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Liberty withstands the Storm

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Plenette Pierson had 22 points off the bench, and New York withstood a strong Seattle third-quarter run to pull out a 66-57 home win. Cappie Pondexter added 13 points, eight rebounds, and four steals for the Liberty. Tina Thompson led the Storm with 13 points and seven rebounds. For custard, audacity, so much snot, too many missed connections to count, and general exhaustion, join your intrepid and overheated blogger after the jump.


Hello again, loyal readers! Your intrepid blogger comes to you once more from beautiful, scenic Newark, New Jersey, bringing you the sights, sounds, and smells of the Seattle Storm and the New York Liberty!

Lots and lots of words will be written about this game. A veritable downpour, you could say.

This has not been a good commute. Just missed the bus in Maspeth, which means I had to wait fifteen minutes for the next one, and now the train's sitting at Union Square twiddling its metaphorical thumbs. The drummer on the platform is excellent, but it's fifty-six minutes to tipoff and air conditioning doesn't help when the doors have been open for several minutes to let in the fetid platform air. Cranky blogger will be cranky on top of being intrepid.

Cranky blogger is extremely cranky. I missed the first five minutes of the first quarter because of the MTA's shenanigans, so I also missed the Tina Thompson tribute (say that five times fast; I can't even type it once) and the anthem. It's now halftime, and we're being entertained by tic-tac-toe. The Liberty are kicking all kinds of butt, at 36-19.

Dear mother or other relative of Tanisha Wright: stop deliberately blocking people's view with your sign. Well, you'll have to now, since security just took it. Seriously, antagonizing an entire section of Liberty fans is not the brightest thing you could have done as a visiting parent. You've done a phenomenal job of upholding the standards and traditions of Penn State family. I'm disappointed security didn't take care of them sooner, since apparently they were cursing in addition to having arguments with security. I look forward to hearing the other side of the story, though. It should be interesting.

Bill decided to shake things up by starting the kids. It looks like Toni Young's responded. Seattle's defense is swarming, but we're shooting well, and Bill's fast-passing style is actually working today, for a wonder. The shots that come from the hot passes aren't falling, but we're getting much better shots than we did against Chicago. (Yes, I know, Chicago > Seattle, or at least Chicago's height > Seattle's height.)

Alysha Clark takes a lot of risks on defense. When they work out, she looks really smart. When they don't work out, she commits fouls and looks kind of dumb. She got a lot of good rolls. I guess she's still got that MTSU shooter's roll going on. Shekinna Stricklen was going hard at Alex Montgomery most of the night, whenever they were both on the floor. She's not afraid to shoot, and she's not afraid to use her height to mix it up on the boards. She thinks she has better range than she currently does- in that regard, Tina Thompson is the perfect mentor for her, and I hope TT passes along everything she possibly can before retiring. Nakia Sanford spent a lot of time arguing with the refs (to which my response would be "stop committing fouls and get your butt out of the lane") and a lot of time bodying up. Tianna Hawkins played briefly and showed how raw she still was. She fired off a three like she thought she was Alyssa Thomas or something. There's talent there, but it's going to need a lot of offseason polishing to look good.

Tanisha Wright got hot in the third quarter, much to the excitement of her very loud fan club behind the Storm bench. She was maddening on the ball all night defensively. I'm surprised more players don't end up just giving her a forearm shiver because she irks them so much. (That's supposed to be a compliment. I know it doesn't sound like one, but bear in mind that I loved Debbie Black as a player.) She drove fearlessly, though after her hot streak in the third, she looked to be facilitating more. Temeka Johnson continues to be tiny, and continues to be surprisingly kick-butt despite that size disadvantage. She's not afraid to drive into the tall timber, is she? Noelle Quinn had a scoring spurt in the third, but what I noticed most about her was how quick her hands were moving when she was the on-ball defender. She looked like she was ready for anything. Maybe her stroke's coming back too? At least she looked more confident offensively than she did against Connecticut. Tina Thompson still hits those ridiculously long threes like they were nothing at all (I think it was the third one that made me yell at the kids, "She's been hitting those since you were in diapers, you maybe wanna go out and put a hand in her face?") but committed two uncharacteristically stupid and ill-timed fouls, one at the end of the second quarter and one at the end of the third, both putting Seattle into the penalty, resulting in three points for New York. Camille Little and her donk were pretty much neutralized. She did box out, but didn't grab the rebounds that she usually garners on those plays.

