Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The Junior Shooting Stars in Action! (See note below.)
I pegged this game as one of two upcoming games we had a chance to win. Betty and Izi know the Storm about as well as anyone can. And for about 25 minutes, we played the Storm very well. Then, the roof collapsed and the Dream was left digging itself out of the rubble one more time.
Get your coffee. Let's talk.
1) One warning should have been that "GO STORM" sign I saw one of the spectators wearing. I also saw a cute, thin, short-haired girl wearing a Storm jersey. Clearly, there are some displaced Seattle fans living in Atlanta.
2) Last night was "Mascot Night". There were mascots from the following organizations:
There was also a man dressed in a gorilla costume and another dressed in a banana costume. Banana Man was intent on forcing a conversation with me. I asked him what organization he represented, and he said he represented "bananas around the world".
The people setting next to me were wondering who the hell this guy was. The other mascots seemed to treat him as radioactive. I think he must have represented some mental institution somewhere in Atlanta.
3) We got to see the return of Camille Little (#20), this time in a forest green uniform. No one from the Dream spoke to her. The entire Dream team marched into the locker room after warming up and I don't think a single one so much as threw her a glance. She got cut off, baby!
Whereas Betty Lennox and Sue Bird embraced at the start of the game just before tipoff. If the Storm hated Lennox, I never saw it on the court.
4) The pre-tip off entertainment was the Osborne Marching Band from Cobb County. I thought they were quite good, despite the fact that they had to squeeze a marching band onto a basketball court. This restricted what they were able to show us.
The sad part is because it was pre-tipoff, they were shoved into the 6:30 p-6:40 p slot, which is when the seats are deserted. This really can't be helped. There's so much mad running around just before a game starts among officials, players, mascots, and announcers, that the band can't be moved to a timeframe when the crowds are more full.
5) For once, we didn't have a celebrity (pseudo or real) singing the National Anthem. We just had a local high school girl. That girl should have been on American Idol. Or maybe, she will be.
6) When Yolanda Griffith was announced, I was informed that she played for UConn. I think Huskies alumni would be surprised by that; Yolanda most of all.
7) When Erika de Souza was introduced as a starter and ran out to mid-court, she did a little shuffle, sort of a half-tap-dance-half-dance. Of course, the other players weren't going to let Erika outshine them. Everyone else added some dance moves, except Betty who was all business.
8) Starters for the Dream: Castro Marques, Latta, DeSouza, Lacy, Lennox. Another day, another new lineup.
9) GAMETIME! Izi lit it up at the very beginning. Betty Lennox was cold, however. We started 3-11 overall.
Of particular concern is Ivory Latta. She has completely forgotten her mid-range jumper. Instead, she has now taken to try drive in for layups, a bad idea when you are COUGH five-six.
How small is Latta? I saw her inadvertanly crushed between two Seattle Storm players while everyone was running to the enemy basket. I don't think the two Storm players saw Latta; it was as if two semi trucks inadvertantly crushed a Volkswagen.
10) Lennox was hitting nothing to start the game. That's when I noticed it. The QUIET of the crowd. Granted, many of the seven thousand or so were disguised as empty seats, but this crowd did not have any energy. I'd say after 26 losses much of the energy is depleted. The crowd had resigned itself to another loss; the only question was how would the Dream lose this time?
11) After one quarter, we actually led, 18-17. Part of that lead was the result of six Seattle turnovers. We were only shooting 35 percent after one quarter.
12) I noticed in the last game that Katie Feenstra has started to look for the ball, rather than desperately search out Lennox somewhere in the backcourt to dish it off to. However, Kit only played 2:44 this game. The second Ann Strother got close to that basket, she was desperately looking to get rid of the ball.
She succeeded. Over three minutes of play, zero points for Ann Strother.
12a) Could this be our problem? We only score when we have no other choice? No wonder the reserves played so well when Betty Lennox was in that slump.
13) Kit was eager to get the ball. Myself, I would keep Kit for another year. I think I'm in the minority of Dream fans, however, as Kit has become the brand name for "slow and awkward".
14) If there was any player eager to put on a show for the Atlanta crowd it was...Camille Little. She had 16 points and six rebounds, so thanks for nothing, Little. Little was playing like Michael Jordan (relatively speaking) in the second, making some acrobatic moooooves to the basket.
Someone was wearing a Camille Little jersey in the front row. If that person wasn't related by blood to Camille Little, then that's Double Treason. I suggest the death penalty.
15) The lead seesawed back and forth. Seattle looked pretty lost out there without Lauren Jackson and Sheryl Swoopes. As a result, they kept the Dream in the game.
16) FAMOUS VISITOR #1: Marvin Williams of the Atlanta Hawks. He didn't even bother to acknowledge the crowd.
17) Halftime. Seattle was leading, but it wasn't a blowout. 39-34, Storm.
At halftime, we had the "Junior Shooting Stars". The Atlanta dance team, called the Shooting Stars, put on their own clinic sometime last week. It looks like their clinic attendees - young girls - got the chance to dance with their teachers. It was fun watching the girls trying to match the steps of their much-older sisters in spirit.
18) Betty and Izi were in double figures by this point. Lennox had 14, Izi had 12.
