Hello, intrepid readers of your intrepid blogger! We're coming to you from the rolling glory of a Dahlia bus as it departs Mohegan Sun Arena after tonight's match-up between the Connecticut Sun and the Tulsa Shock.
In retrospect, I should have sucked it up and taken a cab to catch the 2PM bus in Flushing, instead of relying on public transit and taking the 3PM. A ride that's usually around two hours- maybe three with some traffic around Bridgeport or New Haven- took more than four, with the entire western half of the state of Connecticut turning into one more or less unmitigated traffic jam. Combine that with the driver deciding he needed to make a pit stop just west of New Haven and an accident just east of New Haven, and your intrepid blogger missed the entire first quarter. A CRANKY. I HAZ IT.
(Oh, holy crap it is raining out there. The water hisses under our wheels and patters metallically on the roof.)
On the Tulsa Shock
More on the Tulsa Shock
Fred Williams brought winning basketball to Tulsa
Since his arrival to Tulsa from Atlanta last year, Fred Williams has started to make this team play more consistently, and get its first four game winning streak since 2009 when the franchise was in Detroit.
More on the Tulsa Shock
I was very surprised to see Theresa Plaisance on the floor when I came into the building. She got the call in the first half ahead of Vicki Baugh, but produced nothing. Baugh got the call in the second half, and though she didn't provide much on offense, I thought she was good defensively. She made a couple of nice plays on the baseline.
Angel Goodrich really seems to have regressed. I wonder if Coach Williams has changed things up to reflect the strengths of Diggins and Sims, and that's left Goodrich as the player without a chair when the music stops. She hit a pretty three from the corner, but things seemed to bog down when she was in.
Jennifer Lacy, despite being the veteran whose job it is to not do stupid things, managed to do something particularly stupid when she came back for a ball before fully crossing the midcourt line, thus turning the pass into a backcourt violation. (To be fair, that was kind of a dumb pass, too. I think Sims was the guilty party there.)
Jordan Hooper showed off her shooting range- seemed less involved down low than she was on Tuesday, though that might have been because I didn't see the Tulsa offense under the basket as much as I did Connecticut's- my seats were under the basket by the Connecticut bench.
(We're through the worst of the rain. The windows are lightly spattered instead of a constantly changing constellation of raindrops.)
Perhaps worth mentioning is that Riquna Williams wasn't on the roster handed out at the game. Perhaps not worth mentioning.
Roneeka Hodges seemed to get the start to fill space, and perhaps because Señor Fred isn't completely comfortable with Courtney Paris as his most seasoned starter. I cannot say I would blame Señor Fred. There's such a thing as taking "PLAY ALL THE YOUNGSTERS!" too far, and though Hooper has been better in these last two games, I don't know if I'd want a lineup that went rookie-sophomore-rookie-third-year-(I've-lost-track-of-how-many-seasons-Paris-actually-has).
Glory Johnson has some nice offensive moves at the basket, but Alyssa Thomas made her look absolutely silly on defense. I think and hope that she'll get some of the jerkiness and rough edges off her game one of these days, because she seems to rely too much on her athleticism and not enough on skill.
I continue to be amazed with the progress Courtney Paris has made since her unsuccessful stops in the W. She moves very well for a woman of her size (and that's not just a comment on her weight- she has a broad frame and she's never going to be DeWanna Bonner). When she wanted rebounds, she got them, and before this year I don't think I've seen her crash the boards this hard since Oklahoma. She had a couple of resounding blocks, too, though she only seems to have been credited with one.
Skylar Diggins looked mediocre in the second quarter, then started getting loose for silky jumpers and swift cuts to the hoop in the second half. Still don't like her, or her mouth. Maybe in a few years I'll get used to the mouth and the mean-mugging, but right now she comes off as a punk kid. Talented punk kid, but a punk nevertheless. (It's going to take some time for me to be impartial about her. I do not like that woman. I know that's obvious, but I feel the need for clarification.)
Odyssey Sims was hitting everything in sight. All of the drives and finger rolls she missed in New York, she hit in Connecticut. All of the attacking moves led to positive offensive possessions for Tulsa. She looked confident and phenomenally talented. Something tells me it's going to be feast or famine with her and Diggins, and Tulsa fans had better be ready for the ups and downs.
