Monday, June 8, 2009

2009/2 - Mystics 77, Dream 71

The Dream second team tries to make it work against Washington.

If a tree falls in the woods, but no one hears it, did it fall? And if you turn on WNBA's Live Access, but can't hear it, is it a real game?

This is the second time I've tried to watch a game with WNBA Live Access. The system works great if you have a good internet connection, but my internet connection gets spotty when someone twenty miles in any direction even says rain. However, I was very lucky and WNBA Live Access worked without a hitch....except that there was no sound.

With no radio coverage for the Atlanta Dream this year, this left me trying to make sense of things without any sound. My scribbled recollections:

1. Mom called. And since I hadn't called Mom in nine days, there was no way I could say, "Call me back later, the game is on." By the time I made it to the first quarter, 4:24 of the game had already taken place. The Dream were up 8-1. Sancho Lyttle followed with another bucket to make it 10-1, and then broke up a shot of her own.

Time to pose another question: "If you concede a nine point lead to the Dream, can you win?" Frisco Del Rosario might say that in chess terms, this was equivalent to being given rook odds.

2. Holdsclaw started out the quarter with eight points. When she scored her first basket, she hit the 4,000 point mark, becoming only the ninth player in WNBA history to score 4,000 career points.

3. One thing that surprised me: how fast the Mystics are. They don't waste any time moving. I suspect that this has something to do with Julie Plank, the Mystics newest head coach.

4. The Dream went on an 8-0 first quarter run and built up their lead to 22-8. The Dream looked good, and after a double-overtime win the night before and just maybe five or six hours of sleep - whereas the Mystics had had the advantage of starting their game the day before at 4:30 pm, and opening at home. With everyone exhausted on the Dream, players like Erika de Souza could take a rest and let players like Jennifer Lacy take her place without any fear...or so, the story goes.

5. Washington shot 3-for-18 that first quarter, only shooting 16.7 percent. My first thought: "No team keeps up a 16.7 percentage the whole game. The Mystics will come back." I still thought that things looked good. A friend of mine called me to tell me the day before that Washington was going to come on like gangbusters this year. With the Dream up decisively, a win would mean only good things for the Dream.

6. Then, Washington answered back with an 8-0 run of their own to start the second quarter. Soon, the Dream were looking at 22-16. McCoughtry came in and I thought she looked good initially, breaking up a play by Marissa Coleman with a steal of the ball. Holdsclaw came back in and I felt that the Dream had their kicks on the neck on the Mystics.

7. At 6:33 to go in the second quarter, the radio kicked in briefly. However, it was bizarre radio. Viewers of WNBA Live Access were picking up what I would call the "PA Feed". We got to hear the announcer announce who had scored the most recent basket, the "dah-dah-DAH-dah-dah-dah-DAH-dah" Jaws music was pumped into my computer but there was no crowd cheering. All I could hear were sound effects.

8. Remember that 26-16 lead? By some...mysticism...the Dream were suddenly transformed to last year's 2008 Atlanta Dream, at least in terms of game skill. Erika de Souza committed a foul after Nakia Sanford stole the ball from her. McCoughtry stole the ball from Coleman, but then she bounced the ball off her foot and before you know it, there was another turnover. The Mystics were starting a run, and all I could hope for was that the Dream would wake up.

9. Tasha Humphrey hit a 3-pointer to close the score to 26-22. My computer piped the sound of the opening bars of Digital Underground's "Humpty Dance" in mocking celebration. Stupid computer.

10. The lead fell to 26-25, and Marynell Meadors faithfully followed the Meadors Rule of 10 - when they score 10 against you, call a full time out immediately. While the Dream were pondering their predicament, Matee Ajavon was letting Mystics fans know that she has a dog named Sweepea, a Chihuahua-Pekingese. The thing you might not know about her? She's a poet.

My haiku:

The Dream start off strong
Drop ten points, coach calls time out
Bang your head against wall

11. Like Buddha, I have a sudden moment of illumination. I follow the DC Basket Cases Blog, and the writers take a little stuffed panda with them wherever they go. His name is Pax (I think).

So who do I see at the Verizon Center but a giant-sized version of the same panda? THE PANDA IS THE MASCOT! I now understand the meaning of the panda! I just thought he was an anonymous stuffed panda. That's when I did a face-palm.

12. With 4:23 left in the second quarter, Nikki Teaslely scored her third personal fouls. Nakia Sanford came to the line and sank both free throws. The Mystics had the lead now, 27-26....

13. ...and they would just keep it up. There was three and a half minutes left and the Dream had only scored four points in the quarter. Izi came back in. De Souza got called for traveling for the Dream's 13th turnover of the game. The Mystics went on a 16-0 run, the longest run I've ever witnessed against the dream. Now down 32-26, a de Souza basket finally broke the run.

14. Marissa Coleman, however, hit a 3-pointer, the second three I remember her hitting in the corner. I began to think, "Hey, this Coleman woman might work out for the Mystics." Then, my computer locked up for a few moments. I suspect that it was trying to protect me.

15. Erika de Souza looked like the only player who had any sort of energy out there. This, after a long schedule in Spain and a late arrival to training camp. What on earth do they feed those Brazilian girls? Yohimbe? I think that if someone put a cape on Erika's uniform, she'd just fly home out of the arena.

