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Sun burns out Fever

Just the Facts, Ma'am: Alex Bentley dropped eight of her career-high 21 points in the first 5:15 of the game to set the tone in an 88-71 win for Connecticut over Indiana. Bentley's 21 paced five Sun players in double figures. Natasha Howard led Indiana with 14 points, but fouled out. For getting whistled, sassy saplings, side-eyes, chest-bumps, bowling for cameramen, large pencils, some more fouls, and fashion critiques, join your intrepid and throwback-clad blogger after the jump.


Is it a weekend? Yes? Is there a Liberty game? No? Are there any events of familial significance? No? Then it's off to the casino for your intrepid blogger to catch the Sun as they host the Indiana Fever.

I continue to be freaked out by the fact that Kelly Faris gets louder cheers than half her teammates. I get that she's a nice kid and she works hard and all of that, but y'know, so's Allison Hightower and so's Chiney Ogwumike, and Faris gets more pop from the crowd than Hightower and seemed to get as much as Ogwumike tonight. I feel like I'm harping on this, and I know I'm going to get flamed, and I feel really bad for poor little Grumpy Cat that Donovan doesn't even throw her pity minutes, but I get really uncomfortable around fans whose favorites are Faris, Griffin, and Pedersen.

To the dude next to me at the autograph railing: dude, I get it. You think the Sun made a mistake passing up Maggie Lucas. You said this about seventeen times. I get it. You'd rather have the one-dimensional shooter this year than the multifaceted point guard next year (since I'm assuming he meant the pick that became Chelsea Gray). We'll ignore the fact that she fell to the middle of the second round and the team that drafted her didn't even want her anymore. Yes, clearly tonight's results proved that Indiana had the superior Penn State alumna. /rolleyes

Beautiful, beautiful choral anthem. The harmony struggled near the end, but in the middle you got that perfect moment when the energy was right and serenity filled the air.

The Fever need to get themselves to a ball-handling clinic or five. Way too many sloppy passes, way too many fumbles, way too many lost chances. Without Catchings, and with January losing a step late in the game, they were rudderless, planets looking for a star to orbit.

I think Dunn is still being cautious with Clarendon- she only played very, very briefly at the end of the first quarter (her +3 is strictly on a Lucas shot). Maggie Lucas was a gaping defensive liability- she came into the game and immediately Katie Douglas was driving left with the speed and skill of a NASCAR star. She's got a pretty enough shot, and she did a nice job on one possession of slaloming through the Connecticut defense, but that's about it. Lynetta Kizer seemed to have the clutchest shots for Indiana, one of the few players on either side who had any inclination to shoot at the end of the shot clock, and a pleasant surprise from the elbow. That is not a woman I would want to trifle with. Krystal Thomas came into the game late and expressed a great deal of Indiana's frustration, shoving recklessly and generally being physical. Karima Christmas played a fair amount, and defended well, but I just can't get the moment out of my head where she had a clean steal and then fumbled it two feet out of bounds when she tripped over her own feet. Sydney Carter has a dangerous tendency to retreat to the sideline entirely too quickly, and I don't know how confident she and her teammates are in each other, but she had a solid game. She ran the backdoor play as well as any of the posts.

Plans that have Erlana Larkins bringing the ball past halfcourt are bad plans. She's tough, and she has learned how to apply Plenette Pierson's favorite trick of hooking the arm, but she's got to hold on to the ball better, especially on rebounds. There's no reason for her to bring it back down to the floor, and no reason for her to have to tap it around like a tetherball. She was pretty good at what we've come to call "hot" passes- the quick touches to another player inside. Briann January started the game looking very strong and taking a lot of contact (our running joke is that she's best suited to taking hard fouls, since any martial arts student knows how to fall safely), but I think she wore down near the end- there was one play where she took a long time to get back on offense. I find it interesting the way she talks to the refs- not the fact that she does, since she's team captain and point guard, but the body language seems to indicate that she's asking for more detailed information about the way calls work than the average player intermediary. (I can totally see her as either a great coach or a great ref in the future.) Shavonte Zellous gives good righteous indignation face, and later in the game was able to draw contact and get to the line, but was otherwise pretty useless. Marissa Coleman started the game hot, but I got Nicole Powell flashbacks from the way she was running corner to corner, trying to set up for the three and not much else. She got caught in mismatches a time or two- I think she needs to work on getting around screens. Natasha Howard is phenomenally athletic, and I see why people were drooling over her potential. She's still raw, definitely a project, but she has all the tools. She just needs to learn to stop holding and maybe rely a little less on her jumper. (On the other hand, if Lin Dunn's retiring and stepping away from the team, I am less sanguine about Howard's prospects; no one has Dunn's magic touch with posts.)

Kayla Pedersen played briefly, but unmemorably. Kelsey Griffin did a nice job pulling loose balls down and away from Fever players- she also had a pretty pass to Kelsey Bone down low. (Too many Kelseys. Cannot cope.) Renee Montgomery kept the offense moving at a fast pace, and maybe it was too fast. Things seemed to be working better with Alex Bentley at the point. (For the record, I do expect to some day accidentally portmanteau the two Sun point guards and confuse the daylights out of any Georgia Tech fans who might be reading my ramblings.) Alyssa Thomas was strong, both inside and out- really used her size well against Indiana. I get the feeling that the way she played is how Indiana was expecting Marissa Coleman to play for them.

Kelsey Bone, bless her heart. Love the way she gets position down low, but she missed so very many bunnies. Too many easy shots for a player of her size, left short or wide or something that is not the ball going in the basket. I liked her screens, though. Chiney Ogwumike rebounded well when she was in, and was strong at the hoop, but got hit with some dubious fouls and spent a fair chunk of the game sitting on the bench (or chest-bumping Alex Bentley, as the situation required). Katie Douglas's back was really bothering her, since she spent her bench time with a large heating pad or something of that ilk on her back. She didn't have much of a jumper tonight, but drove to the lane (see above notes on Maggie Lucas) and tried to run the defense- there was a breakdown led by Montgomery where Douglas was lecturing Montgomery as she brought the ball up after the basket. Allison Hightower put in work defensively and facilitated the offense. I love to watch her play. Alex Bentley started the game red hot and kept the pace going both inside and out. The posts cleared space, and she was able to use it to her advantage.

The fouls in this game were ridiculous. Not that both teams weren't being physical, but a lot of stuff was being called, and some of it came late, and some was inconsistent. Indiana got no benefit of the doubt, and Connecticut got very little.

I stayed for the halftime honoring of "Women of Inspiration", but to be honest, I wasn't listening to most of it. Sorry.

Utterly loved Rebecca Lobo's dress. She looks good for mumble-mumble and four kids.

Running around in plastic hamster balls is a silly thing to do, but the girl who won the race had excellent strategy for handling her large plastic ball.

I don't think Connecticut has found the answers yet, but they might be getting closer. I don't think Indiana needs to panic unless they don't get Catch back.