Monday, June 30, 2008

Ask Ivory Latta

At this link:

It's an ESPN chat with Ivory Latta at 11:45 AM, Tuesday July 1st. Be sure to get your questions in.


"Despite Record, Atlanta Keeps Pushing"

An article from the Norwich (CT) Bulletin, which is a recommended read.


Marynell Meadors: "When I was choosing this team, I had four (centers). Now I have one."

Betty Lennox: "I remember me being here (for the season-opener, a 100-67 loss) and not even knowing the plays. The first game, I did not know one single play. I remember every time I was in the game, I was either in this corner on this end of the floor or that corner on that end."

2008/15 - Shock 100, Dream 92

Tamera Young going to the Mary Ann look. Used with permission of

I'm going to start my summary with a rant.

As I began to follow the dream, I purchased NBA.TV as an adjunct to following the WNBA games. After all, there were WNBA games being cast on NBA.TV that were not being cast anywhere else. I've seen a few, so it's cheaper than a plane trip, let me tell you.

Given my radio problems (bad reception) and internet problems (DSL goes wonky when it's raining), I was looking forward to the news that Sunday's game between the Shock and the Dream would be televised on NBA.TV. I could flip the switch, and watch the game from the comfort of my couch.

So when 6 PM rolled around, I saw exactly five seconds of the Dream/Shock preview. And then the screen went black. I thought it was just the cable going out, or something I had done, so I futzed and fiddled with the remote.


And of course, it had just rained, so I figured that last night would be a repeat of the night before -- cut off from radio and internet, desperate to figure out how the dream was doing. I managed to get on the Atlanta Dream Message Board when Scarab informed me that the game was on CSS. (Comcast/Charter Southeast Sports)

Sure enough, there it was. I missed the first few baskets but I saw the game on TV, even though my internet was nonexistent.

Here's my question. I learned that NBA.TV basically blacked out the game. They blacked it out in Atlanta when it was being played in Detroit. Which makes no sense at all. How many people are going to travel from Atlanta to Detroit to watch the Dream take on the Shock? Most fans don't have that kind of scratch. You could probably number the traveling fans from between "zero" and "five".

On the other hand, the game is on local cable. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

1) No Cheryl Ford in this game. She had apparently tweaked her knee in Chicago, but we didn't find this out until halftime. This basically put only eight healthy bodies in Detroit against the entire Atlanta Dream.

2) Tamera Young was wearing pigtails. One more instance of the Dream trying to break this awful losing streak at the hair salon. (Maybe the Dream should spend less time at the hairdresser and more time at the practice court. Just saying.)

3) By the end of the first quarter, the Dream had the Lead, 24-21. Indeed, we probably had the lead for over half of the first quarter. We were facing a tired Detroit club and if I'm right, we were outrebounding them 10-6 at the end of the first. However, our ballhandling wasn't that great, as we were leading Detroit 6-3 in turnovers.

4) Tamera Young was defending Deanna Nolan in the second quarter and doing a fairly good job. However, Atlanta's rebounding power began to fall apart in the second quarter as the Shock's aching muscles began to loosen up. Kasha Terry came back onto the court, picked up a rebound -- and turned over the ball. Izi Castro Marques also had a turnover, and I thought that Atlanta was going to fall apart.

5) However, Izi began to pick up the offense for the Dream, and the Dream was also putting together a good defensive effort in the second quarter. Tamera Young was leading the Dream with 13 points at one time, and Stacy Lovelace had at least one blocked shot, 8 points and 5 rebounds.

6) However, Detroit went on a 7-1 run and took the lead back 44-42 on a Katie Smith 3-pointer.

7) Points in paint at one point in second quarter:

Detroit: 20
Atlanta: 2

More on this later.

8) Kara Braxton, who would have a career game against the Dream, actaully got three offensive rebounds on the same attempt to score.

Miss-rebound-miss-rebound-miss-rebound-miss. Didn't get the shot.

Altanta capped off the second quarter with a three-pointer by Betty Lennox.

9) Ann Strother came in for some junk seconds late in the second half. Why? She played a grand total of six seconds.

10) By halftime, Tamera Young had 16 points, Izi Castro Marques had 9, and Latta, Lovelace and Lennox all had eight points. Young would be on her way to a career high game of 26 points. The Dream were shooting 52 percent from the field, compared to the Shock's 49.

The score was tied 51-51. It looked like the Dream were finally preparing to spread the ball around and not rely on Latta or Lennox to lead the way.

11) Katie Feenstra came in as center to start the third. She immediately racked pu two personal fouls. Foul trouble was the name of the game. Tamera Young got four fouls and sat down. Katie Smith of the Shock racked up her fourth personal. Latta would pick up her fourth personal at the beginning of the fourth.

12) A snippet of a conversation between Coach Marynell Meadors and the official scorer:

"...6-1...every play on second half, it happens."

I believe Meadors was talking about the team fouls charged to Atlanta in the third versus the ones charged to Detroit. Either she was criticising her players ("they've blown it again!") or the referees ("they screwed us again!").

13) Katie Smith was getting a lot of open looks. As Art said, the Atlanta defense was not "helping the helper". Detorit rolled off a 13-4 run which just killed us. Kasha Terry picked up her fourth personal foul as well.

14) There was a bizarre incident in the fourth. The referee blew a whistle against Atlanta before Katie Smith shot a three-pointer which went in...and then the refs, inexplicably, gave her credit for the basket. She got a plus-one against us that changed the score from 78-73 shock to 82-73 Shock. That was the point that we had to put Tamera Young back in.

15) By this time, Detroit was outscoring Atlanta in the paint 42-8.

16) We managed to close it to within four points at one time, to 93-89, with 1:56 left on the clock. By this time, Atlanta was raining down three pointers in an attempt to close the gap...and we were making most of them, too.

Detroit, however, could hit three pointers, too. Humphrey tried a three pointer and missed with 1:37 left. We went back on the other end. Lennox could have closed it to within two with 1:19 left, but missed the shot. Braxton got the rebound and seven seconds later, Hornbuckle hit a three-pointer to put the Shock up 96-89.

17) Katie Smith fouled Ivory Latta in the act of shooting. Latta made the shot, picked up the extra free throw, and we were down four again, 96-92.

18) The killer. With 41 seconds left, Nolan Made a jump shot to put the score 98-92 Shock. At the Dream end, Tamera Young had the ball stolen from her by Alexis Hornbuckle. Braxton would make another layup, the score was 100-92 with 27 seconds left, and we couldn't make any of our other shots. GAME OVER.

So what do we conclude? We had four players in double figures. Tamera Young had 26, a career high. Lennox had 22. Ivory Latta had 18. Izi Castro Marques had 14.

However, Detroit had 48 points in the paint, compared to Atlanta's 10. Detroit shot 52.1 percent, which is understandable. If you're only standing three feet away from the basket, you're going to make your shots. The inside game is a percentage game; the outside game is a "high-variance" game. If you're raining down three pointers and are just hot that night, you can beat a team with an outside game. If you're cold from the outside -- and an outside game is all you have -- you're screwed.

Atlanta attempted 28 three-pointers to Detroit's 16. Furthemore, we made half of our three-pointers, which kept us in the game. Detroit, however, only needed to play "just well enough" outside the arc. They could play inside. We either won't...or can't.

Atlanta basically has two guards (Lennox and Latta), one and a half forwards (Young, and Izi when she feels like it)....and nothing else. Feenstra once again disappeared, scoring 0 points in 8 1/2 minutes. Jennifer Lacy scored 2 points. Kasha Terry scored two points.

We have no inside presence. Hell, we have no inside game. Teams can...and will...come right into the paint against the Dream, knowing that the Dream are unable to stop them. The Dream are forced to play a perimeter game, because it's literally the only hope of the Dream scoring points.

