Monday, July 28, 2008
Well no. Just kidding.
Interesting blog entry on how not to behave at a Dream autograph session.
I was a total mess, and playing way too much, including telling Katie Feenstra she spelled her name wrong on my t-shirt, trying to get Ivory Latta to not hate the autograph-signing thing she was probably forced to do, telling Kristen Hainey that I told Katie Feenstra she signed her name wrong and then asking when I would be able to get a jersey with her (Hainey, not Feenstra’s) number on it (nice touch, huh? and, OH! I did this WHILE Betty Lenox is signing my jersey on my back- so OBVIOUSLY I was putting my big fat butt right on the table in her face....
(After this post, it might be some time before an update. As the WNBA goes on vacation, so do my wife and I! Four days in sunny Las Vegas!)
I knew this was going to be a tough game going in. I had the Liberty as the second best team in the WNBA before this game, and I figured we'd probably lose this game by about eight points. We lost by ten, because the wheels fell off the bus in the final quarter. Despite the fact that this was our fifth straight loss, I think we can take some good away from it. We kept up with New York for three quarters -- yeah, New York was playing like crap but so were we, and we could still hang with the best. The problem was that New York had Janel McCarville. We didn't. End of discussion.
My thoughts and observations and explanations:
1) When I got to the arena, I notice that there was a three-point arc of white tape just within the standard three point boundaries. The guys at Philips Arena removed the tape arc before game time. What was that all about? The only thing I could think of was that some high-school or college team was playing. It just becomes one of the Mysteries of Philips Arena.
2) Our National Anthem singer was Talein, an R & B performer. She ornamented her performance to the point where I thought I was listening to the vocal musings of B. G. Murphy, short for "Bleeding Gums".
3) The New York Liberty, it seems, sure enjoy basketball and just hanging around with each other. Tiffany Jackson was joking with the referees before tip-off. Cathrine Kraayeveld and Ashley Battle were doing this kind of "chest bump" -- where two people leap and bump chests in exhaltation -- but were colliding into each other's sides instead. Jackson joined in. They were having a grand old time.
4) Headband Girl is back. She was the one holding up the poster on Friday asking for Kasha Terry's headband. I assume the first try ended in failure. Headband Girl, it seems, is persistent.
5) Noox did not start. Everyone was surprised. We figured it was for one of several reasons. Either the fact that she scored less than a dime in three straight games, or her comments to reporters, or both. Everyone gritted their teeth.
6) Bales looked pretty immobile out there. What a dropoff from her early games. She played 17 minutes, and didn't score a single damn point. Only one blocked shot for Bales the entire game.
7) However, the Dream hung in there. Ivory Latta hit three three point shots. But Janel McCarville was already looking good. She attempted these kinds of baskets that were pretty much impossible shots. She made some of them, including a one-armed I'm-looking-in-the-opposite-direction-of-the-basket-but-shooting-anyway kind of shot. I sort of gasped when I saw that shot. She was a lot more agile than any of our immobile posts, who have arms but don't have speed.
8) Then again, Janel gets no love in Atlanta. Our PA announcer kept calling her "Kraayeveld." I'm sure Cathrine thought, "wow, I'm even better than I thought I was!"
9) Noox put in a couple of buckets at the end. For once, a team did not get a nine-point lead against the Dream in the first quarter. The most New York led by was five points, 22-17. We closed that gap to 22-21 by the end of the first.
10) Both teams shot over 50 percent in the first quarter. That's because both teams were playing crappy defense.
11) Lisa Willis burned us a couple of times in the second quarter. The second time she made this driving jump shot and blew right by three Atlanta defenders like they were bicycles on the interstate. Not a single defender even made an attempt to put a hand on her. Not even a halfway-decent neck chokehold.
12) Atlanta pulled into the lead. Janel made this weird I'm-going-out-of-bounds-but-I-still-think-I-can-make-this-shot layup attempt. I don't think I've ever seen a player as confident as Janel McCarville.
13) We took a three point lead in the second, leading 37-34 at one time. If I had to explain how the Liberty were playing, well in the words of Chief Wiggum, "that's some mighty poor ball handling, Lou". The Liberty, probably afraid they'd dribble the ball off their feet if they dared to take it past the three point arc, kept trying to nail three pointers. It's a good thing for the Liberty that we weren't taking advantage.
14) During an inbounds play, Erika de Souza made this weird leg high-kick that caused the crowd to chuckle, as if she could block the in-bounds with her legs. Maybe it's just an attempt to get some physical therapy in before Beijing.
15) Near the end of the second, the refereeing reached that nadir that only WNBA fans have come to know and love. There was a shitty no-contact foul on Ivory Latta. The replay shows that Latta never even touched Tiffany Jackson. There was a shitty lane violation call on De Souza, and the referees realized their shittiness (hey, it does stink) and made up for it with a make-up call on an out-of-bounds.
But once again, their colons jumped out of their throats and strangled them. There was a ticky-tack foul called on Ann Strother near the buzzer that resulted in the three chimpanzees refereeing to have a Jeopardy!-like meeting of the minds. "Do we say that the buzzer went off, or do we give the Liberty two more free throws?" After much scratching and grooming, the refs gave Johnson two extra free throws. She hit one, which was enough to give the Libs a 44-43 lead coming into halftime.
16) The Dream honored three winners of the Atlanta Dream Tournament of Champions, for young women.
Under 11: Pistols (?sp)
Under 13: Metros
Under 15: Tigerettes
I like seeing this kind of thing. Supposedly next year, the Atlanta Dream T of C will be extended to a large range of age groups, and there will be male teams as well.
17) The Sweet Vibrations Motorcycle Club - a motorcycle club that is about "sisterhood" -- was honored by the Dream for their fundraising efforts. Those women looked pretty tough to me. If they asked me for cash, I'd probably empty my pockets, too.
18) I noticed that neither Jennifer Lacy nor Katie Feenstra had started. We found out what was wrong with Lacy -- according to Jenna Marina of the AJC, Lacy had a meniscus tear. However, why didn't Katie start? It could be that Meadors has finally decided to stop rotating people in and out willy-nilly....
...no, that's not it. Kit is in the doghouse again.
19) I don't even know what was going on in the third quarter.
a) Lennox didn't start that quarter either.
b) Shameka Criston blocked not one, but two inbounds by Tamera Young. She had to laugh about it, and I guess it was funny.
c) The Dream got called for a three second violation.
d) The Dream got called for a shot clock violation.
e) The Liberty treated the ball as if it were coated with axle grease.
f) Kasha Terry missed two free throws.
g) The refs called travelling on B-Money, but made up that bad call with another bad call in favor of the Dream.
h) Ivory Latta ended the quarter by taking forever to set up a shot, almost loses the ball, and then tries to drive in to the basket to make one of those short-range shots she's horrible at making. Result: nothing.
Boy, that third quarter was some of the worst basketball I've seen all year. Correction: it was the worst basketball I've seen all year, even worse than that game where Phoenix scored 105 on us.
20) I finally put a name to that crappy referee: #58, J. Tiven. Mr. Tiven, I'm keeping an eye on you.
21) Tiffany Jackson got hurt. My eye was on the other end of the court, so I don't know what happened to her, but she was down for a full minute or so. They picked her up off the floor, but she was holding one of her legs stiffly. That can't be good.
22) We managed to tie the game 60-60 at the start of the fourth. Then the Libs went on an 8-1 run. The officiating didn't help, although I won't put the blame entirely on the officials. Kasha Terry picked up two straight fouls, one being a dubious late call. Before we knew it, the Liberty were up 71-64 with 3:40 to go...and with the Dream playing as poorly as it did, I knew we wouldn't catch up.
23) Janel McCarville scored 10 points in the fourth, with six rebounds. Shameka Christon scored nine points.
24) The only hope the Dream had was to foul. The Liberty also caught the foul bug, and the last two minutes became a real snooze-fest of endless trips to the line, with the referees deciding to torment the spectators just a bit longer. By the time the clock expired, the Liberty had won, 86-76.
(* * *)
Now, to look at the boxscore.
Shooting percentage: About even. The Liberty and the Dream both shot about 41 percent.
Offensive rebounds: The Dream had a slight edge, 13 to 11.
Turnovers. The Dream had another slight edge, 18 to 20. What killed us was the fact that the Liberty were able to convert Dream turnovers into points. The Dream did not.
Free throw trips. 32-29 in favor of the Liberty. What's worse is the fact that the Dream only hit 69 percetnt of its free throws. The Dream hit 75 percent of its shots, good for four extra points right there.
Flow of game: even until the last quarter where the Dream shot only 23 percent. It was then that the Liberty pulled away.
Lennox: 18 points on 21 shots. Not great, but a much better game for Lennox than the last three.
Latta: 14 points on 11 shots. Very good.
Castro Marques: 11 points on 14 shots. Izi went 1 for 7 in that last quarter.
DeSouza: 9 points on 13 shots. Hwoever, she had 11 rebounds.
Kasha Terry: Awful. 7 points, 13 shots. The eight rebounds (sorta) made up for it.
Southern Belle Milk Carton of the Game: Alison Bales. 17 minutes played, no shots taken, three rebounds, one blocked shot. Even Kit could have done better than that.
(* * *)
I'll be back after vacation, but I might surprise you with an article -- you never know. And so many questions to ask ourselves....
Will Betty Lennox and Marynell Meadors bury the hatchet?
Will Meadors find an effective low post player?
Will the Dream win another game all season?
Will Headband Girl ever get Kasha Terry's headband?
To find the answers to these and other questions...keep reading!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
"And so this is gametime
And what have you done
Another game wasted
And a new one just begun...."
If there was any team that we could have beat, should have beat, it should have been the Mystics. But it's not going to happen, at least in 2008. Three games, three losses, and the opportunity has disappeared.