19) In the starting possession of the third quarter, Griffith loss the ball as it was stolen by DeSouza. The ball ended up in Ivory Latta's hands, who passed it to Betty for the bucket. With just 9:16 left in the third, Brian Agler called a full time out.
20) The timeout didn't stop the Dream from going on a mini-roll. They led 40-39 after scoring six straight to start the second half. It would be the last time the Dream saw the lead in the game.
21) Then, Sue Bird took off. She scored a three-pointer. And then another bucket. Essentially, she shook the Storm out of their doldrums.
Little took a shot. She hit it. The Storm rolled off 11 straight points and the Dream found itself (again) ten points behind. Meadors called a time out to stop the bleeding.
22) Having little choice, Meadors unleashed Kasha Terry, who amazingly did not foul two times in her first minute of play. Betty Lennox hit a three pointer and it was time to announce....
...FAMOUS VISITOR #2. Julius Erving is in the house AGAIN! Hey, Dr. J., you can stay in the Place Where Dreams are Made Of as long as you want! I only wish you could see us do a little bit better.
23) By this time, everyone around me was chatting about Sue Bird. I don't know how much Sue Bird had to do with it, but the Storm weren't letting us back in the game. The quarter ended 62-50, Storm.
24) Now you have to give Kasha Terry credit. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, she had three fouls on her.
25) The Storm went on a mini- 6-0 run. They started at 65-54 and by the time I looked again it was 71-54. The Dream were starting to turn their bellies up in submission again.
26) Mascots Gone Wild! The mascots began throwing shirts to those in attendance. Banana Man was not given a shirt to throw, in fear that he might steal it, eat it or set it aflame.
27) I learned that a recycled aluminum can saves the three hours worth of energy it takes to make a brand new aluminium can. But wouldn't it take as much energy to recycle it. I must admit, the Jumbotron was not forthcoming with details.
28) With the score at 73-56 with 5:46 to go, I got a strange sensation. The fans had started exiting. It looked like a Dodgers game, with fans wanting to hit the Interstate instead of hang around for the eventual loss.
The Atlanta fans were voting with their feet. The place started to look bare. It was ominously quiet. Atlanta fans are infinitely forgiving of their beloved Dream, but I can understand why some fans felt the need to flee with more than five minutes left. The fans, like the players, can only take so much psychic battering before collapsing.
Meadors had "crossed arms" body language. She had this pissed-off look at her players like, "Hell, what do you expect me to do? Wave a magic wand and make it all go away?" At least the coaching staff is disgusted.
29) The Storm lead reached 21 points at high tide. Ivory Latta FINALLY started shooting, but no rational person expected her to undo a 21 point deficit with 2:57 left. Gee Ivory, maybe you should have found your "on" switch about two hours ago.
30) Final score. Storm 83, Dream 69.
31) Art Eckman came out to do the post-mortem. Meadors had the usual things to day. "We didn't play defense." How do you explain the 27th loss in some different way than the other 26?
They interviewed Betty. Betty looked like she was going to cry. I could see little patches of water at the corners of her eyes. She mumbled through an interview with Eckman, emotionally choked out "I love you, Atlanta!" and rapidly exited the court.
(* * *)
Good god. Good god, good god, good god.
Let's look at the horrible paper.
Shooting percentage: The Storm hit 48.4 percent of their shots. The Dream hit 32.4 percent. The last peformance I can remember that was that bad was when the Sparks held us to under 30 percent at home.
Offensive rebounds: About the same. 10 on both sides. The Storm got more rebounds overall, however, and Meadors blamed the loss on lack of rebounding.
Turnovers. The Storm actually turned the ball over more, 22-16. However, if we can't make anything happen from the turnovers, then who gives a rat's ass?
Free throw visits: Seattle 25, Atlanta 21. The Storm even beat us there.
Flow of the game: We held them for one quarter, and then the Storm pulled away a little bit more each time. If they hadn't let us score a little bit in the bottom of the fourth, this would have been a 20-point loss.
Starters minutes: Pretty much about the same.
Scoring efficency: Us, then Them.
Lennox: 25 points on 28 shots. An average game. Betty scored the most, but Betty took most of the shots.
Castro Marques: 12 points on 15 shots. Not that impressive.
DeSouza: 8 points, 8 shot attempts, eight rebounds. You get that kind of consistency from Erika.
Kasha Terry: 8 points, 6 shots. And only three fouls! This is a banner game for Kasha!
Sue Bird: 21 points, 16 shots, 9 assists. Easily the player of the game.
Camille Little: 16 points, 17 shots.
Yolanda Griffith: 16 points, 17 shots.
Swin Cash: 11 points, 13 shots.
Tanisha Wright: 11 points, 13 shots:
Southern Belle Milk Carton of the Game: Ivory Latta, who seems to have mentally folded up. She went 2-13 for the floor. She went 2-4 from the line. That's 7 points on 17 shots. We would have shot 4 percent better without her "contribution".
What has happened to Ivory? Has her brain finally imploded from the pressure?
(* * *)
I might have more to say about this particular game later. However, writing the facts alone was an emotional chore, actually stating my opinion on it might require heavy drinking.
New Postscript: The pic of the Junior Shooting Stars up above comes from this blog. The Dream will be glad to have her, either as a Dream player, or in cheering us on to another victory!