Good afternoon, everyone! We're coming to you live and airconditioned from the Prudential Center, where the New York Liberty are facing the Chicago Sky.
The place is full of Delaware fans. I think there are at least five busloads of people here in Delaware blue and yellow, along with a not-inconsiderable number of people in Sky colors. It's sort of frustrating. We're going to have to be very loud.
I like Sylvia Fowles's new hairdo. I don't know if I like their scheduling, but that's a minor nit-pick/
To whoever put out the prizes for today's game- was it really a brilliant idea to put them in a section full of Delaware fans? I thought those were supposed to reward fans for coming to games and encourage them to come back, not suck up to road fans.
It's disgustingly hot out there. Ugh. Air conditioning is a blessing.
Today is the season subscriber barbeque, so expect fashion critiques and deliciousness. But I'll start out with Mama Taj's ill-fitting gray dress and the rancid-butter-yellow pumps she inexplicably chose to wear with it. Oh Mama Taj no.
At halftime, we're down eleven, and Air Maddie is back, still wearing the old black jersey (though now they're spinning it as a throwback). Good to see the old inflatable again.
Cappie Pondexter's playing like she's got Wanna Be The Man disease (tm Mike Lupica)- too much of the offense has devolved into the old dependence on her, and this is not a good plan. Katie Smith has spent much of the second quarter indignant at the officials, and too hot under the collar to lead, and thus the team is following her lead straight to Bad Decisionland. And if one more person decides to wander out of their seat during play, I'm going to be forced to hurt them. I've missed two or three plays because people are taking their sweet time getting to their seats or insisting on getting up in the middle of play.
There are entirely too many people rooting for Chicago in this building.
Today was the celebration of Maddie's birthday, but the only thing they really did for it was bring back Air Maddie and show baby pictures. (Some of the Libs were so cute! Leilani's wig was spectacular. And then they showed a puppy with a Statue of Liberty crown Photoshopped onto it for Maddie! And there was cake.
Woman in the Sue Bird Team USA jersey, you are either lost or early. I have my suspicions.
Dear Prudential Center: please not to be playing any form of "Call Me Maybe" unless it's with the team video. You can 'shoop in Katie over Kelly Miller, right? And it would even be more in character for Katie to be grooving to Nicki Minaj...
The game is over now, thank all the gods, and we're at the barbeque. They learned from last year's ill-advised choice of options (hint: if you have sizeable Jewish and Muslim fanbases, don't make your meat option pork). No player sightings yet, but we have discovered Bill. People are already harassing him. Let the man eat; it's probably the best experience he's going to have all day.
That was... that was several words that I can't actually say on this blog anymore. Cluster is a good bowdlerization, though. Chicago clogged the paint, and the Liberty rolled over and played dead.
Whoever put that kid up to singing the anthem should be smacked. I don't like the idea of booing kids, but I also don't like hearing kids sing when they really can't sing.
Michelle Campbell brought a lot of physicality and ill-advised fouls, especially in the second half. By her third foul in the third quarter, she was getting very frustrated. On the other hand, she did snag two and-1s out of our defense. Sharnee Zoll-Norman ran a steady offense, and I knew we were done for in the fourth quarter when the defense gave up an utterly uncontested drive to the lane for her. Shay Murphy was quiet, but she always has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. I think she's my favorite Sky player. Carolyn Swords was tough in the paint, taking care of offensive rebounds and deflecting shots on defense. She took advantage of her opportunities. Allie Quigley took a lot of shots, and really, you can't leave a Quigley open in the corner. You'd think any Big East player would know that, given that the Quigleys played for DePaul for, like, twenty years or something. Collectively, the Chicago bench kept the pressure on in the second half, increasing the lead and keeping the Liberty back on their heels the res of the way.
Sylvia Fowles didn't need to do much, but what she did was ruthlessly efficient, and her blocks were resounding. (Like we didn't already know that Avery Warley going up against Big Syl was the slightest hint of a mismatch.) Swin Cash enjoyed her histrionics and her dramatics, as she always does, but she also did work on the boards and on defense. She boxed out phenomenally. Courtney Vandersloot ran a better offense than I was expecting. I can see why she would drive Chicago fans mad- she takes more risks than I would be comfortable with in my point guard, and I think she thinks she can get away with more in the WNBA than she actually can. Today, the risks paid off. Epiphanny Prince got threes pretty much whenever she wanted them. It's like she's a good shooter or something Libs. Her hands were quick and active on defense- the Scarlet in her, I suppose. Elena Delle Donne did all the things. Deep threes, check; perfect free throws, check; a deceptively quick first step to the basket, check; surprisingly good defense, check. Maybe we were just bad, maybe she's that good. But she made those busloads of Delaware fans happy.