Let's look at the upcoming schedule:
Sun 27: vs. New York. I have them as the second best team in the WNBA right now.
Fri 29: vs. Connecticut. Which will be tanned, rested, and ready.
Sat 30: @ Indiana. Probably no practice. We'll just have to hope that the Fever don't show up again.
Tue 2: vs. Seattle. A chance at a win, as Betty Lennox would like to shove a win down Brian Agler's throat.
Fri 5: @ New York. I don't think a win is going to happen at MSG.
Mon 8: vs. Indiana. By now, every team is fighting for a playoff spot and licking their chops.
Thu 11: @ Los Angeles. Los Angeles will be fighting hardest of all, to save their season.
Fri 12: @ Seattle. Last game. Our only hope is that Seattle will have secured wherever they end up and rest their starters.
Five out of those eight games would make a strong woman wince. And the Dream are not strong women, or have not been playing like it, anyway.
All right. You want the numbered list, you get the numbered list.
1) I saw Lennox warming up, downing three after three after three. She looked absolutely fantastic. Oh, how appearances can deceive.
2) A bunch of kids took the court before the game -- the AAU Georgia Hawks, which seemed to only have five kids, played the AAU Georgia Force, who had ten kids who rotated an entire five-man team out. The Hawks won 13-10. The kids looked ecstatic playing. Let's get some girls teams out to play during halftime!
3) Definitely great seeing Erika back practicing. Someone held up a sign reading, "Welcome Back, Desouza!"
4) National anthem: Sung by Nike (pronounced NEE-kay.) She didn't do a bad job.
5) Immediately, I got a bad feeling. Lennox takes the ball, tries a three...and misses. Her next shot is an airball. Gonna be another long night at Philips.
6) Atlanta called a full time out. Didn't help. Once again, Atlanta digs itself in a first quarter hole, this time 11-2. Meadors rotates in Kristin Haynie, Alison Bales, and Tamera Young. We begin to warm up, and Washington goes over the limit in fouls with four and a half minutes remaining.
7) Meadors has the Twin Towers in. For the last time, this is not Riley and Wauters!! Put Kit in or Alison in, but not both!
8) Izi really kept us in the game, when we didn't deserve to be. She was hitting her foul shots. She scored four of her 10 first quarter points on charity stripe trips. Washington kept sending up to the free throw line. It was the only way we could score points.
9) Erika finally made her debut with 6.9 seconds left in the first quarter. During those 6.9 seconds, she steals the ball from Taj McWilliams-Franklin's lob pass, and takes a last second shot that almost went in and brought us within one.
10) Then, we began to fight Washington for control of the game. Lennox makes a basket in the second quarter to put us in the lead for the first time, 33-32. Strother hits a three and we take a two point lead, 36-34.
11) Washington was in foul trouble again and you could actually feel the Mystics back up. The only kinds of shots they wanted to hit were three pointers -- they didn't want to tangle with our tall girls at the posts and they made themselves happy shooting from range. Coco Miller -- the untalented Miller -- failed at two straight three pointers.
12) Two women in the stands held up a poster: "#35 Kasha Terry - Can I Have Your Headband?" I hope that Kasha came out after the game and gave those girls the headband, which they'll probably keep in a reliquary somewhere.
13) We were within an eyelash of taking a tie into halftime, when #@$#$% Laurie Koehn took a buzzer-beating three point shot to give the Mystics a 45-42 halftime lead, despite that they were outshooting us 47 percent to 35 percent. Those giveaway free throws really kept us in the game.
14) I saw a couple of fans waving a Swedish flag in the audience. This means either,
a) we're going to sign Johanna Bjorklund,
b) they got the flag at IKEA, or
c) those fans were realllllly lost.
CLARIFICATION: The fans were giving support to Chioma Nnamaka, who was born in Uppsala, Sweden. An anonymous commenter pointed this out. Boy, I'm embarrassed.
15) Then, the Mystics went on a 15-2 run. The Mystics superpowers were so great that they made the clock stick and the game had to stop while they reset it. Taj McWilliams-Frankin just killed us. She scored 11 points in the quarter and got five rebounds. Washington just blew by our big women like they were standing still. Washington led 70-59 at the end of the third quarter.
16) We rolled into some good luck in the fourth quarter. We were down 75-65. Then Latta hit a bucket. Then she hit a 23 foot long jumper. Then Izi hit one. THen Latta threw another one from behind the arc. We closed the score to 76-75.
It was 3:47 to go in the fourth. Showtime!
17) Here's what we showed them in "Showtime":
a) Latta loses the ball.
b) Latta throws a bad pass. Currie steals.
c) Latta loses the ball...again.
After that, we were El Shafto. All we could do is foul the Mystics and hope they had somehow forgotten to shoot.
18) We had four turnovers in the final four minutes. Tamera Young had come in for Lennox in the fourth quarter. Her contributions were a turnover and a personal foul. Young had six personal fouls, fouling out with 10 seconds left. I think they sent her out for autographs, and young kids should have been forced to stay behind a six foot protective wall.
19) At least we applied some defensive pressure. We forced Nikki Blue into an over and back turnover, far too late for it to do us any good.
20) As one of the fans was leaving the game, I heard her mumble, "that was wack." That about sums it up.
(* * *)
Okay, now let's look at the bloody boxscore:
Shooting percentage: 42.1 percent Mystics, 39 percent Dream. Misleading, because the Mystics shot close to 50 percent over the first three quarters.
Offensive rebounds EVen with Erika back, the Mystics outhustled us 15-11.
Turnovers: The Mystics won that part of the game as well, 16-20.
Free throw visits: WE won that one, 20-17 and shot 95 percent from the charity stripe. It was one of the only things keeping us in the game.
Let's take a look at player efficiency:
Izi: 23 points in 22 scoring attempts. This was one of her better nights, where she didn't have to throw the ball up fifty times to score 10 points.
Latta: When she finally warmed up, she shot very well indeed.
Bales: Not so well. 7 points, 8 attempts.
Haynie, Young, DeSouza, Strother: Nothing to be ashamed of anywhere.
Terry: One of the two milkcartons of the game. Minutes played: 22. Points scored: 4. I think Terry's mom -- who sits behind the Atlanta bench - must have a gun pointed at Coach Meadors's back.
...but the winner of the Southern Belle Milk Carton of the Game is:
Betty Lennox. Six shots. Two points. Four turnovers. They should have just let Ann Strother play eight more minutes.
Come back soon, B-Money. The Dream need you.
Another great article by Josh Bagriansky of Score Atlanta, this time highlighting the deteriorating relationship between Betty Lennox and Marynell Meadors.
Jeez. I don't know what's going on. Camille Little got out, then Stacey Lovelace, and now it looks like Betty Lennox is in the coach's doghouse. "Will the last player to leave Atlanta please turn out the lights?"
They're talking about it on Rebkell and the Atlanta Dream Message Board. Question: do you think Kelly Miller would come to the Dream if we sent B-Money to Phoenix? I'm sure that Betty would enjoy getting to play the Seattle Storm more than twice a year.
FREE B-MONEY! Just remember that Atlanta Dream fans love you, Betty.
Crystal Langhorne of the Washington Mystics talks about her trip to Atlanta at the Pass the Ball blog of the Washington Mystics.
Now we are in Atlanta and last night I felt like we were on a school trip. A few of the players took a train ride to the mall and that was a journey in itself. No one could figure out how to get the tickets out of the machines ... we looked like foreigners. The guy who worked there had to help us out. We finally got our tickets and then for some reason Nikki's didn't work, luckily the guy was nice enough to let us through. It was kind of sad because we were a bunch of adults that were completely clueless.
The mall trip wasn't as successful as I had hoped. I just got a blazer from a store, I didn't really find anything else that I liked. We went to a restaurant called Houston's for dinner. We had seven people and they sat us at this table. So we find out that Crystal Smith is also coming and we ask can she squeeze in and have eight. They told us no and we had to go back in the waiting area and wait until they had two small tables for us. I felt like we were getting kicked out when they made us go back and wait (lol). At least the dinner was a good, quality meal.
Crystal, the MARTA machines perplex most newcomers. However, we despise you for beating us last night...well, okay, we don't despise you personally; we just hate every Mystic for 40 minutes at particular times of the year. At least you're not with the Monarchs, who have moved to #1 on my hate list for laughing at Ivory Latta after knocking her tooth out.
Friday, July 25, 2008
From The News and Advance in Lynchburg, VA:
* Katie Feenstra. A three-time Big South women’s basketball player of the year who was nominated for the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Naismith Award, Feenstra was a major reason why the Flames made their historic Sweet 16 run. Feenstra was in attendance at Thursday’s celebration dinner, but she had to duck out early. That’s understandable. A center for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, Feenstra has a game against Washington Friday to prepare for.
Kit! Don't fill up on bread!
A source who wishes to remain uncredited gives us some links to follow what the Dream were doing in the 2007-08 offseason. The rest of this post is his e-mail message to me.
(* * *)
Some updates on player signings for the upcoming winter season can be found at:
Lennox finished 2007-08 with Nadezhda (Orenburg) in Russia, averaging 22.2 ppg in 11 Superleague contests and pouring in 45 points in the regular-season finale against Shelen-ETK:
Statistics for Latta (Holon) and Terry (Ramat Hen) can be found here:
Bales (?????) left Dynamo very early last season after playing in just a couple of games (one Superleague, one EuroLeague):
Similar story with Strother and León, I believe. She departed in October and accepted a job on Kathy McConnell-Miller's staff at Colorado.
The WKBL did not permit the signing of foreign players this past winter, with the explanation that they wanted to offer the Korean stars better preparation for the Olympics.