Perimeter games -- games that depend on the hotness of three-point shots -- are high-variance games. When they work -- and they will work sometime this year -- they can beat a best team. When they don't work, you lose by 20 points.

Atlanta will win a game this year. Someday, a team will come in cold, Atlanta will shoot 50 percent again from the arc and we'll break the losing streak. But this is no way to run a ball club.

It Happened Elsewhere!

Mercury 87, Sun 80. Despite turning over the ball 14 times, the Mercury (7-7) picked up the road win in Connecticut. Diana Taurasi led the Mercury with 25 points. The Sun (12-5) managed to cut the Mercury lead down to a single basket in the third, and got to within four points in the fourth, but couldn't close out. The Sun only shot 35.4 percent from the field and missed 22 of 28 three-point attempts.

Storm 64, Mystics 49. Four Storm (9-7) players scored in double figures in Seattle against the Mystics (6-9), whose only scorer in double digits was Alana Beard with 16. For Washington, their 49 points was a season low and four of the 20 turnovers committed by the Mystics were shot-clock violations.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It Happened Elsewhere!

Sky 76, Shock 59. It's rare that the Shock (11-5) get rebounded, but Detroit lost the battle of the boards to the Sky 36-28. The Shock's starting five had a grand total of 21 points. Four Sky (4-9) scored in double figures, with Candace Dupree leading with 18 points to help the Sky break a five-game losing streak.

Silver Stars 73, Lynx 65. The Silver Stars (9-6) starters played almost the entire game, but you don't need much bench help when you're shooting 46.2 percent. Sophia Young led the Silver Stars with 20 points. Seimone Augustus of the Lynx (8-7) was out with a sore toe, and the Lynx were never in the game. Some fans suspect that Ann Wauters of the Silver Stars attempted to become the third WNBA player to dunk late in the game.

Comets 75, Fever 61. The Comets (7-8) continue their sudden winning ways, with Matee Ajavon scoring a career high 24 points and tying a Comets rookie record. Tina Thompson is still out with the broken finger, but three other Comets scored in double figures. The Fever (7-8) closed to within four at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the home town Comets went on a 19-3 run that gave Houston their fourth straight win. The Fever committed 26 turnovers and 29 personal fouls.

Monarchs 82, Liberty 78. If the Liberty (7-7) hadn't gone 11-24 from the free throw line, they might have won. The Liberty managed to close to within three points with 2:14 to go, but Kara Lawson would score the next six points for the Monarchs (7-8).

The Psycho

The Women's Hoops Blog has two links featuring Betty Lennox. The common theme of the links is comparison between Betty Lennox and Allen Iverson.

I wonder if part of Seattle's woes are caused by not having "The Psycho" present.

"To this day, I still don't see why I got traded," she said. "(Minnesota coach Brian Agler) portrayed to me that I was damaged goods. But I still don't believe that. The player they replaced me with didn't even play. I was very upset with that. When I see Brian Agler (now an assistant with Phoenix), it still kind of hurts me."

No wonder the Storm let Betty go. (Agler is currently the head coach of the Storm.) I hope Betty brings that righteous fury to the court when we play the Storm.

Review: the 1997 WNBA Initial Allocation Draft

Sheryl Swoopes, one of the sole survivors of the 1997 Initial Allocation Draft.

The biggest question facing the WNBA was probably how the new teams would be put together. One thing that the WNBA didn't want was a massive free-for-all where any team could sign any player for any amount of money. Furthermore, the owners were NBA owners who were undoubtedly looking towards their own labor history with their male players. Salaries would be capped in the WNBA.

At the beginning, the WNBA was not alone. There was already a professional women's basketball league -- the American Basketball League (ABL). The ABL had signed most of the stars from the 1996 US Olympics Women's "Dream Team" leaving the WNBA with fewer quality players to go around among its eight teams.

Therefore, the WNBA decided on a three-pronged draft in 1997. The first part of the draft would be an allocation draft. Sixteen star players representing both recent college graduates and established players would be allocated to the eight teams. I've never learned whether this allocation was purely random, or whether it was motivated by other factors. I think people were so happy to have a league that was assisted by the NBA that they never thought to ask.

The second part of the draft was an "elite draft". Elite players, usually those who played overseas, would be subjected to something like a traditional draft. It would be very much like a traditional draft, with players choosing from a common pool.

The third part of the draft would be like the other drafts that would follow it -- the player pool would be a pool of recent college graduates. However, the draft would follow a "reverse snake" pattern, where the order of draft would be reversed in subsequent rounds -- the eighth team picking in one round would be the first picking in the following round.

How do you evaluate a player's contribution?

I'm using a stat obtained at called "Win Shares Above Average". The idea is that a player earns "win shares" for her team, with one win share being a third of a win. The formula -- a complex one -- is listed at the site. The goal of the formula is to put defensive players and offensive players on the same page.

However, a player can do things wrong. These wrong things are converted into "loss shares". This makes up for showy offensive players who do so many things wrong (turnovers, personal fouls) that their offensive value is limited.

Win Shares Above Average is simply (win shares - loss shares)/2. Having a positive WSAA means that your overall contribution to your team was positive. Having zero means that you contributed no more than the hypothetical average player, and having negative WSAA means that you were a detriment to your team.

Furthermore, players are evaluated only for the period that they were on the teams that drafted them. It doesn't matter if you draft Lisa Leslie if you let her go two days later.

1997 Initial Allocation Draft

Comets: Sheryl Swoopes (54), Cynthia Cooper (35.5)

The heart of Houston's four straight championships came right here. Swoopes was a member of the 1996 "Dream Team", having graduated from Texas Tech in 1993. She was a three-time MVP, three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Oddly enough of the sixteen, she didn't provide the most in WSAA but she has probably added more value to her team than just about anyone. At 37, Swoopes is still playing, now for the Seattle Storm. She is third in lifetime WSAA.

Cynthia Cooper is seventh on the WSAA all-time list, despite playing only five years in the WNBA. She graduated from USC in 1986. She was the Finals MVP during all four of the championships of the Houston Comets. I think it's safe to say that if you give me Swoopes and Cooper at the height of their skills, I can build a championship team around that. Having Tina Thompson only made Houston more dangerous.

Sparks: Lisa Leslie (64), Penny Toler (-7.5)

The WSAA active list (complete to 2007) has Lisa Leslie in second place. If she knows when to retire -- that is, if she quits playing when her loss shares begin to exceed her win shares -- she might surpass Yolanda Griffith at the #1 spot. Leslie has two MVPs and two finals MVPs over her own. Leslie graduated from USC in 1994 and was a member of the 1996 "Dream Team".

However, by the time Penny Toler came along, she had already played in the pros overseas for eight years. She graduated from Long Beach State in 1989. Toler would score the WNBA's first basket, but that was one of the few highlights of her WNBA career. She would move from player to general manager, and she would help put together a Sparks team that would win the WNBA championship in 2001 and 2002. As a player, she couldn't contribute much but her skill as a manager more than made up for it.

Sting: Andrea Stinson (15.5), Vicky Bullett (15)

Poor Andrea Stinson. She got her jersey number retired in Charlotte, and then the team folded at the end of the year. This 5-10 guard out of North Carolina State, a 1991 graduate, led the Sting to six playoff appearances, including a WNBA Finals in 2001.

As for Vicky Bullett, she would only play three seasons in Charlotte. She was a graduate of Maryland in 1989 and helped the US win a gold medal in 1988. Before playing for the WNBA, she played in the Italian leagues. In all three seasons that Bullet played for the Sting, they went to the playoffs. She would retire from the WNBA in 2002, continue playing overseas, and finally end her pro career in 2007.

