Good evening, everyone! Your intrepid blogger has safely returned from what will likely be her last basketball-related sojourn this season to Mohegan Sun Arena, where the Minnesota Lynx did pretty much what the Minnesota Lynx do, and the Connecticut Sun did pretty much what they've been doing most of the season.
Lots of people waiting for comp tickets when we got there. Big, big crowd. Lots of Husky fans around- Maya Moore got more pop from the crowd than pretty much any Sun player, even Douglas or Montgomery.
Dueling fundraisers: tonight was BHA, so the Sun had their auction going on, but there was a card sale at the next table over for the American Heart Association. Cards I haven't seen in years- didn't buy anything, since everything cheap I already had and the things I didn't have were a little too pricey for me.
We all know the real reason why I wanted to get to this game, and why I went through my voluminous collection of throwbacks until I found the bright green Kristin Folkl jersey in the box, and why I dug through another pile to come up with my St. John's scarf, and why my husband got kitted up the way he usually does for a Red Storm game.
Our Girls Syndrome is insidious, but our case only really flares up once a year or so. We've only got one to claim, after all. So we counted heads as the Lynx came out and only came up with eleven... g'wan and guess who was missing. Go on and guess. Yep.
On the Lynx
So I flagged down Jim Petersen to see what had happened and make sure the interns just didn't skip a transaction while they were feeding the hamsters that run .com. Turns out the Lynx only booked space for eleven players, and they felt they needed Asia Taylor more than they needed Nadirah McKenith. Dear Minnesota Lynx: Nadirah is an adult, you probably could have trusted her to fly from Minneapolis to Connecticut by herself without getting lost or causing any international incidents. She does sort of know the area.
Yes, even hours later, I'm a wee bit cranky that we've managed to slingshot back to the 1970s in terms of being able to afford to bring the entire team on a road trip. And Taylor was a DNP-CD. Damnit, Nadirah could have sat there just as efficiently as Taylor.
Is Devereaux Peters supposed to be a rover in the Lynx defense, or has she just been inspired by DeWanna Bonner? She seemed to go wherever the ball went, no matter how bad an idea it was for her to try and guard Katie Douglas, thus leaving the inside open for Connecticut's posts (though they did tend to miss the shots they got from these opportunities). And then in the second half, when she got more extended minutes, it was as if the officials suddenly realized she was there and started calling fouls on her like mad. Not to say that she hadn't earned them, but they came in a flurry.
Tricia Liston got her time in the first half- played decent defense, though I think she tried to run a rollout play on offense, and the recurring theme of this game is that people kept forgetting that it wasn't football.
Damiris Dantas looked like she was in over her head- Chiney Ogwumike had her way with her. The coaching staff seemed to be working pretty heavily with her, and she had a very short leash, coming out pretty much every time she made a mistake or committed a foul.
Monica Wright looks to have gotten her confidence back, which might be the last piece the Lynx need to make a deep run- they have four phenomenal starters and a center who complements them, but there's a lot of drop-off once you get to the reserves. If Wright can be a sparkplug at both guard slots, that bolsters them in ways I don't think I have to tell the average GNoD reader. Tan White brought a little bit of offense at opportune times, choosing her spots way more carefully than usual. Sort of refreshing.
Janel McCarville seemed somewhat out of sorts on the floor- missing passes, missing boards, floating around the perimeter on offense instead of going strong to the basket. Then again, she got glass on a three, so clearly she should have been playing the slots instead of me. (And maybe she did.)
Lindsay Whalen is very tough, and occasionally does think she's playing hockey, and she makes the engine go for the Lynx. She picks her spots, and she is rarely dislodged.
Rebekkah Brunson rebounded all the things. No, really. All the things. I can't believe I was forgetting how athletic she is, or how... savage has such unfortunate connotations... vicious, maybe? Tenacious. How tenacious she is on the boards. She really is Baby Yo. (And if you missed out on Mama Yo... well.Yolanda Griffith as a player was one tough mother-shut-yo-mouth.) She took a lot of off-balance shots and perhaps shots that were too quick off the boards.
Seimone Augustus doesn't seem to be back to full speed, but watching a half-speed Seimone Augustus is still like watching a fine sports car in motion. Maya Moore showed more of her defensive toughness and willingness to be physical (ow, Renee Montgomery) than her offensive skill set, though she did some of the impossible- I will never know how she managed that tip-in.
(Speaking of things I will never understand the mystery of, Quick Change was the halftime show. I could see over and into some of the hoops, and I still have no idea how she changes dresses so fast, and the glitter trick is astonishing. If you ever have the chance to see them, do not take your eyes off them.)
On the Sun
Kelly Faris got some defensive minutes against the Lynx bench. Didn't look bad, and I will give props to any guard who's willing to body Rebekkah Brunson.
Ebony Hoffman fired away from outside, unsuccessfully, but at least got good rebounds. She's infinitely more useful than Kelley Cain. (Kelley is sweet, but not terribly mobile.)
Kayla Pedersen got most of the minutes that would go to Griffin, and she was about what we expected- screened hard, but mostly ineffective. Renee Montgomery gave the appearance of making the Sun offense do things, but my perception might be colored by her two quick threes in the fourth quarter, which was also when she hit her free throws. (Seven assists? Yeah, okay. If you say so.)
Somewhere, there is a parallel universe where women have been permitted to play all the professional sports, and in that universe there is a women's NFL, and in that women's NFL,Alyssa Thomas is a highly regarded wide receiver who people compare Larry Fitzgerald to. She does not quite catch all the things like Larry Fitzgerald does (seriously, the Arizona Cardinals come off pretty much as "Larry Fitzgerald catches things"... anyway.) but she ran some beautiful routes trying to get open. I didn't think she missed as many shots as the box score said, but it's possible that her athleticism blinded me, or that I thought she hit some of the good looks that she missed. Both teams missed a lot of good looks.
Chiney Ogwumike found a lot of space to move around underneath, and took advantage of it. She was relentless on the boards, too. Not quite as search-and-destroy as Brunson, but willing to go toe-to-toe with her. Alex Bentley missed lots of shots. I think she's officially regressed past the mean.
Katie Douglas felt like she was getting hot later in the game (which just sounds wrong)- if the game were played in sixths or eighths instead of quarters, she might have been able to pull Connecticut back into it.the game. Keley Bone missed entirely too many shots close to the basket (I may or may not have belted out "THAT'S WHY WE TRADED YOU!" after the second or third one). She needs to get more consistent on those shots.
Connecticut really has no idea who anyone on their team is, and I'm not sure there's any way to solve that, given that we're almost into August here.
It got very physical out there, and I'm disappointed in the officials in allowing that to happen. On the flip side, Montgomery should be grateful they missed her flops, because there was some serious yellow card for simulation going on there. Too much tripping and grabbing for my comfort.
The scary part is that Minnesota looked pretty bad... and still pretty much controlled the final three quarters of the game. When everyone's back on their groove? If the expected occurs, the Western Conference Finals will be epic.