The peripatetic Iziane played for both TTT Riga (Latvia) and Hondarribia-Irun (Spain) during EuroCup play, then finished up with Brazilian club Ourinhos.
Érika will return for another season with Ros Casares.
Lacy played last winter with CCC Polkowice (Poland):
ATLgirl13 at the Atlanta Dream Message Board (see link to left) finds this from an article in the Seattle Times.
But Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors believes the rough play has gone too far and extends beyond two teams.
Dream guard Ivory Latta was knocked so hard in the face by a forearm in a loss to Sacramento on Tuesday that a tooth fell out. Monarchs players laughed while Latta dealt with the problem, according to Meadors.
"That's not funny," the coach said. "It's got to stop — the moving screens, elbows, holding, bullying and fist-pumping. It's not our game.
"We used to be all talent, finesse and running. Now teams are bullying more. The officials have got to do something. It's either that or I've got to start teaching it. That's a little scary to think I might have to teach something like that."
Amen, Coach. Amen.
P. S. As you can see from the comments, I inadvertantly attributed the scoop to afoundingfan. One click of the editor, and Wham-o!
Tonight, the Dream play the Mystics, and this is a case of low-hanging fruit if there ever was one. If we win this game, no one can say that we were the worst pro franchise in history - that distinction will belong to the 1998 mystics, who won 3 games and finished with a .100 record.
Are we as good as the mystics? No. I would say that if both teams play their average game in Atlanta, the Dream will lose by about two points. (We lost 80-74 to the Mystics in Atlanta on May 27th.)
However, if we play better than average...OR...the Mystics have another off game...we can win. It's not like playing the Storm, where the Storm would have to play badly and Atlanta would have to have a stellar game. It's an "OR" situation. Hell, if we can avoid digging a ten point hole in the first quarter our chances for a win are pretty good.
Yep, it's true that the Mystics have a new head coach and are on a high. But tonight, we're going to be on a high as well. Erika de Souza is back according to Jenna Marina of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She had her first real practice yesterday, had no problems, the boot is off and she'll probably play about 10-15 minutes of this game. If she can kick off the rust quickly...then watch out Mystics!
P. S. Thanks to afoundingfan at the Atlanta Dream Message Board for pointing this out!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Whenever there's not a game on, Swanny at Swanny's Stats gives us the scoop on some odd stats.
In Shooting Percentage from 6-10 Feet, Iziane Castro Marques is in the top 10 of WNBA shooters, shooting 50 percent from close range (10-20). However, Tamera Young is the bottom 10 at 18 percent (4-22).
In Shooting Percentage from 1-5 Feet -- which is about as close as you can get -- we don't have anyone in the top 10 of WNBA shooters. However, Ivory Latta is in the bottom 10 at 45.8 percent (33-72).
Indeed, Atlanta is the worst team in the WNBA in point-blank shooting, shooting only 51 percent from 1-5 feet. It's a good thing that basketball courts aren't 10 feet long. Maybe Ivory needs to put a basketball hoop in her pantry, close the door, and practice a few shots.
Larry Burnett, the announcer of the Los Angeles Sparks, has his own take on "The Brawl":
I’ll be honest with you. I do not mind a good fight every once in awhile. I know! The politically correct thing to say is that “there is no place in sports for this kind of activity”. Truth is, the Sparks have been playing soft and getting pushed around for weeks. They were struggling with team chemistry on the court and had not exhibited anything remotely resembling a killer instinct. Tuesday night for a few wild seconds, they pulled together, closed ranks and stood up for each other. You find out who your real friends are when a fight breaks out. There will definitely be suspensions that will hurt the Sparks, but circle July 21st on your 2008 calendar. That just might be the date that the L.A. Sparks became a true team again and serious championship contenders.
Don't let Coach Meadors find that out. She'll be scheduling fights once a week if she thinks it helps the Dream. "So, Alison, how well can you take a punch?"
afoundingfan, one of the posters on the Atlanta Dream Message Board, posted the following which I am dragging over here....
DREAM ANNOUNCES DATES FOR GIRLS BASKETBALL CAMP
-- Players and Coaches will be on hand for Inaugural Camp --
WHO: Girls (ages 10-13)
WHAT: Atlanta Dream Basketball Camp
WHEN: August 4-5, 2008 (8:30 am- 4:30 pm)
WHERE: Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church
(76 E Wesley Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30305) | Get Directions
Atlanta, July 23, 2008— The Atlanta Dream announced today the dates and location for the organization’s first-ever girls basketball camp. The two-day camp, which features Atlanta Dream players and coaches, will be conducted from August 4-5 at Second Ponce de Leon Baptist Church.
This camp is open only to girls ages 10-13 and is designed to fit a wide range of skill sets. Each session will last from 8:30 am- 4:30 pm daily. Interested participants must submit the necessary registration form and $195 payment. Only 60 spots are available, which will be filled on a first come, first serve basis.
The camp will focus on improving fundamentals, techniques, and all-around skills through various drills, games and competitions. Participants will receive an Atlanta Dream practice jersey, two tickets to an Atlanta Dream home game and various other giveaways. Lunch will be provided each day on site.
Six Atlanta Dream players have been confirmed to attend the camp, and at least three players will be present at all times. The following players will be in attendance: Izi Castro Marques, Betty Lennox, Kristin Haynie, Kasha Terry, Jennifer Lacy and Erika DeSouza. Atlanta Dream Head Coach Marynell Meadors will also be at the camp with her coaching staff. For campers that choose to bring cameras, there will be designated times during which the Dream players will be available for photographs.
1. Erika de Souza's command of English is awful. Good thing Izi will be there to translate for her.
2. Will Izi be teaching kids how to be a head case?
3. I can see Betty's drills. "Alright kids, time for 'one against five'!"
4. afoundingfan decried the fact that participation is limited to young girls. I'd like to see a "Never Too Old" camp for people who have never played basketball before.
When Nancy Lieberman's pro career began....
...there was still a USSR.
...Jimmy Carter was stil in office.
...Terry Bradshaw was still quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
...the Hockey "Miracle on Ice" had taken place in the Winter Olympics.
...Robert Mugabe had just become Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
...Iron Maiden had released their debut album.
...there was still a place called "Yugoslavia".
...Mount St. Helen's went off.
..."CNN" had just been launched.
...Lech Walesa had just launched his first strike in Poland.
...Sue Bird was a baby.
...The Empire Strikes Back had been released.
...Pink Floyd still had Roger Waters.
...Eddie Murphy was still on Saturday Night Live.
...David Letterman's first attempt at a talk show had been cancelled.
...the Apple II was the top of the line in personal computers.
So if someone woke up from a deep 28-year sleep and read this headline, what do you think their next question would be?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
For those who don't know, Extrugasa Vilagarcia, a team in the Liga Femenina (Women's League) in Spain. This is from the Prodep website, which is an agency for high-level women's basketball players.
With the signing of Vika Sholokhova nine players that make up the first team, although in the daily work and the calls will be accompanied by the junior Arantxa Mallou, escort of Santiago which has been recently Fiche, and for some other player youth squad players. Arantxa Gomez and Mary Asurmendi fight for the title at the base. Sara Gomez is indisputable position in the escort and the great novelty is the eaves. Tamera Young, whose numbers in the WNBA are causing sensation, is the big bet of the team this year, but we must not forget the Bulgarian Jaklin Zlatanov.
Thanks for the heads up from an anonymous commenter. If you're with Extrugasa Vilagarcia or Prodep, let us know how Tamera does in the off-season!
P. S. How do you say "Pigtail Power" in Spanish? "Poder de coletas"?
Searching for intelligent blog conversation about the WNBA is like looking for a ham sandwich at Mecca - an utterly futile gesture. Today's blogsearch is dominated by fratboy blogs who were surprised that the fight did not live up to their sexual fantasies (such as they are).
However, I believe I've found the best take on The Brawl so far from an unexpected source: "Discovering Hair". A must read for those who care about hair and the WNBA.
Rethinking Basketball, Women's Hoops Blog, Ladies' Court -- notice has been served.
1. I only caught part of "The Brawl" in real time. Around 10 pm or so, I flipped over to ESPN2 (I would have watched the game, but I like spending time with my non-WNBA watching wife). I fully expected the final part of the game to leak over the 10 pm mark -- trust me, I've been reading about the fury of MLS fans who have parts of their games preempted.
So all I see are a bunch of players standing around and Bill Laimbeer saying, "(Microphone cut for swearing) She won't be back in the league next year." My wife turned to me and said "what did he just say?" I thought he was talking about a player.
Then my wife asked me to change the channel.
2. It just goes to show you that keeping a daily blog fresh is hard. I wake up and there are like 14,000 comments about the brawl. The big WNBA blogs have already reported on it.
3. Everyone has an opinion about it. My opinion is limited to a six-minute YouTube clip I saw before I went to work. The impression it left me with is that Plenette Pierson and either Candace Parker or Lisa Leslie had some words during a rebound. Later, after a free throw, Pierson and Parker exchanged some words, and the brawl was on.
4. I think the footage is going to be watched by WNBA fans more than the Zapruder film, with magnifying glasses to examine it frame by frame. And of course, after everyone can see the objective truth, there will be 10,000 opinions as to what actually happened.
5. It's a fucking shame that Cheryl Ford got hurt. That sucked, and I'm no more of a fan of the Shock than any other roots-for-another-team blogger.
6. Right now, it looks as if the fans are trying to determine if the fight is a positive (brings more attention, negates opinion that WNBA is "soft") or a negative (negative publicity, Ford hurt, major starts suspended). At least Q at Rethinking Basketball is trying to analyse things from the hard facts of history rather than just opinion. (His conclusions are that the fight hurts the WNBA more than it helps it.)
