Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Who: The Atlanta Dream (12-4) take on the Minnesota Lynx (5-10) in an interconference game.
The Dream are led by Angel McCoughtry, who is scoring 20.4 points per game. Sancho Lyttle (14.8 ppg/10.4 rpg) is an All-Star caliber post, and Iziane Castro Marques (16.8 ppg) will be playing on the Brazilian national team at the end of the season with Erika de Souza (12.1 ppg/8.3 rpg). Minnesota has five players who average double figures. Minnesota's Candice Wiggins (13.8 ppg) is out for the season but the Lynx have Rebekkah Brunson (13.6 ppg/10.8 ppg) and Seimone Augustus (17.7 ppg).
What: The first of two regular season games against the Minnesota Lynx - the two teams will meet again 13 days later in Minneapolis. Last year the teams split the season series, with the Lynx winning in Atlanta 91-85 on June 30, 2009 and Atlanta beating Minnesota 91-77 on the road on July 15th, 2009. Over the lifetime of the Dream, the record against the Lynx is 2-2, with each team always winning at the other's home court.
Where: Philips Arena in Atlanta.
When: Tip-off is at 7 pm Eastern time, Thursday, July 1st. Atlanta. You should be able to watch the game on Sports South - if not live, then game-delayed - but the game should also be on WNBA Live Access. For you clean living Minnesotans, the game should be broadcast on the BOB, 106.1 FM.
Why: The Dream have won five of thier last six games. The only loss was in Indiana, and the Fever only won by three points, 94-91. The Dream look as strong as ever, at least on paper.
However, the Dream will play four games in a week - Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - and even with home field advantage it has to take its toll in terms of sheer fatigue. Enter Minnesota, which is 5-10 but three of Minnesota's five wins come against lowly Tulsa. However, three of Minnesota's five wins also come on the road and the Lynx have won three of its last four. Unfortunately for the Lynx, they're the worst shooting team in the WNBA by a good margin, hitting only 39.5 percent of their field goals - hitting buckets at the rate of the 1998 Washington Mystics. Their opponents also hit 45.9 percent of field goals against the Lynx, the best in the WNBA.
(Note: Can you believe that the 2000 Miami Sol only hit 36.5 percent of its field goals? Ugh.)
The Minnesotans will have four days of rest coming in, but rest doesn't always help a team. The Dream are favored by 8 1/2 by covers.com and by 12 points by MasseyRatings.com. Let's hope that the Dream win their fourth straight tomorrow night.
Yelena Leuchanka's 13 points against Phoenix were a career high.
Craig Cappy over at SportsPageMagazine.com has a gallery up of pics from the Dream's victory over the Mercury on Tuesday night.
If you like Dream pictures...and I know you do...then you know what to do. Click, and enjoy.
Very tired. Got back in late last night. The Dream sparked a 11-0 run over a couple of quarters late in the game to beat the Mercury 94-88 at Philips Arena. The Dream is 6-1 at Philips over the season and remain 1 1/2 games up in the Eastern Conference.
The box score is here.
Pierce W. Huff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gives his writeup.
Associated Press writeup by George Henry is here.
Seth Pollack of SB Nation writes about the Mercury's woes.
Probably will have no time to write about this. Busy week. Minnesota shows up in Atlanta on Thursday Night and it's time to deliver a whuppin on them Lynxes. I'll be there!
Monday, June 28, 2010
Breakin' the Glass is a documentary about the American Basketball League. For those new to the WNBA, the American Basketball League is the league that came just before the WNBA started and briefly competed with the W. Some of the footage in this documentary is just priceless - it's very hard to find actual ABL game footage. (See a very young Katie Smith!)
All three parts of the documentary are on YouTube. See it while you still can!
Who: The Atlanta Dream (11-4) take on the Phoenix Mercury (5-9) in an interconference game.
The Dream are led by Angel McCoughtry, who is scoring 20.5 points per game. Sancho Lyttle (15.1 ppg/10.9 rpg) is an All-Star post, and Iziane Castro Marques (17.2 ppg) will be playing on the Brazilian national team at the end of the season with Erika de Souza (12.3 ppg/8.7 rpg). The Phoenix Mercury might be without Diana Taurasi (22.9 ppg) but the high-scoring Mercury also have Candice Dupree (13.1 pgg/7.6 rpg) and Penny Taylor (15.9 ppg/4.9 apg).
What: The second of two regular season games against the Phoenix Mercury. On May 28th, the Dream won 96-93 at the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Where: Philips Arena in Atlanta.
When: Tip-off is at 7 pm Eastern time, Tuesday June 29th. The game will be shown on NBA TV - at least the Dream's website claims that it will - but will probably be blacked out in Atlanta. However, you should be able to watch the game on Sports South - if not live, then game-delayed.
Why: For those who like to joke about a WNBA game ending with a score of 8 to 4 - you need to update your jokes by about 15 years. The Mercury average 91.8 points per game, and the Dream are #2 at 82.7 points per game. In the NBA, this would be 110 points and 99 points per game.
However, the Mercury have a couple of problems. The first problem is that even though the Merc score 91.8 points per game, they give up 91.9 points per game, more than any other team in the WNBA. Somewhere, the Mercury have forgotten how to play even minimal defense and they've lost their last four games. Second, Diana Taurasi hurt her back on the road in an 95-85 loss to the Mystics in Washington. She went to the locker room in the third quarter and didn't return to the game. She's currently listed as day-to-day and might not play in the Atlanta game, which could make it a five-game losing streak for the Mercury. You have to go back to 2005 to find a Phoenix Mercury team that lost five straight games.
A win against the Mercury would give the Dream a 3-3 record lifetime and would be the first ever season sweep by the Mercury. The last time the Mercury played in Atlanta the Dream won 106-76, the biggest win in Atlanta Dream history in terms of points scored and in winning margin, so let's all knock on wood. Atlanta is favored by 6 1/2 points by covers.com and by 10 points by masseyratings.com. If you want to see a fast-paced, high-scoring game against the defending WNBA champions that the Dream have a good chance of winning, tomorrow night is your night!
On July 10th, the usual WNBA All-Star Game format will change to "WNBA vs. USA Basketball" at an event called "The Stars at the Sun" which takes place in Connecticut. The purpose of the game is to give the USA Basketball team a really good team to warm up against.
The USA Basketball Team - in case you forgot - is coached by University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma. His assistant coaches will be Meadors and Jennifer Gillom, the head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks.
The WNBA All-Star Team will be coached by Seattle's Brian Agler. Nancy Darsch, his assistant with the Storm, will be his assistant with the WNBA Team.
The game takes place on July 10th on Saturday at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN.
If you were unaware, Kathy Goodman - an owner of the Sparks - has a blog on the Los Angeles Times website, where she writes about the Dream's recent victory.
We did not play a good game on Thursday night against the Washington Mystics, so I was, not surprisingly, a little pessimistic coming into Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Dream, which is atop of the Eastern Conference. I took some time on Saturday to get a little perspective and inspiration by visiting the Martin Luther King Center and the Carter Center in downtown Atlanta. By game time, I was fairly philosophical and just wanted us to play some good basketball, win or lose. So why is it the Sparks had to start so strong and get my hopes up all over again?
As the fourth quarter began, I was wondering whether I would have preferred it if I thought we had never had a chance in the game. Atlanta was first in the East; the Dream had scored over 100 points when we played them in Staples earlier in the season; I didn’t have a real reason to be hopeful. Except that first half. When we played the kind of basketball I knew our team could play. If they played like the first-half Sparks, we’d be good. If they played like the team that played the first three minutes of the third quarter, it would be hard. Although we started the final period by pushing the lead to four, in less than two minutes, Atlanta forced a tie. Philips Arena, which had been fairly quiet during the game, erupted. Within another minute, the Dream took the lead for the first time and never looked back. Castro Marques, who had been held to four points in the first half, exploded for 21 in the second half. Yelena Leuchanka, coming off the bench for DeSouza, scored six of her eight points in the fourth quarter, all in the paint.
Maybe Ms. Goodman needs to invite our owner, Kathy Betty, to a Sparks game in Los Angeles. Or failing that, I'll go. All I need is a round-trip plane ticket, c/o the Pleasant Dreams Blog.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
A recent post was made at the Atlanta Dream message board stating that Iziane Castro Marques has become the first player to score 1,000 points in an Atlanta Dream uniform. So I decided to check on that.
Here is the list of career points leaders while wearing an Atlanta Dream uniform...and congratulations, Izi!
Iziane Castro Marques 1015
Angel McCoughtry 743
Erika Desouza 699
Sancho Lyttle 669
Betty Lennox 595
Ivory Latta 534
Chamique Holdsclaw 348
Jennifer Lacy 285
Tamera Young 270
Katie Mattera 220
Michelle Snow 185
Shalee Lehning 157
Coco Miller 150
Alison Bales 133
Kristin Haynie 94
Kasha Terry 92
Stacey Lovelace 91
Armintie Price 87
Camille Little 62
Kelly Miller 59
Kristen Mann 45
Yelena Leuchanka 44
Ann Strother 39
Nikki Teasley 39
Chioma Nnamaka 16
Brittainey Raven 11
With the help of Dizzy Izi who scored 25 points, the Dream beat the Los Angeles Sparks for the season sweep. The Dream are 4-2 lifetime against the Sparks.
Pierce W. Huff puts it on virtual paper at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Associated Press releases the news.
