Sunday, June 7, 2009

2009/1 - Dream 87, Fever 86

Angel vs. Briann...the battle is on!

The Pleasant Dreams Blog can proudly write two sentences without fear of contradiction.

a) The Atlanta Dream is playing better than .500 ball in the regular season.
b) The Dream are tied for first place in the Eastern Conference...with the Mystics.

So there's going to be a whole lot of writing going on. Let's see if I can write my way through to the end.

1. I definitely saw more orange than I've usually seen in Atlanta. I saw two young women wearing Tennessee replica jerseys. A friend told me something yesterday: in college, fans follow the name on the front of the jersey; in the pros, they follow the name on the back. I guess these fans were doing a little of both.

2. The National Anthem was sung by a barbershop quartet called "129 and Counting". This is part of the Dream's program which should be called "You Wanna Sing The National Anthem?" The quartet did a good job, which leads me to conclude that sports franchises would be much better off letting amateurs sing the anthem for free.

3. The new video and song was debuted on the Jumbotron for the very first time. The concept is that there are giant Dream players marauding downtown Atlanta, as building-high versions of Chamique, Michelle, Tamera et. al. are happily passing a rock that must be as large as a city block. (The video does not show the helpless citizens trampled underfoot, some of who are possibly praying for Superman to show up.)

4. Tamika Catchings got huge cheers from the crowd. Yep, as I suspected it, the Invasion of the Vol Snatchers is taking place right under our noses. Soon, I'll be singing the praises of Pat Summitt and wondering what's wrong with those freshmen...although frankly, that's not exactly a fate worse than death. If the Tennessee fans love the Dream, then Go Big Orange. (Sorry, I don't know the proper chant.)

5. Yep, when the Dream were announced for the first time, the organization brought out the blue runway lights and opened up one of their cans of smoke. Coco Miller was announced and she sort of stumbled out of there as if she had been missing in a fog bank in the last three days. The man sitting next to me said, "This is why we miss Ivory. She knows how to handle situations like this."

6. The starters for tonight's game: Castro Marques, Teasley, Snow (huge cheers), de Souza, and Holdsclaw (huge cheers).

7. Greeting the crowd: Chamique Holdsclaw, thanking the crowd for attending. The crowd seemed sparse as the announcements were being made, but trust me, it filled up. I don't know if there were really 8,709 people there but it was a damn good crowd.

8. Atlanta got off to a nice start, with Erika making two buckets to start the game and the Dream taking a 17-11 lead. Little did anyone watching know that this would be the biggest lead of the game. Holdsclaw was substituted for by Angel McCoughtry to the cheers of the multitudes.

9. The Dream that Atlanta would make short work of this game died quickly in the first quarter. Jennifer Lacy picked up two quick personal fouls to the boos of the spectators. Michelle Snow also picked up two personal fouls. Shalee Lehning did not look impressive in the first quarter, and McCoughtry looked like she was hanging on for dear life. Soon, the Fever had retied the game at 21-21 and only a pair of McCoughtry free throws at the end of the first quarter gave the Dream a 23-21 lead.

10. Both teams shot over 53 percent from the field in the first quarter. They wouldn't be able to keep it up.

11. The second quarter was marked by a defensive struggle - or at least a "nobody's hitting anything struggle". Nikki Teasley got her hands on the ball a couple of times and broke up two Indiana Fever plays, even though the ball got knocked out of bounds. We learned from the overhead that Teasley is donating $10 per assist to "Nothing But Nets" which is a charitable organization.

12. Tamera Young's arrival with 7:10 left in the second quarter made it official - every single player on the Atlanta roster would see minutes.

13. In the second quarter, the game teetered between Atlanta trying to get some distance away from the Fever and the Fever closing the gap right back to a tie. Tammy Sutton-Brown already had three personal fouls by the second quarter. We got to see some nice baskets by Holdsclaw. One was where Holdsclaw raised up to shoot, and Indiana got their hand up to block the shot, putting it on the ball hard as Holdsclaw raised the ball. However, Holdsclaw didn't lose control of the ball at all, and simply lowered the ball out of the defender's range, reloaded, and made the bucket. Holdsclaw can do some amazing stuff on the floor.

14. This is the first time I've seen a "double lane violation" We would see all kinds of weird stuff in this game. 3-second violations. 8-second backcourt violations, and at least three different lane violations. Ladies, don't you know that a lane violation is going to mean a jump ball?

15. Both teams scored only nine points each in the second quarter. The Dream actually led at halftime, 32-30. I think we were undefeated whenever we led at halftime last year - if I recall correctly, we led twice at halftime in 2008 and won both of those games. (That gives you an idea of how many games we won.)

16. The halftime act was something called the Sky Riders. The Sky Riders were a man and a woman doing trampoline stunts - from the crowd reaction, the crowd appeared to be very impressed.

Frankly, I couldn't watch. I was afraid that the beautiful young lady springing 35 feet in the air wasn't going to be so beautiful when she missed and did a face plant on the hardwood. However, she never missed the target. I just couldn't watch though, the game was already so close in the second quarter that you had to hold your breath.