7. Yes, I agree that President Donna Orender has a big problem on her hands. Who gets suspended, and for how long? A five-game suspension means a lot more in the WNBA than it does in the NBA. I'm looking for the referee blog at WNBA.com, which has strangely disappeared....
8. I think that every other post on Rebkell is about "The Brawl".
9. I'm going to be very bold and say: "I just don't have an opinion." Not yet, anyway. This is actually a Federal crime in sports blogging, where writers are expected to have an opinion about everything, at all times, with a minimum of 1000 words posted per opinion. I expect FBI agents to raid my cubicle at any time right now.
10. I suspect that in any future non-WNBA film clip talking about Bill Laimbeer and the "intensity" he brings as a coach, they're going to be showing this clip. He's probably dreading the questions they'll be asking him thirty years from now.
This will hopefully be the last of the games that I will either a) not be attending in person, or b) not listening to on the radio. The reason I "missed" this game is because it started at 11 am. Not only is crunch time at work so hard that taking the day off would have been an impossibility, but there is no radio at work. I am a cubicle slave - even though I'm in a "four cubicle" in which I'm the only inhabitant so it's almost like having your own office. However, since my cubicle is across the way from the Chief Financial Officer's office, I don't think he'd appreciate hearing the fine sounds of Art Eckman waft overhead. (And I need the phone, so putting on earphones isn't an option.)
We therefore have to resort to the boxscore and second hand accounts to tell us something about this game. We'll do the usual analysis: Four Keys to Victory, flow of the game, individual efficiency, and talk about what the box score can't tell us.
Shooting percentage: This key is almost as important as the other three keys put together. The Monarchs shot 42.2 percent; the Dream shot 34.8 percent.
I want to introduce a concept called effective field goal percentage. To be fair to a team, a team should get extra credit for three-point goals that it makes. The formula is:
(field goals made + 0.5 * three pointers made)/field goals attempted.
Sacramento: 46 percent
Atlanta: 37 percent
Taking three point field goals into account, the gap gets even wider. Atlanta only shot 15 percent from three point land, 3 for 19.
Turnovers: Sacramento 14, Atlanta 18. Sacramento was able to hold on to the ball better as well.
Offensive rebounds: Kasha Terry really helped us out in getting offensive rebounds, but our edge was essentially a nonfactor. We had 11 offensive boards, the Monarchs had 10.
Trips to the free throw line. Sacramento beat us there as well, 26 to 23. Furthermore, they shot a few percentage points better than us there, too.
Flow of the game: The Dream got behind in the first quarter (22-13), got further behind in the second quarter (23-17) and it is clear looking at the 3rd and 4th quarters that the Dream never caught up.
Efficiency: Who were the most efficient shooters for the Dream? Kasha Terry and Ivory Latta. Each of these players had a number of points equal to or greater than their field goal attempts plust free throw attempts.
Least efficient? Izi Castro Marques, who needed 20 attempts to score 13 points and Tamera Young, who needed nine attempts to score three points.
Looking at the Monarchs, the efficient shooters were Nicole Powell and Kara Lawson.
Minutes played: No discernable pattern. It doesn't look like either team depended on its starters completely.
(* * *)
Which begs the question, "what can the box score not tell us?"
The Dream have had the awful habit of getting behind in the first quarter. Did they dig another 10 point deficit in the first quarter? No, but they were behind by nine points several times. This was one of those games where there was one tie in the early minutes of the game, and then the Monarchs took off and never looked back.
July 22 vs. Monarchs: 9 points behind in first quarter
July 19 vs. Mercury: 16 points behind in first quarter
July 18 vs. Monarchs: 14 points behind in first quarter
July 16 vs. Fever: 3 points behind in first quarter (W)
July 13 vs. Sky: 17 points behind in first quarter
July 11 vs. Silver Stars: 6 points behind in first quarter
Just looking at first quarters, that "10 points behind" seems to be true, at least in the last few games. The first quarter is the Dream's roach motel -- we check in but we don't check out.
Next: Betty Lennox was held to just one point in 17 minutes of play. What's even stranger is that she only attempted one field goal - her sole point came from a free throw. Looking at the box score, you might not know that Noox is our playmaker and leading scorer. Either she mentally checked out, or the Monarchs shut her down completely.
Looking back at the game-by-game logs on WNBA.com (which are only there for 2008), the last time Lennox scored only one point in a game was sometime in 2007 or before. My bet is you'd have to go back to junior high for B-Money.
We know that Izi Castro Marques got a technical foul in the fourth quarter. What we don't know is what happened? Izi isn't the kind of person who gives away flagrant fouls. The only conclusion is that she smarted off to some official.
You wouldn't know that two members of the Monarchs had career highs. Scholanda Robinson's 17 points were a career high, and Laura Harper (a rookie) had 12 rebounds, also a career high.
You wouldn't know that Ivory Latta lost the cap on her right front tooth in the fourth quarter. The Monarchs knocked it right out of her month. You'll find this out in an article by Jenna Marina in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The article discussed the physicality of the match, and that the Dream knew that this match was going to be physical but they just couldn't match the Monarchs.
Furthermore, we find out that Scholanda Robinson was the offender. We find out from The Sacramento Bee that the late-arriving Robinson was applauded by her teammates for effort when she got to the locker room. She wasn't applauded for knocking Ivory's tooth out...we think.
This should be a line in the boxscore:
Lost teeth: Atlanta 1 (Latta), Sacramento 0
However, there is one stat in the boxscore that the Dream can enjoy. Over 10,000 in attendance. I only wish they had been there to see a better game.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Swanny has his "Transgressions" statistics up at Swanny's Stats, where we learn some interesting things regarding who fouls and who doesn't for the Dream.
Katie Feenstra is second in the league in offensive fouls committed with 19, beat out only by Nakia Sanford of the Mystics with 21. I suspect, however, that Feenstra "commits" most of these fouls due to her size, as refs assume "the big woman done it". I also suspect that once you get a reputation for committing offensive fouls, your reputation precedes itself. "It must have been Kit, she fouls all the time."
On the other hand, Izi Castro Marques has not committed an offensive foul this year. She's played 372 minutes, putting her in fourth place in the WNBA for 2008. The leaders are Swin Cash and Sheryl Swoopes of Seattle, which gives you a clue as to why Seattle is doing so well. Not only that, Izi's also in fourth place in Most Minutes Played Without Drawing an Offensive Foul.
Jennifer Lacy and Betty Lennox are in the top 10 in Most Offensive Fouls Drawn. (Plenette Pierson of Detroit and Nakia Sanford of Washington are tied for the lead.) Lacy has drawn 13 offensive fouls, good for fifth. Betty Lennox, at 11, is tied for eighth with three other players.
What about travelling? Katie Feenstra and Betty Lennox are tied for second, wtih 10 each, along with Charde Houston of the Lynx.
As for three-second lane violations, Kasha Terry has committed five this year and Katie Feenstra has committed four. I don't know what to say about this particular stat, but if I could figure out what to say about it, it wouldn't be good.
According to Josh Bagriansky at Score Atlanta:
DeSouza is doubtful (on Tuesday). And the team is shooting for Thursday’s practice as a date for her to return to the floor. Don’t expect the Brazilian to make it back until this weekend’s games against Washington and New York.
That's okay, Érika. We can wait.
Monday, July 21, 2008
So what do we have to look forward to when the regular season ends? What will happen is that the 2008 Atlanta Dream will scatter to the winds, as each of the players on the Dream looks for jobs overseas.
Where will everyone go? We don't know. News from European women's basketball is sometimes spotty, due to the language barrier if nothing else. Most of the data below comes from the WNBA itself, when they listed where all of their players were playing overseas at the end of 2007. As far as I know, we know nothing for sure since the end of the European/Asian seasons.
Betty Lennox: KV Imperial AEL (Cyprus). From what I understand, KV Imperial finished 14-0 last year. (I'm only beginning to decipher the complexities of European professional basketball.) Lennox, however, is not listed on the team's current roster.
Ivory Latta: Elizur Holon (Israel). Latta is not listed on the team's current roster. Elizur Holon finished 8-13 in the Israel League last year. Ivory posted about her experiences in Israel on the WNBA Blog. More about her signing here.
Kasha Terry: Ramat Hen (Israel). Terry is not listed on the team's current roster. Ramat Hen finished 13-10 in the Israel League last year.
Kristin Haynie: Vilnius (Lithuania). Haynie is still listed on Vilnius's roster. Vilnius finished an amazing 25-1 last year, good for first place in the Lithuanian League.
Alison Bales: Dynamo Moscow (Russia). Bales is not listed on the team's current roster. In a Q & A session, Bales talked about playing in Russia.
Katie Feenstra: Shinsegae (South Korea). Feenstra is not listed on the team's current roster. My understanding is that each team on the Women's Korea Basketball League is allowed to have one foreign player. The Shinsegae Cool Cats finished at 9-20 last year, in last place.
Iziane Castro Marques: Hondarribia (Spain). Since I can't read the roster, I don't know if Izi is on it or not. Hondarriba finished 9-17 in the Spanish League last year.
Ann Strother: Acis Leon (Spain). Strother is not listed on the team's current roster. Acis Leon finished 18-8 in the Spanish League last year.
Erika de Souza: Ros Casares Valencia (Spain). Erika is not listed on the team's current roster. Ros Casares finished 23-3 last year, good for first place in the Spanish League.
Jennifer Lacy is listed as playing for "Miejski", which is supposedly a Polish club, on the WNBA website. The problem is that there is no club called "Miejski" in the Polish league. If I can get to the truth here, I will.
As for Chioma Nnamaka and Tamera Young, both are rookies. We don't know where they'll be playing after the season is over, but we'll definitely be letting you know when we find out.
