Saturday, June 20, 2009

5/2009 - Dream 93, Mystics 81: The Mighty Mighty Walkthrough

As it turns out, I missed this game. I'll miss the one on Sunday and I'll miss the one on Tuesday as well. Blame the first miss on my wedding and the second on the hour of the game. Can't see all of the games in a year, it seems, no matter how hard I try.

As it turns out, even if you can't watch a game, the box score can tell you a lot about the score besides the obvious. Just looking at the quarter-by-quarter score implies a close first quarter, then implies the Dream establishing its lead in the second and third quarters, with the Mystics trying to fight their way back in the last quarter.

The Dream pretty much took the lead in the bottom of the second. The Mystics led 26-22 at one point in the second but were outscored 19-8 for the rest of the quarter. Looking at the play-by-play, I can see that Holdsclaw had nine points at the half...and five of those nine points were in that 19-8 Dream run.

Michelle Snow and Shalee Lehning were also working it during that run. Snow had four rebounds during the run, and Lehning had two points (her third and fourth points career) and two assists. Lyttle was working it, too, but no more or no less than she had been working it during the whole game.

As for Washington's "comeback," Atlanta led 65-49 going into the final quarter. Washington managed to close the lead to 11 points, but only in the final minutes of the quarter where the victory was effectively conceded by the Mystics.

Now, we'll look at the Dean Oliver's Four Keys to Victory:

Shooting percentage: Atlanta 45.9 percent, Washington 39.7 percent. The Dream has had at times 10 point leads in the stat, but has come close to losing.

Offensive rebounding: Atlanta 17, Washington 12. A lot of stat-heads say that defensive rebounding should be given more attention by Oliver acolytes, and overall Washington was crushed 46-31 in the rebounding department.

Turnovers: Atlanta 14, Washington 15. Atlanta has had major problems keeping the handle on the ball this year. Keeping turnovers down made the Dream look great.

Free throw VISITS: Washington 37, Dream 29. The Dream are still a foul-prone team - Iziane Castro Marques had five personal fouls and de Souza and Teasley had four each.

Washington could have presented the Dream with some real trouble here...but they only hit 67.6 percent at the line. As a result, they only scored three more points at the charity stripe than the Dream. In short, the Dream beat up the Mystics...and then got away with the assault.

Looking at the starter vs. starter matchups: it looks like the Mystics starters were having a tough time of it, particular Chasity Melvin who only scored 2 points and 2 rebounds in 15 minutes played. However, both Monique Currie and Lindsey Harding had 7 assists each and Alana Beard scored 20 points against the Dream (but with a -17 plus/minus).

In terms of shooting efficiency, no one was particularly efficient for the Mystics: only one player made more points than shots attempted (FGA + FTA), and that was Alana Beard: 20 points, 17 shots attempted. For the Dream, Erika de Souza had 13 points on 11 attempts, Nikki Teasley had 12 points on 8 attempts, Michelle Snow had 9 points on 9 attempts, and Jennifer Lacy had 4 points on 4 attempts. With the exception of one Dream player, most of the Dream were hitting their mark and shooting hot.

Before the Dream begin patting each other's backs, a reminder: only nine players played for the Mystics. Coleman was out with an ankle injury. Kristen Mann didn't play at all. The outcome could have been a lot closer if the Mystics had Coleman, at least.

Two conclusions:

1. A message board poster somewhere said that Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza might be the best front court combination in the Eastern Conference. The question is will they fulfill the "Star Hypothesis"? That hypothesis states that there is no such thing as a "star" on a losing team. If your losing team becomes winners, the losers become stars; if your all-star team flounders, the all-stars lose their luster and become losers.

I'm not saying that Lyttle and de Souza have gone unrecognized, but they definitely haven't gotte press. That might change.

2. An interesting fact: Lyttle, de Souza and Michelle Snow are supposedly all 6' 4" and taller. Their height and their mobility present significant problems to teams that will try to shove the ball down the Dream's throats like they did last year. Most teams will try to beat the Dream with the 3-pointer, which the Dream isn't good at defending, rather than face down Lyttle and de Souza. They are intimidators who beat you not with a snarl, but who scare you with their quality of play.

