Friday, September 12, 2008
What? We won? You gotta be kidding me!
Okay, it's time for the post-mortem and a few thoughts about last night's win.
Shooting percentage: The Dream had the edge, 42.6 percent to 36.4 percent. When the Dream doesn't shoot at least 40 percent, they have virtually no chance of winning the game. Beating the Sparks in shooting was a necessity to get a tough road win.
Offensive rebounds: The Sparks won - but not by much, 15-13. What is even more astonishing is that the Sparks virtually tied the Dream in overall rebounding, 36-35. Either the Sparks failed to be aggressive under the basket, or the Dream stepped up to the challenge of getting the ball.
Turnovers: The Dream led this category, but it was a virtual tie, 15-16.
Free throw attempts: The Sparks easily led, 29-18. They were sent to the free throw line much more often than the Dream were.
So where does the Dream win come from? We'll have to look for it elsewhere. First, let's go back to free throw shooting. The Dream went 17-18 from the line, for 94.4 percent shooting. Despite Los Angeles's 29 trips to the line, they only hit 23 shots for a 79.3 percentage. For all the time the Sparks got sent to the line, they scored a measly six more points than the Dream.
Second, let's look at the shooting. The Sparks tried 12 3-point shots and only hit one. Whereas the Dream tried 24 shots - and hit eight of them, for a 33.3 percent 3-point percentage. It was the combination of poor free throw shooting by the Sparks and the deadly 3-point accuracy of the Dream that did the Sparks in on their own home court.
There's a third factor that might be overlooked: the "X" factor. The Sparks, as I wrote yesterday, are only 2-7 when behind at halftime, which is an odd statistic. When the Sparks get behind, they tend to mentally snap. I suspect that Lisa and Candace get frustrated with the rest of the team, the rest of the team responds in kind, and everyone breaks down. The Spark played with a distinct lack of oomph, and the faces on the Sparks bench did not betray frustration, but rather resignation. "We lost this game...oh well."
Flow of the game: The quarter by quarter score portrayed a seesaw affair. Even in the fourth quarter the Sparks still held the lead, but were outscored by the Dream 26-13 to lose it yet again.
Who is guarding who?: It was Ferdinand-Harris's job to guard Betty Lennox when Ferdinand-Harris came off the bench. Ferdinand-Harris lasted a grand total of 7 minutes and 16 seconds. That wasn't working.
Los Angeles starters in the backcourt were helpless. Kiesha Brown and Shannon Bobbitt combined for a grand total of two points.
It seemed as if Alison Bales was guarding Candace Parker and Erika de Souza was given the thankless job of guarding Leslie. Neither were very effective. Parker would score a double-double and Leslie woued come close.
Shooting efficiency: Us, then Them
Castro Marques: 23 points, 18 attempts, 4 for 9 with 3-point shooting. Castro Marques is clearly my Player of the Game for the Dream.
Lennox: 21 points, 26 attempts. Five rebounds. Not that great a game considering Los Angeles's lousy backcourt.
Lacy: 9 points, 7 rebounds. Astonishingly, she wasn't throwing bricks out there.
Latta: 7 points, 12 attempts. Horrible shooting, yet her 10 assists makes up for it. This is the second time in Latta's career that she's had 10 assists - she had 10 assists in a 97-76 loss to Detroit where she scored 26 points.
Young: 7 points, 7 attempts, 6 rebounds. She actually got significant playing time.
Bales: 6 points, 6 attempts, 9 rebounds. Alison was doing a Erika de Souza-type job.
Paker: 23 points, 24 attempts, 11 rebounds, 7 assists. She'd be the Player of the Game on the Sparks's side.
Milton-Jones: 21 points, 21 attempts, 7 rebounds. Not bad at all.
Leslie: 16 points, 23 attempts, 9 rebounds. Leslie's free-throw shooting was particulary bad, as she went 8 for 12.
Could been a billionaire....: Raffaella Masciardi and Margo Dydek. Only the act of taking a shot - and missing it - kept each of them from amassing a completely blank statistical line.
Southern Belle Milk Carton of the Game: Shannon Bobbitt of the Sparks. Oh-fer-5 in shooting, no free throws, one rebounds. Started the game. Played almost 15 minutes with nothing to show for it.
(* * *)
And now, let's look at the implications this game has for the Dream.
The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers amassed a staggering record of losses in an 82-game NBA season. They went 9-73 for the year, for a .109 winning percentage. In my opinion, this is the worst winning percentage of any major pro franchise in history (that isn't football, which has a very small number of games).
The Dream challenged this record, but with their fourth win, they are guaranteed at least a .117 winning percentage (assuming they lose to Seattle tonight). The Dream are not the worst pro franchise in history. That's saying something.
Are they the worst franchise in WNBA history? It depends on what benchmark you set.
Do they have the fewest number of wins? No. The 1998 Washington Mystics went 3-27.
Do they have the most losses? If they fail to beat Seattle tonight, then yes. The 2006 Chicago Sky went 5-29. A loss tonight would be the first 30-loss season in the WNBA.
Do they have the smallest winning percentage? No. The 1998 Mystics finished with a .100 winning percentage.
There is another method to measure a "worst team". After the season is completely over, we'll see how the Dream stacks up against historically bad teams.
What does all of this mean for coach Marynell Meadors? She has the excuse that this an expansion team with a lot of bad players. What has happened to the coaches of bottom-feeding expansion teams?
1997: Denise Taylor of the Utah Starzz managed to keep her job after finishing 7-21 in the first year of the WNBA's existence. However, after heading towards another bottom finish for the Starzz in the Western Conference, she was fired in mid-season in 1998.
1998: Jim Lewis of the historically bad Mystics lost his job just 18 games in the season, after a 2-16 start.
2000: Lin Dunn managed to survive a 6-26 opening season with the Seattle Storm. Not only did she manage to survive, she's head coaching the Indiana Fever.
2006: Dave Cowens resigned after his 5-29 first season with the Chicago Sky to join the Detroit Pistons coaching staff of the NBA.
It's hard to read the tea leaves, but history suggests that the head coaches of expansion teams that finish at the bottom usually don't get fired. If Meadors ends up in the toilet again in 2009, she'll probably lose her job. I would put money, however, on Meadors keeping her job and leading the Dream (hopefully) to victory in 2009. She'll make the decisions regarding who we draft and her signature will be on the team for some time to come.
All right. Enough yakkin'. Enjoy the win. Let's go to Seattle, whip them, and then plan for the off-season.