Saturday, July 31, 2010
Believe it or not...McCoughtry actually made the basket.
(As always, you have to see Larry Morgenweck's gallery for SportsPageMagazine.com, which is located right here on the website.)
Over the second and third quarter of their game against the Connecticut Sun, the Dream went on a 25-0 run over the second and third quarters to defeat the Sun 94-62 on the road. No, that's not a typo. That's twenty-five consecutive unanswered points.
The loss is the worst loss in the Sun's franchise history, stretching back to 1999 when the Connecticut Sun was the Orlando Miracle. The reason might have been Connecticut's 23 turnovers. Tina Charles was held to six points; Kelsey Griffin scored zero points in 19 minutes of play. Erika de Souza had 13 points and 13 rebounds; Angel McCoughtry scored 20 points and six rebounds.
The win puts Atlanta in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference. The next game tomorrow will be at home against the other first place team, the Indiana Fever. Winner of that game walks off the court the Eastern Conference leader. The loser just walks off.
The box score is here.
The brief Associated Press blurb.
Matt Stout of the Norwich Bulletin gives his initial impressions.
John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant provides two pages detail and Hartford Courant says that Connecticut head coach Mike Thibault finds the loss a real head-scratcher.
Ned Griffin of The Day.com writes about Connecticut's long day.
The New Haven Register and Jim Fuller share some video of the press conference.
Bob Phillips of the Examiner gives his take on the massacre.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
One of the best teams in the Eastern Conference took on the worst team in the WNBA and won 105-89. It was the second most points scored by the Shock this year. The Dream move to 16-9 on the year and are just one game behind the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference and are in sole possession of second place. For the Shock, they've lost 17 of their last 18.
Iziane Castro Marques scored 23 points to lead the Dream on 8-for-14 shooting despite suffering a broken nose. My understanding is that she suffered the broken nose in practice by colliding with Brittainey Raven. Some wiseacre wrote elsewhere that it was the most impact that Brittainey Raven has had on the Atlanta Dream all year.
The box score here. You can see the Live Access archive here.
The Associated Press sings the same old song for Tulsa.
John Hall of Tulsa Today reports the "shocking" results.
Kevin Henry of the Tulsa World gives his take on the thumping.
Jeff Brucculeri of the Examiner provides an assessment and Lauren Harper of the Examiner provides her own interesting facts.
And finally, an article in Tulsa Today about 120 Shalee Lehning fans who made their way from Sublette, Kansas (Lehning's hometown) and Manhattan, Kansas (the home of Kansas State) to cheer their local hero.
Some more linky stuff later.
There's a new Dream photoshoot up on the Atlanta Dream Facebook Page. There's a picture of the Dream with Charles Barkley and about eight pictures of Yelena Leuchanka preparing for her future modeling career.
Give it a look. As you can see, Leuchanka presents a striking figure.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Iziane's levitating act! "Watch me make this ball disappear!"
(As usual, Craig Cappy provides a great gallery of pictures right here from SportsPageMagazine.com. Click and see the pics!)
The box score is here.
Pierce W. Huff tells the story for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Some basic stuff about the Tulsa game soon.
Friday, July 23, 2010
When Marynell Meadors became the head coach of the Charlotte Sting in the inaugural 1997 season, one of her assistant coaches was...Sue Panek. When Meadors returned as a head coach in 2008 with the Atlanta Dream, what happened with Panek?
There's a great article in a Pennsylvania newspaper about Panek, which explains:
“It was funny because in 2007 around Thanksgiving, I was watching ESPN, and they said that Marynell Meadors was named head coach and GM of the Atlantic Dream,” Panek said in a telephone interview from Atlanta. “I was thinking about whether I should call her, whether I wanted to get back (in the WNBA). The next morning, she called me and asked me if I wanted to join her in Atlanta.”
And what does Panek do as an assistant coach?
“My duties cover a broad range,” Panek said. “I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the team, from setting up travel and hotel accommodations, requesting VISAs for foreign players, taking care of the equipment, setting up practice times, both when we are on the road and in Atlanta.”
Give the article some click love. And if you see Sue Panek sitting behind the Atlanta Dream bench, say hi!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
So where did Price's right hand go?
(Donna H. Perry of SportsPageMagazine gives us a bevy of pictures. And SPM has great photographers, so they're all worth seeing. Click the link.)
