Saturday, September 13, 2008

2008/34 - Storm 77, Dream 72 (Part Two)

And now, the "Tale of the Tape" as they call it. All of these comparisons, mind you, are massively misleading. Sue Bird didn't play. Yolanda Griffith didn't play. Sheryl Swoopes didn't play. Swin Cash and Lauren Jackson were injured. These stats are the Dream vs. the Seattle "White Team", as I think one of the players said on the radio last night. (I assume there is a "white team" and a "green team" for Seattle's intrasquad scrimmages, the green team being the starters.)

Shooting: Seattle's B squad smoked us, 47.5 percent to 41.3 percent. However, note that 41.3 percent. When we shoot over 40 percent, we have a good chance of winning, and the final score shows we hung in there.
Offensive rebounds: Basically even, 11-10. Overall rebounds were basically even, 32-30. Seattle's rebounding was highly commended for their second unit.
Turnovers: Seattle beat us 12-14. Not much to say there.
Free throw visits: Virtually even. Seattle B squad went to the line 21 times, we went 20. We also shot virtually even, with the B's leading 76 percent to 75 percent.

Flow of the game: Looking at the quarter by quarter score is really misleading - it suggests a game where the lead swung back and forth a lot. We won the second and third quarters, they won the first and fourth quarters. However, we only had the lead one time in this game, a brief one point lead in the bottom of the third quarter that evaporated in ten second. Most of the game, we were limited to being tantalizingly in reach, but never getting there.

Shooting efficiency: Us, then Them


Young: When Betty Lennox went out of the game with achilles tendonitis, Young stepped up in a big way. She scored 20 points in 16 attempts. Tamera Young was the Dream's Player of the Game.
Feenstra: 16 points, 12 attempts, 5 rebounds. I was tempted to give Kit POG honors, but Katie can't drive an offense. Tamera did.
Izi: 10 points, 19 attempts. Absolutely horrible, and sort of like Izi all year. If she gets hot, she stays hot and if she starts slow, she disappears.
Latta: 7 points, 9 attempts, 4 assists. One three pointer. I don't know what to think of that.
De Souza: 5 points, 4 attempts, but only three rebounds.


Little: 21 points, 18 attempts. A career high. Also six rebounds and four assists. I'd name her Seattle's Player of the Game, easily.
Gearlds: 20 points, 21 attempts.
Wright: 14 points, 15 attemps, 4 rebounds.
Santos: 8 points, 7 attempts, 5 rebounds. The Seattle announcers gave her a lot of credit for her defensive intensity. However, that might just be hyperbole. That man was screaming his head off every time the Storm touched the ball.
Ely: 7 points, 12 attempts. Horrible shooting, but great rebounding. Eight rebounds.
Robinson: 5 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds.

Southern Belle Milk Carton of the Game: To give it to Kimberly Beck of the Storm is very tempting, but I have to give this one to Izi for her horrible shooting. Izi was 3 for 15 on the night.

(* * *)

Whew. That's it. No more games until next year. Very sad. No lessons to be learned, either. They'll be forgotten by the end of the year.

Here's the near post-season in a nutshell. Today, the Dream will be returning to Atlanta around 3 pm EST. There will be a contingent of fans to meet them there and say their final goodbyes and thank them for their work this season.

On the 14th and 15th of this month, I understand there will be "exit interviews". Meadors will talk to each of the players individually, probably with either suggestions ("you need to stop going for the dribble drive, Ivory") or with the sad news ("Chioma, we have no plans to resign you. You'll have to fight for a spot on the roster in training camp like everyone else.)

After that...the Dream will scatter. European seasons, like the Spanish (Young), Polish (Terry) and Turkish (Latta) begin in October. The Dream will be playing ball for their new teams, and it's my hope to find out how well they're doing and report back.

(* * *)

Now, a few comments about our record.

Our record of four wins is about a .100 winning percentage (.117 to be exact). The old Washington Mystics of 1998 had a .100 winning percentage (3-27). The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA had a historical bottom of 9-73, for a .109 winning percentage. There have also been a couple of NBA teams that have crossed the 70 loss mark.