We see you, Plenette Pierson! She drove the baseline well and was hitting those jackknifing jumpers she likes to take from the elbow. She took a wicked hit under the basket that left her holding her wrist and making us wonder if she'd dislocated her shoulder. She recovered to hit the first of the two free throws, and was solid afterwards, so either she's tougher than we thought or it wasn't as bad as we thought. She was good on D too. Kamiko Williams played briefly, just enough to give Wright a taste of her own medicine, but that was strictly a matchup play, not actual interest in seeing what Kamiko could do. Alex Montgomery was solid on defense and on the boards. They kept getting her open shots, and she kept missing them. Alex, there's a reason people are leaving you open; if you don't want them to regret it, work on your shot. Leilani Mitchell was all right- I don't remember anything spectacular, but I don't remember anything awful either. Avery Warley was DNP-CD; I wonder if Bill's getting ready to switch her out for another temp. Better keep my Sharpie... er, sharp.

Toni Young looked very good in the first half. She didn't play as much in the second, and I think it was because the game had slowed down somewhat- her athleticism wasn't as effective, I think. She showed a lot of flashes of why Bill made a move to get her. Kelsey Bone was solid on the inside- again, I could do with a little less of the tapping out of rebounds and a little more of the actually grabbing them, but I get the feeling that this is going to be a recurring theme with her, like throwing ridiculous passes to Vickie Johnson or Tari Phillips's "show-the-ball" trick were back in the day. She's also got to work on her shooting close to the basket. At her size, she should be finishing more of those shots. More upper body development might help her on that score. Kara Braxton rebounded well, but otherwise this was a dumb Kara day. Stupid fouls, stupid passes, stupid shots. Your intrepid blogger heard that her paramour was at the game, though, so that might explain it. I think Bill was aware of something- Kara was grabbing her shorts for a good five minutes in the fourth quarter before he finally took her out of the game, even though he had had Kelsey up in the bullpen during the third quarter, then pulled her back. Katie Smith brought the defense and a key basket in the fourth quarter. The reach-in foul was a stupid idea, though- even if you get all ball and a notarized document from Yeshua ben-Miriam that you didn't touch the player, the ref is going to whistle you for reaching in, and Katie ought to know better. Cappie Pondexter went through a tough shooting stretch in the beginning of the third quarter when nothing seemed to be going anywhere near the basket. Over the basket, off the glass, nothing but air- it wasn't pretty. She never really found her shooting touch, though the fast break lay-up she hit in the fourth was nice. She got involved in other ways, though, finding her teammates and making defensive plays (she does occasionally remember that she went to Rutgers). Between constant hounding defense from Seattle and the effort it took to get out from under that defense, I guess I can give her a pass for such lousy shooting. Good thing we didn't need her to be SuperCappie.

Officiating wasn't too bad tonight. I think there were maybe two calls for each team to get worked up over (though Sanford got worked up over just about everything). It's sort of refreshing to not kvetch about the officiating. The one call that had the arena up in arms was a foul on Plenette that had no visible basis in reality.

Please stop inflicting Essence's All-Star rap on us. "Rapper's Delight" deserves better. I may have to go postal on someone if they play it on Saturday. Enough is enough and I'm not voting for Kara Braxton anyway.

Very sparse crowd- 4K at the most, I think- but boy did we get into it. I think Maddie took the antics of the Tanisha Wright Fan Club personally and wanted to get the crowd fired up in response. We answered the bell.

(What is this I don't even on this E train. Hip-hop dancing on a moving train does not seem like a very sensible idea to me. I suppose it's better than the usual array of panhandlers and mumbling hobos, though. I will have to go full Elaine Powell on a mofo if they kick my computer. This may end up being posted from jail...)

Tomahawk slam in the kiddie contest! Someone's been watching Toni Young.

(Oh my God this guy is seriously going to get himself killed dancing on the ceiling oh my God.)

It wasn't the prettiest of games, but we got a needed win. You can't let up against Brian Agler, or Tina Thompson, or the Seattle Storm. They may not have much left of their roster, but they have heart and pride and passion. If they're not careful, they may end up out of the lottery...

On to Indiana!