Plenette Pierson is still coming off the bench, and I'm no longer sure whether this is a cunning plan by Laimbeer or her knee is causing her more trouble than either she or Laimbeer wants to let on. Her teammates seem to think that she's taller than she is, or that she can jump better than she's currently able to. Most of her points came after the game was already decided. For Toni Young, on the other hand, everything came after the game had been decided. She got to show off her athleticism a little bit, but most of her stuff was only lightly contested. Kelsey Bone needs to do a better job of grabbing rebounds instead of batting them around- she was fortunate today that her teammates were able to snag most of her bats, but it doesn't always fall out that way, and as big and tough as she is, she should be able to hang on to the ball. Kamiko Williams looked lost. It was not pretty. So did Alex Montgomery- she had one fumble out of bounds that pretty much encapsulated how epically we failed in this game.
I don't know what happened during the game, and I don't have the cast-iron metaphorical cojones to walk up to Katie Smith and ask her these things, but she was hot under the collar like nobody's business. I thought someone on Chicago said something about her mother or something. Her head was not in the game the rest of the way. She couldn't find her rhythm shooting, and her defense was below her average. I don't expect her to be a total game-changer anymore, but we could have used her to keep the game within striking distance. Leilani Mitchell was pesky, but she couldn't check Vandersloot sufficiently, which meant that defensively she was reduced to doubling down and trying to make things happen with disruption. As you might be able to discern from the score, this was not successful. Avery Warley rebounded well, but I think everyone involved knew that she was out of her depth. Kara Braxton muscled a little bit, but this was not a smart Kara day. This was a very dumb Kara day. If Kelsey can't get easy shots to fall and Kara's having a very dumb day, things are not going to end well in the post for the Liberty. Cappie Pondexter showed a spark of life in the second quarter, and she and Kamiko teamed up for one beautiful defensive sequence that resulted in a shot clock violation, but too much of the offense was flowing into her and then stagnating. It was Cappie against the world, just like it was under Whiz, and that's not a scheme for long-term success. She took a lot of good shots, but she took even more bad shots.
The effort was deplorable, reprehensible, abhorrent, and generally awful. Three plays sum it up. One: fourth quarter, parting like the Red Sea for Sharnee Zoll-Norman to get on the board, no defense on the drive whatsoever. Two: third quarter, Cappie hands off to Alex, who proceeds to fumble the ball out of bounds as if it were covered in melted butter. Three: third quarter, Cappie attempts to cross over Vandersloot, loses the ball, and proceeds to look around for it in utter confusion as Chicago goes on the fast break. I have seen college players who never got a sniff at the WNBA play these Sky players better. It was embarrassing.
And then they had to come out and schmooze with us in the sun! Which, to be fair, everyone did, and they were pretty sociable, all things considered. I loved Avery's black and white striped dress and Leilani's white and seafoam green tank top. I was less enthusiastic about Alex's brightly colored shirt, but she seems to like that kind of thing, and I'm not exactly going to argue with her. It took long enough for the entire line to be served that people were leaving by the time the end of the line got their food. Seats in the shade were much sought after. I bought a new hat for the occasion (my big-game hat is a mite worn out and is pretty much out of space, having been autographed continuously for seven seasons, 2000-2006) and wandered around getting it autographed by all and sundry. I missed Cappie, but that's because she who hesitates is lost, and she and her posse left the party first. (I think Kelsey tried to slip out, but got shanghaied back in. Nice try, rookie.) Leilani has a much drier sense of humor than she'd let on in previous years. I think she's finally becoming comfortable here, so this will probably be her last season in New York. Murphy's Law dictates it. Katie has to be the different one- carried a blue Sharpie with her instead of a black one. Kara liked my hat and wanted to know where I got it. Essence just wanted the hat. ("Only if you can get me another one signed by your teammates," I told her. Look, this hat is supposed to last into the next five years.) For those who stayed late, the cake that was prepared for Maddie's birthday was wheeled out.
(Awkward moment: the poor unlucky wretch tried to bring Taj barbeque leftovers, apparently unaware that Mama Taj is a vegetarian. There was a vegetarian option, but I don't think it met with Taj's approval- maybe cross-contamination?)
All in all, the game was a train wreck, but the barbeque and the company made up for the rest of the day.
And finally, submitted for your approval, the sequel to "Taj Crash":