On the Connecticut Sun
More on the Connecticut Sun
More on the Connecticut Sun
Anne Donovan, would it have killed you to put in Faris and Cain at the end? I mean, really, though. Throw them some pity minutes.
For the Sun, Kayla Pedersen came in late in the game, as some kind of desperation move when the Sun had already let the game get away from them. The box score leads me to believe she played earlier, but if she did, I didn't see it or didn't remember it.
Kelsey Griffin had her hands full with Glory Johnson- there was a lot of pushing, shoving, holding, the usual activities of a couple of posts in action against each other. Renee Montgomery put together an offensive spurt in the second quarter, but tapered off after that. I'm surprised about that, to be honest- AD's philosophy with the point guards is to play the hot hand, and the slightly warmer hand was Montgomery's.
Stop making me feel pity for Huskies, Anne. Allison Hightower still seems to be a ways away, but I can't be sure if that's her or the play-calling.
I think Alex Bentley has regressed to the mean, to put it politely. Her shots have not been going down, and I think that's messing with her head a little. She's pressing the way Cappie Pondexter does when her shot has gone walkabout, taking the first thing that comes up just to see if she can get something, anything, going.
Kelsey Bone started well around the basket, but then she started taking jumpers, and then she started missing bunnies, and it all went to hell from there. To the best of my knowledge, Kelsey does not have a jumper. Katie Douglas got hot in the fourth quarter and pretty much decided by herself that she was going to make this as respectable a final as possible. She was firing threes like it was shooting practice.
Chiney Ogwumike could find no space under the basket. There were black jerseys everywhere. The spaces that she normally fills so well were emphatically occupied. She fought hard on the offensive boards, moreso in the second than in the first, I think. She hit the ground hard for one of them.
Fortunately for Connecticut, they had Alyssa Thomas, who was pretty much all the awesome, whether it was driving, fast-breaking (breaking fast? No, that's food), going strong to the hole, or even taking the occasional outside shot. She did all the things. I don't know when or how she ended up with the mask.
Things kept falling off for Connecticut, and I'm not even talking about the metaphorical wheels. On one fast break, Thomas's facemask came undone, and by the time she was done with the break it was dangling precariously from her ponytail. Griffin lost her right shoe, and play went on for quite some time, and she still got pretty good defensive position on Glory Johnson- might have been able to finish the play if her foot hadn't skidded. Apparently Bentley also lost a shoe, but that must have been in the first quarter. /shakes fist at the heavens
I think part of what drives me nuts about Diggins, and to a lesser extent Sims, is that they get the calls that I want my team to get, and then they smirk about it. It's very distressing. Connecticut fans are never happy with the refs; Tulsa's guards know how to get calls. There were a lot of boos, at least until the point where the Sun fans stopped caring. People were leaving before the t-shirt toss. People never leave before the chance of something free.
To the young lady sitting next to me in section 11, row H: your deadpan snark was much appreciated, and if you happen to see this, drop me a line with what Skylar didn't need from the two dudes behind us (to prove your identity), and I'll stake you to a ticket either for the Sparks game in NY on Friday (since you said you wanted to see Chiney's sister) or the Sun-Liberty game in August. (The two dudes were... well, dudes screaming "SKYLAR! SKYLAR!" much of the game, except for the bit where one of them was complaining about regular fans not getting special treatment on Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Night. The point, you haz missed it.
Since Tulsa Zerg rushed off the floor in New York, I hit the hotel lobby to try and get autographs. Tulsa's been a difficult get, with the Prudential Center stuff, and they have a lot of young players whose scribbles I needed. Got most of the roster, save those veterans I've bothered in the past. Ignored Diggins. There will be other chances for her; for someone like Plaisance, I'm not so sure. Chatted with the lone Tennessee fan in Connecticut, and even though Kyle likes most of the players I dislike, he seems like a decent sort.
Somehow we accidentally ended up following, or being followed by, Vicki Baugh, Kelley Cain, and Odyssey Sims. One of these things is not like the others.
Won three dollars. You take what you can get on a day like this.
For a place named for a Philly guy, Geno's makes really bad Philly Cheese Steaks, served with a side of attitude this evening. Would it really have killed you to take the pickle off the top of the pile, dude?
Tulsa has a lot of promise. Connecticut has a lot of questions. Promise, but questions.