Sunday, August 16, 2009

24/2009 - Dream 88, Storm 79

Angelica Suffren (#22) tries explaining the double technical to Marynell Meadors.

Wow. What a game. It wasn't the greatest game in the world, but it was the atmosphere that made it great. For a purpose as deadly serious as increasing breast cancer awareness, the attendees showed up and were determined to have a good time. Maybe it was just the pink pom-poms that were handed out, but people brought signs and they said, "Hey, the Seattle Storm are in town. Let's party!"

The fact that we won? Even more reason to celebrate. Hey, Paul McCartney was singing about it, too. (Well, he was just at a concert in Atlanta. I don't think he was singing about the Dream specifically.)

So my thoughts, observations, comments.

1. Carol Ross is still out there with the Dream during practice, but I don't know if she was doing anything specific with the Dream or if she was just feeding them the ball for a drill. But I also got to see Brian Agler standing around while his team shot around. Agler was wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants but wasn't doing anything specific. He was just watching the Storm shoot around. Hey, if Lauren Jackson was just standing around and shooting I'd watch too.

While the Dream were shooting around, they were just killing 3-pointers. Just killing them, every shot going in. Even our bigs were hitting 3s from the top of the key. Our 3-point game is horrible, but I'm sure we must have given the Storm some pause if they were watching us practice.

2. They brought one of the Dream's exercise cycles out to the side of the court. I think Armintie Price was working with it. Which makes me wonder, why drag that thing all the way out to courtside?

3. On the other hand, Seattle was definition of sang froid. They looked very relaxed in their warm-up - that comes with confidence. Michelle Snow exchanged a high-five with Sue Bird as they passed on the court. Lauren Jackson was stretching and looking out of the corner of her eye at Atlanta's practice.

4. Two of the very first fans that entered the Crash Pad were wearing "Bird #10" jerseys, leading me to wonder if part of our crowd consisted of Seattle Storm fans. Someone was wearing something that looked like a Storm jersey with #2 - Roulliard on it, a name and number corresponding to no Storm player.

A lot of people think that it's nerdy to wear a personalized team jersey with your own name and number on it. ("What, you think you play for the team now?) Let me state for the record: I think personalized jerseys rock.

5. Is there actually a band in Philips Arena? (Note to DFO: I think a "fan band" would be a great idea. Just throwin' it out there.) I saw a drumkit in the corner somewhere, I know it.

6. Before the game, there was the "I Gotcha Girl International Pre-Game Fashion Show" with young kids of all ages and shapes performing a schoolwear fashion show. My fear was that it was going to turn into something like "Toddlers and Tiaras". However, it was all in good taste. I thought the clothes themselves were a bunch of multicolored glop, but those kids can sure work the runway.

7. A first: Someone brought a sign with a "D" next to a drawing of picket fence. "D-(fence)". You know, like those nuts carry in the NFL.

8. Storm starters: Cash, Jackson, Little, Wright, and Bird. The Storm had two of their players hurt - Ashley Walker with her posterior cruciate ligament tear (say that three times fast) and Katie Gearlds with her broken toe.
Dream starters: Holdsclaw, Lyttle, de Souza, Castro Marques, Lehning. This would be a real test of Lehning, to go up against Sue Bird.

9. Singing the anthem were the ""I Gotcha Girl International" models as singers. As singers, they should stick to modeling.

10. Kathy Russell of Club 13 was the honorary team captain for the Dream. Club 13 is the volunteer grass roots sales force of the Dream. I think Club 13 deserves all of the recognition in the world.

11. Angel McCoughtry and Dream mascot Star were throwing a few light punches at each other after the intros. Frankly, in a fight, my money's on McCoughtry.

12. It took a while for Atlanta to get itself on track. Castro Marques started a game with her first 3-pointer. Twelve seconds had elapsed, and she missed. Chamique Holdsclaw threw a pass right into the hand of Camille Little. By the frist two minutes of the game the Dream had three personal fouls.

13. Castro Marques, however, got us back on track. She made a jump shot and drew the foul from Tanisha Wright, hitting the free throw. About thirty seconds later she sank a 2-pointer to put us up 12-7 in the first quarter. The crowd was behind us and the Dream was responding to the carnival atmosphere. Claw's jumpshot halfway through the first quarter game the Dream an eight point lead, 17-9.

Lehning drove into a strangely open Seattle defense, only to find Lauren Jackson at the end of the path. However, Lacy set a screen for Castro Marques, and Castro Marques hit her second 3-pointer of the corner. Wright had picked up her third personal foul before the quarter was up. The Dream were up 20-11 and I was thinking in the back of my head, "I wonder if this is going to be like the Phoenix game?"