From Yuko Oga's diary:
And last Foul again, I was charging.
こっちの審判のファールに、対応しきれていない証拠ですね。 It's Foul referee, the evidence does not support the piece.
１回目から５回目までのファールは、本当にプレッシャーをかけたときのファールで、どこが基準なのかわからないままで、終わってからブリジット、ジュリーに話を聞けたので、次のゲームから気をつけたいと思います。 From the first round until the fifth Farr, really spent a lot of pressure when Farr, where the standards are still not sure, after Bridget, Julie聞けた, so to speak, from the next game and I want to .
コーリーには、「出たらファールしないように」って言うことを言われていたので、それが「ファールアウト」ということになり・・・ Corley, the "Foul not be displayed" I have been told to say, it is "Farr-Out" and
本当に、反省しなきゃいけないと思います。 Indeed, I would not have got remorse.
でも、自分の中では、チャージングをとれたことが、「少しこっちのバスケットスタイルに慣れてきているのかな～」なんて思った瞬間でもありました。 But he is in, charging that it is TORETA, "It's a little style baskets have been accustomed to?" But I thought the moment.
It really makes you think.
It's a lot more fun writing about winning than losing, although writing about losing can be illuminating. I wonder how the people on the Atlanta Hawks beat must have felt in the non-playoff years of the Hawks, having to writing column after column kicking a corpse around.
The Dream headed to Phoenix for the final game of a six game road trip. The team had played a game in Sacramento the night before, waited for a commercial flight, had to check their luggage the same way you and I check it, had to deal with the same old flight delays, landed in Phoenix, and probably had just enough time to get dressed before playing yet another game.
The pregame from Art Eckman had its share of nuggets. From Coach Meadors, we found that Erika de Souza...is running. Or at least, she has run, apparently without incident. The plan is to put her in for a few brief minutes on the Tuesday game and gradually increase her minutes for Friday and Sunday. Given her few brilliant performances before her injury, this is good news.
We also got some idea of how the Dream will be spending the Olympic break. Six members of the Dream go on vacation for the first week of August. Then, those six come back and six disappear the next week. During the break, the members of the Dream - save Erika, who will be in Beijing - will work on their individual games and on community service projects.
There were still some questions to be answered. Would Cappie Pondexter play? Would Phoenix hang around with the 2-1-2 zone? (Art Eckman would probably not tell us that.) Could the Dream win the rebounding battle that Coach Meadors said was the key to getting a win? Who knew?
It was time for tipoff...
1) The Dream starters: Latta, Lennox, Castro Marques, Lacy and Terry. Very surprising to see Kasha Terry start. She probably got the start because Alison Bales did so poorly in the last game.
2) One of the questions was "would the Dream give up another 10 point lead in the first quarter?" The answer, clearly, was "yes". We set our usual inept standard of shooting and passing, combined with the usual dumb mistakes that a road logged team makes.
Betty Lennox threw the ball out of court. Kasha Terry made not one but two three-second violations. The Dream racked up six turnovers in the first quarter alone.
Not that we weren't doing well at first. Lennox seemed to be able to find the basket in the first quarter, unlike in previous games. We were only down 15-11 to start the quarter....
..and then Phoenix went on a 19-2 run that essentially ended the game. The first quarter ended 29-13. Atlanta didn't make a single visit to the free throw line and shot 6 for 20 from the field, exactly 30 percent. That was when the fans suspected that it was going to be a lonnnnnnnng night in Phoenix.
3) With a 21 point lead shortly into the second quarter, Phoenix had pretty much put this one in the "win" column and they began to send out their scrubs including....
a) Yuko Oga. Oga would set a career high in minutes played with 17. (She would probably set a career high in personal fouls during a game, fouling out in the fourth quarter with six.)
b) Alice Quigley, a little used rookie out of DePaul, and
c) Brooke Smith, a rookie out of Stanford. The only regular season games she's played in have been games against the Dream, with two career games in total. She would not only score her first points...ever...in the WNBA, but actually score nine points against the Dream.
4) Only Kasha Terry and Tamera Young kept us in the second quarter at all. Part of the help was that Phoenix kept sending us to the free throw line while not making any free throw attempts at all in the second quarter.
5) Aside from visits to the free throw line, Phoenix was dominating every stage of the game. We won the second quarter -- 24 to 22 -- in a quarter when Phoenix had three rookies on the floor. We managed to crawl within 14 points, 51-37, by halftime.
6) Telling stat:
Atlanta sent ten players onto the court in the first half. Six of them scored.
Phoenix sent ten players onto the court in the first half. All of them scored.
7) The halftime talk was with Sue Panek, Director of Basketball Operations for the Dream. She threw down some interesting knowledge:
During the six game road trip, the Dream:
* took 31 bus trips
* stayed in six different hotels
* spent 17 hours waiting for transportation
* flew on six different airlines
* spent time in nine different airports
And like I said, the Dream were flying commercial, just like you or me. At least they had rows to themselves and were not in the back of the plane. However, they had to get their two hours before flights to check their bags.
8) We also learned about a basketball camp being held August 4th-5th at the 2nd Baptist Church in Atlanta, off Ponce de Leon. Dream players will be holding a mini-camp. For information, call 404-604-2626 and ask for Andrea Blanton. I'm going to try to find out more about the camp.
9) By halftime, Kasha Terry had 14 points and 7 rebounds. Both were career highs and the game wasn't even over. On the other hand, Alison Bales had played 11 minutes and had scored zero points.
10) The starters got back in and began to try to pick away at the 14 point deficit. Problem was, Phoenix put their starters back in as well. With the help of Izi Castro Marques and Ivory Latta, we managed to stay within 14 points.
Was Phoenix concerned? Hardly. They put Yuko Oga back in again. With Alison Bales in, Oga actually fouled Bales. That's like the joke about the flea and the elephant. Yuko Oga is sort of a Japanese version of Ivory Latta, only without the talent.
11) As for the third quarter, the quarter where the Dream traditionally come back...well, no. Phoenix just dumped on us. They shot 48 percent from the field in the third quarter and scored an amazing 38 points.
You have to realize that 38 points in a quarter would put most NBA teams to shame. Phoenix's 38-point effort was tied third all-time for most points in a quarter in a WNBA game. (The record holders? Phoenix, who had 40-point quarters in two different games in 2007.)
12) With the score 89-65 at the end of the third and the game a foregone conclusion, the Dream would have to drag themselves across the floor and pray that they could keep Phoenix from reaching stratospheric levels of points. At 5:22 left in the fourth, Coach Gaines called a full time out with the score 98-70. The question was undoubtedly, "should Phoenix go for the all-time record in points scored?"
13) Having no reason not to, Coach Meadors threw Chioma Nnamaka into the game. Nnamaka acquitted herself well, scoring four points on four attempts with two offensive rebounds in six minutes of play. Clearly, the Chioma Nnamaka Era has begun in Atlanta.
14) We learned the answer to the question, "would Phoenix run up the score?" The answer was "no", as Phoenix showed a lot more class in this home game than they did at Atlanta where they treated the Dream as sort of an annoying figure of jest. The final score was 110-84. If Phoenix had scored five more points, they would have had the record, but in the final minutes of the game, Coach Gaines was playing Brooke Smith.
15) Postmortem on players:
Lacy: Scored one point in almost two quarters of play. Nonexistent. She must have too busy admiring the championship ring from the 2007 season that she received from the Phoenix Mercury to bother to come out and play.
Castro Marques: Scored 17 points, but on 21 shooting attempts. Most of her shots were from free throws.
Kasha Terry: Career high 16 points. "Player of the Game", such as it is.
Betty Lennox: Disappeared. Six points total on 12 shooting attempts.
Ivory Latta: Did a decent job. 18 points. Shot well.
Tamera Young: Abysmal. Nine points, 15 attempts.
Alison Bales: On milk carton somewhere in Phoenix.
(* * *)
So, the road trip is over. It wasn't bad, two road wins and four road losses, with most of the losses coming due to the sheer fatigue of travel. We have an 11 am game on Tuesday and the sad part is that I won't get a chance to be at it, nor listen to it on the radio. I damn the necessities of having a job. Oh, if I could only get paid to blog!!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Taking a break from blogging today, which might not be a wise decision as next week is crunch time for work.
We had our two year old godson with us this weekend. I've spend most of the weekend eating junk food, dealing with a squalling two year old (as you might guess, my wife and I have no children), and generally being displaced as the center of attention.
I'm logy from the bad food and pretty much exhausted. My goal is to have a writeup on the Phoenix/Atlanta game sometime by Monday.
By the way...do you realize that there are only ten games left in the Dream season? It's amazing. How did it all go by so fast?
Saturday, July 19, 2008
The author of the Women's Sports Blog has been following the Pleasant Dreams blog. (Go to the blog. It's a good read.) However, the author is puzzled by the use of Wins Score and asks, "if Wins Score is a better metric than Efficiency because it doesn't take into account field goal percentage, then why do you report field goal percentage at all when talking about the Dream and the teams it plays?"
Let's first get into the details about field goal percentage and why some people like Wins Score better than Efficiency. The primary point is that to a certain degree, both are linear metrics -- each good thing you do gives you points; each bad thing you do loses you points.
Field goal percentage is equal to the number of field goals you make divided by the number of field goals you attempt. Therefore, any stat that is counting field goals made and field goals attempted is incorporating field goal percentage in some manner.
Both metrics count field goals attempted, but only Efficiency counts both field goals made and field goals attempted, whereas Wins Score skips the "field goals made" part completely, incorporating it into "Points". Why is this bad?
I'm going to repeat the article written by DJ at The Wages of Wins Journal. Let's look at, say, Chioma Nnamaka coming off the bench. She tries three field goals and makes one of them in her five or so minutes of play.
