Thursday, June 12, 2008

2008/8 - Liberty 81, Dream 77

Gonna be a sloooowww day at work today....

"The Mets scored 19 runs today."
"Oh yeah?...did they win?"
--Story about Mets fans in 1960s (apocryphal)

When the Liberty showed up last night, fans there notice a few things out of place. Ivory Latta had ditched her bangs for a braided look, her hair tied behind her back. Kristen Mann had switched her black wristband from one side to another.

Clearly, the awareness of an 0-7 record had hit the Dream and the Dream were resorting to the tried and true measures taken by athletes trying to break a losing streak. Try to turn your luck around by turning yourself around. Which begs the question of how many sacrifices it would take? Not stepping on cracks? Providing a pile of rabbits feet? Picking a five leaf clover?

1. The game started out fast. Most likely, the speed of the game was being set by the Liberty, hoping to capitalize on the fact that the Dream don't communicate very well. The Dream were happy (?) to cough up the ball, but the Liberty couldn't capitalize on any of them. With both teams pretty much deciding not to play defense, the Dream jumped out to a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.

2. The Liberty also made another fateful decision, to put Erin Thorn on Betty Lennox. Thorn's job was to make sure that Lennox couldn't get the ball. That didn't seem to work, with Kristen Mann crossing her 2008 season high in the second quarter, with Latta making good shots, and with Feenstra making rebounds. Furthermore, Lennox had at least seven points by the second quarter, indicating that Lennox wasn't being stopped. The Libs scored six straight at one time, but Atlanta made the final shot of the second quarter and took a 36-35 lead into the locker room.

3. Stat of the day for the Liberty:

First half

Janel McCarville: 17 points
Everyone else: 18 points

4. Going into the second half, the Liberty made an abortive attempt to drive through to the basket, but gave it up. The Dream, most likely in an attempt to slow down the pace of the game, went to the 2-3 zone. Unfortunately for New York, the Libs went to rock bottom in three-throw shooting. Atlanta went on a 10-0 run. Feenstra put J-Mac to work under the boards. It all seemed to be going in Atlanta's favor, and the Dream ledd 55-49 at the end of the third quarter.

5. Going into the fourth quarter:

Points in the Paint

Atlanta: 30
New York: 18

6. At one point, the Dream had a 21-1 scoring run against the Liberty. The Dream led at one point by 12 points, 66-54, just into the fourth quarter. Feenstra was having a season-high game.

New York then realized that they would have to go into the big bad paint and actually fight if they were to have a chance to win. Fighting the 2-3 zone wasn't working; slowing down the game was now working actively in Atlanta's favor. The Liberty began to get offensieve rebounds and whittled down Atlanta's lead. To eight points. Then six. Catherine Kraayeveld began to work the boardds for the Liberty.

7. Then in the last five minutes, it went to all-fsck.

a) There's a rule in the WNBA -- "if you're active as a player, you'll get the calls". In other words, if you drive to the hoop and kick the center in the teeth on the way in, the call will be made against...the center, even if the center is writhing in obvious pain. When New York switched to active mode, the WNBA referees figured, "okay, anything wrong from this point on must obviously be the Dream's fault".

I'm not using it as an excuse. When you lead by 12 points in the fourth, ref calls should be a non-factor, all other things being equal. However, the Dream could not buy a call.

b) Feenstra had a critical shot blocked by McCarville and sort of disappeared in those last few minutes as the New Yorkers surrounded her.

c) The Dream were actually called for a shot clock violation.

d) After Betty Lennox's three pointer that closed down the game to one point, there was miscommunication between Ivory Latta and Coach Meadors, resulting in the Liberty getting a chance to eat up time before Latta made a foul to stop the clock.

e) The big mistake. Coach Meadors, looking to have three point specialists on the floor, sends Ann Strother to in-bound the ball. Strother hasn't played a single damn minute of the game and is ice-cold. Shameka Criston steals the ball, the Dream are forced to foul, etc. etc.

What do you do? What-do-you-do?

There's a commercial that plays on Atlanta radio, a Dream promotional commercial during games. "We've got players...we've got a coach...we've got brand new uniforms." Unfortunately, what we don't have is a win. The chances for those don't come often, and we just p*ssed one away last night.

This one has to hurt. And now, the Dream have to do something that's even harder than losing a close game -- shake off the loss and come out hard against Indiana on Friday night.

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