Morning. I refuse to consider any morning where I have to be surrounded by thousands of screaming children while fighting off a sinus infection to be good, so I am not telling you good morning.
Apparently Michael Cooper is one of those "if you're not early, you're late" people, since pretty much everyone for Atlanta sprinted for the gate at 37 minutes to tip, and at 35 DeLisha was telling us they had a minute to get to the locker room, when usual clearout is at 30 minutes. Swung and missed today.
I really don't like having to stake out after games, but if Natasha Lacy's only on a seven-day contract and she doesn't come out for warm-ups, what's a completionist to do? And if Atlanta doesn't stop for anyone, how am I supposed to get the newcomers? (I refuse to call Céline Dumerc a rookie, she's older than I am.)
Our usher said to us, "And here you are again! You're at every game!" Yes, that's sort of the point of having season tickets, hon.
The camp group in front of us is startlingly well behaved and seems into the game. I approve.
We're up at the half. Huh. Not what I was expecting, but the posts have really stepped their game up. We're still giving up too many open looks to the United Nations up front, but Avery has rebounded like a beast and Plenette came up huge in the second quarter.
This rhythmic gymnastics team is creepy. Like, I'm pretty sure there are states where you can't watch this performance on YouTube without troopers knocking on your door to ask uncomfortable questions.
Beautifully drawn dreamcatcher on a Schimmel fan's sign. I am sort of expecting Atlanta to sell those one of these days- it's too easy.
I think Dumerc actually used Lyttle's leg to deflect her dribble so she could regain control of it.
That was exhilarating at the end! I thought we were done for. I thought Atlanta was going to force the overtime and overwhelm us at the end with superior firepower. But today was the day where Cappie Pondexter saved up all her superheroics for one big shot, and one big shot was exactly what we needed. (I'm mildly annoyed that I'm late writing notes because my team is impossible to snag if you're an autograph collector, but it is what it is.)
On the Atlanta Dream
I see what Michael Cooper sees in Nadia Colhado- she's a young post who can move a little and shoot a little from the outside. She's not quite as athletic as Sancho Lyttle is, even now, but she's a little bigger. Amanda Thompson actually got the second half start (I don't know why McCoughtry was late out of the locker room), but was unremarkable. She's got the right build, but I don't know if she has the skill for this level.
Céline Dumerc seems to have a knack for big shots- she ended the quarter with a beautiful three. It's pretty obvious that Jasmine Thomas is being phased out, or at least primed to ease out of the starting lineup. I'm surprised Dumerc isn't starting already, to be honest.
Aneika Henry gave tough minutes down low. Shoni Schimmel barely played, which is starting to surprise me. I know Cooper wants to bring her along slow, but there's slow and there's stuck in quicksand. Then again, she did not have her shot today, so maybe she's a situational sub.
Matee Ajavon played! The schaudenfraude connoisseur in me approves of the fact that she looks lost, somewhat broken, and appears to have put on weight, but when it comes to Ajavon, I admit that I'm an utter cad. (Never liked her, even in my Rutgers days.)
Érika deSouza really staked out her spots in the paint, especially on defense. She and the rest of the United Nations front line made life miserable for Tina Charles. On the other hand, she didn't get that many touches, and got moved away from the basket on offense more than I would think Atlanta wanted.
Sancho Lyttle had a little bit of the jumper going, and she was quick defensively, but I look at her and think of the match-up nightmare athletic freak she used to be, and I just wonder when she really lost so much of it.
Tiffany Hayes annoys me, and not just because of the timing of her makes. I don't like her drama and I don't like her style and I don't like her flopping and I just wish she'd get over herself.
Jasmine Thomas was pesky defensively, but it's hard to believe she had four field goals. She really seemed like a non-entity out there (which is part of why I think Dumerc should be starting- you need to have someone out there with a bit more oomph if they have to corral Angel McCoughtry).
McCoughtry is phenomenally athletic, and she always, always, is a presence on the floor that you have to watch out for, but all things considered, except for one egregious lapse in the first half where she got open for a three, I thought we did all right on her. Yeah, I know. One assist and one rebound from a triple-double and I think we did all right on her. She had to work for a lot of what she got. I'll say this for her: she's not the immature, whiny, preening, Angel she once was. She seems to have grown into herself.
On the New York Liberty
I do not think Essence Carson is a morning person. She looked like I do when I get up.
Swin Cash looked a lot more comfortable in the sets than she did last game, and she was excellent when she was defending McCoughtry- she has the right build and the skill set to make her life difficult. She hit a couple of nice shots in the second half, including one that was credited to Plenette because the scorer may have been slightly drunk or something.
Sugar Rodgers got the offense going in the first half with long jumpers and a spectacularly tough drive down the lane for an and-1. She's grown on me. I feel like I should disapprove of that for some reason.
Plenette Pierson was tough on the boards and came up big in the second quarter with a couple of back-to-back baskets. I would like to know what she said to the ref to get that T, though. I understand her frustration, but you have to keep your temper when you're in a game that's turning close.
I cannot say enough about the hard work of Avery Warley-Talbert down low. I think she knows that her starting spot is in jeopardy from Swin, and she played with such fire and such hustle that despite the lack of scoring, this might have been my favorite game of hers this year. She was going after every loose ball, fighting toe to toe with deSouza and the rest of the bigs. That, no pun intended, is Liberty basketball.
Alex Montgomery was sharp defensively and came up with a big third quarter three. She wasn't hitting a lot of shots, but we didn't need her to.
Anna Cruz drove hard- crossed over Jasmine Thomas with a pretty move that had the crowd roaring, though her jumpers were not as successful as her drives. She was pesky on defense, too.
Cappie Pondexter wasn't getting elevation on her shots- something in her legs was not right, and her shots were short off the front iron. But instead of taking a lot of bad shots, she became more of a distributor. (I am not believing those fifteen shots attempts in the box score. Doesn't seem to fit.) There were a lot of plays going to her in the third and fourth quarters, despite her condition, which didn't make sense to me, but they don't pay me the big bucks (and the Garden doesn't pay me any bucks at all). She saved most of her superheroic strength for that one shot at the end, and you would have thought the roof was going to come off.
Tina Charles was energized on the boards, but offensively, everyone knew she had to carry the bulk of the load, and that included Atlanta on defense. She took a lot of bad shots, forced away from the basket or in the teeth of two defenders. I'm not thrilled with them, but she kind of had to.
Play of the day: Cappie's little drop pass to Tina for the deuce. Pretty as a picture.
Utterly ridiculous number of jump balls called early in this one today, including ones where there was no simultaneous possession.
I still can't believe we won. I was there and I still can't believe we held on. Now, can we do anything with it when we get out on the road? (And will Natasha Lacy still be on the roster when they get back to New York? Mama has a cap to work on.)