Good afternoon, loyal and disloyal readers! We're coming to you from a warm summer afternoon safe in the air conditioned confines of Madison Square Garden, as the Liberty finally get to host the Indiana Fever.
Getting Swin and Natasha on the cap continues to be a challenge. All I want is a team set. :(
Several families here from Penn State, presumably because of Maggie Lucas. She stopped for pictures and autographs for them- she stopped for everyone, but she came out and around behind the benches for them. (That is not to say she was showing preference- they were the only ones who tried.)
Layshia Clarendon seems to have mastered the art of the 'oh crap I'm late but I'll do pics and signatures as fast as I can anyway' run. I do like her.
To the fans in the Briann January shirts: I am so sorry about that guy. He's autistic, and not as high-functioning as he used to be.
I think they overbooked entertainment for the last few games- they've had "God Bless America" performances and more dance groups than you can shake a stick at. I have not been impressed by most of them.
Well, at least we pretended to care in the second half. I guess that's better than not even bothering to pretend to care. I love my team, but they're very frustrating sometimes, especially when we're stupid, and we spend so much time being stupid. Indiana played tough defense in the lane, that's true, but we reacted to that defense as if it were on fire.
Krystal Thomas got time early in the fourth quarter, and early on it looked like she was going for the record for fastest DQ in league history. She didn't play much. Sydney Carter saw the floor late in the third quarter, with an encore appearance in the fourth. She's fast, and smoother than I remembered, and she showed more interest in going to the basket in six and a half minutes than most of the Liberty showed all game. Layshia Clarendon played briefly in the first half, but either she twisted her ankle or something flared up in her calf, because she hobbled off the floor and was never seen again (and that golden 'hawk does stick up from the crowd). Lynetta Kizer is an adult and allowed to make whatever bad decisions she wants to, but that particular shade of bluish green looks like her hair has mold in it. She was unremarkable- a little bit of toughness, a little bit of shooting. Karima Christmas was tough defensively, and seems to have extended her shooting range a little bit, since she was comfortably going for threes in this one. I think her bigger impact was defensive, though. Maggie Lucas can shoot. We kept leaving her open. This was a bad idea. She also did a nice job passing out when she didn't have shots. Natasha Howard's athleticism impressed me- she showed why she was a first round pick, and that she can be the kind of inside-outside threat that Tamika Catchings is (not that she is Tamika Catchings in level yet, but stylistically).
Briann January knows how to fall- I swear she slapped the mat after one play. She wasn't called upon for a lot, but she ran the offense and did her job. Shavonte Zellous didn't really get shot-happy until the third quarter, and even then, she seemed to have found a comfortable place in the flow of the offense, taking good shots instead of firing away randomly. Marissa Coleman was given open looks and took a plethora of them, both good ones and ones that were a bit longer than expected. Erlana Larkins moves with unexpected fluidity for a woman of her solid build. She took over offensively in the second half, including one on a pretty feed by Briann January. I know she wouldn't have developed into this kind of player in New York, but I still resent that a New York castoff has become such a solid contributor elsewhere. Tamika Catchings remains Tamika Catchings, film at 11: she can score from the outside, she can score from the inside, she can get you on the glass, she'll defend you 'til her last breath, and she can occasionally play as if she is unaware of the presence of other human beings. Putting Avery Warley-Talbert on her to start may not have been the brightest thing Bill Laimbeer has ever done in his life.
Indiana played tough and got the job done inside, so that New York was flat out terrified of the concept of going into the paint. Meanwhile they were going to the basket at will.
Natasha Lacy came in at the very end of the game, and at least she could hit her free throws on the clear path foul. Hitting free throws is a bit of an issue for this squad, especially ones without players lined up along the lane. Essence Carson still looks like she needs to get the rust off- I was surprised she played at all, given that she was talking to Laura Ramus and holding her knee before the game, and that she was sitting on the floor with her legs stretched out for much of the second half. Oh, hey, it's Shanece McKinney. She did not play the most relevant 122 seconds in the history of basketball. Chardé Houston actually got the second half start ahead of Alex Montgomery, and brought a little offensive punch. Not a lot, but a little. At least she occasionally dared to set foot in the scary paint place. Sugar Rodgers, in one swell foop, reverted back to her Georgetown style of play. She got some offense going in the second half, but she did not seem efficient and she did not seem smart. Plenette Pierson was physical and seemed to enjoy taking jumpers just a little outside her range. I feel like we got lucky on some of her foul calls. Swin Cash at least hit jumpers, but overall, I don't think she should have been taking them. I also think Bill had too much faith in her defense.
I don't know when exactly Alex Montgomery suffered her recto-cranial inversion, though I suspect it was after the halfcourt shot, but she really needs to seek treatment for it. She's taking bad jumpers and her defense has deteriorated. Since her defense is her calling card, this is a bit of a problem. Avery Warley-Talbert was tasked with the impossible duty of guarding Tamika Catchings, and was abused outside by her. It was not pretty. Anna Cruz did not play much of the second half, as Bill looked for more dynamic offense, and Anna seemed scared to shoot for much of the game. Cappie Pondexter started off hot, but I think she may have had to carry too much of the load. You can't expect her to score, and distribute, and defend on top of everything else. Not with the condition she's in. Not at this time of the season. Tina Charles relied too much on shots outside the paint- solid, but not MVP solid. Passing out for stupid jumpers is a nice way to pad assists, but it doesn't help the main problem of the offense settling for those jumpers.
Yes, I've looked at the box score. Yes, I've looked at the stats. But for most of this game, the Liberty were terrified of going to the basket, and even when they did score in the paint, it was on questionable jumpers. There was way too much backing out. Go the basket. Good things happen when you take lay-ups.
The officials called a lot of ticky-tack stuff, then let the wrestling matches go. I'm not impressed.
At this point, my goal for the Phoenix game is "don't get hurt and don't look like a D-III team".