New York, NY -- A quick turnaround, and here we are again back in New York, as the Tulsa Shock come to town. Yesterday may be shopping day. We'll see what's on sale. Mama needs a new pair of shoes. (No, literally. My sneakers have holes in their soles.)
No shoes to be found, but I did buy a new shirt at the MSG team store, and determined that the rest of my shopping will be done when my 20% coupon kicks in on the 11th. It looked like we are going to get a lot of walk-up ticket sales for this game, and many groups.
We are going to have to like the halftime entertainment- they are sitting two rows in front of us, just in front of the lovely Australian tourists. (One of them went to school with LJ!) (Also, Aussies tend to be cool in general. Come back next year, Bec!)
Entertainment continues to actually wear clothes- pregame was a hip-hop troop whose routines reminded me a little of St. John's, only not as expertly rendered, and halftime is a Bollywood dance group whose photographer is an utter jackass, followed by another hip-hop troop,
Tulsa's been shooting the lights out, and we're panicking in response by taking too many threes. We are not a three-point shooting team. That is not our offense. Our offense is strongest in the interior and crisply passing to the open man.
Epiphanny Prince's dumb foul on Odyssey Sims behind the arc really messed up the momentum and took the crowd out of the game. We just have to hope that we can outlast them and their lack of depth.
We almost did. Brittany Boyd took the bit in her teeth and decided that we were not going down this easily. However, you cannot complete a comeback if you get a golden opportunity like a foul on a three-pointer and miss the free throws. Tulsa freaks out in the fourth quarter, and we had a chance to at least close to within one possession.
Amanda Zahui B. looked solid, but I am hedging my bets only because her counterpart was just that bad tonight. She used her size well to box out, and I'm not entirely sure she doesn't use the hair to cloud her opponents' vision, like an octopus squirting ink.
Tiffany Jackson-Jones has that familiar footwork shuffle that used to drive us nuts in New York. She seems to be moving well, and has put on muscle. I'm happy for her. Vicky Baugh got a little help with the rim, but I like that little jumper she has. Jordan Hooper was spectacularly unremarkable.
Brianna Kiesel powered through the lane for one beautiful drive, but overall seemed to be trying too hard on offense. Her strength is not scoring, and she can't be Sims or Williams. Also, I have just noticed that Kiesel was the only guard who came off the bench.
Courtney Paris is a very large woman. Yes, I know, instant grasp of the obvious, but when there is that much movement under the jersey, I feel sympathy pains in my chest. She positions herself well under the basket for rebounds and uses her bulk to clear people out of the way.
Plenette Pierson's perimeter game is inconsistent and strange. She defended well on interior passes, deflecting with her fingertips. Karima Christmas did a little bit of everything. She's not spectacular, but she is surprisingly versatile and seems to be very useful.
For most of the game, it did not seem like Odyssey Sims could miss a shot, whether it was from the field or the line. Puck luck and fearlessness helped, as did a sweet long-range shot. I'm not as good at seeing assists, but she seems to have her team firmly in hand (one play comes to mind immediately- Hooper moved and immediately Sims started yelling "no, no!").
I think the loss of Diggins has forced Sims to develop more as a point guard, and it'll be interesting to see the dynamic next year with Diggins back, both of them true combo guards that can make the offense very fluid. Riquna Williams has such a beautiful shot, but absolutely no common sense on the other side of the floor.
She committed a couple of stupid fouls near the end of the game that gave the Liberty a chance to make the game competitive again. Tula will be much better off once she can go back to being the super sub.
Brittany Boyd decided that if we were going to lose this game, it was not going to be because of anything she did. In the fourth quarter, she took the bull by the horns, the bit between her teeth, and the clichés to the max, and drove the lane repeatedly. Three straight possessions, three times she drew contact. She brought energy and fire, and reminded the Garden crowd how she won our hearts at the beginning of the season.
Sugar Rodgers came up with some big shots and a ton of defensive hustle. Candice Wiggins was pesky defensively- Tulsa seemed to take pleasure in running her into screens over and over again- but all the good she did was overshadowed by her simple inability to hit a free throw at the end of the game. (Something that got to her too, given that she was practicing free throws after the exhibition post-game.)
I do not know what happened to Kiah Stokes, but I don't like it. At least last game she still had the blocks, but this time she didn't have the strength on the inside that we so sorely needed from her. More worrisome, she could not hang on to the ball.
There were at least two rebounds that she should have had cleanly that fell out of her hands and into the hands of a Shock player. I think both of those resulted in Tulsa baskets (and as a demonstration of how scrambled my brains are, I almost typed "Detroit baskets" there).
If she's hit the rookie wall, we might have a problem. Avery Warley-Talbert was stronger today than yesterday, but still not an acceptable alternative in the post. Essence Carson was all right defensively, and brought a little bit of offense, but she, like many of her teammates, had a problem finishing at the rim.
Epiphanny Prince's shot wasn't falling tonight. Part of the problem was that she was taking threes that weren't in the flow of the offense. She and Sugar were both trying to answer Tulsa's long-range assault, and that isn't this team's strength.
It's something that we have in our arsenal, sure, but it's not something we should be attempting to rely on. Tanisha Wright got into foul trouble very early in the game, sitting after two minutes with two fouls. Then she picked up an early one in the third quarter, and between that and Boyd coming on like a house on fire, she spent most of the game on the bench.
Swin Cash barely played, and I don't remember much of what she did. Because Tulsa was often going with a smaller lineup, we often went with a three-guard set, or with Essence at forward. Carolyn Swords continues to take steps backward.
She overran the basket an awful lot tonight, and was very stiff. I'm worried about her, and I really don't think starting is agreeing with her- but with Kiah regressing in the last couple of games, our options are becoming limited. Tina Charles was tightly defended all night, and she was forced into a lot of bad shots by Tulsa shutting down her passing lanes.
She rebounded well, but she was taking the shots that drive us nuts- but because she could not get the better shots, not because she thought it was a good idea.
There were a couple of points during the game where it looked like Bill had given up on the game, was already planning ahead for San Antonio and Atlanta- but the team wasn't ready to give up. I like that fight. We dug too deep a hole for ourselves with Tulsa's outside shooting, and though we had the fire to come back, we ran out of time.
The Pierson injury: everyone's saying it looked like a knee, but I'm not so sure. I didn't see how she went down, but while she was down, she was holding first her shoulder, then her knee. She was very ginger to get up, but she seemed to be putting weight on both legs.
The trainers put a couple of towels over her head when she finally got up, and when she came off, her steps were subtle and unsteady. I think there might be a concussion in play here. (As an aside, I was impressed with Laura Ramus. She was on the scene pretty fast, and Plenette's not even one of her players anymore.) Lots of love from the New York fans for PP, both during intros and when she came off the court.
Charlottesville was honored during one of the timeouts, though we did not stay for the exhibition game after the Liberty game. If we'd won, I might have, but I was too cranky to stick around. Part of me likes the "Girls DON'T Sit on the Bench" t-shirt concept, part of me thinks wait, doesn't that imply that no one should be on the bench at all, even if you need to have reserves? I get the message, but I question the phrasing.
Officiating was the usual inconsistent mess, but you take it, and you deal with it.
Do I want to know why Amanda Zahui B. was smacking one of the guards on the butt with a folded up piece of paper as they came onto the floor? Probably not.
Turns out that Swin and Tina both lip-sync pretty well.
We almost needed a game like this, to be honest. Better to be tested, and to rise to the challenge and almost meet it, than to not be tested until it really, really matters. Like Indiana or Washington. Better to be reminded of what we have to do when we play the West.