Liberty: Teresa Weatherspoon (10), Rebecca Lobo (2.5)

Weatherspoon was a fantastic ball-handler and two-time Defensive Player of the Year. She graduated from Louisiana Tech in 1988. From 1997 to 2003, she would have an amazing streak of starting in every WNBA game. In 2003 she was released from the New York Liberty, and Weatherspoon was bitter about it -- but it was time for her to go. She played one more year with the Sparks, and then retired.

As for Rebecca Lobo, she was the face that the WNBA wanted to put on billboards and on commercials. She was a popular college player, graduating from Connecticut in 1995. Despite being named to the All-WNBA Team in 1997, she only had one good year, that in 1998. In the very first game in 1999, she suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in her left knee and never recovered. Out for the rest of 1999 and all of 2000, she was traded to the Comets in 2002. She would finish her career in 2003 with the Connecticut Sun.

Monarchs: Ruthie Bolton (9), Bridgette Gordon (-3)

Ruthie Bolton was an efficient three point shooter, and she took one of the fundamentals of basketball at heart, namely hang on to the ball. She's second all time in smallest turnover percentage, second only to Lauren Jackson of the Storm as of the end of 2007. Bolton graduated from Auburn in 1990 and was a member of the 1996 Olympic "Dream Team". However, with no pro outlet in the United States, she had to go to Italy to play before the WNBA was founded. She would spend her entire WNBA career as a Monarch, retiring at the end of the 2004 season.

Bridgette Gordon was a larger-than-life player, loud clothes, loud jewelry, loud personality. She graduated from Tennessee in 1989, and would end up playing eight years in Italy before coming to the WNBA. She would be a major part of the Monarchs roster in 1997, but start only five games in 1998 and was waived by the Monarchs in 1999.

Mercury: Jennifer Gillom (9.5), Michele Timms (-4.0)

Gillom graduated from Mississippi in 1986 and had played for several European teams before coming to the WNBA in its inaugural year. She would only play six years for the Mercury (and one for the Sparks), but would average 13.4 points a game. Her best years were probably behind her as she was already 33 when the league started.

As for Michele Timms, the Australian was 32 when she was drafted. She averaged 12.1 points a game in 1997, and never broke the 10 PPG barrier for the rest of her career, due to her usually poor field goal shooting. (She shot 31 percent from the field in 1998.) She only lasted five years in the WNBA. However, she would lead the Phoenix Mercury in career assists and the Mercury would end up retiring her number.

Rockers: Janice Braxton (10), Michelle Edwards (-9.5)

Braxton only made it three years in Cleveland. She had graduated Louisiana Tech in 1984, so she was 34 when the WNBA 1997 season started and already sort of had one foot out the door, but put up good numbers all three of her years.

Michelle Edwards graduated from Iowa in 1989. She would only play four seasons with the Rockers before being traded in the middle of the 2000 season to the Seattle Storm. Why is Edwards ranked so low? Because she was death at the free throw line. She shot only 61.3 percent from the charity stripe during her career. Furthermore, her field goal percentage declined every year she was in the league.

Starzz: Elena Baranova (1), Lady Hardmon (-6)

Baranova could block shots and she could rebound. Being the greatest Russian women's basketball player of the 20th century didn't hurt, either. The problem for the Starzz was that Baranova's best years came after her tenure in Utah.

After three years in Utah, she was traded in 2000 to the Miami Sol for Kate Starbird and a second round draft pick. She would pick up 6 WSAA in Miami in 2001 after sitting out all of 2000 with an ACL tear. In 2002, she decided to sit out the entire season to train with the Russian national team. The Sun would fold, Baranova would be picked up by the Liberty in the dispersal draft, and she would earn 9.5 WSAA for the Liberty over three years. The problem with Utah is that they got the stub end of Baranova's WNBA years. Her last WNBA year was 2005…but Baranova is still playing in Europe.

As for Lady Hardmon (also known as Lady Grooms), she only played one year in Utah where she scored only 5.5 points per game. Grooms graduated from Georgia in 1992. Back when she was still known as Lady Hardmon, she shot horribly from the field and had a lot of turnovers that first year in Utah. Utah traded her to Sacramento for Chantel Tremitiere and Grooms she settled down in Sacramento to became a near-average player. She would spend the rest of her career in Sacramento, her last year being 2004.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

2008/14 - Sun 109, Dream 101 (OT)

Shove harder, Ivory! (Used with permission of

A preface: when I write Atlanta Dream game summaries, I try to put intelligent analysis in there sometimes....

(call from readers: "When are you going to start trying?")

...but most of the time, I just put my thoughts and feelings down regarding this roller coaster season. And right now, the roller coaster is plummeting at a ninety foot drop, but I'm sure that it will come up again soon and it will be awesome!

1) Betty Lennox scored the first two points. That should have been a sign right there. I'll bet money that B-Money was miserable the night that she was held to five points due to an injury in that game against the Shock. "Mumble...all the reporters talking to Ivory...(grumble)...lousy knee...when I get the ball back, I'll light it up...(snarl)...that'll show 'em...!"

And she did. Points = 44. Rebounds = 9. Assists = 7. This game put Betty tied for #4 with Deanna Nolan and Cynthia Cooper with Most Points Scored in a WNBA game. It put her tied for second with Most Field Goals in a WNBA Game (17), and put her in second place all by herself for Most Field Goals Attempted in a WNBA Game (32).

2) We finally got a chance to take a look at Kasha Terry. 2 points. 1 rebound. 3 turnovers and 5 personal fouls, so I'd say that Kasha's presence was...a negative. I'll even be bolder -- if we had Camille Little, we might have had a chance for a win.

However, we get get a chance to have both Kasha Terry and Katie Feenstra on the court at the same time. Granted, it's not Ruth Riley and Ann Wauters, but it will have to do.

3) The big strength: for once, we did a decent job keeping up with another team in rebounds. At one point late in the first, we were leading the Sun in rebounds 10-8. Later on, as the game got longer and given the nature of the overtime, the Sun would outrebound the Dream 45-34, but we at least kept up with them for a good part of the game.

4) Kristen Mann, despite what you heard on the radio, only had two blocked shots and two steals. The announcer, however, seemed to have Kristen all over the floor, performing defensive wizardry.
4b) The defense was a lot better in this game. Either we stepped up, or the Sun was just exhausted. "The best defense I've seen Atlanta play all year," according to Art Eckman, the radio announcer for the Dream.

5) Halftime. The interviewee was Kasha Terry. Unfortunately, this is when my radio signal began to fade. All I learned from Kasha is that she has a Pomeranian.

6) And that was when my connectivity problems started. First, the radio began going kerblooey. You can only pick up the Dream on AM 1230 and AM 1340, and apparently, some powerful Serbo-Creation station has a spot on the nearby dial. Listening further on the radio was not going to be a solution.

Since I have a MacBook, and the WNBA website uses Windows Media Player, the fine folks at Microsoft wanted me to jump through several hoops to download an add-on. I tried to follow the moving boxcore, but my internet connectivity began to weaken. For some reason, the DSL always fades in an out whenever its wet or humid.

Finally, my wife noticed my distress and said that she could watch her programs upstairs. This put me on the internet radio function of the WNBA website. The problem was that with poor internet connectivity, the media player required endless rebuffering.

I felt like was trying to listen to the game through a Dixie Cup, or like those poor fellows who would "listen" to the Reds-White Sox series in 1919 through the use of the telegraph.

7) In the third quarter -- most of which I missed -- the Sun went on a roll, leading by 13 at one point, 55-42. It looked like it was going to be another blowout loss. We were shooting 33.3 percent at the time from the field; the Sun was shooting 47.5 percent.

