Saturday, September 5, 2009

31/2009 - Dream 98, Monarchs 90: Light It Up

I didn't get to see the Dream/Monarchs game last night. Like I've said before, I have friends in over the Labor Day weekend, and I'll be spending time with them. I told myself that I'd watch either Monarchs/Dream or Mercury/Dream, and I chose the latter. And like anyone who heard about last night's game, I'm kicking myself.

From what I understand, it was a close game all the way. The Monarchs had great shooting, but the Dream...well, remember that last post-mortem where I concluded that "Shooting isn't everything?" The corollary should be, "Shooting isn't everything, except in those cases where it is everything." Field goal accuracy is the most important of Dean Oliver's Four Factors of a game, making up half the strength of the Four Factors all by itself. The game of basketball is, in the end, about how many times you can put the ball in the basket. If you can do that with accuracy, you can win games; if not, you have to find chances and opportunities elsewhere.

In particular, two players had fantastic games: Angel McCoughtry with a 26 point-10 assist double-double and Erika de Souza with a 27 point-13 rebound double double. But here's the weird thing: it's not the best game either of them had all year. Erika's best game was a 23 point, 14 rebound loss to the Fever - it was probably the best effort any Dream player made all year. McCoughtry's best game was that win against the Silver Stars where she exploded for 34 points. However, this game is probably the best game by a duo of Dream players all year.

Let's look at each of Dean Oliver's Four Factors:

Field goal accuracy: In the WNBA, average field goal accuracy is about 43 percent. If you can shoot 43 percent in a game, you're doing well by WNBA standards. The Monarchs shot 48 percent, which should have put them into contention for the win all by itself.

But the Atlanta Dream shot a staggering 64.3 percent!! That's not just "mighty fine shootin' there, Tex". That's the third best percentage in WNBA history. Los Angeles hit 65.5 percent against the Comets in 2005. The Comets hit 65.4 percent against Washington that same year. The Dream shot themselves into WNBA history.

Even adjusting for effective field goal percentage doesn't help. It budges the Monarchs accuracy to 51 percent and the Dream's accuracy to 65 percent. Game, set, match.

Turnovers: The Dream turned it over 18 times, but Sacramento turned it over 15 times. Sacramento got the edge, but it wasn't enough.

Offensive rebounding: 10 for the Dream, 9 for the Monarchs. However, the Dream's offensive rebound percentage was 40 percent - 2 out of every 5 missed shots on the Atlanta backboard ended up back in the hands of the Dream. The Monarchs rebounded at a 32 percent rate - well, but not well enough.

Free throw line visits: The Monarchs clearly led here, 15 to 9. They shot 87 percent from the payback line and that accounted for 6 extra points. They needed more visits that that, though.

(* * *)

Let's look at the Monarchs individually:

Nicole Powell: 23 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals. However, she shot 9 for 22, so it's not that impressive.
DeMya Walker: 19 points, 4 assists.
Rebekkah Brunson: 13 points, 7 rebounds. 6-for-9 shooting. As long as Ivory Latta's on the team, the Dream's gonna remember "Toothgate".
Kristin Haynie: Former member of the Dream. 4 points on 1-for-4 shooting. 12 minutes played.

And now, let's look at the Dream. Which player did the better job - McCoughtry or de Souza?

Angel McCoughtry: McCoughtry was the more impressive shooter in a night where shooting was everything - she was 11-for-15. But she wasn't a ball hog, dishing out the assists for what I think is McCoughtry's first points-assists double double, with 10 assists. The four turnovers don't take away from McCoughtry's game, making her the Dreamer of the Game.

Erika de Souza: De Souza would have been a lock for Dreamer of the Game in just about any other circumstance. 27 points on 13-for-19 shooting. It was the most points de Souza has scored in a game in her career - a shame that McCoughtry had to eclipse her. She had 3 steals too. It was just an incredible night for the Beast from Brazil.

Sancho Lyttle: Lyttle's game was pretty damned cool, too. 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Shalee Lehning: It looks like those Atlanta fans that visited Lehning got to "See Shalee Shine". She had only 4 points, but she had 9 assists. Her personal best in assists? That's 10 assists, which she earned against Sacramento the last time the Dream played them.

Iziane Castro Marques: 16 points and 6 assists of her own. Tough to compete against McCoughtry, de Souza, and Lyttle when they're all having hot games. Iziane did the smart thing and dished the ball to hot players - she's only dished the ball six times one other time this year.

Michelle Snow: 6 points in 7 minutes, but 4 personal fouls in 7 minutes. An okay game from Snow.

Jennifer Lacy: 4 points on 2-for-4 shooting. 2 assists, 2 personal fouls, one turnover.

Ivory Latta: Only played for 4 minutes, making her the player to see the least court time (by six seconds). Zero points, -10 in raw plus/minus.

Armintie Price: Five minutes, one blocked shot, one turnover. -4 in raw plus/minus. Feh.

Coco Miller: Four minutes of play. Took a shot and missed it. One turnover. Raw plus/minus of -6. It looks like Coco Miller was Still Snoozin' when it came to the game. Better luck next time.

No comments: