Saturday, June 28, 2008
Shove harder, Ivory! (Used with permission of SPMSportspage.com.)
A preface: when I write Atlanta Dream game summaries, I try to put intelligent analysis in there sometimes....
(call from readers: "When are you going to start trying?")
...but most of the time, I just put my thoughts and feelings down regarding this roller coaster season. And right now, the roller coaster is plummeting at a ninety foot drop, but I'm sure that it will come up again soon and it will be awesome!
1) Betty Lennox scored the first two points. That should have been a sign right there. I'll bet money that B-Money was miserable the night that she was held to five points due to an injury in that game against the Shock. "Mumble...all the reporters talking to Ivory...(grumble)...lousy knee...when I get the ball back, I'll light it up...(snarl)...that'll show 'em...!"
And she did. Points = 44. Rebounds = 9. Assists = 7. This game put Betty tied for #4 with Deanna Nolan and Cynthia Cooper with Most Points Scored in a WNBA game. It put her tied for second with Most Field Goals in a WNBA Game (17), and put her in second place all by herself for Most Field Goals Attempted in a WNBA Game (32).
2) We finally got a chance to take a look at Kasha Terry. 2 points. 1 rebound. 3 turnovers and 5 personal fouls, so I'd say that Kasha's presence was...a negative. I'll even be bolder -- if we had Camille Little, we might have had a chance for a win.
However, we get get a chance to have both Kasha Terry and Katie Feenstra on the court at the same time. Granted, it's not Ruth Riley and Ann Wauters, but it will have to do.
3) The big strength: for once, we did a decent job keeping up with another team in rebounds. At one point late in the first, we were leading the Sun in rebounds 10-8. Later on, as the game got longer and given the nature of the overtime, the Sun would outrebound the Dream 45-34, but we at least kept up with them for a good part of the game.
4) Kristen Mann, despite what you heard on the radio, only had two blocked shots and two steals. The announcer, however, seemed to have Kristen all over the floor, performing defensive wizardry.
4b) The defense was a lot better in this game. Either we stepped up, or the Sun was just exhausted. "The best defense I've seen Atlanta play all year," according to Art Eckman, the radio announcer for the Dream.
5) Halftime. The interviewee was Kasha Terry. Unfortunately, this is when my radio signal began to fade. All I learned from Kasha is that she has a Pomeranian.
6) And that was when my connectivity problems started. First, the radio began going kerblooey. You can only pick up the Dream on AM 1230 and AM 1340, and apparently, some powerful Serbo-Creation station has a spot on the nearby dial. Listening further on the radio was not going to be a solution.
Since I have a MacBook, and the WNBA website uses Windows Media Player, the fine folks at Microsoft wanted me to jump through several hoops to download an add-on. I tried to follow the moving boxcore, but my internet connectivity began to weaken. For some reason, the DSL always fades in an out whenever its wet or humid.
Finally, my wife noticed my distress and said that she could watch her programs upstairs. This put me on the internet radio function of the WNBA website. The problem was that with poor internet connectivity, the media player required endless rebuffering.
I felt like was trying to listen to the game through a Dixie Cup, or like those poor fellows who would "listen" to the Reds-White Sox series in 1919 through the use of the telegraph.
7) In the third quarter -- most of which I missed -- the Sun went on a roll, leading by 13 at one point, 55-42. It looked like it was going to be another blowout loss. We were shooting 33.3 percent at the time from the field; the Sun was shooting 47.5 percent.
8) Terry also picked up her fourth foul in the quarter. Once again, should had Little. Just saying.
9) Then, the Dream began to come back. With the score 66-58 Sun, Izi Castro Marques and Kristin Haynie hit the last two buckets of the third quarter to help us close the gap within two, 66-62.
10) And in the fourth quarter...whoa. Down 75-69, Lennox would go on to score the next ten points for Atlanta, putting the team on her back. The Dream closed the gap to 79-78 with 2:54 remaining in the fourth. Lennox, with 37 points so far, had already set a career high.