8) Terry also picked up her fourth foul in the quarter. Once again, should had Little. Just saying.

9) Then, the Dream began to come back. With the score 66-58 Sun, Izi Castro Marques and Kristin Haynie hit the last two buckets of the third quarter to help us close the gap within two, 66-62.

10) And in the fourth quarter...whoa. Down 75-69, Lennox would go on to score the next ten points for Atlanta, putting the team on her back. The Dream closed the gap to 79-78 with 2:54 remaining in the fourth. Lennox, with 37 points so far, had already set a career high.

11) Then, from out of nowhere, down 80-78, Tamera Young hit a three pointer...and the Dream had the lead, 81-80 with 2:12 left. The Sun would answer back with a bucket...and Kristen Mann would hit a three pointer to make it 84-82, Dream!

12) Ahead 86-85, Tamera Young fouled Tamika Whitmore of the Sun. Whitmore hit her two free throws to put the Sun up 87-86 and the Sun called a time out. With 22 seconds on the clock, Lindsay Whalen drove to the basket and made the two pointer.

Sun 89, Dream 86. 19 seconds left. At this point in the blog, this is where the Dream go sleepy-bye-bye. However, with 12 seconds left, Tamera Young made a three pointer and tied it at 89-89 all. The Sun got one final chance, but Jamie Carey's last second didn't make it.

OVERTIME. The first ever overtime game in Dream history. Could they get the 13 game monkey off their backs?

13) Art Eckman told his audience in overtime what the posters on the Rebkell boards had been begging Coach Mike Thibault of the Sun to do all game. "The Sun have figured out the Atlanta offensive and they're bottling up Lennox...."

14) Hurtful call. Tamika Whitmore pushes Stacey Lovelace off her. Lovelace is charged with the holding foul! Whitmore made both of her free throws to make it a 94-91 game for Connecticut.

15) At 2:48 in the game, Lennox got fouled by Ketia Swanier. Lennox made two points on free throws. Thibault's strategy was to put Swanier on Lennox in the latter part of the game, to have a fresh pair of legs to go against Lennox and play hard defense. It seemed to work. For the next 2:45 of the overtime, Lennox went 0-for-1. No rebounds, no assists, one personal foul. Then again, Lennox must have been exhausted.

16) That's when the ball of string unwounded. Atlanta would commit 7 personal fouls to the Sun's one for the rest of the game -- many of those fouls desperation fouls to get back in the ball game.

I'm guessing that when Young fouled out with 1:32 to go in the game, we just disappeared after that. Izi Castro Marques and Stacey Lovelace would each commit shooting fouls -- on shots that the Sun made. The Sun converted both of those extra free throw points, and we were down by seven, 103-96, with 1:03 to go.

17) When Jennifer Lacy missed her three-pointer with 48 seconds left, Whalen got the rebound and the Sun could just try to work the clock down. With 36 seconds, Izi fouled Lindsay whalen. The only hope was that the Sun wouldn't make their foul shots.

It wasn't to be. The Sun made their six free throws after that. The Sun's seven final points were scored on free throws.

18) With three seconds left and the game lost, Betty Lennox made her final shot from three point range. It went in.

Final score: Sun 109, Dream 101. It was the first time the Dream went past the 100 point mark. The Dream also shot 41.8 percent from the field. The problem was that the Sun shot 47.3 percent.

(* * *)

Most of the time listening to this game, I had my head in my hands, hope against hope. When you lose by twenty, you can console yourself that it just wasn't your night and the other team was just clearly better. When you lose in overtime, there are no such consolations. All you have is a reminder, written in the box score, of all the things you failed to do. Close losses are doubly hard.

The strength of any team is how quickly it can put setbacks behind it. My wife is a salesperson, and a good one. She has the amazing skill of putting setbacks behind her. When she loses, she doesn't take it personal. She just goes right on to the next client.

The Dream will have to gain that inner strength, if it doesn't break them first. If they can gain it -- if they can put setbacks behind them and focus on their concrete accomplishments -- they'll be a tough team to beat in 2009. The joke is that a Super Bowl coach's time of celebration after a victory is only a few minutes. He's already thinking about the next game.

Never look back. Always look forward. The season is almost half over. Our free throw percentage was better than the Suns. We're starting to solve the rebounding problem. The Sun had more turnovers than we did. They weren't able to turn on the fastbreak against the Dream with impunity like so many other teams have done. If we can survive the pain, there's a lot to be gained from this lost. The hope is that we can use it against the Shock on Sunday.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Net Plus/Minus for Dream

Plus/Minus is scored as simply

[(points scored when you are on the floor) - (opponent points scored when you are on the floor)] - [(points scored when you are off the floor) - (opponent points scored when you are off the floor)]

The idea is to see how well the team is doing with you on the floor and how well it is doing with you off it. As a result, plus/minus scores aren't "transferrable" across teams -- you can't compare Betty Lennox's plus/minus to say Michelle Snow's. What plus/minus does is gives you some idea as to how valuable a player is compared to the choices a team has to substitute her.

When these "points scored" values are adjusted to a forty-minute game -- in other words, when points scored becomes "points scored per forty minutes" -- one comes up with a figure called "net plus-minus".

The figures for the Atlanta Dream:

Latta: +16.4
Lennox: +5.1
Feenstra: +4.5
Little: +3.8
Lovelace: +1.8
Young: +1.6
Castro Marques: -2.9
Mann: -4.4
Lacy: -5.9
Haynie: -16.0

In this case, I did not list any player with less than 130 minutes, except for Haynie who has 129.4 minutes.

This gives us an idea of the best possible lineup:

Latta-Lennox-Feenstra-Lovelace-Castro Marques

Without Little around, Izi becomes our #2 forward...and she's not bringing a lot to the table.

(Thanks to Swanny and his wonderful stat page.)

Candace, Meet Brittney

Brittney Griner, that is.

She's 16 years old, out of Nimitz High School in Houston, Texas.
She once had a quintuple-double.
She's 6'8". And according to doctors, she's getting taller, and that the height is healthy height. No inherent fragility detected.
ESPN says she has the potential of being the best women's basketball player of all time.
Sorry colleges. She's spoken for. She's orally committed to Baylor, and will probably sign a letter of intent with them in 2008 for her to start as a freshman for the 2009-10 season.
And she's already dunking in high school.

From Chris Hansen at ESPN:

Some of the most prolific shot-blockers on the men's side of the game -- Marcus Camby, Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bill Russell and Ben Wallace -- have had lasting effects on the game. But none of them have been as dominating in their game as Griner is in the female game. The fact is, she would be a shot-blocking factor against male opponents -- maybe not as dominant, given the size of the players, but still a factor.

Coach Marynell Meadors is rumored to be moving to Houston during the off-season. "Just for my health."
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Sparks are already making plans to get Candace pregnant in 2012. You can never work out your first-round draft choices too far ahead of time.

It Happened Elsewhere!

Liberty 102, Fever 96 (3 OT). Shamkea Criston of the Liberty (7-6) had six of her 23 points in the third overtime during a three-hour nationally televisioned game at Madison Square Garden. (The longest game? a four-overtime Mystics-Storm game in 2001.) Janel McCarville had a career high 31 points as the Liberty came down from a 13 point deficit in the second quarter. Ebony Hoffman of the Fever (7-7) also scored a career-high 26 points.

Shock 70, Sun 61. The hometown Shock (11-4) restored the balance to the Eastern Conference, beating the Sun (11-4) at home after the Shock lost to the Sun in Connecticut two nights earlier. Five players for Detroit would score double figures, with Deanna Nolan the high scorer at 13 points. The Shock outscored the Sun in the paint 40-19 and shot 43.9 percent from the field. However, Plenette Pierson suffered a knee-strain in the third quarter and did not return.