The Dream needed a 13-0 run against the Sparks in the fourth quarter to put it away. Atlanta goes up to 11-4, and keeps a 1 1/2 game lead in the Eastern Conference. Up next: Phoenix on Tuesday night.
I might write more, or I might not. Very busy around the old homestead.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Guess who was spotted in Atlanta? Janeth Arcain! Hi, Janeth! Dream fan Scarab took a picture of Arcain with the #1 Atlanta Dream fan! (*)
There are so many great Brazilian players in Atlanta they're going to have to make the Dream's colors gold and green.
(*) - Address all disputes to Atlanta Dream Blog, Atlanta, GA :D
Who: The Atlanta Dream (10-4) take on the Los Angeles Sparks (3-9) in an interconference game.
The Dream are led by Angel McCoughtry, who is scoring 20.6 points per game. Sancho Lyttle (15.3 ppg/10.9 rpg) is an All-Star post, and Iziane Castro Marques (16.6 ppg) will be playing on the Brazilian national team at the end of the season with Erika de Souza (12.6 ppg/9.0 rpg). The Los Angeles Sparks will have to depend on Tina Thompson (13.6 ppg/5.7 rpg) and Delisha Milton-Jones (12.6 ppg) with Candace Parker out for the rest of the season.
What: The second of two regular season games against the Los Angeles Sparks. On May 30th, the Dream won 101-82 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Where: Philips Arena in Atlanta.
When: Tip-off is at 3 pm Eastern time, Sunday June 27th. The game will be shown on NBA TV, but will probably be blacked out in Atlanta. However, you should be able to watch the game on Sports South - if not live, then game-delayed.
Why: This is a rare down year for the Sparks - the Sparks are at 3-9 and are threatening to win the Maya Moore sweepstakes in the 2011 WNBA Draft. Candace Parker will have surgery on her easily-dislocated left shoulder and will miss the rest of the season. Parker was averaging a double-double with 20.6 ppg and 10.1 rpg. Betty Lennox - remember her? - will probably have knee surgery sometime next week and she'll be out for four to six weeks. The Los Angeles Sparks are clearly a team in disarray.
Remember last year when Pat Summitt brought all of her close personal friends to fill up Philips Arena? Tennessee faithful hoped to see Chamique Holdsclaw and Candace Parker square off last year. What a difference a season makes. Parker's out, Holdsclaw and Snow have skedaddled to San Antonio and unless the rosters shuffle before tomorrow there won't be a single player with a Tennessee Lady Volunteer pedigree on the court.
Los Angeles's performance could depend on Tina Thompson, the final survivor of the inaugural 1997 WNBA season - so if you need a reason to come, it would be to see a legend playing at Philips. Thompson scored 24 points at home against Connecticut and lost by three; the Mystics stomped out the Sparks by 15 in Washington when Thompson was held to nine points. If Thompson has another bad game, the Dream could (hopefully) pick up their 11th win before the season is even half-over.
If the Dream wins tomorrow, it will be the first season sweep of the Sparks in the Dream's history and give the Dream a 4-2 lifetime record against Los Angeles. (It will also be the Dream's first ever home win against LA.) Covers.com has Atlanta as a 10-point favorite, but I'm not counting this game as wrapped up until the final buzzer sounds.
So this is what all the Marion Jones hype's about?
A new gallery has been posted at SportsPageMagazine.com with pictures from the Dream/Shock tussle. (Or maybe it's an old gallery. I'm a few days behind.)
My recommendation: visit and enjoy.
According to lokosxelbaloncestofemenino.com, Spain has made Sancho Lyttle a naturalized Spainsh citizen.
From Francisco Caamaño, the Minister of Justice in Spain:
In exceptional circumstances it as having excellent physical and technical qualities to excel in basketball, what may help to raise the national team's potential future projects, as their selection for the World Cup. (Yes, bad translation.)
In short, Lyttle now qualifies for the Spanish National Team. Spain wants to raise its women's team's international profile...and they might have just found a way to do it.
Picture above from Vino Wong at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz has been keeping himself busy in retirement. According to an article by Pierce W. Huff in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
The unofficial “John Smoltz Life After Baseball Tour” found Smoltz in an unfamiliar spot Friday, practicing with the Dream at Georgia Tech.
The practice was Smoltz’s way of promoting the Dream and drawing attention to women’s professional sports, and when it was over he realized that he chose the right professional sport to pursue when he was younger.
“I don’t know if I made [Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo] proud as much as I enjoyed the experience today with some of the greatest female basketball players in the world,” Smoltz said. “You look from afar, and you don’t realize how quick, how strong and how talented they are. So, it was a great experience.”
“I think [Smoltz] is a great athlete,” Dream general manager/coach Marynell Meadors said. “Our players absolutely fell in love with him.”
Hey, athletes are the first ones to respect what other athletes do. They know how difficult it is. I hope Smoltz had a great time and that he'll come to a few games.
Q: Who are the only two Brazilians playing in the WNBA?
Just a wonderful picture posted by the Atlanta Dream Facebook Page. So if you're into social media, give it a visit. You'll find that it's chock-full of goodness like the picture above.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
We led by 18 at one point, but Tulsa caught us with our pants down. After they closed to within a couple of baskets, it was a struggle for the rest of the game. And then McCoughtry went nuts in the second half and managed to lead the Dream to victory. It was her ninth game where she's scored 20 plus points.
The box score is here.
USA Today and Charles Odum writes about the victory.
The news from the Associated Press.
The staff of the Tulsa World probably saw the game on television.
Tulsa's Channel Eight has the story.
The Sports Network makes its report.
The reason it's taken so long to report on the result is...I've just seen the game. I saw the replay on Sports South, being very careful not to find out the score before the game was over. It was very annoying when Sports South would cut a few minutes out of the game for time. In the bottom half of the second quarter - thank God they jumped ahead three minutes, because I didn't have to watch a major part of Tulsa's 21-6 run in the first half.
If you've noticed...I've been a little bit busy. Hopefully, more on this game later. 10-4 and #1 in the East, baby! Now it's time to whip the Sparks on Sunday!
Monday, June 21, 2010
This is from a web page from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about how hot it is during the summer.
Clearly, Taj McWilliams and Armintie Price are willing to establish position on the court no matter what it takes.
Pierce W. Huff writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the Dream's...increasing attendance?
It's all in a marketing day's work. As they have season, the Dream last Thursday continued with their all-out promotional blitz, using team appearances, community functions and ticket giveaways to make themselves better known to the local community. The goal: increase ticket sales, even if it means personally meeting every Atlantan to do so.
The hard work is already paying dividends.
With average attendance up to 5,784, the Dream are drawing 1,300 more fans per game than last year. Attendance has increased in each of its past three home dates. The Dream plays Tulsa at noon Wednesday, the unusual start time due to the WNBA's annual Kids Day.
“There had been a very low awareness of this brand and this organization,” said Toby Wyman, the Dream’s president and chief operating officer.
Really? I thought attendance was down. Of course, it could be that the 4,284 number from last year - 5,784 minus the 1,300 more we're supposed to be drawing this year - is the real, secret number of fannies in seats from last year. (The number that only the DFO and Donna Orender knows about.) In which case, stand back for Wednesday because they're going to blow right past 5,784 in actual attendance during Kids Day.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
(Pictures by Craig Cappy, the guy who takes the Dream's pics for SportsPageMagazine.com. The gallery is right here. My own pictures are at the bottom of the post.)
Okay, you're probably more than a little confused by now. You're thinking "Excuse me? This is an Atlanta Dream basketball blog. This isn't some soccer blog. I've never even heard of the Atlanta Beat. What about the Dream's loss in Indiana?"
To which I reply, "Chill, pickle. Relax. It's Father's Day, a festive occasion. I write about lots of things on this blog, so why can't I write about soccer if I want to?"
This story has its start with a visit I made last year to my in-laws in Dallas, where I met Ethan. Ethan was the writer of a blog called Actionless Activity back then which I enjoyed reading for its insightful comments about the WNBA. I don't get down to Dallas that often, so it's the only time we've ever spoken in person. I went back to Atlanta to continue working on Pleasant Dreams, and he started writing the Mister Women's Sports blog.
Anyway, Ethan has been following soccer since 2007 and he had hoped to come to Atlanta and see an Atlanta Beat game and invite me along. Myself, I was indifferent to soccer. I did not loathe it, I did not despise it, I could simply take it or leave it. I didn't begrudge anyone their soccer fandom but I saw myself tied down enough to the WNBA and I didn't want to make the effort in following some other sport.
A few days ago, Ethan offered me some free tickets to the Beat's game against the Chicago Red Stars. He wasn't going to be able to come to Atlanta, so he sent his free tickets on to me. So, my question was, "should I spend several hours of my weekend watching a women's soccer game?" I did agree to go to this game, I was 99 percent sure that WNBA Live Access would deliver another staggering failure and I really had no reason not to go to it. After asking my wife to accompany me - who turned me down flat - I took off for sunny Kennesaw State University to find their soccer stadium.
Yes, KSU has a stadium devoted to soccer. In a public-private partnership, the university shares its stadium with the Atlanta Beat. I didn't know anything about soccer going in, so I decided to look up a few facts.
I knew that this was the first year of the Beat and that they were 0-5-2 going in. Winless.
I knew that the Atlanta Beat had been a successful franchise when the old WUSA was still in business, and that this franchise was named after that one.
I knew that Hope Solo was on the Atlanta Beat squad, and that she's a goalkeeper of some note.
I knew that Atlanta had an infusion of new blood due to the folding of St. Louis Athletica, another WPS franchise.