16. At the end of the half, the score was 38-30. Despite the fact that the Mystics had scored 30 points to the Dream's eight, the Dream was still in the game.

17. During halftime, there was an announcement: "Welcome - Angel McCoughtry's Fan Club". I tell you, Angel must have some wonderful fans.

18. Here's a truth: it doesn't really matter how well you shoot, or even if you shoot well and dominate on the boards - if you turn over the ball a lot, you will lose ball games. The Dream had turned the ball over 15 times in the first half alone. Some teams don't go an entire game with 15 turnovers.

Holdsclaw had had eight points that first quarter. She still had eight points. Holdsclaw and Angel had plus-minuses of -10. Whereas Tasha Humphrey had a plus-minus of +20, the advantage of coming on to the court exactly when your team is on a scoring run.

19. The halftime entertainment? The Sky Riders. Yep, the same trampoline duo that had thrilled the crowd at Philips Arena the night before was wowing them at Verizon. Unless they Dream, they didn't look tired. I wonder if the Sky Riders were somehow hiding in the luggage compartments of the Dream's plane.

20. And now...the weirdness begins. As the connection on the computer got spotty, Iziane, Michelle, Chamique and Nikki took the floor for the second half. It might has well have been Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo, because Alana Beard was in the Zone, and not the ESPN Zone.

The Mystics went on another run, this time a 10-4 run that put the Dream behind a 48-30 rock. Of those 10 points scored by the Mystics, Beard score eight of them.

21. The Dream, however, had one player who put the reins in her teeth and pressed on. Last year, we didn't have anybody like that. This time, the hero was Coco Miller, who helped spark the Dream to an 11-0 run, with the last four points of that run being scored by the Georgia Girl.

Most of the starters were on the bench, and they wouldn't play much. They probably couldn't play for very long with their history of health problems and that killer double-overtime game of the night before. The leaders in minutes for this game would be Sancho Lyttle, Erika de Souza and Coco Miller.

Number of assists from Atlanta's starting five? One. They would have one more assist for the remainder of the game. That's it.

22. Not even Erika de Souza could stop the drought. She soon had four fouls, and Jennifer Lacy came in to replace her. Beard crossed the 20 point barrier before the third quarter was over.

23. End of the quarter: the Dream led in overall shooting and rebounds. But they had turned the ball over 22 times, and given the Mystics 22 visits to the free throw line.

24. The starting five for the final quarter: Lacy, Miller, Young, Lyttle, and McCoughtry. Good players, but no one's ideal of an All-Star team.

25. I could tell that McCoughtry was tired and confused. Young just looked horrible in the fourth quarter. McCoughtry's bursts of speed were turning into languid trots.

26. That was when I saw yet another Washington mascot! It looked like a lady rabbit. As it turns out, I think her name was Lucky. The Mystics might not have much of a history, but they have two mascots, no waiting.

27. At one point, Erika de Souza was hit with what she was told was her sixth foul. Marynell argued with the referees about it - she told the refs that they had miscounted. Turns out Meadors was right - Erika de Souza only had five fouls and returned to the court.

28. By now, the real radio had finally kicked in to the broadcast. Down 67-52, the Dream began to come back. McCoughtry came to life, trying to will the Dream out of their hole. A couple of jump shots from McCoughtry and an assist by Young to Coco Miller suddenly put the Dream down by nine, 69-60, with 3:34 left in the game. Could the Dream start a miracle comeback?

29. A free throw by Sancho Lyttle put the score at 70-63 with 3:04. We were doing it. Somehow, against all odds, we had closed the gap to seven points with 3:04 left. Another layup by McCoughtry took the score to 71-65 with 2:20 left.

Six of McCoughtry's ten total points were fourth quarter points. Never count Angel out.

30. But it just wasn't to be. Between two minutes left in the game and one minute to go, McCoughtry picked up her fifth and sixth personal fouls, fouling out of her first WNBA game.

31. Even so, in that final minute, the Dream managed to put together three points. Jennifer Lacy turned the ball over - it was swatted away - but got a rebound and made a couple of free throws. Miller made a running jumper with 14 seconds left.

However, it wasn't enough. No miracle tonight. The Dream lost on the road, 77-71. Further post-mortem stuff later.


Hoopalonious, aka Sue said...

Love the haiku!!

Ethan said...

If a tree falls in the woods, but no one hears it, did it fall? And if you turn on WNBA's Live Access, but can't hear it, is it a real game?

Akshully, the Washington feed was direct from their scoreboard = you only got "incidental sound" = player names after baskets, "I can't hear you", etc.

Eventually some sort of commentary track kicked on.

FWIW, the Shock (!!) had the best feed so far. They synced a "Palace Vision" video feed with the AM radio commentary.

As excited as I was about LiveAccess, my beef is that once a game is "archived" I can't get it to play. It took the W site putting up a quickie highlight reel to see Leilani Mitchell make "the shot".

Me = psyched for this weekend.

Anonymous said...

The haiku is a thing of beauty.

Only one thing: the Mystics, too, opened on the road. They played in Connecticut the day before and took a bus back to DC after the game.

Anonymous said...

Can't compare a back to back in CT and DC when you sleep in your own bed (and leave immediately in a bus)....ATL had to fly out early Sunday AM, after double OT Sat nite, and then go to arena not much later to play mid afternoon game....