Lynx 80, Monarchs 76. The Monarchs (6-8) have now lost four of their last five games. Kara Lawson of the Monarchs managed to close the gap to two points despite dislocating her shoulder in the third quarter. Seimone Augustus (23 points) and Candace Wiggins (17 points) scored half of the Lynx's (8-6) total points, with Augustus scoring eight of Minnesota's last nine.

Comets 77, Silver Stars 71. With Tina Thompson out with a fractured left ring finger, Sancho Lyttle scored a career high 23 points to lead the home team Comets (6-8) to victory. It is the Comet's fifth win in the last six games. Ann Wauters of the Silver Stars (8-6) was responsible for seven of the Silver Stars's 16 turnovers.

Mercury 89, Sky 79. The Sky (3-9) dropped its fifth game in a row this season, this time to the visiting Mercury (6-7). The Sky had 17 turnovers which led to 20 Mercury points. This time, Taurasi and Pondexter spread the love around and five Mercury players finished in double figures. Chastity Melvin of the Sky scored a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds, but the Sky only shot 35 percent from the field.

Mystics 77, Sparks 74 (OT). The sole basket scored in overtime was Monique Currie's three point shot as the Mystics (6-8) won their fourth game over the last five tries. Currie would finish with 24 points for the Mystics. Lisa Leslie of the Sparks (10-4) scored her 3,000th rebound in overtime, the only player in WNBA history to have 3,000 rebounds. Unfortunately, the Sparks went 0-for-8 for shooting in overtime.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jambi the Genie says....

Jambi the Genie has gone an unimpressive 16-14 in WNBA picks this year. If Jambi can't score at least a 4-2 for Thursday night, Jambi will be unceremonially retired and dumped among the wreckage of Peewee's Playhouse. Mekka Lekka Hi, indeed.

Fever @ Liberty. The Liberty's woes continue with Katie Douglas scoring 28 in MSG. Indiana 83, New York 60.

Sun @ Shock. The Shock beat the Sun at home, so no advantage is gained. Detroit 73, Connecticut 62.

Monarchs @ Lynx. The Lynx have to work hard for their win, but they'll get back on the right track. Lynx 69, Monarchs 66.

Silver Stars @ Comets. I'm sorry, Hammonites. Tina Thompson has your number. Houston 81, San Antonio 75.

Mercury @ Sky. The Sky slow down Phoenix and grab an amazing Win. Chicago 72, Phoenix 69.

Mystics @ Sparks. Candace Parker might just throw down another dunk. Los Angeles 92, Washington 71.

(Jambi is on loan from

UPDATE: Tina Thompson has just been downgraded to "inactive" for the Silver Stars/Comets game. Jambi is skating over thin ice right now.

The NBA: "Boy, They Sure Can Jump!"

There's an article from Rethinking Basketball where Cheryl Ford criticizes the men's game, claiming that the NBA's game is simply about who can jump the highest. (This post started as a comment to his blog, but his commenting system is temporarily broken.)

Can't see the video, because I'm at work. However, the linked article is an interesting look at NBA Combines. The WNBA also holds such combines.

It seems that the NBA has borrowed the worst idea from the NFL -- that of the combine. I suspect that the general managers of big-money pro sports are so terrified about making a bad decision that their philosophy is "measure everything we can possibly measure, and something good will come of it". Millions of dollars are at stake, you know.

Thus in football you get all this emphasis on the Wonderlic and vertical leap and speed in the 40, all of which are atomized skills that could only serve as parts of a big picture, but there's no way to know how -- or if -- they'll work in combination. (If speed were all it took to make a great wide receiver, we'd be singing the praises of Renaldo Nehemiah even in 2008.)

I also believe that since NBA players are naturally taller and stronger than WNBA players, brute force is at a greater premium in the NBA than in the WNBA. There's always the hope that some draftee's strength and power will be enough to give him an edge over his future opponents if his comprehension of team defense, ball handling, or essential skills is lacking. (I still can't figure out why Lebron's dunkalicious dunks don't get stopped mid-dunk by a punch to the stomach, unless the NBA *really* doesn't know how to play defense.)

However, in the WNBA -- where it's rarer for one player to be physically dominant over the others -- team play skills are at a higher premium.

Q also suggested the idea of promoting the sport through mock WNBA drafts. Hey, I'm game for a mock WNBA draft! There are all kinds of WNBA blogs out there, so how do we make this happen in '09?

De Souza Named to Brazilian Olympic Team

From the Painel do Basquete Feminino (Women's Basketball Scoreboard) blog.

And, for reasons that we all know, Iziane Castro Marques was left off.

Érika de Souza (this is how she spells her name) is of course recovering from an injury. I'm sure the Brazilians hope that she'll be fully recovered by the time August rolls around. I'm hoping to see her in a few games for the Dream, myself.

Kelly Santos is a forward for the Seattle Storm.

PPG 1.3
RPG 0.5
APG 0.0
EFF: + 1.17

Hopefully, she'll get a chance to shine in Brazil and get that silver medal. Gold, of course, is ours. (/smile)

What All Sports Have in Common

A quote from Frisco Del Rosario's blog:

"That's what being a sports fan's all about," I said. "A constant cycle of watching our teams building up and tearing down."

I just thought that quote illuminated an essential truth: trades and acquisitions...what all sports are about. Little goes out. Terry comes in. Wauters won't show up. Anderson is sent packing.

Taking One for the Team

At Swanny's Stats, there is a list of WNBA leaders in Offensive Fouls Drawn:

1. 85 -- Candice Wiggins, Min.
2. 83 -- Diana Taurasi, Pho.
3. 75 -- Nakia Sanford, Was.
4. 72 -- Candace Parker, L.A.
5. 71 -- Cheryl Ford, Det.
6. 69 -- Katie Douglas, Ind.
7. 67 -- Swin Cash, Sea.
(tie) 67 -- Lauren Jackson, Sea.
(tie) 67 -- Cappie Pondexter, Pho.
10. 66 -- Betty Lennox, Atl.
(tie) 66 -- Tina Thompson, Hou.

As well as a team-by-team breakdown:


Lennox 66
Latta 43
Feenstra 36
Young 31
Lacy 27
Little 25
Lovelace 16
Castro Marques 8
Mann 7
Haynie 6
de Souza 5
Nnamaka 3

Looking at a similar article on, I'll leave it as a reader exercise to determine which category Betty Lennox falls in:

1. "Little Big Girl" - height challenged offensive star with reputation for toughness.
2. Real Deal - all around talent who has a built body and will rise to a challenge
3. Defensive Specialist - gritty girls who do the work that no one else wants to do
4. Often overlooked/quiet game - the label speaks for itself.

(Hint: I don't think Betty belongs in #3 or #4.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Their contracts are based on baskets."

Maybe you're a son of Brazil who can speak fluent Portugese. As a non-Brazilian, I have to make due with a Google translation of the linked article.

This is what comes out:

On the same day they released a list with 16 players to work towards the Beijing Olympics, the technician's selection of women's basketball, Paulo Bassul, commented about the cutting of Iziane wing, which had refused to come into court after have been replaced in the game against Belarus, valid by the Pre-Olympic World, in Spain.
"Iziane not have a title in its curriculum. Last year, I spoke with her and did a question: even when you vai remain basket of all the competitions that dispute, but without winning a title? The order of priority it is reversed, but Iziane verbaliza that. She says that their contracts are based on baskets, that clubs will look at who is the basket and does not want to know, because it is so, "says Bassul.