What we feared has come to pass. With an 82-72 loss in Washington, the Dream were swept on their four-game road trip, losing to Minnesota, Connecticut, Indiana and Washington in succession. With their fourth straight loss, the Dream fall out of first place and are now in third, 1/2 of game behind both Washington and Indiana.
It has been two years since the Dream lost four straight games or four straight road games (*). That's right, the last time the Dream performed this poorly was the horrible 2008 season. The last time they lost four straight was at the tail of a 10-game losing streak where they lost fourteen of fifteen along the way.
The further bad news is that Shalee Lehning has injured a quadricep. She didn't play in the Washington game and the recent news - Lehning is out for two weeks. For those out there who claimed that Lehning brought nothing to the Dream and that Kelly Miller would have been a better choice at point guard...well, your theory is going to face the acid test.
The box score for those who wish to see.
Here's the write-up from the Associated Press.
Another write-up from the Washington Post posting the sad tale.
I'm going to be at the game on Sunday, cheering on the Dream. It's time to get past this bump in the road and beat the Libs. After all, New York and Atlanta have a historical animosity, don't they?
(*) If you count the final loss of the 2009 season at Gwinett as a "road" game - which it really was - we had four straight road losses the previous year.
I've been having trouble blogging...as you might have noticed recently. What you might not have known is that over the three years I've followed the Atlanta Dream I've had my paws in three separate pies: this blog, an unnamed National Sports Website, and Swish Appeal, a new website hosted by SB Nation and devoted to women's basketball.
It's taken a long time to figure out what the problem has been. Namely, "how come I can't blog?" I felt more and more disorganized with less and less to say. Furthermore, this affected the other areas in which I was writing. I wondered if I had hit some sort of mental wall and if I should just walk away from blogging with maximum apologies all around.
Part of this was, as close followers of the blog know, caused by a change in my work environment. For the first two years of Pleasant Dreams, my work environment was rather lax in how it monitored by personal time. I had unlimited access to the internet and there were no expectations as to how I should be using my time. This gave me the time to be able to devote attention to all of these aspects of my blogging life, as well as to follow the WNBA on the internet and elsewhere, to play with statistics and to otherwise make blogging about women's basketball fun.
Then, last year, things changed. My unlimited access to the internet became very limited all of a sudden. No blogging from work. And then, after a while, no substantial use of the internet from work, either - the bean counters were now counting every bean. This killed not only the chances for me to post from work, but even to work on the background of posts from work. Of course, I could do this at home - but home was supposed to be a time of relaxation and reflection, not a time for furious blogging. Trust me, when you're slaving over a computer for eight hours at work, it can be tedious coming home and doing the exact same thing you did at work, shutting yourself away from everything. It becomes something you don't look forward to doing.
So I soldiered on. I would try to eat three pies at one setting, to extend this analogy past its breaking point. I would keep all of these plates spinning, and do the best I could. Pleasant Dreams slowed down to a trickle. I was unhappy with the work I was turning in at the sports website, although it was getting some play from big women's basketball websites. Swish Appeal seemed almost forgotten.
Most of the time, I just blamed myself for the failure. "The reason this isn't working, Pet, is because you don't care. If you cared you could make this work." Then I read a recent article called Solitude and Leadership. The article discussed, among other things, the concept of multitasking and said something that might seem obvious to you but which was rather surprising to me.
One thing that made the study different from others is that the researchers didn’t test people’s cognitive functions while they were multitasking. They separated the subject group into high multitaskers and low multitaskers and used a different set of tests to measure the kinds of cognitive abilities involved in multitasking. They found that in every case the high multitaskers scored worse. They were worse at distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information and ignoring the latter. In other words, they were more distractible. They were worse at what you might call “mental filing”: keeping information in the right conceptual boxes and being able to retrieve it quickly. In other words, their minds were more disorganized. And they were even worse at the very thing that defines multitasking itself: switching between tasks.
That described me to a "T". My mental filing and organization system had simply broken down. "Disorganized" wasn't the half of it. By trying to do three things well, I ended up doing none of them well. The problem wasn't that I was inept at spinning plates, or that I was neglecting my plate spinning duties, or that I didn't care if the audience was assaulted by flying shards of broken glass. The problem was that I was spinning too many damn plates to be good at keeping any individual plate spinning.
Don't spin so many damn plates! Don't expect to do so much! That was the solution. Focus on one thing, and one thing only.
