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Stars shine bright against Liberty

Just the Facts, Ma'am: New York came back from an early hole, but Shenise Johnson's jumper with 36.1 left in overtime turned out to be the winning basket in the Silver Stars' 78-77 win at the Prudential Center. Danielle Robinson led San Antonio with 18 points, adding seven rebounds and five steals, while Danielle Adams had 16 points and 11 rebounds. For New York, Cappie Pondexter had 19 points, 13 after the halftime break, and 11 rebounds. For homages, PATH issues, dribbling, key blocks, microwaves, the sudden wrath of God, and the new kid in town, join your intrepid and blistered blogger after the jump.


Good afternoon, everyone, and hello once more from the Prudential Center in beautiful, fragrant Newark, New Jersey! Today's matchup features the New York Liberty and the New York Liberty Alumnae All-Star Squad the San Antonio Silver Stars.

It's Pride Day at the Rock, so rainbow flags and other LGBT paraphernalia abound. Your intrepid blogger and her dashing companion rocked the Michele Van Gorp jerseys during pregame warm-ups (since I don't have a Sue Wicks jersey, we can't find the Loree Moore, I wouldn't wear Janel McCarville if you paid me, Sheryl Swoopes is doing the closet hokey-pokey, and I don't think anyone else in my collection is openly gay). We're also looking for this year's Pride swag- they did the Liberty Proud t-shirts last year, and you have no idea how much it warmed my soul.

There's a guy in a Faried name and number shirt in the endcourt courtside seats. He's bald as an egg, though.

Shenise Johnson is absolutely adorable when it comes to people asking for her autograph. You almost expect to hear her say "aw, shucks". Plenette gave a lot of grief to one of our season subscribers who was rocking the Shameka Christon San Antonio jersey, even after the Liberty shirt underneath was revealed.

Becky Hammon is traveling with the team, though she didn't seem to be wearing the cast. Pretty shade of blue she was wearing.

The graphics are waving a pride flag with a Liberty logo, and I want it to be real so very badly. I would wave that thing like a majorette.

Props to the fan who came down from Montréal for the game- I just hated to be the one who had to tell her that despite the awesome Cheryl Ford jersey she was wearing, she wasn't going to be seeing Cheryl in this game.

I'm not sure how I'll react when I see Cappie in the Wicks jersey. Part of me still thinks Cappie wearing 23 in any way, shape, or form is blasphemy; part of me is relieved that Cappie's acknowledging part of her history as a Scarlet Knight and as a Lib. It'll be strange.

Ridiculously oversung anthem, but I can deal with that.

We're only down two at the half, and after the way San Antonio defended us in the first quarter, I'm actually kind of relieved. Danielle Robinson is crazy fast. Quick truly ain't fair. Avery Warley has been a secret weapon off the bench, with the foul trouble that all the Liberty posts are in.

Halftime, Sue Wicks is being honored. She'll be saying a few words, which translates to "the opposing team is going to be staring at her coming out of the tunnel for warm-ups". Gutsy move of her acknowledging Vickie Johnson and Becky Hammon from the opposing team.

In case there is a sudden rash of injuries and/or alien abductions, there's at least one emergency reserve in the stands. (Hi, Shenneika.)

Lots of the Usual Suspects in the stands, and of course, plenty of Wicks jerseys. JEALOUS OMG. They never pop up on eBay for some reason. Sue, VJ, and Tari- those jerseys you never see for sale.

Avery reminds me a lot of La'Keshia Frett around the face- not just the number and the style of play.

I understand San Antonio gear, and my husband and I wore Portland gear for a reason, and there's that stray Detroit jersey in the stands, but why in the world would someone be wearing a Chicago #22? That was Price and Vandersloot, not Christon or Perkins, right?

So, clock management. Much like this PATH train, it was a bit stop-and-start at odd moments. But we'll get to that a bit later.

Dan Hughes, I could see your tie from the eighteenth row behind the home bench. It was almost as loud as you were. I like him, but he does have a tendency to complain about calls. As it happens, today he did have some strong cases, but sometimes you've got to know when to fold them. Know when to walk away from the ref.

Kayla Alexander rebounded well, with some nice boxing out, but couldn't shoot for love nor money. They looked like such easy shots, and yet she couldn't get them to go down. Her work on the offensive boards frustrated me to no end- I kept wanting to scream "there are posts in Finland who did a better job on Kayla Alexander!" but that's just the St. John's-Syracuse rivalry talking there. Davellyn Whyte played a little bit, but not much- I think she was there more for her defense than her not-quite there shot. Shenise Johnson had some trouble getting her jumper to fall from the outside, but she made up for it on defense and with her rebounding. You know all those long rebounds that Leilani Mitchell was poaching in the last couple of games, and the way she was running into the mass of bodies to come out with the ball like a winger in a scrum? Johnson did that today- twice swiping it away from Leilani, no less. She's got much better defensive instincts than I expected from a player who was known so heavily as a scorer in college. I think I like her.