My translation:

"On the same day they released the list of 16 players going to the Beijing Olympics, Coach Paul Bassul commented on Iziane Castro Marques's refusal to come on to the court against Belarus in a pre-Olympic qualifying game against Belrus. "Iziane's never won a title. Last year, I asked her a question: "what good is it to score points if you don't have a title?" Her priorities are reversed, but Iziane told me so. She said that contracts are based on baskets, that clubs will look at points scored before titles earned," said Bassul.

Izi's stats?

6.9 PPG
1.5 RPG
1.0 APG
3.88 Efficiency (a linear weights type stat).

All I can say is that with points like that, I hope that Izi likes playing in the Cambodian Women's Basketball Association.

$4 Tickets for Weeknight Games

Right here. The offer is that for a limited time, you can get these tickets from Ticketmaster by entering the key word "GAS".

Oh yeah. That works for me. But are we talking about petroleum fuel or gastric upset?

It Happened Elsewhere! (or, Dunkalicious, Part II)

Sun 85, Shock 68. The Sun (11-3) -- losers of their last five games against the the Shock (10-4) -- finally break a streak extending into 2006. The win puts the Sun in first place in the Eastern Conference. Amber Holt scored a career high 19 points for the SUn. Cheryl Ford of the Shock had 13 points and 11 rebounds for yet another double-double. The Sun took away Detroit's rebounding strength, beating them on the boards 42-32.

Mercury 98, Mystics 90. Once again, it's the combination of Diana Taurasi (31 points) and Cappie Pondexter (28 points) as the Mercury (5-7) beat the Mystics (5-8) in Washington, obviously enjoying the mojo of the Rose Garden ceremony from the day before honoring them as 2007 WNBA champs. Washington's Taj McWilliams-Franklin scored 31 points, a career high, in the loss.

Fever 78, Monarchs 73. The Fever (7-6) came back from an 18 point deficit to beat the visiting Monarchs (6-7). Katie Douglas of the Fever scored 20 points after starting 0 for 6, and 10 of Douglas's points were in the fourth quarter. Ebony Hoffman had 23 points for Indiana.

Lynx 91, Liberty 69. A five game losing streak comes to the end as the Lynx (7-6) beat the Liberty (6-6) back home in Minneapolis. Seimone Augustus came one short of a double-double, scoring 21 points and nine rebounds. The Lynx were motivated by a comment from Janel McCarville of the Liberty (four points, seven rebounds) who implied that Minnesota should have taken her in the 2007 dispersal draft.

Comets 82, Silver Stars 81 (OT). Tina Thompson of the Comets (5-8) hits a 13 foot jumper with 1.2 seconds left in overtime to get the victory on the road against the Silver Stars (8-5). Thompson scored 16 points for Houston (despite a fracture suffered to a finger on her non-shooting hand) and Michelle Snow scored 17 points with 11 rebounds for the Comets.

Sparks 76, Storm 72. You thought there were two dunks in regular season history in the WNBA? Make it three. Candace Parker dunked for her second consecutive game as the Sparks (10-3) beat the Storm (8-7) for theirr sixth win in their last seven games. The Sparks scored 17 offensive rebounds against the visitors, with Parker collecting 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Small Adjustment

Very funny reading the hater blogs regarding the Candace Parker dunk. Most of these blogs are peppered with references to "chicks" and "broads". (That's one step up from "suffer ye not the witches to live." I'm always looking for the silver lining, you see.)

Anyway, I've been mulling around this 11 percent number in terms of the coverage between men's sports and women's sports. This means that for every column of women's sports coverage, there are about eight columns of men's sports coverage. I wondered if this could account for the disparity in attendance figures between men's pro ball and women's pro ball.

Take the NBA. According to the fine monkeys at Wikipedia, the NBA's total attendance for 2006-07 was 21,841,480. I don't know if this includes the playoffs or not.

The WNBA had 1,702,948 attendance in 2007. That does not include the playoffs.

Now, let's adjust for a universe where the WNBA plays 82 games and has 30 teams, just like the NBA.

WNBA attendance baseline: 1,702,948
WNBA attendance as NBA attendance: 9,475,441

That's pretty damn good. Games played goes up from 34 to 82, and the number of teams goes from 13 to 30.

Compare 21,841,480 to 9,475,441. That's only a 2.3 to 1 advantage the NBA has in warm seats compared to the WNBA. And compared to the 8 to 1 advantage in media coverage the NBA has over the WNBA in media exposure...well, that's freaking fantastic! No wonder they want to expand the W to 16 teams!

Of course, this doesn't account for the fact that the WNBA plays at a time of year where the only competition is baseball and the NBA finals. But the attendance would have to fall to below 2.7 million to say, "hey, the NBA is inherently more popular even accounting how much more media coverage the NBA gets." Like it or, the WNBA is suprisingly popular given both the short season and small number of games. And for the short shrift it gets in the media, the fans must be really seeking out WNBA games.

Now, let's look at television coverage. Your average, typical, run of the mill NBA season game will get an average Nielsen rating of 2.2 on ABC. The WNBA will get an average of 0.2 tucked away on ESPN2. Accounting for media exposure -- remember the 8 to 1 ratio -- that's the equivalent of a 1.6 Nielsen rating if the WNBA were as heavily promoted by the media as the NBA.

That's not very far away. An overwhelming advantage of NBA coverage and beat writers doesn't give much better ratings for the NBA than for the W.

I shudder to think what the numbers would be if the NBA had a 34 game season, only 13 teams, and if 88 percent of the sports page were devoted to women's sports. I can see the headlines:


("Dammit, when are they going to get this @#$# off the air? That time could be used to review the Big South Conference! Rachel Vitale said that Megan Frazee is gonna be AWWWW-E-SOMME, BABBBBBYYYY!!!")

2003/13 - Shock 97, Dream 76

These are the posts I don't like writing about, Y'AAL. (*) It usually takes a few days for me to sort out in my head what I want to write down, much less overcome the depression associated with the actual loss. God knows if any posting will happen at all in the first week of July, where we play three home games.

So as Coach Meadors had no team practice on Monday, I took a day off, too.

1) We got two turnovers off Detroit early in the first quarter. If I'm right, they were in the first couple of minutes.

Result: nothing. After a while, you stop being astonished.

2) Alexis Hornbuckle took a nasty headbump in the first quarter, although some fans complained that she was looking for an Oscar nomination. At least, it gave Atlanta some breathing room.

3) Overall, our shooting was very good. Ivory Latta hit a couple of nasty three-pointers and we were shooting forty percent at the end of the first quarter. Unfortunately, we have no fastbreak game and the Shock scored the last seven points of the quarter, leading 26-14.

And in the second quarter, it all went to hell....

4) I swear to goodness that whenever Katie Feenstra gets a rebound, other teams will just simply yank the ball right out of her hands. I also swear that she made an own goal on the Detroit end of the court trying to grab a rebound. (I suspect that the official scorer had mercy and gave the shot to Cheryl Ford.)

5) Detroit went on another 7-0 run and led by 23 points at one point in the game. By this time, Jennifer Lacy had three fouls on her. Betty Lennox had hurt herself in a collision in the first half and was on her way to a scoring zero points at halftime.

6) Rebounding and the utter lack of a fast break game killed us. We had one friggin' offensive rebound in the first half. Detroit must have been licking its chops thinking about how much punishment they were going to dish out under the boards. I could swear I saw Cheryl Ford doing pushups and kissing her biceps near the bench. Bill Laimbeer was snapping photos. Rick Mahorn was calling his friends on his "five". Even Charles Barkley knew all about our crappy rebounding.

7) At the very least, the Dream had some sign holders. The crowd was in the game from the opening tip off to the final buzzer, something incredible for an 0-13 team. No paper bags over anyone's head. No booing. It's absolutely true, the Dream have the greatest fans in the WNBA.

7b) Tasha Humphrey, she of the 20 points, also had some sign holders. We'll ignore those.

