So this is it. This is the end of the line. This is the last game of 2014 for the Liberty, and the last WNBA game of the season for your intrepid blogger (barring a conveniently timed Finals match-up between the Mystics and the Lynx, and even then that might be pricey).
I'm not used to our fate being decided so suddenly and so swiftly. Usually the last game is relevant even if our fate is no longer in our hands. But this is a meaningless game with no relevance to the Liberty and limited relevance to the Fever (someone may have to correct me on that, as I am completely lost when it comes to the tie-break situation at this point). It's going to be hard for anyone to muster up a give-a-darn, even if it's Fan Appreciation Night.
Look, all I want is a complete team set for 2014. Why are Swin and Natasha so hard to get? Why? But no, every game it's the same few people out. :(
I'm going to take a few moments and just let it soak in what Lin Dunn has done for women's basketball. She's a legend, a pioneer, a trail blazer, and a part of the game's history. She's a builder. She's an amazing woman. I know her journey isn't quite done yet, but this is the last time she's coming to New York, and I wish her all the best. I look forward to seeing what she does when she's off the bench- I know she'll keep beating down barriers and improving the game. I'll miss seeing her white pouf on the sidelines, and miss hearing her wit in that inimitable drawl. (I think my favorite was when someone asked her if she was on or going on a diet. "The only carbs I eat are in my beer.") The Liberty gave her recognition and a little send-off, which was nice.
Again, I'm pretty sure that watching this dance routine is illegal in several states and would add me to the registry.
Our regular PA guy bailed. I haz a sad.
The shirts for Fan Appreciation Night are nice, but they only come in large, and I need at least XXL. I haz another sad.
Our poor unlucky wretch. Not only has she had to put up with us all year, but they put her on dunk tank duty for the fanfest. (We love you, Melissa. You put up with us. Good luck on your travels and in your new job!)
Okay, the Bollywood troupe is better, more dressed, and I don't feel horribly perverted staring at them. This is a plus.
So far they do not appear to have opened up the upper deck, despite the fact that there are lots of people here. (And lots of rude people. There's a line, stop shoving past it. And at least one stupid person, who doesn't understand why "everyone's rushing if they're going to different seats", I'm not making this up.)
Whichever genius put the kid in the Catchings jersey and his dad on the baseline by the Liberty bench really needs a talking to. I'm pretty sure their special experience would have been more special by the Fever bench. (And I think it was. Dude sure got comfortable in those seats, though.)
I really wish the team would be able to track down Tari Phillips. Kym has pretty much lost her voice and is trying to make up for it with dramatics. Loud public speaking will wreck a person's voice, and she's done a lot of that for us.
I am not feeling Shanece McKinney's short cut. And I am still not feeling Lynetta Kizer's blue dreadlocks.
Indiana's bench, and Indiana's hustle, is the season for them. There have been very few clean rebounds for the Liberty- there always seems to be a hand or a slap. The end of the half had a very bad call on Plenette Pierson that I really thought should have been on Lynetta Kizer.
Post-game season subscriber perfect attendance photo op. We are currently dealing with fan-issued awards. Perhaps not the most adept spokeswoman. (Alex is our MIP, Plenette our MVP, so that for star power. New York appreciates hustle and heart more than anything else.)
Which is why it's easy to appreciate Indiana, to be honest. That is a hard-working team, all the way down to position 12. They will fight you. They will scrap with you. They will throw you out of the way if they have to. But they're not going to stop working you. They may occasionally get sloppy, and their reserves are in dire need of a lay-up line or two, but they're never going to give up.
DNP-CDs for Tamika Catchings, Briann January, and Erlana Larkins. Look at all the bothers Lin Dunn gave about this game.
Maggie Lucas is kind of lethal from outside, in case you haven't noticed. We sort o didn't notice for much of the game, and there was a point very late in the fourth quarter where I thought she was going to Reggie Miller Indiana right back into the game. She hit one that was from well outside. She's kind of sneaky as a distributor- I never see her making the pass, but she gets the assists. Sydney Carter is small and fast, though speedy might be a more appropriate word- as a player she's fast, but as a point guard, she spent a lot of time hesitating. (There was one point where she, Clarendon, and Lucas were all on the floor at the same time, which I think technically made Lucas a three. Ladies and gentlemen, the Dance of the
Sugarplum IDGAF Fairy!) Krystal Thomas was able to muscle her opponent- usually Shanece McKinney- out of position under the basket easily, and used height to smoosh many attempts at the basket, especially late in the game- only the one on Essence Carson was really emphatic, but they all prevented easy makes. She has to finish at the basket, which you may have noticed as a trend among the Indiana posts. She got decent looks and has to hit them if Indiana is going to make any long-term use of her. Karima Christmas had a nice sideline play to save a possession, but was otherwise quiet- she spent a lot of her time on offense floating around the three-point line. It's a weapon she has, and knowing the Indiana coaching staff, I'm assuming they decided to have her practice that shot this game.
