slows the game down, it confuses all parties involved, it makes the officials an even bigger part of the game than they already are... no. Make it stop. Kill it with fire. I don't care how terrified you are of the prospect of Brittney Griner camping out under the basket. I don't care if she camps out so long she can make s'mores for the first three rows. It is a stupid bloody rule and I detest it with every fiber of my substantial being. There were three in the game, and they all seemed to take forever to handle.
The officiating started out tight, then degenerated into lack of interest by the fourth quarter. Both the gentleman behind me and I were shouting at the officials to make some calls. It was about the only thing that the gentleman in the Kelsey Griffin jersey and I agreed on, for reasons that should be fairly obvious. But when I can see hands pulling the back of Kara Braxton's jersey, it might be time to make a holding call. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
Ran into a whole passel of Shenneika's family in the next section over from us. We didn't realize they were there until Shenneika checked in for the first time and we weren't the only ones cheering like crazy people.
I love Superjudy's Mardi Gras themed wig. It has flair.
Apparently there is a new person in the suit for Blaze, and she's still getting her feet under her- Blaze was a bit less outgoing than usual. She'll learn. As long as her name's not Carol, I can deal with her. But I think a Blaze named Carol might be a bit... sketchy.
Not sure if coincidence or plotting by the Sun that a very loud and passionate group of season ticket holders sit right near the visiting bench. It's certainly a rather intimidating atmosphere if you're paying attention to it.
We have basketball. I am well pleased. Now, does anyone know a good contractor for that bathroom?