Shameka Christon got the start, but I think Hughes was looking for a quick pop from the Liberty crowd and all the #20 jerseys out there. She did not look good. Something seems off about her shot- her footwork is even weirder than it used to be, and she looks very much out of rhythm. Maybe it's the lack of conditioning and the extra weight- maybe she just isn't the same after the knee and the rearranging of her face- but she looks lost out there. I hope she finds herself. She's good people. Jia Perkins was solid on defense and made big plays in the fourth quarter and overtime after being an offensive non-factor during the middle of the game. Her steals were very impressive. DeLisha Milton-Jones is DeLisha Milton-Jones, and if any team should know that, it's the New York Liberty and all its former Detroit Shock players. She's going to take the outside shot instead of going to the basket. She does have three-point range and she's not afraid to use it. She's going to defend you with those long arms like one of those inflatable tube guys. And she's going to get all over you in extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable ways. Why the Liberty seemed surprised about this- especially Plenette, who has just a little bit of history with DMJ- I will never understand and I'll chalk that up to coaching. Danielle Robinson embodies "quick ain't fair". Seriously, she's the living personification of it. She plays fast, and her hands are fast, and her shot is pretty, and man, quick ain't fair. Danielle Adams did try to argue a blocking call where she was pretty blatantly planted in the circle, which I thought was cute. She used her body well on the boards- even if she wasn't getting the rebound herself, she was making sure that no one else was getting that rebound. (Not that she wasn't getting plenty of those rebounds herself.) She knows her job and gets her job done, which is pretty much the signature of a Dan Hughes team/player- know your job, do your job, and kvetch to the refs when you're done.

I... would not have worn that outfit, Becky, but you know how to shoot things, so do whatever you want.

Avery Warley may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but to use her as an energy rebounder with a nose for the ball and the will to go to the basket, she doesn't necessarily have to be the quickest player in the world to pick up plays. She was a quick burst of energy in the first quarter after Kelsey and Kara both picked up their second fouls in rapid succession and Bill needed someone. San Antonio adjusted to her, and there wasn't as much need for her in the second half because the fouls were less of an issue, but if she can do it once a game, I'm okay with that. Alex Montgomery forces tie-ups better than anyone in the league. Love watching her work. The shots she hit were huge. Toni Young played briefly, was not impressive, and vanished into the ether. Leilani Mitchell ran a solid offense and was arguably our best option at point guard today. She had a beautiful crossover on Shenise Johnson that had the crowd roaring (of course, then she gave the ball up to Perkins, because that's how we roll). I like that she's proving me wrong, that she does belong on the team, that there's a place for her under Laimbeer and with the Not-Quite-As-Bad Girls. Kelsey Bone had a gorgeous block in the fourth quarter, but couldn't put the pieces together against the San Antonio defense. (I wonder how Gary Blair felt about the Adams-Bone match-up. Conflicted emotions or pure pride?)

Kara Braxton was facepalm-inducing today to the max. Grab the rebound, Kara! Don't tap it out to a San Antonio player who will then lead a fast break and score on your attempted miserable failure of a rebound! She would have had eight or nine rebounds, and the team might have had a few more team rebounds, if she could have not repeatedly tipped the ball to San Antonio players. It was exceedingly frustrating, especially coupled with her inability to catch passes and finish shots. Plenette Pierson played like someone had lit a fire under her. Maybe she just dislikes D-Nasty that much- I can't say I blame her. But she was fierce in the lane and from the elbows (not with the elbows) and she was an absolute beast on the offensive glass- she did her best to save the last possession of both the fourth quarter and overtime. Katie Smith hit a couple of big threes in the second half, though I don't agree with the decision to go to her for the last shot of overtime- it was a one-point bob, there was no need for a three-point dagger except for Bill to try and demonstrate his superior manhood. Kamiko Williams got the start, played briefly enough for Bill to determine that a rookie who decides things slowly might not be the best match-up against San Antonio, and sat down. Cappie Pondexter... well, in a couple of ways, she did live up to that Wicks jersey- she did well rebounding and her shooting was pretty awful (until the fourth quarter). (Don't get me wrong, I love Suuuuuuuue to death, but her offense was not her primary skill in a Liberty uniform, and certainly not her jump shot.) She was telegraphing her passes pretty badly and throwing them directly to Silver Stars. This is a bad plan unless you play for the Silver Stars.

The officials in this game can take all the seats. They were pathetic. In the first quarter, pretty much all they could figure out how to call was illegal screens. After that, it was a bit more varied and even more random. And I'll be the first- or probably third, after Dan Hughes and DeLisha Milton-Jones- to admit that San Antonio got the worst of most of those calls. The out-of-bounds calls all seemed to be in the Liberty's favor. A lot of the physical play went uncalled on both teams. It got chippy out there, and once or twice I thought it was going to get ugly. I'm glad it didn't.

I liked Essence's outfit, though that shirt did come dangerously close to making embarrassing revelations once or twice. Not sure if I approve of her version of "Rapper's Delight" for the All-Star campaign, though props to the Liberty for finding a way to incorporate her without telling people to vote for an injured player.

San Antonio plays tough, gritty defense, but this shouldn't surprise anyone. They're tough. They adjust well. They body up. They combine speed with size quite well. Not a good combination for a team that produces more turnovers than Drake's. We picked up the defense in the second half, but San Antonio kept it up for most of the game.

Nice dance moves during the timeout contest.

Announced attendance at 6000 or so, which I thought was a bit low. Come on, Lib fans, how much more inducement do you need to get out there?

Shiiiiiiiny cards with black and white photos. (They couldn't get the Cheryl Ford cards out of the packs in time. Much laughter was had.)

It was a good game. Frustrating, but good. The energy was high at the end of the game, and that's more important for the future.