Natasha Howard reminds me of a young Sancho Lyttle or Rebekkah Brunson- at the basket, she's more of a Brunson, further away she's more of a Lyttle. She doesn't yet have the defensive acumen of either of them. But she rebounded on the offensive glass beautifully today. She had a lot of trouble finishing at the basket, but I like the moves she has. Lynetta Kizer was phenomenal on defense, physical and determined never to let anyone she was guarding at the basket. She has the little foul-line/foul-line extended jumper that reminds me of Tamika Whitmore or Ruth Riley, though she's not as automatic with it as Riley was (or at least as Riley was against us). She never stopped woring. Shavonte Zellous was quietly efficient, though she missed some shots she should have hit. I'm not used to her being so willing to give up the ball, but I guess Lin Dunn can teach an old ballhog some new tricks. Layshia Clarendon seemed more hesitant than I would have liked running the offense, and she should have finished a lot of the shots she missed. On the other hand, I should have realized it would be a rough shooting night for her all the way through when her shots in warm-ups consistently fell short. I'm starting to wonder if she either has a low pain tolerance or a very touchy back, because every time I've seen her it looks like she's either caught a cramp or had her back seize up (although to be fair, if Swin Cash got me with one of those bony hips, I'd probably feel back pain too). Marissa Coleman hit her first three, and had plenty of opportunities, but really didn't play a lot, and really didn't have much impact on the game. She seems like the one player who philosophically doesn't fit with this team and their style.
Good Lord, Stephanie White's pants were bright. So was Sylvia Crawley's dress.
Shanece McKinney. Shanece. We were all in your corner coming out of training camp. We thought you got screwed and we were glad to see you back. But you have got to hit a dang lay-up if you want to be a professional basketball player. She got good looks from her teammates and didn't put enough oomph on them, or hesitated long enough for Krystal Thomas to lay the hammer down. Hit your shots, Shanece. Natasha Lacy ran a nice offense- I would have liked to see her call her own number a lot sooner, since she was the last Liberty player to score, and heaven knows that Shanece and Avery weren't helping her assist numbers. She's fast. I like her. Can we keep her? Essence Carson came in for defense, and I honestly don't remember her attempting to do much offensively. Sugar Rodgers looked like she was in preseason mode- that's usually when the team suddenly starts giving up shots under the basket to make quick little passes to other players under the basket. (In that case, it happened to work out.) She started a little slow, but found her groove in the second quarter. Plenette Pierson used all her veteran craftiness to get to the line, and she hit her shots when she got there. She was all up in the paint's business. Alex Montgomery was unmemorable. Last off the bench in the first half, but started the second. This is the logic of the IDGAF Bowl. Chardé Houston has more colors in her hair than I realized. She took a lot of shots, hit some when we needed them, and startled Cappie Pondexter by attempting to pass her the ball. I don't think Cappie expected Chardé to pass. I don't think Cappie has ever expected Chardé to pass.
Tina Charles started the game, played most of the first quarter, then retired permanently to the bench. We didn't expect much more than that from her. Cappie Pondexter played limited minutes, and I don't think any of them were in the fourth quarter. She looked a little out of sync, but that might have been the oddness of the number of reserves getting time- the lineups were not the usual lineups. Anna Cruz kept up the defensive intensity and cut well to the basket. I do like to see her being aggressive offensively! Avery Warley-Talbert, by this point in the season, seems to have been conditioned to believe that if a whistle is being blown while she's on the floor, there's a foul on her- she had quite the WTF face while Swin Cash was being called for a defensive three seconds. Granted, Avery is usually correct that the foul is being called on her, whether she's earned it or not. She had a nice lay-up inside from a Swin pass. Swin Cash was passing well tonight- she had the previously mentioned look to Avery, plus she got Natasha her basket right before the shot clock expired to make sure everyone scored. She also brought some defense and some rebounding. I don't know if she's worth inviting back next season, but she showed quality today.
I expected better from a Denise Brooks crew than fouls that were essentially coin tosses, long discussions where a linesman seemed to be trying to overrule a crew chief, and an inability to count steps. (Also, officiating pet peeve: if the player with the ball runs around a screen so that her defender is scraped against the screen like a bug on a windshield, why is it a foul on the defender? What else is she supposed to do?)
One of the timeouts had an awesome dunk contest- real players on real baskets, instead of the kiddie contests we usually get. Much better. Tamika Catchings kept trying to look past the huddle to get a view.
Props to the guy who hit the three for a grand. It was the only three the Liberty hit all day.
I'll miss the Garden for a few months. I'll miss the Usual Suspects. We're both going to miss our neighbor Dan, who's moving to California. (Good luck in Cali, Dan!) I'll miss slipping on my black jersey and heading down to the rail. (And I never did get Swin and Natasha on the hat.) This is it. Lights are out, Garden is deconstructed, stanchions are down. Season's over in New York. Time to regroup, get healthy, figure out the situation, and possibly learn some crowd management skills.