11) Then, from out of nowhere, down 80-78, Tamera Young hit a three pointer...and the Dream had the lead, 81-80 with 2:12 left. The Sun would answer back with a bucket...and Kristen Mann would hit a three pointer to make it 84-82, Dream!
12) Ahead 86-85, Tamera Young fouled Tamika Whitmore of the Sun. Whitmore hit her two free throws to put the Sun up 87-86 and the Sun called a time out. With 22 seconds on the clock, Lindsay Whalen drove to the basket and made the two pointer.
Sun 89, Dream 86. 19 seconds left. At this point in the blog, this is where the Dream go sleepy-bye-bye. However, with 12 seconds left, Tamera Young made a three pointer and tied it at 89-89 all. The Sun got one final chance, but Jamie Carey's last second didn't make it.
OVERTIME. The first ever overtime game in Dream history. Could they get the 13 game monkey off their backs?
13) Art Eckman told his audience in overtime what the posters on the Rebkell boards had been begging Coach Mike Thibault of the Sun to do all game. "The Sun have figured out the Atlanta offensive and they're bottling up Lennox...."
14) Hurtful call. Tamika Whitmore pushes Stacey Lovelace off her. Lovelace is charged with the holding foul! Whitmore made both of her free throws to make it a 94-91 game for Connecticut.
15) At 2:48 in the game, Lennox got fouled by Ketia Swanier. Lennox made two points on free throws. Thibault's strategy was to put Swanier on Lennox in the latter part of the game, to have a fresh pair of legs to go against Lennox and play hard defense. It seemed to work. For the next 2:45 of the overtime, Lennox went 0-for-1. No rebounds, no assists, one personal foul. Then again, Lennox must have been exhausted.
16) That's when the ball of string unwounded. Atlanta would commit 7 personal fouls to the Sun's one for the rest of the game -- many of those fouls desperation fouls to get back in the ball game.
I'm guessing that when Young fouled out with 1:32 to go in the game, we just disappeared after that. Izi Castro Marques and Stacey Lovelace would each commit shooting fouls -- on shots that the Sun made. The Sun converted both of those extra free throw points, and we were down by seven, 103-96, with 1:03 to go.
17) When Jennifer Lacy missed her three-pointer with 48 seconds left, Whalen got the rebound and the Sun could just try to work the clock down. With 36 seconds, Izi fouled Lindsay whalen. The only hope was that the Sun wouldn't make their foul shots.
It wasn't to be. The Sun made their six free throws after that. The Sun's seven final points were scored on free throws.
18) With three seconds left and the game lost, Betty Lennox made her final shot from three point range. It went in.
Final score: Sun 109, Dream 101. It was the first time the Dream went past the 100 point mark. The Dream also shot 41.8 percent from the field. The problem was that the Sun shot 47.3 percent.
(* * *)
Most of the time listening to this game, I had my head in my hands, hope against hope. When you lose by twenty, you can console yourself that it just wasn't your night and the other team was just clearly better. When you lose in overtime, there are no such consolations. All you have is a reminder, written in the box score, of all the things you failed to do. Close losses are doubly hard.
The strength of any team is how quickly it can put setbacks behind it. My wife is a salesperson, and a good one. She has the amazing skill of putting setbacks behind her. When she loses, she doesn't take it personal. She just goes right on to the next client.
The Dream will have to gain that inner strength, if it doesn't break them first. If they can gain it -- if they can put setbacks behind them and focus on their concrete accomplishments -- they'll be a tough team to beat in 2009. The joke is that a Super Bowl coach's time of celebration after a victory is only a few minutes. He's already thinking about the next game.
Never look back. Always look forward. The season is almost half over. Our free throw percentage was better than the Suns. We're starting to solve the rebounding problem. The Sun had more turnovers than we did. They weren't able to turn on the fastbreak against the Dream with impunity like so many other teams have done. If we can survive the pain, there's a lot to be gained from this lost. The hope is that we can use it against the Shock on Sunday.