That's about all I knew. I couldn't find out any information about how to watch soccer from internet sources, but one website gave me some good advice. Namely, that soccer is a game of action and reaction: "Every action from a soccer player causes a reaction", just like a law of physics. If you see players that are running around mindlessly without the ball, it isn't mindless running around - they want to set up something. Players sprinting across the field caught my eye as much as players without the ball.
So here's a list of my random observations about the Beat/Red Stars game and about the whole experience in general:
1) My seat at the game was behind the goal. I thought at first that this was a good thing. That I'd get to see the offenses of each team up close and personal.
Then, with the first errant warm-up kick, I realized my foolishness. I would indeed see the offense up close and personal, because if a player sent the ball off the pitch while trying for a goal, the ball was quite likely to end up bouncing off my skull. More than one ball ended up in the seats, and we were warned by the announcer to watch the ball. If I go again, I'll wear a protective helmet. I felt sorry for anyone sitting near a goal who was nursing a beer.
2) It was indeed a minor league experience...in the best sense of that term, and not in the sense of "second rate". Local community eating popcorn and soda and watching a soccer game together. Sunny day, not a lot of hustle and bustle. A pastoral spectacle instead of the indoor arena spectacle of basketball or the crowd-is-half-intoxicated spectacle of football. (For clarification "football" will refer to the carry-the-ball sport known elsewhere in the world as American football, and "soccer" will refer to what the rest of the world calls "football".)
3) Noisemakers. They had them. Oh, not the vuvuzela that is causing all that controversy, but some local company was handing out cowbells as a promotional item. Can you imagine the crowd at Philips Arena armed with anything louder than thundersticks? To paraphrase the call to arms broadcasted randomly at KSU, "Guess what? Philips Arena's got a fever, and the only prescription...is more cowbell!!"
More cowbell. Think about it, Kathy Betty.
4) The Red Stars were wearing white/blue shirts with blue shorts. Across the bosom were three non-descript looking Red Stars. You need to red up that kit a bit.
5) At some point in the game, I saw a Swiss flag to the left of me. This was to honor Ramona Bachmann, a Swiss native who is playing for the Swiss National Team. A crapload of players were missing in Atlanta - including Hope Solo - but I didn't quite understand why. I still don't really.
6) I was surprised at how much smaller everything looks in soccer when you get away from the TV set. When you watch TV, it distorts how you watch games. On TV, the pitch looks absolutely gigantic, but when you're there, the pitch looks much smaller and you get a better view from your seats than you do on TV.
I suspect that one of the reasons that soccer never took off in America (besides virulant xenophobia) is that fact that there's nothing "incremental" in soccer. Soccer is purely continuous and play doesn't stop for the most part. It's a flowing sport and the TV screen can only show you a small part of that flow. It's also why hockey isn't really a great TV sport.
7) When the ball hits the protective barrier near the stands -- WHHAAAAAPPPP! The clang gives you an idea of how fast that ball is traveling when it's being kicked.
We were reminded that there was a first aid section on the West Concourse and that EMS was present during the game. Good idea.
8) I was surprised at how lily-white the crowd was. Well, this is Cobb County, Georgia, the former congressional seat of Newt Gingrich. After attending all of those Atlanta Dream games where you see people of all races and all backgrounds, it was very odd to find myself suddenly in the middle of white-bread suburbia again.
Race is inextricably bound up not just with basketball in the United States, but with all sports. If you want to generalize, soccer is a sport for yuppie professionals, and basketball is the sport which has traditionally been the ticket out for urban youth. I am now really starting to wonder if the (unspoken) reason that the WNBA gets so much hate is not that its women playing basketball, but black women playing basketball.
9) There were lots of kids there, many of whom were wearing various-colored soccer kits. Maybe they could be called "soccer kittens".
10) There wasn't a whole lot of fun stuff going on with the loudspeaker. Which might have been a good thing, since you weren't distracted by wacky vocal antics during the game. However, they could have done a lot more with their jumbotron, which only showed three things:
a) the Atlanta Beat logo (rotating) and the score
b) the occasional substitution, and
c) a lot of promotion of local business.
What? No toilet races? My wife would tell you that it isn't a sports experience without toilet races.
11) And now, about the game.
I was surprised most by Mami Yamaguchi, who is listed as a midfielder from Japan. I saw great footwork that reminded me of how Chamique Holdsclaw moves the ball at her best. I don't know if Yamaguchi is the Chamique Holdsclaw of Japan, or the Chamique Holdsclaw of the WPS or even the Jennifer Lacy of the WPS. All I know is that I saw some weird shit done with a soccer ball that I don't think I've seen before. Those players must practice by moving the ball past fallen logs in the forest, because I could swear that Yamaguchi was deliberately bouncing the ball off of her defender's shins.
12) So how does someone who doesn't watch soccer characterize this match? It was sort of like a boxing match. The Red Stars were a jabber, like Floyd Mayweather trying to win the match on points. They had control of the ball for much of the first half, and I suppose they thought that if they controlled the ball on their half of the court, sooner or later it would fall into the enemy net based on sheer random chance.
As for the Beat, they were sluggers. They didn't have the ball much in the first half, but when they did they would set up a combination and go for the throat, trying to set up the jab. If you look at the box score, Atlanta took 17 shots and the Red Stars took only four.
13) 42 minutes into the match, Monica Ocampo set up Tina Ellertson. The writeup says it was a header, but I thought it went off the body. However, there was much cowbell ringing.
13b) The writeup also lists why Hope Solo wasn't there - "humanitarian mission in South Africa". Does that mean "left to watch the World Cup?"
14) Halftime was a little weird. The pitch was turned over to several kids teams who split the field among themselves. It looked like a youth soccer practice out at Marist High School.
There was a dance contest among three fathers. The prize was a ride in a limo. I'm sure it was a nice promotional idea, but it was kind of hard to tell what was going on from where I'm sitting.
14b) One young woman was wearing a jersey numbered #78. I can guess what player is her favorite player - Hope Solo, a popular goalkeeper (in some quarters) for the Beat.
15) And with the Beat up 1-0, the hope was that we could keep the advantage in the second half. Neither team changed their strategy much, but it seemed that the Beat had better control of the ball. With the Red Stars unable to throw any punches - so to speak - the crowd waited and anxiously watched the clock run down.
When the clock hit 90 minutes - the time of a regulation soccer game - the announcer announced how much extra time would be added. Time in a soccer match isn't on the jumbotron, it's kept by a timekeeper. Time runs continuously, but for some kinds of stoppages the timekeeper adds extra playing time. For example, during the first half of the game five minutes were added.
The timekeeper announced that the minimum amount of time would be added - one minute. One minute later, the Beat had their first victory and there was much rejoicing.
16) Total attendance: 3,589. I suspect that attendance is counted in the same way as it is in the WNBA. However, the crowd was very into the game and the little kids - and there were a zillion of them - were going crazy waving their rally towels.
Did I have fun? Yes. Would I see another game? Let's put it this way: I wouldn't be adverse to seeing another game. The problem is that the WPS season runs concurrently with the WNBA season, and it's hard for me to even squeeze WNBA games into my schedule. But hey...it could happen, and I wouldn't mind it happening.
Nearing the venue....
Where it all happens.
Buy your Atlanta Beat gear here!
Lots to do, too.
My view from my seat.
Jumbotron watches ALL.
Red Stars are a blur warming up.
Notice the Japanese flag.
Action (?) on the pitch.
Now we know what the "#20" on her jersey stands for.
Actually, it could have been worse. We only lost by three points, and the home field advantage in the WNBA is around 3.5 points, so on a neutral court we would have had a shot at winning this.
Sancho Lyttle had 20 points and 20 rebounds. This is only the eighth time in WNBA history that someone had 20 points and 20 rebounds, and the first time it's been done in almost four years. The complete list from P. D. Swanson:
20+ Points & 20+ Rebounds, Game
22 / 20 -- Natalie Williams, Utah at Sacramento, June 22, 2002
29 / 21 -- Chamique Holdsclaw, Washington at Sacramento, June 25, 2002 (2OT)
24 / 21 -- Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles vs. Orlando, July 22, 2002
22 / 24 -- Chamique Holdsclaw, Washington at Charlotte, May 23, 2003
23 / 20 -- Lauren Jackson, Seattle vs. Charlotte, July 31, 2003
21 / 22 -- Cheryl Ford, Detroit at San Antonio, May 22, 2004
21 / 23 -- Michelle Snow, Houston at Minnesota, August 4, 2006 (OT)
20 / 20 -- Sancho Lyttle, Atlanta at Indiana, June 19, 2010
You can find the box score here at the WNBA.com site.
Justin Albers reports for the Examiner.com.
Ted Schultz of the Indianapolis Star has his writeup.
The Associated Press reports here. They also have a gallery of photos.
So did I watch this one? No. I've officially given up on WNBA Live Access this year, so I went instead to the Atlanta Beat game, the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) game here in Atlanta. The Beat got their first franchise victory, beating the Chicago Red Stars 1-0. I'm one of the few people who was physically present during the Dream's first win and the Beat's first win.
Game thread from Swish Appeal is here.
I'll write more about this game later, very busy weekend for me.
Interesting: Sam James of Fever Week reported this juicy tidbit of gossip:
Someone on press row heard Dream coach yell Angel McCoughtry on the bench
Apparently, Angel did or has given up on the game. The coach was yelling at her:
“Get this through your head, we are never out of a game! We never quit!”
