Sunday, August 31, 2008
It was time for the Dream to come back to Philips Arena. God knows, I'd waited long enough. Hearing that I-85 would be blocked by road construction, I schemed to find an alternate route to the Arena. And of course, with every new shortcut, there are...glitches. Glitches that must have literally taken me ten miles out of my way, glitches that would have made me better off taking I-85 south as I had originally planned.
It was a bitter sweet homecoming. Of course, we'd play the best team in the East and of course, we'd get flattened. Here are my thoughts regarding the game:
1) I had been told that the Atlanta Dream would be wearing pink jerseys. The pink jerseys were to be in honor of breast cancer survival. The Dream players would wear pink T-shirts in warmups, but I never saw any pink jerseys - and if those jerseys were pink, I need to get my eyes examined. That pink looked suspiciously like "home team white".
2) The sellout crowd was serenaded by the Shades of Pink Breast Cancer Survivors Mass Choir who sang the National Anthem. Breast cancer survivors would be honored several times tonight.
3) We were also treated to "Olympic Gold Medalist" Mike Thibault (as he was announced). I mean, okay, I'm sure he worked for that gold medal, but I think that Anne Donovan and an all-star team of players had more to do with gold than Thibault did.
4) There would be no Nikki Teasley. We would later learn that Teasley is still five-ten pounds above her playing weight. As it turned out, she wouldn't play the next game, either. It might be a chimeric hope to see Nikki Teasley in a Dream uniform during the 2008 season.
5) TIPOFF. Once again, we had another lineup. Bales, Castro Marques, De Souza, Latta and Lennox. This lineup seemed to work pretty nicely -- at first, anyway. Izi and Erika connected for inside shots so smoothly that I actually hoped that we would win this one. We led! Six to two!
6) Then, reality sat in. Asjha Jones began to turn on the power and the Sun scored the next fifteen points. From 6-2 to 17-6. And once again, it would be Coach Meadors calling the first timeout.
7) Both sides looked like they wanted to make an impression in that first quarter. The basketball was pretty damn good.
However, there were a few glitches here and there. Latta was fouled early on, and she made such a big deal that Ivory will be playing Ophelia in a Broadway revival of "Hamlet". Sun token cute girl Erin Phillips turned and collided with Sandrine Gruda.
The following table is included.
8) At the end of one, we were down 26-21. We looked really good. And then...Kasha Terry was unleashed.
A low rumble was heard from miles away. This was Atlanta Dream Message Board poster "jaye" swearing up a storm. Kasha did what Kasha does best, namely pick up personal fouls with no benefit incurred. Forty-two seconds in, she had two personal fouls.
I swear, we have to get rid of Kasha Terry in the off-season.
9) Everyone gave it their all in the first quarter, and both sides got tired. The referees lept in. Olympic Gold Medalist Mike Thibault earned a gold-medal technical arguing over a Barbara Turner offensive foul.
10) With an inexplicable Full Media Time Out, a microphone was given to a breast cancer survivor. She tended to ramble on a bit, but hey, if you have breast cancer you have to right to say whatever the hell you want to in a microphone.
11) Why didn't Latta start the second quarter? I'd like to know the answer to that one.
12) Atlanta was a tuna can, and the Sun were an electric can opener. They opened us up pretty good. They extended the lead to a 52-31 lead and there was a real danger of a blowout. The problem was that no matter how well we were shooting, the Sun was shooting better. We were shooting 43 percent but the Sun were shooting almost sixty. This game could in no way, shape or form be called a "defensive struggle".
13) By halftime, Tamika Whitmore had 16 points. Lindsay Whalen didn't have any points but she had four assists. The Sun was shooting 59.5 percent. Problem: We had sent the Sun to the free throw line 11 times. Furtermore, the Sun had 15 assists at halftime to our four.
13a) Assists by Izi Castro Marques at halftime: four.
Assists by rest of Dream: zero.
14) R & B sensation Jarvis performed at halftime. He sang "Pretty Girl" at a decibel level so high it deafened Canadian geese at 40,000 feet.
15) The breast cancer survivors were announced individually during halftime. I thought that was a class act on account of the Dream.
16) NOW I figured out where the pink jersey went. WNBA President Donna Orender got it!
Interesting trivia. I didn't know that Donna Orender actually played pro basketball herself.