14. The answer to that question was "no". Seattle went on a 7-0 run. Holdsclaw was still making bad passes. Atlanta went over the limit in fouls. Coco Miller stripped the ball out of Tanisha Wright's hands but Lehning blinked on the lay-up and the ball didn't go in. Seattle had closed the game to two points, 20-18.

The Dream slightly recovered. Angel McCoughtry was in, and the Preacher's Kid saved a missed Jennifer Lacy shot with a put-back layup. The Dream lead 23-18 after the first. Seattle shot 7-for-14 in the first quarter, but we almost matched it. Seattle didn't have a single offensive rebound in the first quarter and Castro Marques already had nine points.

15. Seattle would have a lot of trouble with offensive fouls in the game. Seattle would set up, drive, and then be forced to walk down to the other end of the court in ignominy. Cash would pick up her second personal and the Dream began to bump its lead to seven points.

16. Armintie Price entered the game for the very first time in a Dream uniform. (It was actually the uniform that had been prepared for Tamera Young, and Price wore #11 for the only time in her WNBA career.) In 3:35 worth of play, Price would rack up a "trillion" - a statistical line of zeroes.

17. It could get weird. At 6:47 in the second, Michelle Snow and Lauren Jackson got called for a double technical foul. I have no idea what happened, I suspect the two were ratchet-jawing, as they say in CB slang. Art Eckman said that Lauren Jackson was mouthing off, and if there's anyone you can trust to get the facts right, it's Art Eckman.

18. A 3-pointer by Ivory Latta gave us an eight point pump, 32-24. However, Lauren Jackson erased it with back-to back layups. Suzy Batkovic-Brown - the second of Seattle's two massively tall blondes - scored five points during an 8-2 Seattle run that saw Iziane Castro Marques make a bad pass to Swin Cash, who cut the Dream's lead cut to one, 36-35.

19. At 1:51, Price got hurt and went down. It was nothing serious, she was just shaken up it seemed. The Jumbotron regaled the attendees with showing Marvin Williams of the Hawks and Sean May of the Kings in attendance. I thought I heard someone in the audience say, "Boy, Sean May looks out of shape."

20. Sue Bird scored with 1:17 on the clock to give the Storm the lead again. However, Shannon Johnson would get a technical foul and the Dream got the momentum back. They carried their momentum on the way to a 43-39 halftime lead.

21. Seattle shot 55 percent in the first half - and they were losing. Why? Because we were killing them on the offensive boards. Seattle only had one offensive rebound in the first half, and we attempted nine more shots than the Storm. We shot 45 percent, but when you take more shots than your opponent and are allowed to snatch the ball out of your opponent's hands, sometimes 45 percent is enough.

22. Kay Yow was honored at halftime. She got quite a bit of applause. There was a presentation of some sort to breast cancer survivors at halftime, but to my shame I wasn't paying attention. I was engrossed in a conversation with someone about the legends of the WNBA - Teresa Edwards, Ruthie Bolton, Andrea Stinson, etc.

23. It was very interesting to watch Lehning during the game. Lehning was chasing Sue Bird around the court like a dog chasing a car - whenever Bird would cut cross court, there would be Lehning weaving her way through Jackson, Lyttle, et. al trying to catch her.

An example of Lehning's athleticism: I could swear that Lehning was trying to make a pass or a shot and Lauren Jackson blocked the shot. (Don't bother looking at the play-by-play, you won't find it there.) Normally, a Lauren Jackson blocked shot ends up on the upper deck, but somehow, Lehning was able to grab that rejected shot and keep control of it.

24. Athleticism alone, however, won't help you against the Storm. The Storm started an 8-0 run to close them to 49-48. For 3 1/2 minutes, the Dream were held scoreless.

Iziane Castro Marques tried a 3-pointer that was definition of "airball" - the shot didn't even make it halfway to the basket. Holdsclaw attempted a 3-pointer that fell just short of the rim.

Sue Bird got hit in the face.

25. Lauren Jackson capped off the run with a 3-point shot. Someone from behind me shouted, "Who's guarding Lauren Jackson?!?"

To which I wanted to respond, "Look, this is Lauren Friggin Jackson you're talking about. She's a power forward that can shoot 3-pointers, and that qualifies as a freak of nature in the WNBA. What do you want? Do you want Lyttle to go all the way out to the perimeter to guard Jackson? What, is Shalee Lehning supposed to jump 24 inches in the air and block Lauren's shots? C'mon already! It's just a fact of life that Jackson will down threes, and you just have to deal."

26. By the middle of the third, Tanisha Wright had picked up her fourth personal, and Brian Agler was juggling his bench to keep his players out of any foul trouble. Angel McCoughtry came in for Castro Marques, and provided the punch for the Dream. She hit a bucket, got the foul (but missed the free throw), hit a driving shot, and then assisted de Souza on a layup.