Ah, the placid calmness of the Atlanta Dream. Particularly, Atlanta Dream fandom where such issues are handled with a spirit of patience and tranquility.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Who: The Atlanta Dream (9-3) take on the Indiana Fever (7-4) in an Eastern Conference Game.
The Dream are led by Angel McCoughtry, who is scoring 19.9 points per game. Sancho Lyttle (15.3 ppg/10.1 rpg) is an All-Star post, and Iziane Castro Marques (16.2 ppg) will be playing on the Brazilian national team at the end of the season with Erika de Souza (12.6 ppg/9.7 rpg). The defending Eastern Conference champions are back on track with Tamika Catchings (16.5 ppg/6.7 rpg) leading the team and with Shavonte Zellous (6.8 ppg) on the team after being acquired from Tulsa.
What: The second of five regular season games against the Indiana Fever. The Dream won the first of these games - their home opener - against the Fever on May 15th by a score of 66-62.
Where: Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
When: Tip-off is at 7 pm Eastern time, Saturday June 19th. The game will be available on Live Access.
Why: As in the year before, the Indiana Fever started 0-2, including the loss to Atlanta mentioned above. They've been 7-2 since then and have reasserted their dominance in the Eastern Conference. In order for the Dream to show that it's the best of the East, it will have to beat the Fever on their home court...where they play three times this year. A win moves the Fever to just 1/2 game behind the Dream in the tough Eastern Conference.
The 66 points to which the Dream were held were the lowest the Dream were held to since a meaningless regular-season ending loss against Washington last year. Before that, you have to go to July 2008 to a 79-66 loss against the Sacramento Monarchs - a team that no longer exists. Indiana is all about killer defense, with Catchings one of the all-time great defenders and the Fever holding their competitors to just 69.4 points per game. The Fever has come off home wins against what are proving to be two of the toughest teams in the WNBA - Connecticut and Seattle - and you know the Fever would like three in a row.
One interesting bit of trivia is that Tamika Catchings has hit 33 consecutive free throws, a franchise record. The Fever are favored by 5 points by covers.com, but I don't think the Dram will be intimidated. They have a 6-2 road record and are used to putting it together on the road, so if you see the Dream behind at halftime don't panic - the team have only led at halftime three times this season. Indiana is great at blocking shots, but Atlanta has great post players of its own and Indiana is a poor shooting team (42.2 percent), so it might require some defensive intensity for the Fever to win again.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
From New York City, Pierson gives some hints as to what Tulsa ball is all about in her latest blog entry:
Well lets take it back for a moment, Tulsa training camp was the hardest preseason workout that I've ever been thru in my career. I mean at one point in 5 and a half days we had 11 practices. Talk about being prepared! 40 Minutes of Hell is no joke, Im sad that I didn't get the opportunity to fully understand the system and enjoy wrecking havoc on other teams. While trying to figure out Coach Richardson's system, we had a disagreement that was hard for both parties to recover from. Both sides tried to reconcile our differences but ultimately it was my decision to make a move and start over new somewhere. I felt as if I wasn't able to contribute to the success of the team and that I was holding them back. Everyone knows that when you are unhappy with circumstances that are presented to you, it can make something you love to do something that you dread doing. That was the point that I was at and I expressed that to Coach Richardson and he made the trade. Im officially a New York Liberty!
So it wasn't Richardson's decision, it was Pierson's. I thank Pierson for clearing that up.
At the induction ceremony at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the two biggest names in women's college basketball coaching had a little chat. You can read the accompanying article here. A bigger picture is at the link.
The fun part would be having a caption contest.
"Yeah Pat, since I started a swear jar, my language has cleaned up considerably. What do you use to keep from cursing?"
"I just drink Bloody Marys on the rocks."
"Izi's the one you should worry about!"
SportsPageMagazine.com is breaking the photographic barrier with a new gallery of Dream-Sky photos. Click the link and show you love the Atlanta Dream...and Atlanta Dream pictures!
Lauren Harper has a new entry at Dream Diary: The Official Atlanta Dream blog. The blog had fallen by the wayside for a long time, and hadn't been updated since February 1st.
The entry is about how far the Dream have come. It seems that the article was written a little while back, as the Dream are listed as a 7-2 team. But I'm very happy to see the Official Atlanta Dream blog back, if only for a little while.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
We needed to prove we could win in Chicago...and we did. Great win by the Dream!
(Didn't see it. Screw WNBA Live Access. It doesn't work for me.)
We have five players in double figures in the box score. Iziane Castro Marques shot 10-for-16 and had 31 total points.
The Dream go to Indianapolis on Saturday. Let's win there!
Monday, June 14, 2010
The The Painel do Basquete Feminino blog is on top of things today, linking to a video clip review of the Atlanta-San Antonio game posted by WNBA.com on YouTube.
For those who didn't want to read all that text below, the YouTube clip above sums it up.
Who: The Atlanta Dream (8-3) take on the Chicago Sky (4-6) in an Eastern Conference Game.
The Dream are led by Angel McCoughtry, who is scoring 20.8 points per game. Sancho Lyttle (15.3 ppg/10.6 rpg) is an All-Star post, and Iziane Castro Marques (15.3 ppg) will be playing on the Brazilian national team at the end of the season with Erika de Souza (12.2 ppg/9.4 rpg). The Sky are led by Sylvia Fowles (19.3 ppg/8.1 rpg) and rookie Epipphany Prince (9.1 ppg).
What: The second of four regular season games against the Chicago Sky. The Dream lost the first of these games this year at home against the Sky 80-70 on June 4th.
Where: Allstate Arena in Chicago.
When: Tipoff is at at 8 pm Eastern time, Tuesday June 15. The game will be available on Live Access.
Why: With the Dream back on top in the Eastern Conference and hitting free throws, the next question should be - how come the Dream can't beat the Chicago Sky? The Dream are 1-7 all time against Chicago, and after losing to the Seattle Storm the Dream lost their second straight game of the season against the Sky at home.
The Sky have been streaky this year - starting the season off 0-4 and then winning the next four games, including beating the Storm and the Dream. The Sky have now lost two straight again, and both of those losses were double-digit losses against Eastern Conference teams (L 85-70 vs. New York, L 95-78 vs. Mystics). It might be a little bit tougher for Chicago as Shameka Christon got hit in the face with an elbow in the Washington game three minutes in and her status is still questionable. Christon averages 8.5 points per game.
Over those two losses by the Sky their opponents have shot 57 percent against the team, so Atlanta should feel hopeful that they might get their first win ever against Chicagon on their home ground. A good team should be able to beat anyone. However, the Sky are favored by 2 1/2 against Atlanta by covers.com.
The Brazilian Basketball Confederation honored Iziane Castro Marques for her performance against San Antonio where she scored 24 points and 12 rebounds. You can read the translated version right here.
Wait a minute. That was Sancho Lyttle who had 24 points and 12 rebounds and not Iziane Castro Marques. But if you could convince Lyttle to speak Portugese....
(Heads up to the Painel do Basquete Feminino blog.
Past meets present.
(Pictures provided by SportsPageMagazine.com. Go over and check out the gallery!)
After watching the Seattle game and the Chicago game, I finally got what I was looking for - a suspense-filled game that never failed to keep my interest and ended in a Dream victory. So I'll give you my minute-by-minute impressions.
1) Erika, Iziane, and Yelena Leuchanka were shooting around before the game started. It's kind of an odd trio, since as far as I know Leuchanka doesn't speak Portugese. They seemed to get along fine, though....
2) ...or maybe, it's just Leuchanka's personality. Before the game, Edwige Lawson-Wade of the Sparks walked up to Leuchanka and the two chatted a little while. Without going to basketball-reference.com, I don't quite know the Leuchanka-Lawson-Wade connection. Maybe they played together in Turkey, or somewhere in Europe. I dunno.
3) It seems that every coach except for Marynell Meadors was out there working on drills with the Dream before the game start. I definitely saw Carol Ross. I could have sworn I saw both Fred Williams and Sue Panek out there. With eleven players and three coaches, it looked like the Dream were holding a convention on their side ofthe court.
4) Ross was working with the posts again. This drill involved long passes to the posts from the perimeter, with the goal of the posts to bank it in or otherwise make the bucket. Ross can really heave the ball - I wonder if Ross could hit a 3-pointer if she wanted to?
5) Early on in the crowd, I saw a fan walking to find her seat. She was wearing a Silver Stars T-Shirt - #25, Hammon's jersey.
Reading RebKell, I've discovered that there is an unwritten kind of jersey protocol. As far as I can tell, this is how jerseys are "supposed" to be worn by fans. In descending order of preference:
a) Atlanta Dream jerseys with current players
b) Atlanta Dream jerseys with previous players (Lennox, Latta, Holdsclaw....)
c) Retired Hall-of-Famer jerseys (Cooper, Griffith)
d) Jerseys of the corresponding NBA team, if it exists - for Atlanta, this would be Atlanta Hawks jerseys
e) Jerseys of the enemy team (Hammon, in this case) - the person wearing the jersey can be teased, but abuse is classless unless the wearer of the enemy jersey is provoking abuse
f) A "personalized" Dream jersey with your nickname instead of the player name and a number not in use
g) A "personalized" Dream jersey with your real name and a number not in use
h) A "personalized" Dream jersey adorned with the number of an existing player, but not that player's name - say, wearing Shalee Lehning's number (#5) with your last name instead of "Lehning" (the crime is that you've obliterated the player)
i) Any overly "femmy" jersey in pastel colors - if your jersey is pink because it was worn by a Dream player during their Breast Cancer Awareness game, you get an exception
This protocol isn't listed anywhere, it's just what I happened to have picked up following various threads. Supposedly, a male wearing any WNBA jersey is at the bottom of the list, because it's supposedly the gHey. On the other hand, most of the writers who came up with that rule seem to be douches, so if you're a guy and you want to wear a WNBA jersey, let your freak flag fly, baby!