8) Today's player spotlight was on Kristen Mann. I learned absolutely nothing interesting about her. Mann rose to the occasion, scoring one point in six minutes.

9) At one point, the on-screen camera focused on Katie Feenstra's size 16 shoes, a concession to the foot fetishists in the crowd. (Myself, I know that they're size 17, but concessions have to be made to Kit's vanity.)

10) By the end third quarter, B-Money had four personal fouls and zero (0) points. She also only played about a couple of minutes, it seemed.

11) Stacey Lovelace also had zero points after three quarters of play. Wisely, Coach Meadors kept her oh-fer ass on the bench for the entire fourth quarter.

12) Latta was on fire. Her 26 points and 10 rebounds were both career highs, her first double double in the WNBA. Unfortunately, a team is not just one player. We lost by 21 points, 97-76. Not having B-Money out there hurt us.

13) Latta got interviewed at courtside after the game. She talked with the announcer about how she watches Chris Paul and Steve Nash to improve the facets of her game. Paul is about 6'0", Nash is 6'3". (I assume both are actually two inches shorter.) Both are relatively small for NBA players. Maybe Latta can have an MVP season of her own, just like those guys have/will have.

Yes, I tell a few (very few) jokes, but the loss hurts. When, oh when, will Nike (the Greek Goddess, not the shoe) smile on the Dream and grant us a win? Will it be against our arch enemies the Sun? How long must we wander in the WNBA wilderness?

(* * *)

(*) Y'AAL -- Yet Another Atlanta Loss.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Versatility of Kasha Terry

Okay, stop laughing.

I'm going to look at a metric called "versatility". Versatility is a very simple formula: [(points per game)*(assists per game)*(rebounds per game)]^(1/3). It's basically the cube root of the product of those per-game stats.

What versatility does is give us a "power-speed" number. It rewards players who can do a lot of things well and penalizes players that are one-dimensional.

Here are the leaders in Versatility in the WNBA as of June 23, 2008

LAS Candace Parker 8.69
CON Lindsay Whalen 7.76
PHX Cappie Pondexter 7.76
PHX Diana Taurasi 7.25
LAS Lisa Leslie 7.02
HOU Tina Thompson 6.97
DET Deanna Nolan 6.84
IND Katie Douglas 6.56
CHI Candice Dupree 6.43
WAS Alana Beard 6.31

Those numbers are exactly what we think they should be. Note that Candace Parker is a quantum leap among WNBA players in terms of versatility.

Now let's take a look at Kasha Terry and the player that she replaced, Camille Little. We won't look at their WNBA statistics, but look at their college statistics.

My arguments are that their statistics are comparible. Both played in the Atlantic Coast Conference: Terry for Georgia Tech and Little for North Carolina. Let's look at their senior year versatility statistics.

Camille Little: 6.02
Kasha Terry: 2.52

Egad. Certainly, Terry's 0.4 assists per game in her senior year hurt her, as compared to Little's 2.1. As a matter of fact, Little's stats were better than Terry's across the board. I suspect that the versatility stat doesn't account for pace, but the top three players on Little's and Terry's respective teams (Little was a top three scorer at UNC, Kerry was #5) scored roughly the same number of points.

This year, Little's versatility is only 2.17. Her game has taken a hit moving to the WNBA. Terry's stats are 1.36, which isn't much of a drop. The problem is that Little has a lot more potential upside than Terry does.

I suspect that the signing of Terry has only one point -- to put asses in seats. Terry is an Atlanta girl from Georgia Tech, and maybe her circle of friends (and Georgia Tech fans) will come to see her.

Is Terry going to improve the Dream? I sincerely doubt it. She can't hurt the Dream -- we can finish last just as easily with Terry as with Little. And we do get an extra second round draft pick. But don't fool yourself -- I doubt that Terry does much to solve the Dream's multitude of problems.

Dream Sign Free Agent Kasha Terry

According to Rebkell, the Atlanta Dream just signed free agent Kasha Terry.

At work. More on this later.

It Happened Elsewhere!

Liberty 105, Mercury 72. The Liberty shot 54.3 percent from the floor and set a franchise record in points scored, blowing out the visiting Liberty. Every player on the Liberty roster scored, and Tiffany Jackson of the Liberty scored a career high 21 points. Of the 105 points, 33 came from three-point land.

It was the worst loss by the Mercury since 2002. Diani Taurasi led the Mercury with 21 points.

Monarchs 82, Sky 70. The Sky (3-8) lose their fourth straight game in a road loss to the Monarchs (6-6), who break their own two game losing streak. Jia Perkins scored 22 and Candace Duprey had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sky, but the Monarchs hit 23 for 27 at the free throw line.

Sparks 77, Fever 63. The Fever (6-6) were sort of the "anti-Liberty" -- they shot 27.6 percent in a miserable shooting display. Lisa Leslie was the dominant force for the Sparks wtih 17 points and nine rebounds, and Candace Parker's double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds was punctuated with a dunk with just 29 seconds left in the game, the second dunk in regular season play in WNBA history.

Tamika Catchings led the Fever with 17 points.

If a Dunk Happens in a Forest...

I'm doing my usual blog searches regarding the Dream and WNBA, and I've come across the blogs referring to the Candace Parker dunk last night. Generally, the haters are out and the attitude is dismissal.

Which is simply what I expected. If history tells us anything, it's that when a group belittles someone they consider beneath them by referring to a set of benchmarks the second group can't meet -- and then the second group meets the benchmarks -- the first group will simply move the benchmarks. Or find some reason to disqualify the achievement. It reminds me what someone said about the literacy tests in the South during the Civil Rights Era: whites were asked to spell "cat" and blacks were asked when the Edict of Nantes was revoked.

(By the way: 1685, baby.)

It Happened Elsewhere!

"Late Edition":

Comets 72, Lynx 65. (Saturday) A televised abortion of a game, with WNBA Commissioner Donna Orender presiding. The Lynx (6-6) shot just six percent from the field in the first quarter, and never woke up, shooting only 27.5 percent for the game. Despite Candace Wiggins's 24 points, the Comets (4-8) had three players in double figures, with warhorse Tina Thompson leading the Comets with 18 points.

It is the fifth straight loss for the Lynx, who started at 6-1.

Bouncing Baby Dunker

Congratulations to Candace Parker for throwing down above the rim in last night's Los Angeles Sparks victory over the Indiana Fever.

This is the second dunk in WNBA history, or third if you count the All-Star Game. It is also the first dunk by someone other than Lisa Leslie.


1. Lisa Leslie. July 30, 2002 versus the Miami Sol at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
2. Lisa Leslie. July 9, 2005 versus the Eastern Conference All-Stars at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
3. Candace Parker. June 22, 2008 versus the Indiana Fever at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Camille Little Traded to Storm

The big news among Atlanta Dream fans is that Camille Little just got traded to the Seattle Storm for a second round draft pick in 2009. Of course, we're not going to know if this is a brilliant move until 2009.

Right now, I have Little as somewhere on the best-to-worst chart in the Jennifer Lacy/Izi Castro Marques area. She's not a starter. It's not as if Betty Lennox went back to the Storm. And certainly, the Dream can finish dead last in the Eastern Conference just as easily without Little as with her. With coach Maryann Meadors seemingly unable to settle on a consistent rotation, it means that everyone else will get that much more playing time until Erika DeSousa returns.

So how much will we get for Little when 2009 comes around? I'm looking at the second round of last year's draft -- not much of an analysis, I'd have to look at the second rounds of all drafts. Let's assume that the Storm finish in the middle of the pack. So far, there have been only three quality players to emerge from the second round of 2008: Nicky Anosike of the Lynx, Erica White of the Comets and maybe Leilani Mitchell of the Mercury. After the seventh pick, only Mitchell was available of those three above. If there's an Anosike player later in the draft, it's going to be very hard for Meadors to find her.