We were back up 55-50.

27. Sancho Lyttle's jump shot put us up 59-53 with less than a minute left. Suzy Batkovic-Brown tried to do too much by herself. She tried a long jump shot - almost a 3-pointer - and missed it. Lehning fouled Batkovic-Brown, who only hit one of her free throws. With 10 seconds left in the quarter and the ball in Atlanta's hands, Batkovic returned the favor. Lehning hit both of her free throws and the Dream led by seven points, 61-54, at the end of three quarters.

28. The Storm came back strong in the fourth. Lauren Jackson hit back to back 3-pointers and closed the score to 63-60. Erika de Souza answered with a turnaround jumper. Tanisha Wright elbowed Angel McCoughtry out of the way for a jump shot and there was no foul. However, McCoughtry found de Souza who made the driving layup. We were up 67-62.

I must have missed this, but someone wrote that de Souza "pulled the name" out on her jersey. This is where you take the front of your jersey with both hands and flip it out, emphasizing the team name. That's a pretty brassy move, because it's usually considered an insult to the other team.

29. And then, up 68-64...the Dream went on a sweet 9-0 run. McCoughtry found her 3-point shot. Lehning made a brilliant pass to Coco Miller, a long bullet that Miller managed to keep under control. Lyttle answered with another two of her 20 points on the night and McCoughtry finished it up by a quick rebound and a shot by Lehning.

The Dream were up 77-64 and there were only 5:21 left in the game.

30. Wright scored a couple of baskets to close the score to 79-70. With the score 81-70, Seattle committed a 24-second violation. It was funny to see all of the Shooting Stars dancers patting their heads simultaneously - the "pat your head" signal is the referee sign for shot clock violation.

31. Wright wasn't done. She scored another basket. Bird followed shortly after, and Lauren Jackson hit another one of her 3-pointers to close the score to 83-77 with 1:20 to go.

Now, it was Atlanta's turn to violate the 24-second shot clock rule. Eight seconds later, Swin Cash would score and our 13-point lead had been cut down to four points, 83-79 with just 44.2 seconds to go.

32. Okay, you're a basketball coach. You're down by four points, there are 44.2 seconds on the clock and the opposing team has the ball. Do you foul to get the ball back? And if so, when?

Just five seconds in, Lyttle got fouled. She hit one of two of her shots. It was now 84-79 with 39.5 seconds left. The Storm needed a 3-pointer and a follow-up basket.

33. Lauren Jackson tried to hit another 3-pointer - if she hit it she'd have had 28 points - but she missed it. Atlanta got the rebound and Swin Cash was called for a loose ball foul.

All that was needed was for Angel McCoughtry to hit both of her free throws to make it virtually impossible for the Storm to come back. However, McCoughtry missed both of her shots...

...but on the offensive rebound, we were unstoppable. De Souza got the rebound, and what she wasn't able to accomplish Lyttle could. The score was now 86-79, and there was just 26.5 seconds left.

Bird tried a 3-pointer, but missed it. Lyttle got the rebound again with 18 seconds left, and Wright fouled Coco Miller to stop the clock.

Miller took careful aim. The first shot? Good! The second shot? GOOD!!

88-79. 16.6 seconds left. Seattle knew that the game was over. They had the ball, but there was no point in doing anything with it and the Storm simply dribbled down the clock. Atlanta had its very first victory - ever - against Seattle.

Nice win. There will probably be a statistical post-mortem tomorrow, but we'll just celebrate for now.


Rebecca said...

Corrected injury report: Ashley Walker is out with the big toe, Katie Gearlds has the screwed-up knee.

#2 is Swin Cash, so it's kinda obnoxious that someone's got a custom #2, but people customizing current or well-known numbers is a pet peeve of mine.

Gary said...

Customizing jerseys has never bothered me. What I can't stand are those girls who wear jerseys as dresses. I don't know why, but something about that irks the heck out of me.

anonymous1 said...

Noticed many "Bird #10" and "Storm" shirts, hats, etc after the game. Games vs LA, Phoenix and Seattle seem to draw the most visiting-team fans but that's to be expected.

Noticed the playful punch and push Mique gives Angel during intros, an inside joke no doubt.

LJ is a physical player and she's got "mouth". The double T was a mixutre of both. If you watch her you'll see the refs let a lot slide where she's concerned, but hey it IS LJ.

Watching Lehning chase Bird all night was interesting and slightly comical in a good way. Bird was trying to shake her but ShayShay's got spunk, she didn't give up. Her althleticism also shows when she's going for balls on the floor, into seats and everywhere else.