6) And then, I saw them - Chamique Holdsclaw and later Michelle Snow wearing black and silver. Enemy colors. At Philips Arena. I don't know how to think about that. On the one hand, good for you that you've found another team where you can practice your considerable basketball skillz. On the other hand...black and silver. Enemy colors. Holdsclaw and Snow, you're violating the jersey code!
7) The National Anthem was sung by R&B singer Crystal Renee'. I thought it was okay. It could have been great for all I know; I'm no Simon Cowell.
8) Twice during the game, three superfans were honored by the Dream. The name of one was (I think) Arthur Fisk, and I never caught the name of the other two.
Why are they superfans? They climbed Mount Everest, and displayed the banner of the Atlanta Dream at basecamp. For these fans, the Dream is clearly on Top of the World.
9) Before the game: very quiet for some reason, the calm before the not-Seattle storm.
10) And then, I saw them again. The Brazilians! I tried to get a snapshot with my camera but my camera failed. They always sit in the same section and bear two big Brazilian flags, and are always wearing gold-colored shirts. This means that they are obviously Kansas State fans here to root for Shalee Lehning.
11) San Antonio's starting lineup: Lawson-Wade, Hammon, Young, Holdsclaw, and Snow. The big question - would the Atlanta faithful boo Holdsclaw? The mix was right down the middle, cheers and boos. Call Dream fandom ambivalent.
Atlanta's starting lineup: the usual - Lehning, Lyttle, Erika, Iziane and McCoughtry
12) Participating at the ceremonial ball exchange: Valdosta High School. No word as to if they brought their own posse.
13) A representative of Kia Motors was on hand on center court - Meadors and the Kia representative presented the Eastern Confererence Player of the Month award to Angel McCoughtry. McCoughtry's going to have to build extra shelf space for all of these.
14) Before the game, the jumbotron showed Lehning and McCoughtry singing "Ticket to Ride". No, that's not true. Rather, they were giving directions to the Dream. The game was about to start.
15) If there was a word to characterize the first quarter, it would be intense. I told myself, "it looks like "first team to crack up loses". The refs were determined to blow their whistle, and that meant that the Dream would be tested at the free throw line early on.
Before the game, the Dream's free throw average was hovering at a dismal 64 percent. With nine minutes to go, Sancho Lyttle would be the first Dream player to be tested at the charity stripe. She hit both of her shots - a good portent - and the Dream were up 4-2.
16) The Dream and the Silver Stars were determined to match shot for shot. Lehning hit a 3-pointer from the right side to put the Dream up 9-8...but Edwige Lawson-Wade matched that with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to bring the Silver Stars back up 11-9.
Before Lawson-Wade got her hands on the ball, McCoughtry had it, and it seemed that McCoughtry had a little trouble with handling the ball.
17) With about 4 1/2 minutes left to play in the first quater and the game tied at 11-11, Sancho Lyttle was called for her second personal foul. It's like clockwork - expect Lyttle to have two personal fouls, right away. I don't know if it's due to Lyttle's (relative) inexperience or if its due to the fact that post players pick up a lot of personal fouls. But, based on non-scientific observation, it appears that Lyttle always picks up two personal fouls early and sits down.
Alison Bales came in to replace Lyttle, Bales being our first option off the bench. Holdsclaw took a breather. Our first option off the bench immediately made a bad pass that helps you understand why Bales, even with her talents, isn't starting.
18) With the Silver Stars up 14-13, Toby Wyman (the Dream's COO) came out to honor the executive director of an organization called L. E. A. D. L. E. A. D. is an Atlanta organization designed to develop leadership, but I don't know what the initials stand for, and I couldn't find out at the website. I believe the honoree was Kelly Stuart, but I can't be positive about the name speling.
19) Sign watch: I haven't seen many fans carry signs into Philips so far this year, but someone was carrying a sign honoring Ali Bales. Anyone can carry a sign honoring Angel McCoughtry, or bring in a couple of Brazilian flags, but when your sign honors the future 2010 Sixth Woman of the Year, that means that you're a hardcore Dream fan. Either that, or a hardcore fan of very tall women.
20) At the beginning of the game, I looked at the empty seats surrounding me and I thought, "Well, that's just swell - a second game with only 2,000 in attendance." But with the first quarter halfway over, the fans were still coming in. I said, "Hmm...this crowd is starting to fill out a little...."
21) San Antonio extended its lead to 17-13 after a 3-pointer right of the arc from Edwige Lawson-Wade. Clearly, Shalee Lehning wasn't the answer to Lawson-Wade, so Lehning was yanked and Kelly Miller came in.
McCoughtry got a layup, and then Kelly Miller fed Erika de Souza for the basket, and suddenly it was a 17-17 game all over again. That's when San Antonio brought Holdsclaw back in.
22) The Dream are still wearing their tattoos to honor Kyle, this game's honoree of the "Armed With a Dream" program from the Atlanta Children's Hospital.
23) A great play near the end of the first quarter. Chamique Holdsclaw had the ball, and was ready to drive to the basket. Her sole defender was Alison Bales. Holdsclaw tried to post up the ball over Bales, but found that 6 feet 7 inches was simply too great an obstacle. The ball didn't fall, and McCoughtry ended up with the ball and sprinted to the other end to tie it at 20-20. The quarter would have ended at 20-20 if not for a 3-pointer by Roneeka Hodges with one second left to end the quarter with the visitors up 23-20.
24) At the end of the game, both teams were fairly evenly matched statistically. The Dream was shooting 42.9 percent, and the Silver Stars were shooting 41.2 percent. However, the Silver Stars were 4-for-7 from the 3-point line.
25) Yelena Leuchanka came out to start the second quarter. Leuchanka is our second option off the bench in the post and clearly, she's no Alison Bales. First, she threw the ball away with a bad pass. Then, she had a shot blocked by Michelle Snow. But eventually, the Dream found her and she hit a wide-open jumper to bring us back to 23-22.
26) Both teams had a sweet mid-range game going, with jumper after jumper falling in. It was 29-26 in favor of the visitors with 6:31 left in the half.
This is when the Dream had their "Stars at the Sun" promotion, to convince fans to vote for Dream players for the All-Star Game. Angel McCoughtry gave the intro, then Lyttle, Iziane and Erika added "and me!" and Lehning wrapped it up. The way Erika said "and me!" you'd suspect that they were the only words in English she knew...but she said them with enthusiasm.
27) With about 4 minutes to go in the half and the score tied, people were still marching in. The crowd was now looking pretty good. I thought that it was going to be...maybe...announced in the 7,000 range. Crowds this big usually get announced in the 7,000 range.
28) After calling their second full-time out, the Silver Stars seemed to settle down. Hammon scored one of those under the basket "loop-de-loops" at Marynell Meadors calls them to put the Silver Stars up 33-29. Hammon was staring to get warmed up.
The Dream were down 35-33, and Lehning made a diving save to the ground that made me wince, given Lehning's history of shoulder surgery. While the Dream were playing, it made it back to me that Candace Parker had suffered a similar shoulder injury and was headed to the hospital. Maybe Lehning needs to play with one of those giant braces that Parker plays in, just as a protective measure.
29) Just before the half was over, Lyttle made her third personal foul. She left the floor. Sophia Young drove to the basket, and Ruth Riley followed with a layup to give the Silver Stars the 39-35 lead. The last basket by the Dream was off a drive by Erika de Souza, and the Dream entered the halftime break down by two points, 39 to 37.
30) Halftime: as the fans aren't privy to what goes on during a halftime speech, we instead got to look at a Zumba party. (I told my wife that I got to see a Zumba party at the Dream game, and she said, "What, the vacuum cleaner?"
Zumba, for those who don't know what it is, is a new exercise craze that looks a lot like Latin dancing. Now, no one has ever confused me with Michael Jackson but if dancing and exercise are your things, you might want to try the Zumba. It looked kind of cool.
They also had more "person bowling". I think I explained this in a previous post. Seven gigantic plastic pins are set up at one end of a court, and a person sits on a small wheeled platform at the other end. His or her partner pushes the person on the platform down the court into the plastic pins.
I don't think they got more than three pins in either attempt. No strikes or even spares. Clearly, it will be a long time before person bowling becomes a demonstration Olympic sport.
31) With the start of the third quarter de Souza made another layup and we were tied 39-39. The Dream didn't leave the locker room cautious: on the contrary. Erika de Souza tried a lob pass to Iziane Castro Marques under the basket, and it would have been a perfect play except for the fact that Erika threw it just a little too hard. Iziane was forced to lean backwards to catch it, and she had no time to correct her posture before shooting.
32) Both sides went back to trading baskets again. One of those baskets was a semi-"alley oop" to Sancho Lyttle, or it would have been a true alley oop if Lyttle could leap that high. It was a high lob pass to Lyttle's outstreched hand when she was at layup distance from the basket.
33) Becky Hammons hit a 3-pointer with 6:34 left to give San Antonio a 51-47 lead. I say "Hammons" because that's what the announcer said, and the announcer is always right. (Hmm...whatever happened to Art Eckman, by the way?)