Efficiency has (Field Goal Attempts - Field Goals Made) and subtracts all of that from "Points". Nnamaka made two points. She had three attempts, and made one shot.
2 - (3 - 1) = 2 - 2 = 0.
So Nnamaka wasn't hurt at all by her 33 percent field goal percentage. It's an additive metric, so all we've done is add "zero" to the final total.
Let's assume she took four shots instead of three. One was a three pointer that went in, the other three were misses.
3 - (4 - 1) = 3 - 3 = 0.
In this case, Nnamaka isn't hurt by a 25 percent field goal percentage.
The problem is that these are very low percentages for success. The problem with Efficiency is not that it counts field goal percentage; the problem is that it places too high a value on it. In Effiency, anything above a 25-33 percent field goal percentage (depending on how many threes are taken) will be rewarded in the final results. This is a very very low standard to set.
Wins Score avoids the problem by not tallying up the number of field goals made. With Wins Score, field goal attempts are subtracted out, and Nnamaka would have earned 2 - 3 = -1 point for her crappy shooting.
Is Wins Score more reasonable than Efficiency? Part of the results have to do with a "smell test". I can count just about anything I want to, height, age, shoe size, add it up using some bizarre calculus and claim the results mean something. It would be circular reasoning to claim that the results verify what you set out to prove, when you claim that things are being added to or subtracted from the metric because they give you good results.
Wins Score passes the smell test to me more than Efficiency, which is why I use it.
(* * )
This then gets to the question, "So why are you including field goal percentages at all in the report if some metrics overvalue them?"
Victory". Efficiency and Wins Score are combined metrics and individual metrics. They are primarily designed to measure what one single player brings to a team, and they measure the totality of the combination.
Dean Oliver's Keys, however, looks at the entire team and is looking at pieces, not an entire combination. Efficiency and Wins Score says, "Which player has the best overall game?" and players can be compared across teams. The Four Keys to Victory ask, "what parts must an individual team do well to win an individual game?" They are essentially separate questions.
Field goal percentage is important at the individual game level because a team only gets a certain number of possessions during a game. Every time you take a shot, miss, and don't get the offensive rebound, you've given the other team a chance to score. If you miss a lot of shots, you give the other team a lot of chances to score. At the game level, it hurts.
However, in a way, both the Keys to Victory and Wins Score link up. Both say, "We're not going to reward a team/player for shooting 33 percent from the field." It's amazing how separate things begin to fit into a larger picture once you look at them. One problem that both Efficiency and Wins Score have is that neither values offensive rebounding very well, which Oliver's metric does.
I hope this answers the question. If it doesn't...well, I would go to blogs like Rethinking Basketball or Swanny's Stats or Storm Defense. There are a lot of guys who can explain this stuff better than I can.
Rebkell has a thread called "Why are you a women's basketball fan?" There have been all kinds of stories that are told, each one different than the next. I was about to reply on Rebkell, until I found my response turning into a blog post.
I wasn't even a basketball] fan before this season. Whenever I played, I played it poorly. As a Kentuckian, I of course followed the Wildcats, but that was about it. I found the NBA inherently dull.
The key was that my wife and I have moved about every couple of years. We've lived in Florida, Tennessee, and now Atlanta. And I've always had a rule with my sports fandom, which was baseball fandom: you support the home town team. I didn't want to be one of these guys wearing an "enemy hat". Wherever we went, I supported the hometown team.
When I lived in New York, I was a Mets fan.
When I lived in south Florida, I was a Marlins fan.
When I lived in Nashville, I was a Pirates fan, since the minor league affiliate at the time was a Pittsburgh affiliate.
And when I came to Atlanta, I was a Braves fan.
So why go over to the Dream? Well, they were a brand new franchise in Atlanta. Therefore, I supported them. Furthermore, the league had only been around for ten years, meaning that the learning curve as to WNBA history wouldn't be as steep as say baseball's learning curve (pro baseball has been around since 1871 and before).
What really intrigued me were the new APBRmetric tools, all the new stats crunching stuff. I'm a stathead, I have to admit it, but I always suspected that "points scored" didn't tell the whole story of a team. Now, the numbers in basketball actually mean something.
Of course, this was tenative at first, but when I started watching I was hooked. The WNBA, bluntly, has a better class of fan than baseball. Not to say that baseball fans aren't classy, but WNBA fandom is more intense. Furthermore, there isn't the crowd of drunks in the crowd that you have to deal with (a real problem at Marlins games). It's a real "family atmosphere", as opposed to other sports where the crowds are middle aged men. (And there's no friggin way you'd get me to attend an NFL game, even if you gave me tix on the 50 yard line - every football game I've attended was filled to the rafters with obnoxious drunks.)
The players are fantastic. They don't seem to have the massive ego and entitlement issues that have absolutely infected pro sports and which seem to come with media attention and millions of dollars. I don't know if its something gender related, or if its because of the struggle to get playing time for little money, but the players are more likely to treat fans as participants in the sports experience as opposed to nuisances.
I also love the international aspect. One of the problems with pro sports is that there isn't much of an international following - for a baseball fan, MLB is it. From November to February, one has the "hot stove league" where one talks about the upcoming season. Carribbean baseball, which is commonly called "winter ball"? Doesn't exist in the eyes of the MLB follower. Whereas WNBA fans have women's college b-ball to tide them over, and all the pros go overseas to play on Russian and European teams.
There's a whole friggin' universe of basketball out there, and it seems that I've rarely touched the surface. As George Harrison might have said, "the more you look, the more there is to see".
From the official Mystics Blog, called Pass The Ball: the following was written by Crystal Langhorne.
So I am pretty tired of fighting with the old people on my team lol. I always get into arguments with Alana, so one day I bodyslammed her; of course the other elderly woman, Nakia, had to jump in and they beat me up! My other young people, Bernice and Vaughn, were nowhere to be found. So I let that slide because that was about my second week into the season.
However, the other day I got into another argument with Alana. I kept talkin smack because I saw Bernice was in the room with me. So I kept running off at the mouth and they attacked me: Alana, Monique and Nakia, and of course Bernice was nowhere to be found. Again. Nakia had the nerve to beat me with my own bag. And they gave me a wedgie on top of that. But don't worry, I'm going to get them all back when they are by themselves because they can't handle me one on one.
You know after Alana and Taj went off on the Mystics during that halftime when the scored 14 points as a team, this might not be a joke.... One victim is Tree Rollins, who was relieved of his duties after Detroit came to down and drubbed the Mystics by 37 points.
Not even Pigtail Power could help us. Photos provided by SPMSportsPage.com.
Let's face it. There's no way to put lipstick on a pig. Until the fourth quarter, that game stunk. The Dream stunk, and the Monarchs stunk.
Back when the San Francisco Giants were playing at Candlestick Park, they faced the challenge of wind off the bay in addition to whoever the Giants were playing that night. Temperatures would reach teeth-chattering extremes at Candlestick. Late night extra-inning games would be torturous on the fans. Any fan who survived a late night game received the "Croix de Candlestick", a small medallion given out by the Giants organization as a tribute to endurance beyond the call of fan duty.
Anyone listening to that game - or attending it - should receive the "Croix de ARCO" or the "Dream Cross" or the "Order of the WNBA". That game wasn't to be watched, but survived.
1) At the beginning of the game, Art Eckman interviewed Coach Meadors. She gave us a hint at the kinds of stats she looks at. I believe Eckman said something about Kristin Haynie having a good turnover-to-assist ratio," and Meadors quickly answered back that Latta also had a good turnover/assist ratio. Clearly, Meadors is using metrics of some type in evaluating talent instead of just using her eyes.
Why would you damn a coach using her own eyes? Because, as any stathead knows, the eye can fool you just as well as a stat line.
2) Meadors gave a preview of the Phoenix game tonight. She said that Phoenix would most likely stay in its 2-1-2 zone and that the key to winning would be rebounding. If we rebounded, we'd win.
3) Erika de Souza ran yesterday. This is very good news, not just for the Dream, but for Brazilian fans. No word as to whether or not Erika experienced any pain, but I assume not.
4) Now on to the game. Once again, as Jaye said, the Dream should just spot their opponents 10 points and start the bench players instead. It was another one of those abysmal starts with the Dream not able to hit anything they were shooting at. Izi Castro Marques started again, and she disappeared again. Four points. Only 13 minutes played.
Castro Marques alternates between good basketball and aweful basketball every other day. Which means that Phoenix should be very very worried. My suggestion: just start Izi every other game.
5) We must have had two throwaways in the first quarter, primarily because someone botched an offensive assignment. The Dream players were literally throwing the ball to players that weren't there.
6) At least Meadors kept a promise. Eckman said that Meadors told him, "If we get down six points early I'm calling a timeout." And so, she did. It didn't help. We were down 18-6 at one point until the Dream shot a couple of threes at the end to make it 18-12 at the end of one quarter.
7) Once I saw the numbers, I knew this was going to be a horrible night. Atlanta went 5-19 in the first quarter. Sacramento went 7-22. No team could hit the iron, which meant that any team that had even a modicum of success shooting would have a chance of winning.
8) In particular, Betty Lennox had a horrible start. She was 0-9 at one point in the second quarter.
9) During one run between the first and second quarters, Sacramento missed at least ten consecutive shots. It seemed like the scoreboard absolutely refused to budge.
10) As Art Eckman said, "My goodness! The passing is horrible!" Atlanta kept coughing up the ball. But that was okay, because in the first half, Sacramento scored zero points on Atlanta turnovers.
11) Another sign of desperation: both sides had already gone through the entire active roster in terms of substitutions before the end of halftime. Both teams were trying to desperately find someone who could shoot. Atlanta was 9-31, at 29 percent shooting. Sacramento was 10-36 at 27 percent shooting. This was a junior high school game.