This is when Donna (Geils) Orender played for the New Jersey Gems of the Women's Pro Basketball League. She was one of twenty players to play all three seasons of the WPBL. She was a guard.
Bill Bolen, president of the Atlanta Dream, presented her with the jersey. I suspect that this plan was to sign Orender to a contract. Hey, the Shock signed Lady Magic, and how much worse off could we be with Donna O? We'd get every refs call you could think of. Unfortunately, Donna turned him down.
17) The person in the audience we should have signed was this guy.
Yeah. Dr. J. He was there. The crowd went nuts. (Can you imagine Alison Bales, Kit Feenstra, Erika De Souza, Tamera Young and Julius Erving on the court?)
18) The third quarter was the Asjha Jones show. It's pronounced "ASIA". I know it's pronounced Asia because the announcer pronounced her name shot after shot after shot. The Dream would score 16 points in the third quarter, whereas Asjha "ASIA" Jones would score 12 points against us all by herself.
19) Finally, with no one else to turn to, Coach Meadors put in Katie Feenstra. Feenstra kept the crowd from losing interest in the bottom of the third quarter all by herself. She looked pretty good out there. (She'd score 13 points in this game, second only to Betty Lennox in points tonight.)
20) Kristin Haynie was called for a foul, and Coach Meadors exchanged a few words with one of the refs. I thought she was going to rack up a technical, fer sure.
21) That didn't happen, but Meadors must have rubbed a raw nerve. As the fourth started off, Tamika Whitmore was called for a technical foul. She must have called the ref something pretty nasty, because I didn't even hear them exchange words. She must have called the ref the magic baseball word, the one that begins with "m", ends with "r", is twelve letters long and ends with an instant ejection.
22) Ivory Latta was named Favorite Dream Player during a promotion where those in attendance could text the name of their favorite players. Latta and a lucky fan won a Pink Blackberry Curve.
23) I assume WNBA fans lean to the left in general. One of the breast cancer survivors was wearing an Obama T-shirt. I've seen all kinds of Obama wear, but I haven't seen a sign of a McCain logo. Tell The Maverick to show up at a Dream game. It would probably get him a few votes; WNBA fans are very forgiving.
24) SCARY MOMENT: Lindsay Whalen went down to the floor in the fourth quarter and stayed there. As they dragged her back to the bench, a fan stood up behind the Connecticut bench. She was wearing a Whalen jersey and a colored Afro wig. After the game, I bumped into the woman and asked if anything was wrong. "I hope not," was her answer. (It turned out Whalen suffered an ankle sprain.)
25) Near the end of the game, with 1:16 left and the score 97-72 Sun, Kasha Terry was substituted for Jennifer Lacy.
With 1:08 left, Terry picked up her fourth foul. (I heard someone swearing off in the distance.)
(* * *)
Okay, what do we say? It seemed that no matter what we did, the Sun could do more of it and better. Let's look at the boxscore:
Shooting percentage: We broke 40 percent. Usually, we win or have a good shot at winning when we break forty percent. The problem was that the Sun was shooting 54 percent.
Offensive rebounds: Looking good. Both teams had nine rebounds. We solved our offensive rebounding problems, at least for this game.
Turnovers: Fifteen on both sides. Dead even.
Free throw trips: We sent the Sun to the free throw line 31 times. The Sun only sent us 10 times. That was one of the keys to the Sun victory.
Flow of game: The Sun were dominant during every quarter, except the last one. And the Dream only outscored the Sun by one point in the fourth.
Lennox: Not great. 19 points on 25 shots. This is where the box score can mislead you. Lennox actually had a sub-par game.
Feenstra: 13 points on 10 points. It was a great game for Kit, and she had six rebounds.
De Souza: 11 points on 9 shots. Six rebounds. Also a great game for Erika.
Lacy: 8 points, 7 shots. Good game for Jen.
Latta: 7 points on 10 attempts. Only made one of five 3-point attempts. Lousy game for Latta.
Southern Belle Milk Carton of the Game: The Sun reserves. Jamie Carey, Barbara Turner and Tamika Raymond combined for seven points in 51 minutes and 52 seconds.
Honorable Mention: Kasha Terry. Only 2:45 played, no shots taken, one rebound, and four personal fouls.
(* * *)
Our players generally had good games (well, Haynie only scored two points in 22 minutes, so there are exceptions.) Would the Indiana Fever the following night prove a different story? Find out...when I get around to writing it!