Saturday, July 19, 2008
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!!!