Let's look at the best records of WNBA teams. The 1998 Houston Comets went 27-3 for a .900 record, and the 1999 and 2000 Los Angeles Sparks had 28-4 records for two years in a row, an .875 winning percentage. In the NBA, the amazing 1995-96 Chicago Bulls went 72-10, for a .878 winning percentage, the best ever in the WNBA. The amazing 1971-72 Lakers - who won 33 straight games at a time - went 69-13, for an .841 winning percentage.

In baseball, the rule is that "you'll win a third of your games, you'll lose a third of your games - and the rest is up to you." It's very rare for a baseball team to either win more than 108 games or lose more than 54. Teams that cross either benchmark are rarely encountered.

So it looks that the Dream's experience in 2008 has given us a rule for basketball like the rule for baseball: "you'll win a tenth of your games, you'll lose a tenth of your games - and the rest is up to you".

Basically, the only games we won were "random gimme games". It wasn't so much that we were playing brilliantly, it was either a) our time to win our one out of ten games that every basketball team gets to win, or b) the other team's time to lose its one out of ten games that it's destined to lose. (This rule does not apply to college basketball, as teams can be of wildly divergent strengths).

We have to face the cold truth. The Atlanta Dream was about as talentless as a WNBA team can be and still be called a WNBA team. That's okay. We'll get better.

But, there's also a truth for the Seattle Storm, who just beat us with their B squad: "Don't get cocky." For Los Angeles, it just might have been one of those statistical one-out-of-ten games where nothing was destined to go right for them. Our win over the Sparks might have not testified to talent on our part, but failure on theirs.

My suggestion for the playoffs: you might want to start Sue Bird this time....


triv said...

I went to about 8 or 9 games. The Dream do have talent but not team talent of playing together. If you look at the teams that had worse records, they had talent but either an expansion or team with bad ownership as the 72-73 Sixers team were. It is just that they don't have star players to get them over the top. The Dream were in a lot of close games but didn't have that go to player in the clutch. Tamera Young has the potential but needs time to develop. It is there.

pt said...

Triv, right now I've got Tamera Young at about a C-minus player, but part of my information is skewed - she just doesn't get enough playing time from Meadors for me to make a good assessment. (Although Dr. J, when he visited the Dream, said he was impressed with Tamera Young.)

I can see Betty and Ivory coming back. Nikki Teasley is a big bet from Meadors. Strother and Nnamaka are probably gone. Izi should be gone, but Coach likes Izi so what can you do? This puts Young right on the borderline.

As for the Dream not playing together, that's a big part of it. Players get used to a coach's style and expectations, and every player has had to scrap the system she came from last year and get into Meadors's system. Hopefully, everyone is on the same page in 2009.

triv said...

This team kind of reminds me of the show Facts of Life when they were in their first season. Marynell Meadors remind of the Charlotte Rae character, doesn't she. Lots of new people and a lot of chaos. Eventually, they stabilize with their starting 4 or 5 (I don't remember) for a long time. Cloris Leachman sucked though and the show down hill like most shows when you have Cloris Leachman. Just ask Ellen.

triv said...

When you have a new team, the key problem is team defense. For most of the year, it was non-existent till the last few game and perimeter defense was atrocious particularly from the forward position but that is where playing together comes into play. Pre-season for two games doesn't help. This where you need long training camp and some preseason games. The Brazilian players and most of the starting five didn't come till the first game of the season. Ridiculous. Something needs to be done by the commissioner. You just don't have continuity.

When you know where your teammates are on defense, you tend to create better positioning, rebounding, and transition which leads to better offense. You saw toward the end with the L.A. game. That comes with a good training camp and pre-season. Just ask Bill Sharman of the 1971-1972 Lakers.

Patrick said...

Izi takes time, she took three seasons in Seattle to become consistent. Prior to that she was there one game and gone the next. Also, the Dream point guards and bigs aren't using Izi's greatest strength in Meadors' offense. You need to rebound and outlet to Izi, there is not anyone in the league that is as fast with the ball as Izi. She won't win a sprint in practice, but give her the ball and she wins every time. She runs barefoot on the beaches in Brazil to train in the offseason. I liked Tamera Young a lot from what I saw of her last night. Ivory Latta is not their point guard of the future. They HAVE to figure out what to do with all that size. There was a time when Feenstra, Bales and DeSouza were all on the floor together. It was scary big.