Monday, July 28, 2008
(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!