Hello again, from the bus lobby and the bus back to Flushing from Mohegan Sun Arena, where the Connecticut Sun and Seattle Storm faced off in one of the world's oldest rivalries.
I think there was some kind of season ticket holder event for the Sun before the game, because we got to the box office a bit before three and people were being patted down at security. Since we do not have Sun season tickets, we have no idea what it might have been.
Excellent anthem today. That's what I like to get my blood pumping for the game. Powerful, passionate, and accurate.
We got the same section that we were in for the preseason game, so we were with the same group of wisenheimers that were there before, and I love them. They're a lot more fun when you're rooting for the same team as them. Like many hardcore fans, they are of the ardent belief that there is no such thing as a good call against their team and no such thing as a bad call against the opposing team. (We may have unleashed something we can't handle for later in the season, though- we introduced them to the slow count, a trick that we use in college. We were so close to the Storm bench that it seemed like a good time to risk it.)
(Seriously, if you're part of that section 19 coterie that gets loud at games, come visit us up in section 9 at the Prudential Center. And bring your rep; she and that poor unlucky wretch Melissa probably need to commiserate over drinks.)
Props to the two fathers who were willing to do the insane moves proposed to them by the Solar Power dancers during the contest, because it takes a real man to prance and twirl in front of thousands of people when this does not seem to be something they do with any great frequency.
We skipped the halftime show. Never share billing with dogs or children.
I'm not quite sure where we're going to put this "wobble-head" thing, but it's... interesting. It appears to be a cross between a bobble-head and a cardboard cut-out. I certainly don't know what we're going to do with two of them.
(Apologies for any typos I make and don't catch in this one. The bus is completely full and the woman in front of me has her seat reclined; I'm balancing my laptop on one leg and holding it down with my wrists, so my manual mobility is somewhat limited and my fingers aren't always going where I want them to go.)
Nakia Sanford was in to be physical, to be tough, and to make space for her teammates. She did so admirably. I feel like she did more on the offensive glass than the numbers show. Tianna Hawkins looked very much like a player who was in over her head. She got stuffed hard twice, even if the box score only says once, and took a lot of hard hits. I can see that she has a nose for the ball, but she has to learn that the officials in the WNBA allow a lot more contact- she spent a lot of her time on the court looking for a foul and not getting it. Cierra Bravard came in at the very end of the game and proceeded to commit a silly foul, which is about par for the course. That's the player I remember with such... fondness from Florida State. She has a surprisingly high, almost little-girlish, voice. Alysha Clark picked up two very quiet buckets early in the game and added one at the very end of the game, as if to make the point that the Sun were done. Shekinna Stricklen ran the show in the second quarter. She was twisting inside for lay-ups, fighting on the glass- she hit her second attempted three clean, just when you thought it might be a bad idea for her to take that shot. Watching her run is a thing of beauty. She shone in her minutes, and looking at the box score, I'm surprised Agler didn't play her more. Then again...
It's like the straight-away three from the top of the key is Tina Thompson's signature or something, even more than the lipstick shtick. You can't leave her open for that shot. (This goes double for you, Mistie Bass- three name changes and seven years ago, you played with TT in Houston, how do you not know this?) The Warrior Princess still looked like she had plenty left in the tank in this one, throwing them up from all over the floor and watching them go in. And she got the job done on the boards, too. Noelle Quinn had some nice defensive plays- she handled herself well in the scrum and stayed with her assignment. Tanisha Wright seemed to be under the impression that playing in Connecticut meant that she was auditioning for WWE. There are no pins in basketball, T. Somehow she kept slipping under the Sun's defense for lay-ups. I think she had a couple of fast breaks, too. Temeka Johnson used her height, or lack thereof, very much to her advantage- I don't know if anyone in this league can get as low as she can, even players like Angel Goodrich who are in the same height range. When you would think that she'd be smothered by a taller defender like Allison Hightower, she ducked way low and evaded those reaching arms like a little kid slipping under the turnstile. Camille Little drove hard and forced contact. She's never going to make you ooh and ahh, and she's never going to get the respect she deserves, but that woman puts in work out there.
