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Stars shine bright over Liberty in second half

Just the Facts, Ma'am: A big second-half run broke open a close game at Madison Square Garden, and the San Antonio Stars beat the New York Liberty, 87-75. Sophia Young-Malcolm led five Stars in double figures with 18 points. Tina Charles led New York with 11 points. For frustration, bad aim, not using your head properly, things not quite on fire, confusion, tension, and dramatic arm gestures, join your intrepid and distracted blogger after the jump.


Hey, gang! We're coming to you in stereophonic sound from the World's Most Famous Arena, where it's the annual New York Liberty Alumnae Reunion as New York hosts the Stars of San Antonio.

Vickie Johnson has gone retro with the haircut- pure '97-'98. From the way she was affecting Becky Hammon's shots in practice, she might still have enough left in the tank as a midseason defensive specialist if anyone needs one.

Each game's roster card has a quote from a Liberty player on what it means to stand for Liberty, and tonight's was adroitly chosen from DeLisha Milton-Jones: "I stand for Liberty. It embodies what every human being should stand for. There is no room for injustice or inequality." (SOPHIA. Yes, I'm still salty. I take it really badly when people open their mouths to say that my family doesn't deserve equal protection under the law, but that's an entire rant for another time and place.)

There is someone over in the next section wearing a #15 Oklahoma State jersey. I don't know if it was Toni Young's or just a replica, but either way, I salute your loyalty, 'Poke!

The few Stars (almost typed Silver Stars there) who were out when I came in were exquisitely courteous. Shenise Johnson has nice handwriting.

Interesting anthem. Not sure how else to describe it. Stirring, but odd.

At halftime, San Antonio is up one, in a game that's been full of risky passes and made shots. This would not turn out to remain the case.

Heather Butler is ridiculously tiny. If she's really 5-5, I'm Sue Bird. She looks more than an inch shorter than Hammon. Physically, she reminds me of a Helen Darling Mini-Me. Kayla Alexander slid into position for rebounds and set a couple of decent picks, but looked awkward on offense. Shameka Christon came out in the fourth quarter like gangbusters- she still isn't the player she was in New York, and probably will never be back to being considered Baby Swoopes, but her jumper is a thing of beauty and she crashed the boards well. Shenise Johnson didn't play a lot and seemed to be doing more to facilitate the offense than engage with the offense, which surprised me a little. Danielle Adams showed off her long-range shot and her acting abilities, though her ponderous spin move could have used a little more work. That woman takes up a lot of space, sets some vicious screens, and really needs a more comfortable pair of shorts. Jia Perkins was automatic on offense, whether it was the short jumper, the long jumper or work under the basket. She's clever and she's quick and she seems to be consistently undervalued. Ah, well. She can commiserate with VJ on that one.

In today's Statement of The Blazingly Obvious, Danielle Robinson is really fast. Early in the game, it was working against her, as her momentum carried her out of defensive plays (I'm sure Jayne [url=]understands[/url] that feeling). As the Liberty tired, her speed became more of an advantage for San Antonio, allowing her to fire up breaks. To my intense displeasure, Sophia Young-Malcolm had an excellent game, especially in the first quarter. She had the outside jumper working and positioned well on the glass, even if she didn't pull down a lot of boards. Becky Hammon was very quiet, but I think that might have been partially defensive attention and partially not needing her to have a big offensive game. Jayne Appel didn't look for her shot, but set solid screens to free players up, and made Tina Charles's life unpleasant on the block. Kayla McBride started the game very strong, hitting the big shots like she thought she was Becky Hammon or something (that three at the shot clock buzzer felt like a dagger, have I mentioned how much I dislike Notre Dame?) and flying into the lane.

San Antonio was relentless and pesky. They capitalized on mistakes, though they made a few of their own as well. Their passing was daring, but fairly sharp. This is what happens when your lead guard wants to pass the ball, New York.

Avery Warley-Talbert (still getting used to that hyphen bit) showed toughness on the inside, but needs to go up stronger to the hole and hold on to the ball better. Shanece McKinney hit a couple of shots, but looked like she was having more trouble settling into the lineup than Avery did. Avery was also called upon to absorb fouls from Danielle Adams, for what that's worth. I still don't understand Bill's obsession with Sugar Rodgers, though she did hav ea couple of nice defensive deflections. But she has a tendency to make as many dumb mistakes as she forces. DeLisha Milton-Jones was quiet, except on the bench, where she had at least one animated conversation with the assistants. I get the feeling her patience is running out with her team's tendency to run around like a flock of headless chickens when the momentum slips even a little bit away from them. Chucky Jeffery was unremarkable. Toni Young made an immediate impact when she hit her first shot, and seemed more comfortable on the floor than she's been in a while. Alex Montgomery brought the hard defense and a fair amount of offense. I love when she's hitting those threes.

Anna Cruz, please stop handing the ball to the Stars. I like her hustle, but her judgment needed a lot of work. Tina Charles started well, but never really seemed to get going in the second half, and was never comfortable in the flow of play. Cappie Pondexter forced bad, stupid shots, which is what she usually does when the game's close and she thinks it's her job to take over no matter the situation. I still question the hell out of her judgment. Essence Carson looked a little better on offense, though not so strong on defense, and then there was the pass she threw to Katie Smith. The astute reader may note that Katie Smith is no longer an active player. Plenette Pierson did a lot of hard work down low, but with little reward.

We don't have reserves. That's not to say we don't have bench players, but once the wad is shot, it's shot. And once we've delivered our haymaker, we don't seem to know what to do when the opponent gets off the mat and punches back. And once that happens, everything comes unraveled. It usually starts with Cappie taking a bad shot, but everything comes apart after that. It's like we've never worked together before. I don't know what gives, but it needs to stop.

Officiating was unremarkable, which was a bit of a relief.

I really don't want to blindly blame Cappie, because it's not her fault Essence passed the ball to Katie and Anna kept giving it to Jia Perkins. But if we're all on the failboat together, Cappie's at the wheel. It feels like something has to give, and has to give soon, and I don't know whether it's Cappie, or Tina, or Bill.