The question then became - "what thing? Where should I be putting my time and effort?" The answer, after thinking about it, became obvious. Parts of my blogging life had to be pared down. And until I can figure out what goes where in my life, there has to be a temporary walking-away process.
I will continue to maintain my obligations in the women's basketball blogging world, as best I can, until the end of the Atlanta Dream's 2010 season. I will keep the plates spinning - not very well, or not very carefully - until then. After that, I will be ending some of my obligations, formal and otherwise. I will continue to attend Atlanta Dream games during the 2010 season and, when able, write about them.
However, when the season is over, this blog will go into hibernation. There might be a few months or so after the season where I just...think about things. So don't expect any posts of any sort here after the final ball bounces for the Dream in 2010. I'll keep occasionally blogging here during the season, but beyond that, who knows?
So thank you for your patience. We'll be seeing out the rest of the season together, and I know that we're going to playoffs...and beyond that! Until next time, what did Casey Kasem say? "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars?" Sounds good to me!
Monday, July 19, 2010
Oh yeah? Well God is my referee!
Larry Morgenweck has a gallery of Atlanta Dream images up at SportsPageMagazine.com.
See! Iziane's unfortunate haircut!
See! Renee Montgomery's kickline!
See! The Great Wall of Leuchanka!
(But you gotta click the links to see it.)
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Here's a link to an article about Steffi Sorenson, who played for Florida Gulf Coast when it was a Division II school and walked on at Florida. Apparently, either last year or this year, Sorenson tried out for the Atlanta Dream but....
Sorensen also recently tried out with the Atlanta Dream and was told she could play in the WNBA but not right now.
No surprise there. After all, what's one last critic in a lifetime full of them?
In all fairness to both sides, it would have been very difficult to make this 2010 Atlanta Dream team.
The Dream saw a lot of that last night.
The Dream's woes continue with a 96-80 loss to the Sun yesterday in Connecticut. This was the second game of a tough Eastern Conference back-to-back pair of road games, and after a good first quarter the Dream lost every subsequent one. This loss is on the back of a 89-70 loss the day before.
The last time the Atlanta Dream lost three straight games? You have to go back to the tail end of last year, when we lost our final regular season game on the road to the Mystics and were then swept by the Shock in the playoffs. Before that, you have to go to a 10-game losing streak at the end of 2008.
To add insult to injury, Delta Airlines lost (or at least temporarily misplaced) the coaching staff's luggage. Marynell Meadors was forced to patrol the sidelines wearing a warm-up suit.
The loss drops the Dream into a tie with Washington for the Eastern Conference lead. All of the teams of the Eastern Conference are within 3 1/2 games of each other. Using the WNBA's tie breakers, it would go Mystics, Dream, Fever and then Sun in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The game story from the Associated Press is here.
The box score is here.
John Altavilla reports on the loss here. Matt Stout provides a post-mortem from the Norwich Bulletin.
Egad. When will the bleeding stop?
UPDATE: Ned Griffen of The Day has his say. Also, Stout wrote a longer article so the link above is changed.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
The Fever shove us aside.
No one said road trips would be easy. They sure ain't easy for the Dream, who are currently 0-2 on a four-game road trip, losing 89-70 in Indiana last night. The loss was the worst Dream loss of the season - Sam James (in charge of Fever Week) posted on a message board that Marynell Meadors didn't come out to meet players after the game...well, not immediately, anyway. They'd better shake it off fast, because they play in Connecticut today.
Oddly enough, the Dream are still #1 in the Eastern Conference. At least, other teams seem to be having problems too. Furthermore, Sancho Lyttle is back. Hurray!!
What happened? The Dream got blown out in the fourth quarter, scoring only 10 fourth-quarter points. Angel McCoughtry coughed up the ball seven times. Iziane shot 2-for-11 and disappeared. Marynell Meadors was charged with a technical with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter.
Kent Sterling tells the story here.
The Associated Press reveals everything here.
Gallery from SportsPageMagazine.com. Every gallery they do is worth a visit, so go there.
Here's hoping we turn it around tonight. Go Dream!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I am Angel, hear me roar.
My understanding is that the Dream lost 83-81 in Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon. It's Thursday night, and I still haven't seen this game.
Why? Well, the real reason is time. Frankly, my blogging on all fronts is facing a severe time crunch. I used to be able to devote several hours a day to blogging about the Greatest Team in History; now, if I can get one hour in it's almost a miracle. There is a good chance that this blog might be in the "decline" phase - which depresses me to no end.