12) Free throws were particular telling on the Dream. They went 2-9 at the charity stripe in the first half and finished 13-22 at 59 percent for the entire game. The road lag must really be getting to the Dream. I hope no one in Phoenix gets the idea to play Hack-a-Feenstra tonight.
13) Do you remember that Family Guy episode? The one that jokes about the WNBA and goes: "That's up for the fan to decide?" and the next scene is one lone fan in a section of empty bleachers going "Yay?" I think he was watching last night's game.
14) Atlanta then started to get hot in the third quarter. Relatively speaking.
I'm reminded of an old baseball staying regarding the 1944 St. Louis Browns, when the manager made some substitutions and was asked if he felt his benchwarmers were getting hot. "No, I feel those bums on the field getting cold," he said.
The Dream went on a 10-2 run, with Kristin Haynie scoring a couple of baskets. More on Kristin later.
15) Then Sacramento went on a 15-3 run. The only sign of life during this run was a three-point basket by Strother. Art Eckman said that Marynell Meadors told him that basketball is "a game of runs". Yes, Coach Meadors, it's a game of runs when neither team is consistent. Other than that, it's just terrible.
Lacy went in the wrong direction offensively during one play. Scholanda Robinson once stripped the ball out of Kasha Terry's hands. The Monarchs had a 19 point lead at one point in the third quarter and led by 16, 57-41, going into the fourth.
It was after 11 pm. Let me tell you that this game was certainly not helping me stay awake.
16) Telling shooting stats at start of fourth quarter:
Castro Marques: 2 for 8
Latta: 1 for 8
Noox: 0 for 9
17) However, the Dream had one secret weapon. The Monarchs were just as inept as the Dream. Atlanta then went on a run. And what a run! It was a 20-4 scoring extravaganza.
What caused it? I don't know. Maybe Atlanta was just saving up its strenght. With the score 67-50 in favor of the Mnonarchs, the Dream began hitting everything. Lennox and Latta came back to life. Sacramento was once called for a 24 second violation.
Fate tilted everything in the direction of Atlanta. By 1:28 left in the fourth quarter, we were behind by one point, 71-70. Kristin Haynie took the shot that could put the Dream in the lead....
...and missed it. However, the ex-Monarch led all members of the Dream with 12 points.
18) However, this was the high point of the night. We would only score three more points. Robinson was yanking passed out of the air. Ivory Latta lost the ball at one point. Katie Feenstra committed a foul setting a block, although that could have simply been referee Michael Price noticing that his whistle was momentarily dry.
If I'm right, our final three points were made be free throws, all by Betty Lennox.
19) On the whole, this is a game we could have won. Losing 77-73 on the road when both teams can't shoot 40 percent means that pretty much both teams were playing at equal levels of ineptitude. Sacramento's four point victory could have been attributed to home court advantage, such as it is.
20) Attention Betty Lennox and Ivory Latta: when it takes at least 17 shots each to score 11 points for each of you, there's no reason to be proud of your double-digit numbers. It only took Kristin Haynie 10 shots to score 12 points. (I'm not even going to mention Nicole Powell's 12 points in 19 attempts.)
21) I went to the WNBA game site to read comments. I got a message: "Sorry, this forum was not found." I think the WNBA is just trying to hide it.
22) So what was the key to the game? Well, there weren't many keys to the game, since both teams were awful. Let's look at Dean Oliver's four factors in order of importance:
Shooting: Atlanta 36 percent, Sacrament 37 percent. Nothing there.
Turnovers: About the same, Dream 20 and Monarchs 19. Turnovers are about as half as important as shooting overall.
Offensive rebounds: Here you go: The Dream was outhustled on the boards not only in offensive rebounds (15-9) but overall rebounds (45-34). Neither Alison Bales nor Katie Feenstra stepped up on the offensive end. Each had zero offensive rebounds. Jennifer Lacy led in that category with three.
Visits to the foul line: As opposed to "free throw percentage". Sacramento only had slightly more visits (25-23), but we only shot 60 percent from the stripe. The Monarchs shot 80.
(* * *)
In short, when both teams are awful at shooting, the game is going to hinge on "which team does the little things right?" In this case, one team -- Sacramento -- did a little thing like getting offensive rebounds right. And the Dream did something that every team usually automatically does right -- make free throws -- and did it wrong.
This is why we didn't get the win we wanted. However, we came mightily close. For all of you who listened to this game in its entirety...awards for everybody!!! Yay!!!
Friday, July 18, 2008
Apparently there's some guy in Minnesota who opened mouth and inserted foot. He's a conservative talk radio host who stated "You know what [the WBNA] is? That's a place for lesbians to make out when they score."
You can read the dirty details yourself. Frankly, I'm not surprised. Anyone on talk radio, liberal or conservative, sure ain't being selected for their intelligence. I went to this guy's blog and I'm surprised they don't let him out with a protective helmet so that he doesn't hurt himself.
However, this provoked a new line of thought. According to the radio website, they are the flagship station of the Minnesota Vikings. I'm sure this guy follows the Vikings, Twins, Wild, men's college basketball, like most of the "jock crowd".
Have you ever noticed that most of these guys follow men's sports exclusively? And don't you notice that most of the audience for those sports is men? (Go to a Braves game, for example.) And that most of these men are drunk, to lower their inhibitions?
I don't know, buddy. As Neil Patrick Harris would say, "Sounds like a real sausage fest to me."
From Frisco Del Rosario's journal, regarding the trials and tribulations of being a Sacramento Monarchs fan:
[16 Jul 200811:01am]
Traci Westmoreland called as part of the customer service aspect of her job as Sacramento Monarchs business development executive/season ticket account manager.
"Are you getting all the mail? Did you receive the media guide? And the gift for season ticket holders?" she said.
I don't know if our season tix holders have ever gotten friendly calls. One of the Atlanta tix holders will have to answer that.
"Yep, yep," I said. "Gonna wear my Kristin Haynie jersey Friday, and my Phoenix Mercury jersey next Thursday."
I'm hoping that you'll occasionally cheer, "GO DREAM!" It's easy once you get the hang of it. (/ducks) Although if you get another call, you might ask Sacramento either to update their official blog (one month old now), or just take it down.
Let's take a look at the last 20 WNBA games: the home team has beaten the visiting team 16-4. (Atlanta was one of those visiting teams that escaped the axe.) '
The 20 games before those 20 games, the home team has won 14-6. (Once again, Atlanta got a win on the road.) I don't want to look at home vs. away win percentage for every team in the WNBA, but I suspect that the grind of the WNBA season is really starting to get to a lot of teams. Just looking at the June results, it seemed that the visting teams had a better chance in June than they did in July. Furthemore, from looking at the Hollinger Rankings, there's a lot of parity in the WNBA and just being the home team can be a decisive advantage.
As we've learned from following the Dream, during the Chicago game, the road Dream didn't even have time for a practice, just a walkthrough. With road teams having to play back to back games and with everyone exhausted it's a good time to be at home in the WNBA.
Our next trip is Sacramento tonight, and it's probably one of the worst situations: the Monarchs are finishing a four-game home stand, and they've won two out of three of those games. They lost to the Storm, but have beaten both the Sparks and the Mercury. The situation against Phoenix on Saturday will be no better -- they'll be finishing up a three-game home stand, and we know that Phoenix doesn't respect the Dream. Remember when they declined to dress Cappie Pondexter when they beat us at home by 18 points? The message was, "we can beat you with one hand tied behind our back."
If I can have a win against one of these two teams, I'll take it against Phoenix. It would be nice to beat them at the home court and put some doubts in their minds that they can repeat as champions. But if I have to get my win at Sacramento....well, let's just say I won't complain.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
More interesting stats from Swanny:
Most FG Attempts Blocked, 2008 Season
1. Swin Cash, Storm and Katie Douglas, Fever: 23
5. Betty Lennox, Dream: 20
18. Ivory Latta, Dream: 18
Lowest Percentage of FG Attempts Blocked, 2008 Season
(min 50 attempts)
1. Cathy Joens, Sky: 0 percent (0-74)
8. Camille Little, Dream/Storm: 1.4 percent (1-70)
Most FG Attempts Blocked in One Game, 2008 Season
Nicole Powell, Monarchs at Silver Stars, July 3 -- 5 blocked
Ivory Latta, Comets at Dream, July 3 -- 4 blocked
Way to chase that biscuit, Izi! Pic courtesy of SPMSportspage.com.
Once again, I didn't get a chance to see -- or even hear -- the last Dream game. I was at work and sadly enough, not only was I engrossed in a time dependent project but my computer is not set up for streaming radio sound. (And I suspect that the workload today will keep me from updating the blog, which irritates me.)
So once again, all I had to go by were second hand accounts and the team boxscore. As it turns out, the blog Rethinking Basketball turned me on to one of the best statistical writers in basketball, a man by the name of Dean Oliver. You can find his article archive right here. Sadly, he doesn't do fannish writing anymore -- he's been hired by the Denver Nuggets and has become their Director of Quantitative Analysis. Sadly, all of his future work is proprietary, all rights reserved by Denver.
Dean Oliver had this to say about boxscores:
A boxscore gives you something else. It provides a summary of the entire game. It's a bigger picture than what a game recap typically gives. It cannot show a crucial run that "decided the game," as the popular press likes to say. It cannot show Joe Dumars going 3-3 in the last minute to seal a victory. It really tries to show the foundation of the game before that last minute or before that last run. It includes information on that last minute, but it doesn't emphasize it. Because it doesn't emphasize much of anything, the boxscore can be overlooked by people not interested in the whole game. For me, however, the boxscore is very valuable.
So the first thing we'll do is get and idea of the pace of the game.
