Saturday, July 4, 2009

11/2009 - Dream 72, Mystics 65

So, who wants the ball more?

Happy Fourth of July! "Freedom, freedom, freedom, Oi!" Today we celebrate the country's victory over the British, yesterday we celebrated the Dream's victory over the oppressive Washington Mystics. I suspect that Washington was simply honoring the struggles at Valley Forge as they struggled on the court in Atlanta.'s writeup of the game is here, and the gallery of game pictures can be found here.

I'll pass on my thoughts regarding the game:

1) It was so odd watching Ivory Latta practicing her long-range shots before the game. As this year's Dream team is so different from the one before it, it was almost as if she were an anachronism.

2) It was good to see Carol Ross out there working with the Dream. Ross is definitely a hands-on coach. Before the game she was working with the players, dishing the ball out to players at the perimeter as they took their shots. I've only see a few pre-game practices, but this is the first time I've seen a coach really working with the players even at pre-game.

3) I suspect that Michael Jackson's music will be a staple at Dream games at least until the end of the 2009 season. It's good to see Jackson's music make a resurgence - my wife said, "it's almost as if he's been rediscovered." I suspect that Jackson's death has closed the chapter on the weirdness and scandal associated with the two final decades of his life; when one listens to his music one is reminded less of Wacko Jacko and more of that kid from the Jackson 5.

4) I got the chance to meet some Dream fans that I had only met on the internet before. It's so odd meeting people in person. The only one I had a chance to talk to at length was Scarab - you sort of draw a picture in your head of someone without meeting them, and Scarab matched this mental image to a "T". And now I know where she hangs out! Taco Mac!

5) Tamera Young is still not ready to play. I saw her hanging out down at the bench, incognito. I'm slowly learning how to recognize her without her pigtails.

6) I'm glad the Dream is still supporting Nothing But Nets. Nikki Teasley would donate so much cash for each of her assists; the program was most closely associated with Teasley when she was with the Dream. Even though she's no longer the front, I'm glad the the Dream are supporting this worthy cause.

However, the opening film of Dream players that precedes the introduction of the players still has Teasley in it. I know it's probably going to be a while before the film can be edited...but it sort of looks creepy now.

7) I like the white warm-up wear of the Shooting Stars. However, I'll keep repeating: the men's uniforms are awful. Nothing but a sort of beige looking shirt and some shorts. I don't know what needs to be done to give the Shooting Stars men something standout to wear...but please, DFO (Dream Front Office), make it happen!

8) Today's National Anthem singer: someone from the Ebenezer Baptist Church. I didn't catch the young man's name, but I give his rendition two thumbs up.

9) The Washington starters: Harding, Beard, Currie, Sanford, and Melvin.
The Atlanta starters: Castro Marques, Lyttle, de Souza, Holdsclaw....and Miller. I guess the question of "who would start: Latta or Lehning?" was answered with the third option.

10) The Dream started with Iziane Castro Marques making a bad pass right into the hands of Alana Beard. Total time elapsed: 0:08.

11) In the first quarter, two players were going to carry their respective teams on their backs - for the Dream it was Sancho Lyttle and for the Mystics it was Alana Beard.

12) Washington took the lead in the first quarter. Immediately, I got the impression that ball handling on either side was not going to be good. Erika de Souza starting 0-for-3 in the first quarter wasn't going to help. For anyone concerned about how the Dream does, this game was going to be a nail-biter.

13) Atlanta slowly began to contend with the Mystics. Izi was still turning over the ball with passes that make you suspect if she had large bets of money on the Mystics. Angel was a mess starting out, shooting 0-for-3. The score was 20-20 at the end of the first quarter.

14) In the second quarter, the Dream took off. They went on a 10-3 run which established a lead that the Dream would never relinquish for the rest of the game. We were getting a lot of bizarre calls from the referees, though. I think this is the first WNBA I've seen where we've had three separate calls for Palming the Ball - the first turnover of this kind was by Chamique Holdsclaw.

15) Guess who led the Dream in second quarter points? Shalee Lehning. However, I still have two complaints about Lehning. The first is that she tends to walk the ball instead of driving to the basket. The second is that when she gets close to the basket - she kicks it out. I saw Shalee within eight feet of the basket with the ball, and only one defender in front of her who couldn't have stopped the shot. What does she do? She kicks the ball out! Shalee, take the shot! Marynell will forgive you if you score points.

16) Shalee scored five points in total, which tied her career high. When was the last time Shalee scored five points in a game? Against Washington. Say it with me, Dream fans: The Mystics are Shalee Lehning's bitch.