So what am I going to do? I'll keep the blog going at least until the end of the 2010 WNBA season. Posts will be when time and opportunity permit. Come the end of the season, we'll face a blog revaluation.
The box score is here.
Roman Augustoviz reports the whole story for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Dave Campbell of the AP throws down.
Jesse Johnson provides a gallery at SportsPageMagazine.com, the magazine that you have to visit.
Dream shooting 1-for-18 from beyond the arc. Erika and Iziane with technical fouls. What's up with that?
The Atlanta Dream Facebook Page has a podcast from Bob Rathburn and LaChina Robinson regarding the frist half ot the Dream's season. Unfortunately, I can't link to the podcast directly, but you can definitely find it on the Facebook page.
Lauren Harper writes about the Dream's first half of the season on the Atlanta Dream official website. Is the Dream founding a tradition? Read and find out.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Who: The Atlanta Dream (14-5) take on the Minnesota Lynx (6-11) in a East-West matchup.
The Dream are led by Angel McCoughtry, who is scoring 20.4 points per game. Sancho Lyttle (14.2 ppg/10.6 rpg) is an All-Star caliber post, and Iziane Castro Marques (17.8 ppg) will be playing on the Brazilian national team at the end of the season with Erika de Souza (12.3 ppg/8.6 rpg). The Lynx depend on point guard Lindsay Whalen (10.8 ppg/5.0 apg) and Seimone Augustus (17.3 ppg) leads Minnesota in scoring.
What: The second of two regular season games against the Lynx. Atlanta won the first game 76-58 at home on July 1, 2010.
Where: The Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When: Tip-off is at 1 pm Eastern time, Wednesday July 14 in Minneapolis. If you have a powerful radio antenna, you could pick it up on Minneapolis radio - the BOB, 106.1 FM - but if not, you'll just have to depend on WNBA Live Access.
Why: The Dream have come out of the six-game home stand with a week off and one game ahead of the Washington Mystics and have the second best record in the WNBA. But even with the Lynx's shoddy 6-11 record, and even despite Minnesota needing a telescope to see conference leader Seattle, the Lynx would still go to the playoffs with that record. That's how weak the Western Conference is right now, and Atlanta needs all the wins it can get.
So will Sancho Lyttle play? Lyttle, if you remember, left the Dream/Sky game with a concussion and missed both the following game against Connecticut and the All-Star Game. The Dream's game notes list Lyttle as "Day to Day" so whether or not Lyttle takes the court depends on how confident Dream head coach Marynell Meadors feels in a potential Dream victory.
Don't count out Minnesota, though. They've won four out of their last six games and clobbered the Silver Stars by 23 points in their last home win. Remember our six-game home stand? Well, the Lynx are in the middle of their own six-game home stand and this is just their second game. Furthermore, the Lynx have never beaten the Dream in Minneapolis. The Dream got their first road win - ever - there in 2008, and also won in 2009. I don't know if the Dream remember that with all the roster changes in Atlanta, but I'm sure that the Lynx do.
Covers.com has Atlanta by two points, listing both Sancho Lyttle and Rashanda McCants as questionable to play tomorrow. Masseyratings.com predicts that Atlanta will win by 12. It's your call.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
The 'do makes Iziane look like Robert Blake.
(The picture above, of course, is from Craig Cappy of SportsPageMagazine.com. Click the link and check out Iziane's new hairdo!)
The Atlanta Dream saw the Connecticut Sun, and they showed that if you have a Dream...you can accomplish anything.
The 108-103 overtime win at Philips Arena set a score of records. Let me list all of them.
* Most points ever scored by the Dream in a game.
* Third most points scored against the Dream in a game.
* Most combined points scored in a Dream game.
* Career high for Iziane Castro Marques (32 points).
* Career high for Tina Charles (27 points).
* Most rebounds ever in a WNBA game (100 - Atlanta 51, Connecticut 49)
* Eighth most points ever scored in a WNBA game (211)
* Ninth twenty-point, twenty-rebound game in WNBA history. (Charles: 27 points, 20 rebounds)
* Fifth "teammates score 30 points each" game in WNBA history. - (Castro Marques 32, McCoughtry 32).
Box score is here.
Pierce W. Huff from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells us about the game.
Report from George Henry of the Associated Press.
Here's the report from the Norwich Sun.