17. Both teams had collapsed to sub-40 percent shooting. They would stay there for the rest of the game.

18. Near the concourse where I was sitting I decided that I needed to use the bathroom. The men's bathroom was empty. The women's bathroom appeared to be twenty deep. They just simply need to redesignate some of the men's bathrooms as women's bathrooms for the game. Either that, or the old tried-and-true method must be drawn out of mothballs - the women commandeer an empty men's bathroom while one woman serves as sentry.

19. In the third quarter, the starters returned to their work. At the half, de Sousa had six points and six rebounds and she was working her way up. To eight rebounds. Then eight points and eight rebounds...then ten points and eight rebounds.

20. Ebony Hoffman set a screen on Izi Castro Marques that just crushed her like a boot stepping on a Dixie Cup. Izi lay on the floor for an uncomfortably long time. I suspect that Izi didn't know where she was going. There was a series of quick passes by the Dream - a set play in the second quarter - that was punctuated with a question mark when Izi, her head turned somewhere else, was almost brained with the basketball. McCoughtry would replace Izi.

21. Briann January looked really impressive out there. She certainly looked very good against Shalee Lehning. Lehning couldn't do much to stop January, and January picked off a Lehning pass and almost converted the follow-up basket.

22. Yes, Virginia...they do call the rare beast known as the "Clear Path Foul" in the WNBA. Tully Bevilaqua was the offender. McCoughtry got two free throws (missing one) and the Dream were granted possession of the ball after her free throws.

23. It was about this time that I saw one of the strangest things I had every seen at a Dream game. There was a promotional contest where a Dream fan was asked to guess what song the Dream players on the Jumbotron was singing.

The song was sung...and I use the world Tamera Young and Jennifer Lacy, half tuneless and half giggling. It was a rap song, and the poor middle-aged white woman might have as well been asked to name Euclid's five postulates.

The crowd, however, was able to help her and give her the answer. The song - which I would have been helpless to identify - was Soulja Boy Tell'em's "Turn My Swag On". (You can hear it here.) I don't know anything about hip-hop, but I liked that song. I also now know why Holdsclaw and Young talk endlessly about "swag" on Twitter. From now on, I'm telling you I ain't done nothing to 'em but count this money. (Yeah, I'm getting money, oh.)

24. With the Dream up 44-40, the Fever went on a 6-0 run. Dream shooting went cold and I thought the Dream were going to fold the same way they had done numerous times before. Belivaqua sank a 3, then got another bucket a few moments later. With the Fever up 46-44, Holdsclaw made another amazing shot to tie it up and with 3.6 seconds left, Teasley sank a 3-pointer to put the DReam up 52-48 going into the fourth.

25. McCoughtry hit a couple of free throws to start the fourth - and the Fever went on another 6-0 run to tie the game at 54-54. Jennifer Lacy came back into the game...and picked up another couple of personal fouls.

The Dream scored four more points, including a nice "under hook" by Holdsclaw. Erika finally picked up her 10th point in this quarter, to give de Souza a double-double. Then Indiana went on a 5-0 run to take a 59-58 lead.

26. Something I've noticed: last year, the Dream had a lot of crowd shots, interviews, and the like. I suppose that when you're promoting a team you have to do that when the on-court product stinks up the joint. There were not as many "look at the weirdos in the crowd" cam shots on the Jumbotron - everyone was busy watching the game. That was a real change.

27. Atlanta can really hurt a team on the boards. De Souza is a beast.

28. Fitz Johnson -the newest owner for Women's Professional Soccer - was shown to be in attendance. The new Atlanta women's soccer franchise takes the pitch in 2010. (Pitch is the right word, right?)

Getting a bigger reaction: Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks was also present.

29. We left Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas out in the open for back-to-back 3-pointers. We went from a 60-59 lead to a 66-62 deficit. I thought we were doomed. There was only 3:33 left in the game. This is another place where the Dream of old would have folded.

30. The Dream don't seem to be using the T-shirt gun. Lots of T-shirts were given out, but no gun. Can we not afford propellant? Can we not see Star wielding the T-shirt gun like a proud mascot.

(Side note: when he was announced for the first time - that is, when time was specifically devoted to pay attention to Star - he was located in a limousine parked at the bottom of Philips Arena that was a mockup of the presidential limousine. I almost expected Star to take off his head and reveal himself to be Barack Obama in disguise.)

31. This time, the Dream answered the Fever with a 6-0 run of their own, tying the game with 1:17 left. As the game wound down, with the Fever up 69-68, Holdsclaw lost her handle on the ball, and Katie Douglas converted two free throws for the Fever to go up 71-68 with 52.3 seconds left.

By now, the "Player of the Game" was announced - Chamique Holdsclaw with 17 points as of the announcement.

32. As the crowd began amping up the decibel levels, Nikki Teasley made two free throws to bring the game to 71-70 with 45.8 seconds. With 16 seconds left, and the ball back in Atlanta hands, Tammy Sutton-Brown fouled Angel McCoughtry.