Possessions are defined as
[(away FGA - away Off Reb + away TO + 0.4 * away FTA) + (home FGA - home off Reb + home TO + 0.4 * home FTA)]/2
Plugging in the numbers we get:
[(67 - 7 + 14 + 0.4*15) + (72 - 13 + 15 + 0.4*26)]/2 = 82.2
This estimates that each team had the ball 82.2 times. Before you reply, "Why do I have to do one of these constipating math problems?" I'll quote Dean Smith who quoted the great Frank McGuire from the University of North Carolina: "A quick glance at three figures (our points per possession, opponent's points per possession, and total possessions) helps the coach to determine any changes he must make."
Now, we look at points per 100 possessions:
Since the damned WNBA site won't provide league totals, the points per 100 possessions last year was 92.6. This means that this was primarily a game where offense dominated on both sides. Atlanta dominated offensively, but not defensively.
Let's take a look at the flow of the game:
Atlanta: 20 20 15 26
Indiana: 20 18 13 26
Clearly, this was a close game all the way. If any one team was behind -- as Indiana was at one time -- they came back to make it a real contest. Atlanat only won the game by four points.
The next thing to look at: starters minutes.
Only two players on the Dream played "starters minutes", and I make the cutoff at 25 minutes. Izi Castro Marques played 36 minutes and Alison Bales played 33. Betty Lennox came close. Atlanta is still having to rely on the bench to provide much of its offense. Compare this to Indiana, where five players played starters minutes. Atlanta relied on four of its starters -- Douglas, Hoffman, Sutton-Brown, and Bevilaqua to do the lion's share of the work. Only guard Tan White failed to get "starters minutes" for Indiana.
We know one thing: this was no rout by the Fever, or the starters would have been taken out early.
Now we can start looking at individual offense of the Dream players.
Stats will be listed in the order of MIN, FG-FGA, FT-FTA, OFF REB, DEF REB, TOT REB, AST, PF, ST, TO, PTS.
Castro Marques 36 10-20 2-2 1 2 3 3 1 3 3 24
After her last game where she scored zero points, Izi picked up 24 points. She came very close to her career high of 26 points.
Was she efficient? One way to determine this is to use some complex metric like floor percentage. The cheap and easy way to do it is to count the number of shots taken and compare it with the points scored. If shots taken is less than points scored, she was efficient.
24 points scored. 22 shots taken. Yep, Izi had a good day.
Bales 33 3-5 2-2 3 8 11 1 1 1 2 8
Even Bales was efficient offensively. When she took shots, she made them.
Lennox 23 5-9 2-2 0 5 5 2 1 0 2 16
Lennox was very efficient offensively, scoring 16 points on 11 shooting attempts.
(* * *)
Unfortunately, there is one thing that a box score cannot tell us. Defense. All you can do is begin to match up players and try to guess who was guarding who. However, I suspect that defense was lacking on both sides in this game. Maybe Indiana just got tired. Maybe it was Izi's hot shooting hand. Either way, we can simply look at the most important stat in the boxscore: Final points scored. That got us the win, and I'm glad to get it.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The official link to the Sacramento Monarchs blog has been pulled. The blog hasn't been updated in over a month and I officially consider the blog dead. If you're a Monarchs fan and you detect signs of life in the blog, let me know.
This is the second official team blog that is dead in the water. The Houston Comets official blog hasn't been updated since May. Houston, Sacramento, you're looking like real chop-house organizations from my P. O. V.
It appears that work is not only picking up, it will stay picked up until around July 27 -- which is when I go on vacation with my wife. I'll try to keep the blog updated, but I can't make promises. I will try to keep the Hollinger Rankings updated on Rebkell, at minimum.
There's some great reading at Score Atlanta (or is that "Score Atl"). Josh Bagriansky writes:
Another revelation has been the combination of 6-foot-8 Katie Feenstra and 6-7 Allison Bales in the post. Although she didn’t use them together much against Chicago, Meadors said she expects to use the duo in certain situations, starting against the Fever tomorrow.
Unfortunately, this combination hasn't worked all year. We're not Ruth Riley and Ann Wauters, no matter how much Meadors wishes it were so. Then again, maybe today is the day for it to all come together.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
While netscouring, I found an interesting opinion about the WNBA found in a blog about NASCAR, of all things. As Julie Bork says it....
Let me explain:
How many people remember when the WNBA was emerging a couple of years ago? It had a great start and there was lots of interest, and there were many basketball stadiums that were built and remodeled to accommodate a national women’s team. So what happened? The Houston Comets dominated the first five years of the sport, and people lost interest. So you say what about those people from Houston, they did not loose interest, right? WRONG! The ticket sales declined to almost nothing even in the Comets home town. You can hardly give the tickets away for free now. I am from Houston, and I lost interest too.
There's no way to prove that hypothesis, of course. But it's a very interesting one.
A hair raising afternoon. Courtesy of SPMSportsPage.Com.
"we put in what should be the starting five after we're down 8..... why don't we just start with them and spot the other team ten...."
I usually make notes while I'm watching a game. When a game is close, I generally write a lot; when a game is out of reach my paper looks blank. And let me tell you something, this was one blank looking paper. Which matched the way the Dream looked on CSS last night - blank, for the most part.
All right, my game notes:
1) Iziane Castro Marques. Started. Nine minutes. Zero points. Her last four games have been something like 10 points, 0 points, 7 points, and 0 points. Either Izi shows up, or she doesn't.
There are only three reasons I can figure Izi gets a start:
a) After the debacle in Madrid, Meadors is trying to restore Izi's confidence,
b) Meadors believes that Izi provides "veteran leadership", or
c) Meadors is trying to apologize for her belief that Izi spoke Spanish and not Portugese.
2) And...Katie Feenstra. She played fifteen minutes and scored 21 points. Let's not talk about the six minutes Kit played over the first three quarters, where she scored only two points. I suppose they were the anomaly, but God, these confidence-building exercises Meadors is trying are just killing me.
3) Interesting stat of the first quarter: with 5:57 left in the first quarter, the Sky took a 12-2 lead.
Atlanta never came to within 10 points of the Sky for the rest of the game. The Sky took an early first quarter lead and never abandoned it.
4) We finally got to see Chioma Nnamaka, probably as a mark of Coach Meadors's desperation.
Four minutes. Zero points. One rebound. And in Coach Meadors's mind, the Chioma Nnamaka Era is over.
5) I believe Atlanta was 3-20 in field goals for the first quarter. Trust me...it wouldn't get any better.
6) We brought in Haynie. We brought in Strother. But unlike the past few games, bringing in the reserves did absolutely bupkus.
7) We scored a measly six points in the first quarter, and added 11 more measly points in the second. By haltime, the Sky had a comfortable 44-17 lead. The Sky shot 16-29, 55 percent from the field with 19 rebounds. The Dream shot 6-33, 18 percent with 11 rebounds.
There are very few teams that can dig themselves out of a hole that deep, and we're not Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman over here in Atlanta.
8) In the third quarter, we tried more experimentation. We put Feenstra and Bales in at the same time, a combination that has never worked. We had at least four unforced turnovers in the third quarter...and those were the ones I counted.
People really underestimate the impact of unforced turnovers, like double dribbles. This sounds like elementary school basketball, but you have to keep your hands on the ball when you're down by 27 points.
9) Now, let's talk about Katie Feenstra's amazing fourth quarter. Her 19 points in the fourth is the third most points scored in a quarter by any player in WNBA history, and surpasses the 18 points Betty Lennox dropped on the Lynx in the fourth a month ago.
I've complained before about the fact that when referees in the WNBA see two players grappling, they seem to give the foul to the person who tries harder. You can punch someone in the throat, and the referees will call the foul against the person whose larynx you just flattened.
For some inexplicable reason, Chicago decided to play "Hack-a-Feenstra". Katie is a foul magnet, and they figured -- probably for laughs at this point -- that it might be fun to see if they could get Kit to foul out.
When you foul someone who is trying to score -- as Kit was last night -- three things are going to happen.
a) They're going to score anyway,
b) They'll get sent to the foul line, or
c) They'll get charged with the foul (this is the WNBA, remember?)
This works against Shaq in the NBA, as he's likely to miss both free throws -- Phil Jackson once said that missing both free throws is just as good as a turnover. Kit is a 69 percent free throw shooter. Not as bad a Shaq, mind you, but 69 percent isn't anything to write home about.
The problem was, Kit hit every free throw she scored. She went 11-for-11. The Dream wisely gave her the ball, and we actually cut the Sky's lead to 13 points. The Sky, however, didn't have to rue the day they sent Kit to the free throw line, as they led by 27 points going into the fourth.
POSTSCRIPT: Feenstra also had eight rebounds.
10) Ivory Latta: 23 minutes, and only three points. She went 1-5 for shooting. There's another indicator as to why we lost.
11) If you look at minutes played on both sides, you'll see that non-starters are getting a lot of minutes. This is because Meadors was desperately trying to substitute and because the Sky felt free enough to give their non-starters minutes.
(* * *)
Okay. The best we can do is forget about this one. One of our problems is that we can't just can't shoot. Of Dean Oliver's four keys to victory, shooting is 50 percent. I don't know if the reason why we're wearing blindfolds out there is because everyone else is so much better defensively or because we can't find the bucket. However, according to the WNBA, we have the second worst shooting percentage in the league.
On Wednesday, we go to Indiana to play the Fever. The Fever probably have the slowest, take-it-easy offense in the League. Washington scored 14 points against them in a half, then came back and won. If our three-point shooting is hot and if we actually figure out how to put the ball in the metal hoop, we could beat the Fever. However, I suspect that on most days, we need a compass and a map to find the hoop.
Let's just hope the needle points to "north" on Wednesday afternoon.