Yeah, not much posting recently. Trying to squeeze real life in. At the end of the season, something's got to give.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Like Atlas holding the world.
I wondered why Yelena Leuchanka was wearing that strange green and yellow dress in the picture below. It turns out that Leuchanka is pursuing a modeling career.
If you go to Access Atlanta you can take a peek at some of the pictures in Leuchanka's future portfolio. Give the click a click and show you care!
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Who: The Atlanta Dream (13-5) take on the Connecticut Sun (10-7) in an Eastern Conference game.
The Dream are led by Angel McCoughtry, who is scoring 19.8 points per game and has been named to the USA Basketball women's team. Sancho Lyttle (14.2 ppg/10.6 rpg) and Iziane Castro Marques (17.1 ppg) were both named to the WNBA All-Star Team. Erika de Souza (12.1 ppg/8.4 rpg) will be playing on the Brazilian national team at the end of the season. The Sun have rookie sensation Tina Charles (15.2 ppg, 12.1 rpg) as well as Renee Montgomery (12.4 ppg, 3.9 apg), both Connecticut graduates who will also be playing for USA Basketball.
What: The second of four regular season games against the Connecticut Sun - the remaining games will also take place in July. The first game was on May 21, 2010 at Philips Arena and ended with a 97-82 Dream victory.
Where: Philips Arena in Atlanta.
When: Tip-off is at 7 pm Eastern time, Wednesday July 7th in Atlanta. You should be able to watch the game on Sports South in Atlanta. And of course, there's WNBA Live Access for those who have computers.
Why: Think about it: we have four All-Stars playing this game (for this year, USA Basketball roster members are treated as All-Stars). McCoughtry. Castro Marques. Charles. Montgomery. You're really seeing some of the best players that American basketball has to offer.
However, one name is missing - Sancho Lyttle. The last time we saw her, she was leaving the floor of Philips Arena after being knocked unconscious by Sylvia Fowles in the final quarter of the Dream-Sun game on Saturday. According to covers.com, Lyttle is not expected to play in this game and most likely, Alison Bales will start in Lyttle's place tomorrow night.
One bonus for the Dream - the Sun are coming off a back-to-back on the road where they lost 79-66 to the San Antonio Spurs. So the Sun get on a plane, fly to Atlanta and face the Dream less than 24 hours later. The Dream have had to deal with these fatigue-related issues; for once, the opponent gets to deal with the short end of the stick.
Covers.com has the game as a 5.5 point favorite for Atlanta. So does masseyratings.com. Of course, this is the Eastern Conference and anything can happen.
The final rosters have been named for the USA Basketball vs. WNBA game that will take place on Saturday July 10 and which will be televised by ESPN at 3:30 pm ET.
Three Atlanta Dream players have made the various rosters.
Playing on the WNBA Team:
Jayne Appel San Antonio Silver Stars
Rebekkah Brunson Minnesota Lynx
Becky Hammon San Antonio Silver Stars
Iziane Castro Marques Atlanta Dream
Katie Douglas Indiana Fever
Lauren Jackson Seattle Storm
Crystal Langhorne Washington Mystics
Sancho Lyttle Atlanta Dream
Michelle Snow San Antonio Silver Stars
Penny Taylor Phoenix Mercury
Sophia Young San Antonio Silver Stars
Playing on the USA Team:
Sue Bird Seattle Storm
Swin Cash Seattle Storm
Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever
Tina Charles Connecticut Sun
Candice Dupree Phoenix Mercury
Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky
Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream
Maya Moore University of Connecticut
Renee Montgomery Connecticut Sun
Cappie Pondexter New York Liberty
Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury
Marynell Meadors will also be serving as an assistant coach of the USA Team. I would have liked to see Erika somewhere on the team, but McCoughtry, Sancho Lyttle, and Iziane represent the Atlanta Dream just fine. I'll definitely be watching on Saturday.
Henry Unger over at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes about the Dream's financial state. There are some interesting paragraphs:
Betty purchased the team, which had lost about $3 million, in late October, saving it from a likely relocation to Tulsa.
That implies that the Dream lost around $1.5 million a year during the two years of the Terwilliger Era, which correlates with what I've heard before about how much a typical WNBA team might lose.
Some of her hard work is paying off. Betty has reduced the red ink by cutting expenses, securing sponsors such as Aaron’s, Coke and Grady, and hiring an experienced sports exec, Toby Wyman, as chief operating officer.