34) With about 5:40 left on the clock, Holdsclaw hit a jumper to put San Antonio up 53-48. Sancho Lyttle followed that with a bank shot and Iziane drove to the hoop and before San Antonio knew it, the game was almost tied again at 53-52. Time out, San Antonio.
35) During the time out, the celebrity dads and daughters came out and did some sort of dance contest. Among the participants were Ryan Cameron and his daughter or daughters, and I could swear that they mentioned that the daughter of Ludacris was there.
I found it very hard to pay attention, and didn't know who won the contest. The reason being that I was distracted by the Atlanta Dream mascot, Star. Star was dressed in a blue and red padded suit with red flowing cape - Star had transformed himself into "SuperStar"!!
36) ...and that's pretty much when the Dream transformed itself into SuperDream.
Angel McCoughtry once said that basketball is a game of runs. There was only one real run in this game, though. For almost the entire final six minutes of the third quarter, they just shut down the Silver Stars defensively.
Atlanta went on a 17-0 run. Steals. Free throws by Lehning. Lay ups by Lyttle. A bad 3-second violation call in Atlanta's favor. San Antonio going over the limit in personal fouls. Fate had suddenly tilted in the Dream's favor and San Antonio couldn't untilt no matter how hard they tried.
Down 53-49, the Dream found themselves up by double-digits at the end of the amazing run. They led by 66-55 with 39.4 seconds left in the third. Only a basket by Michelle Snow broke the run, and the Dream took a 66-55 lead into the fourth quarter.
37) All of a sudden, little dots could be seen at the top of the Philips Arena dome. It was time for another Aaron's Parachute Dog Drop! Aaron's Inc. is one of the Dream's sponsors and every now and then, little Aaron's mascot dogs - Lucky the Dog, I believe - parachute into the hands of waiting fans.
Those damned things were everywhere, but the fans didn't mind. I found myself grabbing one of those, but then I caught myself - hey, I don't have any kids - why do I even want one of these things? - after I grabbed it, I slung it in a random direction.
Unfortunately, I had slung it away from the "second place finisher" - the man who almost got it before I threw it away. My friends told me the poor fellow looked crestfallen. He probably had a kid, too, that would have liked that pup. I learned a valuable lesson that day - never get between a man and his dog.
38) The fourth quarter started, and it looked like the Dream wasn't going to keep its double-digit lead for long. The Silver Stars began to claw their way back into the game with the help of "The Claw" - Holdsclaw, who scored three points in the first half, five in the third quarter and was steadily gaining speed. She hit a jumper and then a couple of free throws to bring it back to 68-61.
With the score 70-61 in favor of the Dream, Armintie Price was called for a foul. I could see Shalee Lehning jawing with the referee. Oh, Lehning. Her image is of sweetness and light, and there she is giving the ref a hard time. You keep this up and we'll have to call you Diana Lehning.
39) San Antonio was determined to get the game down into 6-point territory come what may. Price was doing her damnest out there. With the Dream up 72-65, she got a steal but she couldn't hang on to the ball, and ended up doing an impromptu split on the Philips Arena home floor.
With 6:02 left in the game, the Dream called a full timeout.
40) During the full timeout, it was time for Dream Karaoke. The singer this time was Sancho Lyttle, who was singing some completely unrecognizable song which turned out to be "Glamorous" by Fergie. The contestant figured out Sancho's song, and then said to the crowd, "I'm glad Sancho can play ball."
40a) Did you know every Sunday home game they have family free throws at Philips Arena? After the game, the families can come out to the court, stand in line, and take a toss from the free throw line. That's kind of cool.
41) With less than five minutes left, McCoughtry got to the basket on a dubious skip step that put the Dream up by double digits again, 76-65. Holdsclaw got a couple of free throws and then another drive to the basket to close back to single digits, 78-69.
On the boards, it was another story. Atlanta got two second chances due to their offensive rebounding muscle, and Bales got the foul. Two free throws by Bales and it was 80-69.
42) With the Dream up 80-71, I saw something I had never seen...at least, I think I have never seen it. Lehning was moving the ball into the post area and generally, when Lehning gets the ball in that far she flees - she'll try desperately to kick it out rather than take a shot even if it's a wide-open shot.
She had the wide open shot and she hesitated a little - but she managed to calm herself and take the close up shot which she hit. 82-71 Dream. I suppose Lehning figured that she needed to make shots before Kelly Miller snapped up her starting position.
43) The Dream led 86-75. There was 2:01 left in the game. The Dream had entered the RuPaul Zone, where all you needed to do to win is to "don't f**k it up".
With exactly one minute left, Holdsclaw hit a basket to bring it to double digits, 86-77. The Silver Stars, needing points fast, but the ball into the hands of Edwige Lawson-Wade.
With about a minute on the clock, she hit a 3-pointer. 86-80 Dream. The ball ended up in McCoughtry's hands, but Sophia Young got the steal. Becky Hammon put the ball in Edwige Lawson-Wade's hands and she hit another 3-pointer with 28.7 seconds left. The score was now 86-83 Dream, and it looked like the Dream might need to LipSync For (Their) Life.
Needing to invoke the powers of SuperStar, the Dream handed the T-Shirt Shooting Gun back to Star - a sign of desperation, since Star once had it taken away from him after he aimed it at Bill Laimbeer.
44) With the Dream having the ball back with 28.7 seconds left, the Silver Stars would have to foul to get the ball back. Helen Darling and Edwige Lawson-Wade fouled in sucession, and McCoughtry visited the free throw line with 24.5 seconds left.
McCoughtry made the first shot. And the second. 88-83 Dream. San Antonio called for a 20-second time out, and then another one, back-to-back.
45) During the time out, it was odd to see Carol Ross giving instructions to the huddle. Marynell Meadors hung around outside the huddle as if she were Brittainey Raven.
46) Third time's the charm, right? When the Silver Stars got the ball they gave it to Lawson-Wade again, but she missed the 3-pointer with 8.9 seconds left. Snow got the rebound...but she was called for the travel with 7.6 seconds left. The ball was back in the Dream's hands. Iziane would bring in the ball and she was directing traffic on the court with her free hand.
47) 6.2 seconds left. The Silver Stars got Lehning on the foul. Lehning to the free throw line. If she hit both shots, the game was essentially over.
However, Lehning missed the first shot. That's okay. If Lehning hit the second, the Dream would be up by six and San Antonio would need two 3-pointers just to tie.
Then...Lehning missed the second shot. The shot bounced off the front of the rim and there was a mad scramble. Lehning got her own rebound and tried to lay it up but Snow blocked her shot. The ball ended up in Sancho Lyttle's hands and she made a shot with less than a second left.
It went in! 90-83 Dream. San Antonio got the ball back, to no avail! The game was over. A few minutes before the game was over, Lyttle had been named the Player of the Game. She finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and the crucial final rebound and basket.
Great game! And more about it later!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Great game. Suspenseful and/or fun all the way through. There was a big crowd, the biggest this year. The crowd was having a good time, and the air conditioning didn't hurt, either.
Here's the writeup from the Associated Press.
Pierce W. Huff writes about it in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Definitely an enjoyable night. Dream are 8-3 on the season. On Tuesday we travel to Chicago to, as the heroine of Kill Bill put it, to execute our 'roaring rampage of revenge.'
In an article somewhere I've read on line - I'd give it credit, but I honestly can't remember what it was - a WNBA defender spoke about the foolish dismissals of the WNBA where some fool makes the argument because "my favorite NBA team/college team/local high school team could be a WNBA team". The approach to this defense was one I formulated before, but the article beat me to putting it in print.
Namely, that this argument is never made in boxing. Could Vladimir Klitschko beat up Manny Pacquiao? Probably, since Klitschko is physically stronger than Pacquiao and none of Pacquiao's opponents have hit Pacquiao as hard as Klitschko could. In boxing fandom, there is much discussion as to who is the best "pound per pound" fighter - who is the best fighter taking into account the differing weight classes.
As it turns out, we have a nice "one value" metric to assign worth to a ball player - John Hollinger's Player Efficiency Rating, or PER. PER can be calculated for both NBA players and WNBA players. I therefore decided to count NBA PER as essentially equal to WNBA PER. This equalizes male and female basketball players.
For WNBA players, only players who have played more than 5000 career minutes are included. Sorry, Cynthia Cooper. You probably would have been on this list, but the WNBA started too late.
Top PER Values for NBA and WNBA Players
(min 5000 minutes WNBA, min 15000 minutes NBA)
1. Lauren Jackson (28.55)
2. Michael Jordan (27.91)
3. LeBron James (26.86)
4. Tamika Catchings (26.67)
5. David Robinson (26.18)
6. Wilt Chamberlain (26.13)
7. Dwyane Wade (25.67)
8. Yolanda Griffith (25.49)
9. Bob Pettit (25.37)
10. Tim Duncan (25.02)
11. Neil Johnston (24.72)
12. Diana Taurasi (24.67)
13. Charles Barkley (24.63)
14. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24.58)
15. Lisa Leslie (24.24)
(T) Sheryl Swoopes (24.24)
17. Magic Johnson (24.11)
18. Karl Malone (23.90)
19. Dirk Nowitzki (23.76)
20. Kevin Garnett (23.59)
So is Lauren Jackson better than Michael Jordan? That's up for you to decide. (As for me, go Lauren.)
Channel 2 Action News has confirmed that a Georgia Tech football player was arrested following a fight.
Defensive end Bobby Hall is accused of beating his girlfriend, Bridget Ardossi, during a fight over their scholarship money.
