Good afternoon, everyone! We're coming to you on joyous tape delay from Mohegan Sun Arena, where the New York Liberty and the Connecticut Sun face off yet again.
In case you're wondering about the difference in salutation, Mohegan has apparently loosened up their security restrictions. I plopped my backpack down on the table and declared my awareness of the contraband that would force me to check my bag. Normally, the security people appreciate it, but in this case, the woman said that they'd recently changed the rules on laptops at basketball games, so I could bring my lovely Jocelyn in. I then mentioned that I had water and cookies for the bus, and she said, "Fine, but don't get me in trouble." So rest assured, Donna, the bottles and cookies will remain untouched for the duration of the game. I swear it on my honor as a former Girl Scout. (Three years, Troop 4839 of the Greater New York Council.)
For the first time in as long as I can remember, Kara Lawson shot around with the rest of the team, then signed autographs. She's normally a very difficult get, so the ink junkies around me were pleased. She still looked pretty emotionally wrecked, though. She looked like she needed a hug.
There was no organized fan bus for this game, but a fair number of Liberty fans always make their way to Mohegan, and I already see a few scattered pockets in the somewhat more expensive seats. We got ours for free, so I'm okay with not being among my people.
It feels weird to be wearing a Kym Hampton jersey instead of my usual Lobo jersey, but given my... issues... with UConn fans purporting to be Sun fans, I decided not to give them any potential ammo.
Connecticut uses the same entrance song that the Liberty have been attempting to use, except they play through the whole thing. It's a bit of a culture clash.
Hello, random and loyal reader! I'm still not used to people coming up to me and complimenting me on things. It's a pleasant and validating feeling.
Anthem was okay. Nothing to write home about. Halftime consists of a dance clinic. I don't know if I approve, but I'm not big on dance teams, and the Liberty's teams beat the pants off Connecticut's anyway.
42-35 Liberty at the half. Could be more, but we have no idea where the three-point arc actually is (four shots with a foot or a toe on the line). Could be less, but Renee Montgomery shook Leilani Mitchell off for a three to beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter. Tina Charles is hitting those midrange fadeaways, which is usually not a good sign for the opponent, but we're getting more possessions off rebounds. Plenette Pierson's overshooting is quite weird. Stop shooting over the basket, Plenette. Kara, if you could actually play something that looks like defense, that would be super, thanks.
Leilani's most important rebound tonight might have been during the shooting contest, since the guys were so wild that the ball went into the huddle. It started so well, then turned into a hot mess.
I sort of really want Barbara Farris's jacket. What a beautiful shade of blue! (It's almost Pirate blue. Barb, did you raid Big Jackets' closet?) Taj's dress is also on point, though the more I think about it the more I realize it looks like an Arizona green tea can.
I have to admit, I love when Bill plays to the crowd's boos and tries to fire them up. And I do love that the Sun play the Imperial March for him. We really need to do that. Own your villainy, Bad Girls! It's okay to be bad!
I appear to have misplaced my husband. Have you seen a black-haired guy in a Sophia Witherspoon jersey and a tall striped hat? Oh, there he is.
So are the Sun keeping the t-shirts back as long as possible to make sure people stay in their seats until the end of the game? Because there was a pretty substantial exodus as soon as the last of the t-shirts went out, and I can't say that I blame them. The ship is continuing to sink.
Sydney Carter didn't make any egregious mistakes that I can recall. All things considered, that's an upgrade for Connecticut. Kayla Pedersen played briefly to give Kelsey Griffin a break, but I don't recall her doing anything other than getting my hackles up (nothing she did, just the general sense of unease I get when Sun fans cheer her). For reasons beyond my understanding, Mistie Bass decided she didn't feel like mixing it up in the paint today and started taking outside jumpers. Mistie, you are not Tina Charles. Get in there and hit someone. You've handled Plenette Pierson and Kara Braxton before, so why are you backing out? I mean, I don't mind, I'm a Liberty fan, but as a basketball fan I do not approve of players doing things badly that they have no business doing and not doing things that they tend to do well. Iziane Castro Marques was all over the place with her shot. It arced high, it went long- she even took her free throws at an angle. Whatever floats your boat, Izi. Whatever gets you through the losses.