For any reader that hasn't met Betty, you should. She radiates charisma. Is it sexist to say something about "brains and beauty"? I hope not.
But, even with a first place team, attendance is well behind where it needs to be. To break even, the Dream needs to draw about 8,500 paying fans, Betty said. This season, it has been averaging “just under 7,000,” which is similar to last year’s performance.
Interesting. I don't know if we can make 8500. Even the Braves couldn't fill up their stadium during their championship years; Atlanta sports fans that aren't solely University of Georgia football fans are hard to come by.
Next week, Henry Unger reports about Fitz Johnson and the Atlanta Beat. I'll look forward to it.
A picture of Erika de Souza visiting Spanish-language Univision for an interview. Both Erika and Iziane Castro Marques were interviewed. The picture is from the Atlanta Dream Facebook Page.
Good that they showed up on Univision, but I hope Univision didn't think that they spoke Spanish. Erika and Iziane speak Portugese as native Brazilians.
Monday, July 5, 2010
I think it was Dean Oliver who said that bad refereeing was inconsistent refereeing. This is something very different from making bad calls. Let me explain.
All in all, referees have an almost impossible job to do. Basketball is a game of motion in a relatively compact space. There's a lot going on between ten people on a court, and most of the time the referees do a good job of controlling it. (Although coaches would have you believe otherwise.)
It's the nature of the beast that a basketball referee is going to give a bad call sometime. The problem with basketball is that a bad call directly impacts the score of a game, since about 40 percent of possessions end up with someone scoring. A bad call of traveling can wipe two points off a team's score because the ball might have ended up in the basket otherwise. Likewise, missing a foul call can add two points to a team's score that shouldn't have been added.
Most of the time, this evens out. For an unbiased referee, the number of bad calls created is evenly divided among both teams, not impacting either club significantly. Bad refereeing has greater impact against good teams (because the points a bad team gets added to its score probably won't make up enough points to push a bad team into the win column) and against teams that have players who get into foul trouble: a bad foul call can make the difference between a player's foul tally being four, or five, or six and this impacts how many minutes that player should play.
The best referees recognize the impact of a bad call. Generally, referees are loathe to admit any mistakes for several reasons. First, they don't want the game to degenerate into Debate Club. Second, they want to assert their authority as the game's arbitrators. Third, basketball should be a game and not a science where 100 percent accuracy must be the rigid goal. But even so, a bad call can be reversed in some cases (but usually, must be changed right away) and when not, a referee can make up for a bad call by calling a ticky-tacky call on the other side. "Oops, I erased your basket on a bad offensive charge call. Sorry. When the other team comes back across the court, I'll call a 3-second violation and give you the ball back."
If a referee makes bad calls in the manner above, those referees might be bad...but at least, they'd be consistently bad, a sort of "unbiased bad" that impacted no one team more than the other.
The above is complicated by the fact that each referee seems to have a different view as to what kind of contact in basketball is acceptable. Theoretically, basketball is a non-contact sport but incidental contact is impossible to avoid. Some referees are willing to let players get mugged on the court. Other referees will blow the whistle if a player looks at another player cross-eyed. After a few minutes, a good coach will figure this out. They know that "the refs are going to let us play" and that the team can go out there no-holds-barred or that the refs are whistle-happy and that contact should be avoided.
During the Dream/Sky game, it appeared that the referees - #4 Sue Blauch, #21 Byron Jarrett, and #58 Josh Tiven - were of the latter school. It was a busy night for whistles. All in all, the Chicago Sky made a ludicrous 41 trips to the free throw line and the Dream made 39 trips. I don't think I've seen a WNBA game in the three years of following the sport where the teams made 80 combined trips.
Furthermore...the game didn't seem to be all that much of a physical game. (Let's ignore the Lyttle knockout for now.) Meadors didn't claim that the entire Chicago Sky was a bunch of goons. She didn't even claim Sylvia Fowles was a goon. (Nor, as far as I am aware, did Steven Key or any of the Chicago Sky players complain.) I didn't get that impression looking at the game, although I've only been following the sport for three years and I know that there are things I don't see.
Okay, so the refs were trigger happy. Big deal. Maybe McCoughtry and de Souza would have had to worry as well as Fowles, for all three of those players have a tendency to rack up fouls. Each team could have worked around that.
The problem, however, was that the refs were inconsistently bad in this case. The problem was Sylvia Fowles.