Ardossi, a former star Georgia Tech basketball player, said she and Hall had argued. The two shared an apartment at the undergraduate living center.
Ardossi said Hall dragged her and slammed her head against a door and wall.
According to the article, Hall has been suspended from the Georgia Tech team and faces battery charges. The actual police report can be found here.
At least Georgia Tech is taking the right action. Roberty Hall has been suspended indefinitely from the team. Good.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Who: The Atlanta Dream (7-3) take on the San Antonio Silver Stars (3-5) in an inter-conference game.
The Dream are led by Angel McCoughtry, who is scoring 20.6 points per game. Sancho Lyttle (14.4 ppg/10.05rpg) is an All-Star post, and Iziane Castro Marques (15.1 ppg) will be playing on the Brazilian national team at the end of the season with Erika de Souza (12.7 ppg/9.8 rpg). The Silver Stars are led by Sophia Young (15.4 ppg). New acquisition Chamique Holdsclaw (14.7 ppg/4.8 rpg) has contributed immediately, and fan favorite Becky Hammon (13.7 ppg, 5.2 apg) runs the offense
What: The second of two regular season games against the San Antonio Silver Stars. On May 15th, the Dream traveled to San Antonio and won 75-70.
Where: Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA.
When: Tipoff is at at 3 pm Eastern time, Sunday June 13. The game will be available on Fox Sports South and on NBA TV.
Why: The Dream have lost three of their last four games, but Atlanta fans don't care too much about that. Fans are probably most interested in the return of Chamique Holdsclaw, who failed to show up for training camp a few days before it started. Holdsclaw sited irreconcilable differences with her coach. Now, she and her newest team come to Philips...and depending on Holdsclaw's performance, the loss of Holdsclaw will be marked either as a burden on the Dream or as a bonus.
Another item on the menu - can the Dream recover their free-throw shooting touch? The Dream are at the bottom of the league in free throw shooting, hitting only 64.7 percent. Historically, there has only been one WNBA with worse free throw shooting - the 1998 Washington Mystics, at 64.5 percent. The 3-27 Mystics are not a team with which the 2010 Atlanta Dream wishes to keep company, and everyone will be watching the Dream at the free throw line.
It will almost be a different San Antonio team from the team the Dream faced in May. Sandy Brondello is back as head coach. The Silver Stars have signed Allie Quigley, and Michelle Snow's status is unknown after suffering an injury against the Shock. Even with the changes, Atlanta is a six-point favorite from covers.com.
Pierce W. Huff is on top of things in Atlanta. He asks the rhetorical question "Will the real Atlanta Dream stand up?" in this article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Pierce W. Huff is definitely one of the good guys.)
One thing is certain, based on the way the league has approached playing the Dream, opponents believe they are closer to being the 6-0 team than the one that struggled in its next four games.
Lehning said teams no longer overlook the Dream.
“I think everybody knows about the Atlanta Dream,” Lehning said.
According to WomensBasketballOnline.com, the attendance was 2,515 for the Atlanta-Chicago game. That's not only the lowest attendance for any Atlanta Dream game at Philips Arena, but it's the lowest attendance of any game in the WNBA since June 16, 2009 when the Connecticut Sun visited the Chicago Sky at the UIC Pavilion and only 2,396 fans showed up...and the Sky had an excuse because their previous home only seated about 6,000 people.
Part of the Dream's attendance woes - they're only averaging about 4700 fans this year - come from the fact that the changeover in ownership and management came so late in the previous year that it really hurt the Dream's season-ticket sales. That and the fact that the Dream have had few home games this season.
Look, we all know there are forces out there in Atlanta (looks warily at the sportswriters of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) that would love to see the Dream fold up and die. But frankly, if you don't show up to these games - and this game on Sunday - the Dream might not be here in 2011. In the end, if you don't show up, the only conclusion they can draw is that you weren't interested enough.
The Dream came up short in New York, 91-79. Well, come up short is probably the wrong word as the Dream never led at any time during that game. After winning six straight to start the season, the Dream have lost three of their last four. For some fans, that means that its time for panic to set in. The Dream play again at home on Sunday against the Silver Stars on a game scheduled for NBA-TV and no one knows if they should look forward to it with expectation or dread.
Once again, WNBA Live Access delivered a dud. I might try to catch this game if it's archived, but it seems that me (and my computers) and Live Access are simply never going to get along. I watched a short of a halting version of the game for the first half before frustration set in. Most of the time, I could hear the audio, but the New York announcer got so many elementary facts wrong - who knew that Alison Bales was a rookie? - and even had trouble providing an accurate score. It was just damned frustrating, although I did see Leilani Mitchell - all 5-5 of her, soaking wet - block a shot from Shalee Lehning. (Hint: It's not a good idea to begin your shot from somewhere below your knees.) In 76 career games Mitchell only has six blocked shots.
So let's look at the box score and see if we can learn anything:
Box score quarters: The Liberty won the first three quarters of the game. Unlike the previous matchup, the Liberty avoided a Dream comeback in the second half. The Dream got close in the third quarter, when an Angel McCoughtry layup with 6:56 left closed the gap to 46-44. The only quarter the Dream won was the fourth, and by that time the Liberty's lead was in double-digits.
Dean Oliver's Four Factors
Field goal percentage: The Liberty were the better shooters - they hit 47.1 percent of their attempted shots (32-for-68) compared to the Dream's 44.0 percent (33-for-75). But if the Dream were a better rebounding team, then why didn't they make up the 2.9 percent gap?
The answer is that the Liberty were far more effective with the 3-pointer than the Dream were. Atlanta was 2-for-13 from 3-point land. The effective field goal percentage for Atlanta was 45.3 percent. However, the Liberty went 9-for-20 from 3-point range. Leilani Mitchell hit all three of her 3-point attempts. So did Sidney Spencer. New York's effective field goal percentage was 56.3 percent, so if you're looking for a key to New York's victory, it was that their long-range bombing knocked us off the court.
Turnovers: New York 14, Atlanta 15. However, Atlanta had two more team possessions than New York, so New York's turnover percentage is just a sliver higher.
Offensive rebound percentage: Atlanta whipped up on the Liberty on the glass, with a 34.1 percent-15.6 percent advantage in offensive rebounding. Lyttle and de Souza both had double-doubles, but without scoring from everyone else it was wasted.
Free throws: A clear advantage to New York. New York was the best free throw shooting team in the W coming into this game, and Atlanta was the worst. The results tell the story:
Atlanta: 11-for-21, 52.4 percent
New York: 18-for-19, 94.7 percent
In a high-fouling game - the Dream had 21 personal fouls, the Liberty had 19 - every trip to the free throw line was another nail in Atlanta's coffin on both sides of the court.
And now, let's look at the individual players.
Erika de Souza: She had 21 points and 10 rebounds overall, shooting 9-for-13. However, she had four personal fouls and went 3-for-8 at the free throw line. Ugh. Even so, Erika's shooting accuracy made it a good game for her and she was the Dreamer of the Game.
Sancho Lyttle: 15 points, 14 rebounds. And three steals! However, she had four personal fouls and three turnovers. As it turned out, Lyttle only played 28 minutes and De Souza played 30. Without watching the game, I assume that fouls kept them on the bench more than they should have been. Still, good game for Lyttle as well.
Angel McCoughtry: 12 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists. McCoughtry only played 19 1/2 minutes of the game.
Given the Chicago-Atlanta game where the Dream fell by double-digits because McCoughtry ended up in Coach Meadors's doghouse. McCoughtry's 19 minutes for the game was the fewest minutes McCoughtry has played in a game since the preseason. This has led some fans to ask if McCoughtry has ended up back in the doghouse. Yes, McCoughtry's 6-for-12 shooting was more than decent but her -14 in raw plus/minus meant that the team slid backwards when she was on the court. She had three dimes, so I can't believe it was a case of selfishness.
We do know that McCoughtry ended up in the doghouse last year, if only briefly. Frankly, it's just too damned early in the seson to make catastrophic predictions, and professional athletes are great at looking ahead and not looking back.
Kelly Miller: 0-for-4, including 0-for-2 from the 3-point line. However, Kelly had six assists in the game. Whether Kelly Miller was being asked to perform Lehning's duties of push and get out of the way, I don't know. Besides, four shots taken are sometimes more than Lehning takes in a game.
Armintie Price: 4 points, 5 rebounds. Played 16 minutes, but she had five personal fouls.
Yelena Leuchanka: We're now getting into the realm of mediocre play. Four points, and she hit both of her shots. However, two personal fouls and a turnover in only 12 minutes played. Leuchanka had only two rebounds. One plus: Leuchanka's raw plus/minus was +0 in her 12 minutes on the court - her presence there neither hurt nor helped the team.
Iziane Castro Marques: Iziane should have done better at wiping the popcorn grease from her hands. Yes, her 17 points were second overall for the Dream. However, five of those points came from free throws. Outside of that, she was 5-for-15 from the floor and 2-for-7 from three point range. It was another night of Iziane taking crazy shots that didn't go in.
Alison Bales: Two points. 2-for-4 from the line in 10 minutes played. Two rebounds. -1 in raw plus/minus. Meh.
Coco Miller: The other Miller had 4 points in 2-for-4 shooting, only playing eight minutes.
Shalee Lehning: Okay, now we've reached the "bad game level". In the 14 1/2 minutes that Lehning played, she took two shots, and missed both of them. She had only one assist. Leilani Mitchell blocked one of her shots. She was pretty much negated when she was on the court. The last time Lehning played this poorly in 2010 it was when the Seattle Storm took her to school.