17) The Dream build their lead up to 10 points, 37-27, with a shot by Erika de Souza. During a timeout with 2:35 remaining in the second quarter, Dream mascot Star came out and did the "Peanut Butter Jelly" dance while wearing a banana costume - a banana costume looking suspiciously like the one worn by that weird "mascot" during Mascot Day in 2008.

I suspect that Star killed him for the costume.

18) The back end of that second quarter looked awful. There was a lot of weirdness going on, in the personal foul department, the strange referee calls department, and the generally-standing-around-and-looking-puzzled department. Washington was on its way to its 15th turnover of the game....

19) With 1:03 left in the second quarter, Ivory Latta came back on the court to the cheers of the crowd. Her steal of the ball from Crystal Langhorne was that 15th Mystics turnover. Latta would only play 1:03 in the game, and finish with the lone steal on her statline.

20) The Mystics had clawed their way back to within five going into halftime, 38-33. However, the Mystics were shooting 36.7 percent in the first half and had 15 turnovers. Atlanta wasn't shooting much better, though, and under no circumstances did I think that this game was money in the bank.

Very pleasing to me: Angel McCoughtry's +9 in raw plus/minus at the end of the first half.

21) The halftime show was from Gamma Alpha Psi, a step team. If I have the Greek letters wrong, forgive me, but I didn't catch the name. Probably because I didn't think much of their routine, although I am about as far as you can get from an expert on step dancing.

22) Star gets second half kudos: he was not only wearing the banana suit, he was on a skateboard. That's it, DFO. PAY STAR MORE. He might be the hardest working mascot in show business, next to the Famous Chicken...and Maddie.

23) Did you know soda costs $4 at Philips Arena? If you want a souvenir cup, it's $5. I simply consider it my contribution to the vitality of the Dream, and am willing to pay it.

24) A Dream fan came up to me to chat at halftime. I'm guessing she's one of those who is not an Ivory Latta fan, and was unhappy with the acquisition. "I thought we were done with that silliness" was what she said.

25) Question: why were all of the referees bald for our game? Was it some sort of secret training ritual, or did the combined screaming of the fans blow the hairs off their scalps?

26) Dwight Howard came back to visit the Dream. Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks was with him. They've been at a lot of these games. Either: a) they are both secret WNBA fans, or b) they're dating someone on the staff or the team.

27) God, that third quarter. Lots of fouling. It was like watching two teams play in a mud pit. Fouls, fouls, fouls. The Mystics had visited the free throw line for the 19th time. They had 22 turnovers and were shooting at 34 percent. Both teams were shooting under 70 percent at the line at the time. The third quarter was completely indecisive, and the Dream got lucky and added two more points to their lead, leading 54-47 at the end of the third.

28) One thing I enjoyed about this game: the Dream were playing some defense. No more standing around defensively. They were in Washington's face at the start of the first quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. The Dream went on a 10-0 run to start the fourth, and had a 17 point lead. However, there was 5:48 left in the fourth and you have to remember...I'm a veteran of the 2008 season. I've seen the Dream blow sure leads, and I was still sitting at the edge of my seat.

29) One of the many games through which the Dream organization gives away its precious swag is a game where a Dream player sings - or, more properly, butchers a popular song. This time, it was Shalee Lehning's turn. She sang "Oops, I Did it Again", an interesting counterpoint with the most squeaky clean player of the Dream singing a song from the same musician who is now singing "If You Seek Amy". Even the older woman who was quizzed could get this one right.

30) We got to see Star Spangled Star. Star, as we all know, is a master quick change artist. This time, he was sporting a number which might have last been spotted on Apollo Creed.

31) Unfortunately, it looks like the Dream was Seeking Amy on the court, if you know what I mean. Matee Ajavon hit a three to knock the lead down to 70-60, and then Nikki Blue stole the ball from Coco Miller on the throw-in, and Kristen Mann (remember her?) scored two quick points to cut the lead down to eight, 70-62 with two minutes left. With 47.3 seconds left, Ajavon hit us for another three-pointer and the Dream led by seven, 72-65.

The Mystics are a team that can definitely score seven points in a minute. However, the Dream managed to hang onto the ball for 22 seconds and missed their shot. With 18 seconds left, the ball went back into the hands of Tasha Humphrey...but Sancho Lyttle stole the ball.

That was it. "Dream wins! DREAM wins!"

That was the fireworks. Now for the cleaning up after. I'll post the post-mortem soon. Chamique Holdsclaw was named the Player of the Game by the Dream organization. She definitely had a good game.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The "drive and dish" is abolutely, positively what Shalee does best. It was a key to her breaking the K-State assist record by over 200 assits. I have followed her for a long time and I would love to see her score more (she did in high school) but I am also confident that as the rest of the team gets to know her better, they will be in position for those dishes and will score repeatedly.