The first shot? Good. The Dream were now tied at 71-71. The second shot? Missed.. The Dream got the ball back with 0.8 seconds left on the rebound, but couldn't do anything even after a time out. We were now in overtime.


1. Immediately, the Indiana Fever reminded us why they're an Eastern Conference contender. They went on a 5-0 run to take a 76-71 lead with 3:38 left. Part of this was helped by two fouls from Coco Miller, her second and third.

2. The Dream answered with the next five points - helped by a steal from Erika de Souza - to tie the game at 76-76 with 22.8 minutes left. The Dream got the ball back on what was probably the world's fastest Five Second Inbounds Turnover - if more than three seconds had passed, I would have been surprised. Daryl Humphrey was to blame for that blown call.

3. I have never seen the crowd this into a game. The speakers piped out "Y-M-C-A" and panned to the crowd jamming along. Some poor woman was trying to do the dance, but didn't quite have the moves mastered. I think she belonged to the Y-M-O-H.

With the Dream up 78-76, Humphrey made up for his bad call with a no-contact call on Sancho Lyttle. Tamika Catchings, however, missed the second shot to put the score at 78-77 in favor of the Dream. Teasley was given an opportunity for two free throws with 17.4 seconds and she missed one. The Dream were up 79-77 with 17.4 seconds.

4. The Fever gave the ball to Tammy Sutton-Brown for the last show. Despite being pushed in the back, she made the shot to tie the game 79-79. The Dream had a shot at inbounding for a last second shot, but no dice. Double Overtime.

Second Overtime

1. By now, everyone was gassed. The starting lineup for the Dream was de Souza, Holdsclaw, Miller, Snow, and Teasley.

They looked wiped out. Even the Shooting Stars dancers looked gasses, barely waving their pom-poms. The referees were dragging.

The first time that Holdsclaw got her hands on the ball and began her dribble, she simply lost control of the ball, and the ball rolled out of bounds. Fatigue-induced turnover. Fever ball.

2. With 2;38 in Overtime #2 to go, and the Dream up 85-81, Tamika Catchings hit a 25-footer to bring the score to 85-84. My notes now look like garbage. Holdsclaw is gassed. The crowd is exhausted from cheering.

3. With the score 87-86 in favor of the Dream and 40.2 seconds to go, Catchings commits a foul to give the ball back to the Dream. However, with 23.3 seconds left, McCoughtry commits a double-dribble. This gives the Fever the chance to make the game-winning shot.

Star weakly waved his (or her) little wings while laying prostrate on the floor. "Star is TIRED!" said the announcer. So were we all.

4. The Fever's plan - to get the ball to Tamika Catchings for the final shot. Katie Douglas had control of the ball, but the Dream defense held. Catchings attempted an 18 foot shot off balance as time expired...

...NO GOOD. There had been no score in the last 1:06 of the second overtime - and the Dream held on for their first victory of the year.

(* * *)

I'm gassed now. More on individual statistics later.


anonymous1 said...

Great game and great recap. The only things I don't remember reading were Tully suffered a bloody nose?? (She was holding a towel to her face once she got up) during one of the fouls called on her and KT hit the floor HARD at one point and she was down for awhile at one point in the game but it didn't affect her play.

Mique was going hard during the entire game which explains the fatigue in OT. A physical game overall. Former Tennessee lady vols were definitely living up to their names.

A little while back Tamera tweeted about not having to turn her swag on when she woke up because it never went off, an allusion to Soulja Boys song.

I also noticed the orange shirts in the arena and the lack of constant crowd cam, although one woman who won the dance off may have had too much to drink.

The officiating was horrible but we got a "W" so that's all that matters.

I really enjoy your blogs, keep up the good work!

Scarab said...

The Fever need to get a new trainer. It took him FOREVER to get out on the floor to Tully to see about her nose.

In the meantime the Dream bench tossed the Fever players a towel so they could tend to Tully's bleeding nose.

There were other times their Trainer seemed slow on the take.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should attempt to get a writing job at the Atlanta newspaper if you're going to write such a lengthy diatribe of the game. Are you an expert on the game, or what? Seems as though you're pretty critical considering that 7 of the 11 players are new to the team and that two are rookies still learning their way into the pro game.

afoundingfan said...

Pet is a fan, a big fan, who cares enough about the team to keep this blog, and lots of people enjoy reading it even if we don't always agree. Sure, there's criticism...where isn't there? Have you ever seen Rebkell?! If you are going to be in the public eye, you are going to be scrutinized and criticized as well as praised. And we are in the internet age so it is even that more prevalent. Pet has been gentle in his criticism, which by the way his criticism has been more than fair. I'm sure when you are a player, coach or loved one of a player it is hard to read criticism. You can always drop bball and join the rest of us in obscurity. We debate, praise, complain, question, etc. because we care. Otherwise we'd do something else with our time, energy and money. GO DREAM!