Kelsey Griffin actually played really well. Stop staring at me like that, just because I don't understand why she starts doesn't mean I can't give her credit when credit is in fact due. She was deadly from the far corner and hustled hard on the boards. She was solid on defense, too. Just a really good all around game. Kalana Greene needs to not be afraid to shoot. She had the ball near the end of the shot clock on at least two possessions and just kept passing off. I know Kalana's jumper is questionable at best, but you have to not be afraid of the ball when your team's trying to keep possession. If the ball's in your hands and it shouldn't be, that's something you need to talk to your teammates about, not run away from. Her defense was good, though. Tan White did a lot of stupid things. She committed unnecessary fouls (I think hers was the fifth foul in the fourth quarter, which evened out the bonus situation). She took bad shots. She made bad passes. Tina Charles had the jumper working in the first half, but in the second half, we shut her down. She only had one basket (plus four free throws) in the second half, and those were all in the fourth quarter. Granted, Donovan sat her for a fair spell, but I think we were into her head. Renee Montgomery hit big threes, but she also tok some questionable shots. I mostly remember the threes, to be honest.
Good rebounding out of Toni Young. She blew a defensive assignment badly, but made up for it on the other end later on. She missed the dunk during shootaround. DeLisha Milton-Jones continues to befuddle me- not because she's not moving well, but because she's having a lot of trouble catching passes. I didn't think she'd had any trouble with her hands or wrists, but she's fumbling a lot of things I expect her to catch. She was satisfied with long jumpers. Alex Montgomery took a brutal sandwich of a hit (and got called for the foul), and did a little bit of everything. I wish she'd watch her footwork on those jumpers, because we really need her to get behind the line if she's going to be on the line, but I'll take offensive efficiency from her any time. She was even bringing the ball up a few times, and while I'm not sure how much I like that, she wasn't completely awful at it. Leilani Mitchell was a defensive liability, but watching her cut through the lane like a hot knife through butter brought back memories of much better times. Kelsey Bone got in Tina Charles's face a bit better than Kara Braxton did, and rebounded solidly, but she committed stupid fouls and turnovers that I would have expected from Kara.
Cappie Pondexter really didn't look like herself. I know the foot's been bothering her, and I've heard rumors that she's nursing a broken finger, but her shot was way off. She still got the job done, and appeared to be the only player on the floor who actually knew where the three-point line was (I know I'm harping on this, but Cappie's three came right after two long twos; it felt like a miracle that someone actually remembered where to shoot from). Kara Braxton started the game with a violation on the opening tip, and it didn't get much better from there. She kept forgetting to put her hands up on defense, which is a pretty basic thing to forget. She did manage to tip rebounds out well on the offensive end, even if she didn't necessarily grab on to them herself. Katie Smith had one embarrassing moment where she turned the ball over because she ran out of bounds- at thirty-mumble, I do expect her to know the dimensions of a basketball court. I think it's interesting that she's asserting herself more on the offensive end as the season goes on, and I wonder if that has to do with moving back into the backcourt and not being relied on as much for her defense. It's nice to know that she's still trying to contribute. Kamiko Williams rebounded well, especially in the first half, and had a nice little defensive sequence where she forced Renee Montgomery into a hurried shot after it looked like Montgomery was going to get a clean look at a three. Someone needs to talk to her about her footwork on her shot, though. I should not see feet crossing on the followthrough. I'm not expecting Kamiko to be a great offensive threat, but I'd at least like her mechanics to be solid. Plenette Pierson lit it up in the fourth quarter. Her lateral movement on defense still isn't great, but she got the job done. Once she stopped overshooting the basket, though, her offense was back on point. She had a smothering block near the end of the game that just slammed the door and put the game past the point of no return.
It's hard to put my finger on why the Liberty kept control of this game for most of the way. There were times, especially in the third quarter of dread, that the Sun seemed to threaten, but overall it felt like the Sun were sort of going through the motions. New York made enough defensive stops to keep the game out of reach, and hit enough shots, especially and-1s, to pace the Sun. The three-point plays were especially reassuring, since we haven't been seeing a lot of them recently.
Officiating didn't seem particularly deplorable, except for when Alex went smush. Katie went down a couple of possessions later, but that was more of a flop than Alex's fall was. We did get to see the application of a fairly obscure rule- ball went off Michael Price while he was out of bounds. Since the official is part of the playing surface, that was a turnover on the Sun, even though the ball bounced back into play.
Our trip in was incredibly speedy- 2:25, when the inbound trip is usually around three hours. I'm expecting our trip back to be longer, because the universe needs to balance its scales somehow.
We needed a good solid win on the road against the pitiful remnants of the Sun, and we got exactly what we needed. I just hope Cappie's feeling better before we have to host the Lynx.