Lehning has to move her game a step up to stay in the WNBA. It didn't happen during this game.
Brittainey Raven: You can't blame Raven - at least she tried. Played 2 1/2 minutes, took a shot and missed it. When you're only getting a handful of minutes a game, you gotta make those shots.
As a result, both Shalee Lehning and Brittainey Raven both were both Bad Dreams - and Lehning's hogging up most of the bed space.
Okay. File it and forget it. The San Antonio Silver Stars come to Atlanta on Sunday. Let's be there to cheer on the Dream and sweep the Silver Stars for the season.
The Liberty were leading from the beginning and the Dream were never really in it. Here's the writeup from the New York Daily News.
Here's Newsday's take.
Take from our pals in the Associated Press.
The New York Post also reports here.
One from our pals at Swish Appeal:
As an autograph collector, Atlanta is quickly becoming one of my favorite teams to deal with. They seem to actually like people. Again, everyone on the team was willing to stop and sign, which means that we are now the proud owners of a t-shirt signed by, among many other people, the entire roster of the Dream. That kind of behavior is good for the league. Plus, you get the added hilarity of Iziane Castro Marques noshing on popcorn and hurriedly wiping her fingers off on her shooting shirt between signatures and apologies.
And from SportsPageMagazine.com:
“As a leader of the team, we have players who look up to me and expect a lot, but at the same time it shouldn’t be about that,” Pondexter said. “We need players to get into their own and look to be aggressive offensively, because it’s not about me, it’s about the team.”
It looks like we had a lot of press for this game. It's a pity that it ended up with a Dream loss. After a 6-0 start the Dream have lost three of their last four.
The Dream got as close to two points in the third quarter, 46-44, but that would be as close as they got. They shot 52 percent at the free throw line - 11 for 21.
Cappie Pondexter had another great game with 25 points. Leilani Mitchell had 11 points.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Who: The Atlanta Dream (7-2) take on the New York Liberty (3-4) in an Eastern Conference Game.
The Dream are led by Angel McCoughtry, who is scoring 21.6 points per game. Sancho Lyttle (14.3 ppg/10.0 rpg) is an All-Star post, and Iziane Castro Marques (14.9 ppg) will be playing on the Brazilian national team at the end of the season with Erika de Souza (11.8 ppg/9.8 rpg). Cappie Pondexter, a new acquisition by New York, leads the Liberty both in scoring (19.7 ppg) and assists (5.4 apg).
What: The second of four regular season games against the New York Liberty. On May 23rd, the Liberty lost at home 86-77 to the visiting Dream which was Atlanta's first ever win at Madison Square Garden.
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York City.
When: Tipoff is at at 7:30 pm Eastern time, Friday, June 11. The game will be available on WNBA Live Access.
Why: Once again, it's a battle between Atlanta at the top of the conference and the Eastern Conference's bottom-dweller. The last time that happened this year, it ended poorly for the Dream. The Dream ended the season last year 1-3 against the Liberty, but now they've won two straight against New York and have the conference's best road record at 5-1. The Dream have also had six days off.
Oddly enough, the last time the two teams played Cappie Pondexter had an above-average game, scoring 21 points in the loss. The Liberty won the first half of the game but the Dream won both quarters of the second half. Iziane Castro Marques caught on fire, scoring nine of her 13 points in the last six minutes of the game. Furthermore, the Liberty were flattened on the boards, outrebounded 38-25 over the course of the game. The Liberty are the best free-throw shooting team in the WNBA at 83 percent and the Dream are dead last at 66 percent but unless the Dream make a lot of fouls it won't help the Libs.
Atlanta is favored only by two points at covers.com. This might be a very interesting game if your computer will cooperate.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
After two years, Iziane will be back in the national colors.
New Brazil women's team head coach Carlos Colinas named the Brazilian women's national team, which will be convined to participate in the South American championship (August 8th through 14th) and in the FIBA World Championship (September 23rd through October 3rd). Among the players named to the team are Erika de Souza and Iziane Castro Marques. Don't worry Dream fans - both players say they won't take their place on the team until the end of the 2010 season for the Atlanta Dream.
Apparently, the news was released during a practice session and the other players started clapping. In May 2008, during the Olympic qualifying rounds Iziane had been benched early in the game by then-coach Paulo Bassul. She was called back on to the court in the fourth quarter and refused to leave the bench, ending her stint with the national team. Iziane had made it very clear that as long as Paulo Bassul was the coach, she wouldn't return. (Who says that only male basketball players can be divas?)
Final score: Castro Marques 1, Bassul 0. Eighteen players have been named as prospective players, and this group will be winnowed down before the start of serious play.
Let's hope that Brazil wins a...silver medal in the FIBA games. After all, I have to root, root root for my home country!
Last night, Chanel Mokango took the court during Phoenix's visit to Los Angeles. With Phoenix up 67-64 in the third quarter and 1:01 left, Mokango replaced Noelle Quinn on the floor while Delisha Milton-Jones was taking a couple of free throw shots. Milton-Jones hit the first, and missed the second. Both teams attempted a couple of shots, with Brook Smith sinking a 3-pointer for Phoenix, giving Mokango a raw plus/minus of -3.
Mokango's box score line was a "billion" - a number of minutes played followed by a row of zeroes.
However, Mokango had one accomplishment. By earning a brief amount of time on a WNBA court, Mokango allows Molly Creamer to retain her record of being the highest-ranked player never to appear in a WNBA regular season game.
(The above picture is Mokango at the game. You can see some great full-sized pictures over at the They're Playing Basketball blog. Go check it out!)
Angel McCoughtry visited Elite Hoops Basketball today. The link is here.
The picture is here. I didn't post it here because it's gigantic, but you can find her if you look hard enough.
It warms my heart to see players mingling with the Atlanta community and promoting their sport. I'm sure that McCoughtry's visit made the day a little bit brighter for those campers.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
If you wanted to know how well the Dream is doing for some advanced stats like net plus/minus and points per possession, go to this helpful page provided by the Minnesota Lynx organization. You can learn some interesting facts. Did you know that the Dream lead the WNBA in "points in the paint" and "second chance points"?
Of course you did. But if you didn't, go visit the link above. The guy who runs the page is cool.
Monday, June 7, 2010
I suspect that the Minnesota Lynx would be a lot better - or at least not as bad - if they could give Monica Wright's minutes to someone else.
Wright was the #2 overall draft pick in 2010. The 5-10 guard has absolutely horrible stats. True, one would expect that a rookie might be underperforming compared to her peers, but her lack of production is at an all new level. Her Adjusted Wins Score is a disaster - there are many "quantify player by one number" metrics but AWS is one of my favorites:
Ten Lowest Values in AWS - 2010
1. Monica Wright, Lynx, -46.0
2. Quanitra Hollingsworth, Lynx, -14.4
3. Marissa Coleman, Mystics, -13.6
4. Noelle Quinn, Sparks, -12.8
5. Nuria Martinez, Lynx, -12
6. Shavonte Zellous, Shock/Fever, -11.7
7. Nicole Ohlde, Mercury, -11.6
8. Roneeka Hodges, Silver Stars, -10.5
9. Katie Smith, Mystics, -10.5
10. Matee Ajavon, Mystics, -8.8
Note the presence of two other members of the Lynx here: Quanitra Hollingsworth and Nuria Martinez. Wright has played more minutes than Hollingsworth and Martinez put together, and here are Wright's stats:
Shooting: 12.1 points per game - but 31.5 percent field goal percentage (40-for-127). All in all, for the 40 shots she made the 87 shots she didn't make put the Lynx at risk. Many of those misses ended up in the hands of the opposing team, probably too many.
A/TO Ratio: 8 assists and 29 turnovers - the only worse player in the WNBA in assist/turnover ratio with a minimum of 20 points per game is Nakia Sanford of the Mystics, with 4 assists and 17 turnovers. Wright is tied for second in overall turnovers in the WNBA with 29, tied with Nicky Anosike (a teammate) and Swin Cash of the Storm, and exceeded only by Lindsey Harding of the Mystics and her 34 turnovers.
Even if Monica Wright were the best defender that ever lived - she was an WBCA Defensive Player of the Year - she is absolutely digging a offensive hole that even a great defender couldn't dig out of. The most glamorous of defense stats is steals. Camille Little of the Storm has 23 steals, leading the WNBA. Tamika Catchings of the Fever has 19 and Angel McCoughtry has 18.
Wright has eight. Put it this way. Erika de Souza and Alison Bales also have eight steals.
I might have only been following basketball for a short time...but what exactly is Wright bringing to the Lynx? In an 81-58 loss to the Fever, Wright went 1-for-13 in shooting. Maybe Wright will warm up and become the great player everyone expected her to be...but I wouldn't be giving her 20 minutes a game to find out.
One of the problems of coaching is called the "principal clerk" problem. Do coaches contribute anything to the success of a team, or is the success entirely dependent on the players? One thing that coaches might be able to do to distinguish themselves is to control the minutes played of players. A coach might have no choice in which players she has. She also might not be able to instruct players or change their bad habits, but the very least she can do is to play the best players and to avoid playing bad ones.
Frisco del Rosario implied that for Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, the "last cigarette and the blindfold" might be coming soon. It wouldn't surprise me. On Thursday night the Lynx will face a real gut-check in Phoenix, but at 2-7 you need to have more than your guts checked. You need your head examined.