The Storm posts did a fantastic job of setting screens and picks to free up their teammates. Say what you will about the age, potential imbalances, and other flaws of this roster- Brian Agler at least knows how to lie in the bed that he made.
Kelly Faris played good defense when she was in, but the fans around me were irate that her teammates couldn't find her when she was open in the corner. It does seem odd that she's not taking a shot that was one of her strengths in college; if this is part of Donovan's plan, not only do I think it's a bad plan, the UConn fanatics who absolutely adore Faris will flame Donovan to a crisp. Iziane Castro Marques showed off her speed on a fast break, but the other shots she took were pretty stupid. But this is sort of what you expect from Izi at this point- she'll show just enough on defense to make you think that she could be a great defensive player, but then she'll take a bunch of stupid shots that might or might not go in, depending on how the universe feels that particular evening. Ashley Walker had a couple of dumb plays, but overall it felt like a good thing that she was in the game; she countered Seattle's grit better than most of the Sun players did. Mistie Bass was ineffective early on, though she got better in the fourth quarter. (Maybe that whole public embarrassment on Friday affected her more than we though.)
I devoutly hope something is wrong with Tina Charles, because if something's not physically wrong with her, then something mental is the issue, and I don't think I like that if I'm a Sun fan. She got hot a little in the fourth quarter, but for most of the game, she looked like her give a damn was busted. There was no energy in her. She threw up shots as if she didn't care whether they went in; she looked at missed shots as if to say, "oh, that's interesting- wait, I'm supposed to be doing something?" Kelsey Griffin was called upon a bit too often, IMO, as the first or second option. And then Amy Bonner decided there was something she didn't like about this Alaskan kid. Griffin had no fouls in the first half; by the middle of the third quarter, she had three. Donovan pulled her. Then she came in near the end of the quarter. Whistle. Fourth foul. The guy behind me in the Kelsey Griffin jersey was... not amused. I am far from Griffin's staunchest defender (quite the opposite), but I thought two of those calls were utter nonsense. Kara Lawson's shot was off for most of the night, and she looked like her back might be bothering her a little bit. I've never seen her fumble unforced like that before. Kalana Greene kept forgetting where the three-point line was- KG, have you been hanging out with Essence again? She also seemed very hesitant to shoot- granted, the shots that she was passing up weren't in her comfort zone, but they were shots that a professional player should be willing to take. In my view, Allison Hightower was the lone bright spot for the Sun. I love to watch her work. She plays both ends of the floor very smartly and smoothly. And the woman behind me made it sound like a bad thing that she had 17 points...
Connecticut looked scared to shoot most of the night. Too much of game plan seemed to be "give the ball to Tina" without there being a second step or a backup plan. Always have a backup plan.
The refs were a bit sketchy, but what worries me more is how frequently I'm seeing some of them. I think this is the third straight game I've seen with Tom Mauer, for example, and though the box score says Jeff Smith, I thought the PA guy announced Greene, who also did the game on Friday. (I almost hope it was Greene. He's got a good eye for not letting buffoonery occur- he's the one who spotted the kicked ball on Friday and Jeff Whatever-His-Last-Name-Might-Be spotted a pushout that Bonner was about to call out-of-bounds turnover today.)
Right when the PA announcer did the brief announcement of Tina Thompson's retirement was when a whole slew of Sun fans decided to leave. To be fair, a lot of them were out of their seats before that announcement, but it didn't look good for Sun fans. Yes, we get how ardently you don't care about anything non-Connecticut, but show some respect for history.
Madam President was on hand to announce the opening of All-Star balloting. The stress of the job is getting to her. Either she was wearing the single most unflattering jacket in the world or she's put on about forty pounds since last season. (I suppose it's moderately healthier than Orender's preferred method of stress management, but not much...)
I think Donovan's on a short leash with Sun fans. They gave her a very tepid welcome, and the folks around me didn't seem all that happy with her. She needs to right the ship in a hurry... but how right can she get it without getting her offensive bench weapons back? And if she and Charles aren't working out, this could be a long season at the casino.
But hey, at least I broke even.