Now, let's back up. In no way, shape, or form am I stating that I thought Sylvia Fowles was deliberately trying to hurt Sancho Lyttle. What I am saying is that it doesn't matter if it was intentional, because Fowles's free-swinging elbows had an impact on the game that the referees simply ignored. For refs willing to blow the whistle every minute or so they never seemed to be looking in Fowles's direction.
Fowles hit at least three or four players that night with her elbows, and these weren't incidental contact hits either. These were "you're watching stars and planets rotate about your head" hits. We know about the Lyttle hit. Yelena Leuchanka also got hit, and I believe that Fowles clipped one of her own players (it might have been Mistie Bass).
There were two technical fouls called in this game. One was against Yelena Leuchanka. The crime was in complaining to the referee that Fowles had clipped her with her elbows. For that, Leuchanka got tee'd up. What the hell?
The second one was against Carol Ross, the Atlanta Dream assistant coach. This one requires some background. With about three minutes left in the game, and with Kelly Miller taking a couple of free throws, Sancho Lyttle was substituted. With the players lined up on both sides of the lane, Fowles was closest to the basket and Lyttle was standing next to her.
Miller missed the second free throw, and on the rebound, Fowles caught Lyttle under the left eye with the elbow. Lyttle collapsed to the floor, and was seemingly conscious for long enough to notice "I've been hit", grabbing her face. Afterward she collapsed into unconsciousness and was completely immobile for over a minute.
Words were exchanged, undoubtedly. I wasn't close enough to the bench to hear what was going on. Here's the important part: when you've got a player unconscious on the floor because she's been elbowed by an opposing player that the refs have not only refused to call a technical on, but have actually pinged one of your own players for bringing the matter up...well, would you expect words not to be exchanged?
Furthermore, Lyttle was immobile. We didn't know what her condition was. What if she didn't regain consciousness? That was a real stop-your-heart moment out there on the court. You can expect Atlanta's players and coaches to be...well, angry. That's part of concern for your teammate, that's one of the things that makes you a human being. And occasionally, you're going to lose your temper because of it.
Referees are mediators, and they have to make judgment calls. But just a few seconds later, the ref (was it Tiven) dinged Ross for a technical foul.
One person sitting next to me - whose basketball judgment exceeds mine - said that in all of her years of watching basketball, she had never heard of a coach getting a technical in a case when one of her own players had been knocked unconscious. Those are the times when you make allowances for temper, and those are not times to be martinets.
It was bush-league refereeing, and Tiven (or whoever it was that called the T) deserved every single boo that rained down on him. Way to go, dude. My, you're a big, big man for enforcing the rules. Except of course, the rules that prohibit you from swinging your elbows willy-nilly. But you're really great at teeing up a coach in emotional distress after one of her players got her head possibly smashed in. I'm sure that every player feels much safer that the game is in your hands.
From the WNBA official rulebook.
"The restrictions placed upon the players by the rules are intended to create a balance of play, equal opportunity for the defense and the offense, provide reasonable safety and protection for all players and emphasize cleverness and skill without unduly limited freedom of action of players or teams." (italics are my emphasis)
Maybe next time, Lyttle should bring a can of mace to protect herself. She'd be much safer than she'd be under the protection of any so-called WNBA "referee".
Of course, the referees could have simply canceled the technical. Why not? Referees - good ones, anyway - overturn each other's calls all the time. Or at the very least, apologized for it. Didn't the referee who killed that perfect game in baseball this year apologize for it? I didn't think the worse of him for doing so. It takes a big human being to admit that they're wrong and that they blew a call. The WNBA is infected with the pettiest referees (Price) that I think I've encountered in any sport I've followed outside of the WNBA. When it would behoove one to bend, they refuse to budge - I call it "doubling down on the stupid" - and I think less of them rather than more of them.
The WNBA refs are our dirty little secret. We get the kind of refs that we have because we can't afford any better. They're not just bad, they're not even consistently bad in some cases. The problem is that when players hit the floor unconscious, the dirty little secret comes out in the open. It's bad enough that we know how bad the W's referees are...but President Orender, does the entire world have to know about it, too?
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Who: The Atlanta Dream (13-4) take on the Chicago Sky (7-9) in an Eastern Conference game.