So let's look at both teams:

Alana Beard: 20 points and 5 rebounds, but she had four turnovers two.
Matee Ajavon: 13 points, but only one rebound and four fouls.
Crystal Langhorne: Great off the bench with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the only double double of the Mystics. Normally a double-double would make you the player of the game -- but not tonight.

And now, let's look at the Dream:

Best Players

Sancho Lyttle: I think of Sancho in the same way that I think of Sancho in that video of "Santeria" by Sublime: big and imposing. 20 points and 13 rebounds with stats as if the Washington Mystics were Gran Canaria of the Spanish League. She's clearly the Dreamer of the Game.
Erika de Souza: The red-haired terror had 13 points, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Lyttle and de Souza in the paint cause woe. De Souza also had a +9 plus/minus.
Nikki Teasley: She had 12 points with the help of a couple of 3-pointers. Four assists, but four personal fouls.

The Murky Middle

Chamique Holdsclaw: Why would I have ever put someone who scored 13 points and 10 rebounds in the murky middle? Well, there were the four turnovers to account for. Holdsclaw also needed 12 FGA and four free throw tries for all those points. Don't think that I'm knocking The Mighty Claw: a great performance, but not like the three above. She can take solace in her +16 plus/minus.
Michelle Snow: 9 points and 7 rebounds - the Dream could have had three double-doubles. Snow only got 16 minutes of play but she had a +6 plus/minus and was a big part of that run I was mentioning.
Shalee Lehning: FINALLY they allow Lehning to shoot. I was in the middle of a post before I left for New York, looking at players who had taken low percentages of shots per minutes played, and determining if those players were successful in the WNBA. (Answer: No. ) 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and some defensive hustle from what I understand.
Angel McCoughtry: It might not be a case of Angel in the doghouse as a case of too many good games and someone had to lose out. Angel only played nine minutes.
Coco Miller: The same story as Angel. She only had two points in nine minutes played.

Not Up to Snuff

Jennifer Lacy: Okay folks, philosophical question: if a player doesn't actually do anything to hurt her team, but is simply out-competed by her teammates, is she "not up to snuff" or "murky middle". In Jen's case, it just the case that not doing bad herself but everyone doing better. She played 11 minutes, and scored 4 points. The four personal fouls really hurt her.
Tamera Young: It's kind of unfair to put a player who only played three minutes down here. But she did take a shot and miss it, so no pie after the game for you.
Iziane Castro Marques: Clearly at the bottom. Yeah, she had 12 points - but she had 16 field goal attempts. If you take away Izi's crappy 5-for-16 field goal shooting, the Dream goes from 34/74 to 29/58 - the rest of the Dream was shooting 50 percent! Izi lowered the team's shooting percentage by four points all by herself. She had five personal fouls and three turnovers. Since the Dream won the game instead of losing it, I'm giving Izi the Still Snoozing award and asking coach Meadors to please set Izi's wake-up call.


md said...

Impressions from being there in person:

Yes, Izi was frustrating, but made some beautiful jumpers at times that were important for the Dream's momentum.

Lehning took a few shots, which was nice to see, but her contribution was the impressive level of commitment -- the defensive headfirst dive into the bench, man-to-man marking, tons of energy.

Miller as well: although she didn't have many minutes, the no-look pass that was referred to in the Washington Post article was truly astonishing -- it served as a kind of climax to the Dream's run of good scoring plays, brought the crowd to its feet, and made it really feel like they are a solid basketball team that can win games.

Also, I would like to say that I loved *loved* it when Philips' sound system was down, it felt like we were really in the game!

Pusser said...

Truly, if you don't see the game, don't comment on it. For you to provide any kind of analysis or critique of performance is less than worthwhile.

Pusser said...

OK, please excuse the caustic nature of my comment above. I'm just surprised at the comments and judgements made by someone who didn't watch the game. I'd simply suggest that if you can't watch, perhaps you can assign blogging duties to someone who did. Again, I apologize for my initial reaction. My bad.