The Dream are led by Angel McCoughtry, who is scoring 19.8 points per game. Sancho Lyttle (14.5 ppg/10.6 rpg) is an All-Star caliber post, and Iziane Castro Marques (17.1 ppg) will be playing on the Brazilian national team at the end of the season with Erika de Souza (12.0 ppg/8.0 rpg). The Sky are led by Sylvia Fowles (18.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg) who is an MVP attender, and the Sky are backed up by Jia Perkins (10.4 ppg) and rookie Epipphany Prince (9.8 ppg, 19.6 mpg).
What: The third of five regular season games against the Chicago Sky and the last meeting until the middle of August - out of three three final games of the regular season for the Dream two will be against Chicago. The teams have split so far this season, with Chicago winning in Atlanta 80-70 on June 4 and Atlanta returning the favor in Chicago for the Dream's first win in the Windy City, 93-86 on June 15th.
Where: Philips Arena in Atlanta.
When: Tip-off is at 7 pm Eastern time, Saturday, July 3rd in Atlanta. You should be able to watch the game on Sports South in Atlanta and on NBA TV elsewhere. Comcast 100 in Chicago should also be showing the game. And of course, there's WNBA Live Access for those who have computers.
Why: Atlanta and Chicago might not be rivals, but the Sky always seem to know the answer for any question Atlanta poses. The Dream have won five straight and six out of their last seven but this is the Dream's fourth game in seven days and the only thing anyone can talk about is fatigue. It's something that Dream fans should be worried about given Chicago's success against Atlanta - the Sky are the only reason the Dream are undefeated at home this year. The Sky have won three of their last four games including an impressive 92-80 win against Connecticut in Chicago .
Something to look out for: the first half score. If the Dream are leading at the half, it's a good portent. The Dream have a 5-0 record in games where they've led at halftime...which means that 12 times this year the Dream were behind at halftime.
Another thing to watch is free throw performance. The Dream shoot 68.1 percent from the free throw line. It's not the worst of all time, by far - the 1998 Mystics shot 64.5 percent from the free throw line - but it is pretty bad, 11th out of 12 teams in the league. Iziane Castro Marques is hitting 62.5 percent from the free throw line and Erika de Souza is hitting 51.4 percent of her free throw shots. (Last year Erika hit 65.3 percent of her free throws.) You know it's a bad year for Erika when Armintie Price is outperforming her at the stripe.
Atlanta is favored by 6 1/2 by covers.com...but is only favored by one point by masseyratings.com. If you can get out there tonight and support the Dream, they'd appreciate it.
Speaking of Atlanta Dream Facebook Fun, those fine young people who run the Atlanta Dream's Facebook page have a new album called Look Who Came to See Us, highlighting the celebrities who have visited the Dream over its three-year existence as an Atlanta institution.
Among the names:
Vivica A. Fox
Go over there, give it a lock, join Facebook and then favorite the Atlanta Dream!
The Atlanta Dream Facebook Page recently posted this picture of Yelena Leuchanka. The caption on the page is "Yelena's AJC Fashion Shoot". I've not heard of such a fashion shoot, so I would like to see more photos. (The dress is...uh...no comment.)
I'm always of mixed feelings regarding "fashion shoots" involving WNBA players. I'm always reminded of either that scene in A League of Their Own where the Peaches are at some sort of charm school where the instructor recommends "a lot of night games" as the only possible cosmetic improvement for Marla Hooch, or Slapshot where Johnny Upton flashes the crowd "because I want you to have a heart attack and die so that we never have to do this s**t again."
In case you didn't know yet, the Atlanta Dream moved to 13-4 on the regular season with a win over the visiting Minnesota Lynx by a score of 76-58 on Thursday Night.
The actual game night box score is here.
Pierce W. Huff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains the victory.
All in all, the Lynx score 29.9 percent for the night. I'd have to go over a lot of old box scores, but I don't remember the Dream ever holding an opponent to less than 30 percent. That the Lynx broke 50 was a surprise; if the Dream hadn't put Brittainey Raven in without about eight minutes left in the final quarter they might have been able to hold the Lynx to under 50...that is, if they weren't dead tired.
Twice in the Dream's history - last year against Connecticut and this year against Indiana - we held an opposing team to 62 points. That was our previous record, and the Lynx now how the Dream franchise record for Fewest Points Scored by an Opposing Team in a Game.
Monica Wright: 1-for-8 from the floor. When is someone going to fix that?
Good job, Dream. I don't expect us to beat Chicago tonight, but I'd sure love to see it. I'll be there!