Another complication is the affect this will have on Ivory Latta. Latta and Little were teammates on the North Carolina women's team, and theoretically know each other very well. Were they friends? Hard to tell. Maybe Ivory will be pissed that Little got traded; maybe she's glad to be rid of her.

In short, we can't tell if this trade is going to be a barn burner, but we can't tell if it will be a bust, either. Who knows? Maybe Meadors is expecting the Storm to bottom out and for us to move up in the second round. (/joke)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Young Living the Dream

Here's a very interesting article about Tamera Young from her hometown newspaper.


Lights out? Forget it. Bed checks? No ma'am.

"You're on your own time, you basically do what you want," Young said. "But you also have to prepare yourself for the game. There's no coach on you, there's no schedule, just 'Meet at 10 o'clock for shootaround."

Click the link, read the rest.

"...and does it really matter who is at fault?"

So is Coach Meadors the worst thing ever to happen to the Dream? My position is no. Except for our draft choices, you have to remember that this is a team of castoffs - players who, for whatever reason, the other WNBA teams didn't want. No one team said, "my goodness, Lennox/Latta/Feenstra is so important to the success of our team that we must protect her, and immediately!"

This team wasn't going to go to the playoffs. I don't think any expansion team has ever done that. I think Atlanta fans should have known that going in. Hope is a drug, baby.

That being said, this team has lost 12 straight games. Barring some miracle today, it will probably lose to the visiting Shock and tie the consecutive losses record for a single season of play.

Remembering the 2002 Detroit Shock, the coach of that team got fired when he lost ten straight. That's how Bill Laimbeer got his job in the WNBA.

Remember Coach Meadors time in Charlotte, she got fired after her team lost by 26 points to the Rockers in 1999? The Sting were expected to go to the playoffs; the Rockers were in last place. Meadors's record? 5-7. Not awful, just mediocre.

This brings me to the sad point of the post:

Coaches get fired.
Coaches get fired for lots of reasons.
Coaches get fired for things that are not their fault or for which they have no control over.

If the Atlanta Dream lose their first 13, that might be okay. Hey, the Shock lost 13 straight one time and they're still in the WNBA! If the streak continues to 14...or 15...or more...then the WNBA is going to become worried about Atlanta's fan base. In mid-July, football training camp starts. How much attention are fans going to pay to an 0-for-everything team?

Ron Terwillinger, the owner, might have to step in and make his first difficult choice. I like Coach Meadors. I believe that given time, she can turn the team around. I like the fact that she's doing everything she can to support this young squad. But when you lose 12 straight, you could be John Wooden and it wouldn't matter. After a certain number of losses, the team tunes out and the fans tune out.

A new coach shakes up the team. "Hey, we have a new coach. Maybe we can break out of this streak/maybe I'd better work harder or I might not be playing next year." A new coach also shakes up the fans. "Hey, at least Terwillinger is trying to do something!"

As Walt Whitman said, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes" I hope that Coach Meadors makes it through the year. And I also hope that Ron Terwillinger has Fred Williams on speed dial, just in case.

The Blog Shuffle

The link to the Houston Comets Official Blog has been removed. Houston Comets management, if you start a blog we expect you to keep it updated. The blog is one month old and there is no signs of it coming to life.

I added by Hollinger Power Rankings link at the bottom. I might do some more stuff with those as I get formatting issues figured out.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Who is at Fault, Part III

More comments from Bill Simmons on what makes coaches bad coaches.

Not enough winning streaks. Obviously, this doesn't count for the Dream. The Dream don't have any winning streaks. Simmons is attempting to account for teams that are world-beaters one night and egg-beaters the next. I'm assuming that a "win streak" in Bill's mind is a set of two or more consecutive wins. Therefore, a W-L-W-W-L-L-W-L record would consist of one "win streak" in eight games.

Opposing 3-point percentage. Will the three-point shots be contested by the defense? The Dream aren't bad off -- they're in sixth place, with opponents only shoting 32.4 percent beyond the arc. (The leader is the Fever, which holds its opponents to 25.7 percent; at the bottom of the league is the Comets with opponent shooting 42.9 percent from the arc.)

Clearly, Atlanta is keeping teams from dropping bombs from outside. Then again, teams might be more comfortable to just drive the ball into the paint rather than shoot from outside, and that might be relected in the stat line.

Lousy record on the road. I'd say our road record is pretty bad. I think every team in the W has won at least one away game, putting the Dream in dead last.

Lack of a consistent rotation. According to Simmons, it's important for a team to get to know each other. As a point guard, for example, you'd know the tendencies of every player. Who to pass to, who you can expect to make the shot on the low post, who really needs a great open look before you care to pass them the ball. Teams get to know each other's personalities. If the coach is buzzing people in and out with every stoppage of play, there is no flow. A coach who screws around with the lineup all the time destroys a team's confidence, since most players are egomaniacs and take any sort of benching as a slur on their innate ability.

I don't think there's any sort of stat that can measure that, but I'd claim that the Dream are some major offenders, at least in terms of starting lineup. I'd say Betty Lennox, Ivory Latta, and (now) Tamera Young are dependable, but you don't know what sort of mismash of players Coach Meadors is going to throw out there to fill the holes in the other two spots. I tend to agree with Simmons. Pick somebody, even if it's defensive liability Jennifer Lacy or immobile center Katie Feenstra. You have to decide, at some point, "this is what we're going with, win or lose." One message board poster complained about Coach Meadors subbing people in after just two minutes of the first quarter.

Downright stupidity. Or as someone called it, "monkey f--king". A "monkey f--k" is when the coach makes some egregiously dumbass move. The message boards have begun to take note of what they consider such monkey f--ks during Dream games.

* Not performing a countdown from the bench when you are near the ball handler and the shot clock is counting down to zero.
* Having Betty Lennox play point guard at times.
* Putting in Ann Strother to make a critical inbounds pass late in the game when Strother had been sitting on the bench the entire game until that point.

Has the poor monkey been violated egregiously during Dream games? When you're looking for bad things, you'll find them, and you might have a tendency to ignore the good. However, when you're 0-12, it becomes very hard to point out what is "good".

(* * *)

I'll review Simmons's points on what are his supposed signs of a bad coach:

1. Lousy record in close games.
2. Too many turnovers.
3. Too many offensive rebounds allowed.
4. Not enough winning streaks.
5. Opposing three point percentage.
6. Lousy record on the road.
7. Lack of a consistent rotation.
8. Downright stupidity.

Many of the things there can be found in the statistical records.

1. Lousy record? 0-2, and the New York loss was particularly frustrating.
2. Turnovers? We're 12th. But Betty Lennox sure turns over the ball a lot.
3. Offensive rebounds? We're just horrible, at the bottom of the league.
4. Not enough winning streaks? Yes, because we haven't had a win.
5. Opposing three point percentage? The high point. We're sixth in three point percentage against.
6. Lousy record on the road? Yes. Lousy record at home, too.
7. Lack of a consistent rotation. I don't have a stat to look at this, but I'd say "yes".
8. Downright stupidity. Message board posters will continue to note humps of the ol' monkey.

My conclusions will come in a future article.

Article About Survival of WNBA Teams

I've just finished reading an article called "The Demise of the WNBA in Florida" which discusses the two former WNBA teams in Flordia, the Miami Sol and the Orlando Miracle. The Miracle still exist as the Connecticut Sun; the Sol were disbanded after the 2003 season.

The point of the article, written for The Sports Journal, discusses the degree to which newspaper coverage influences the survival of a franchise. There are definitely some interesting facts to be discovered.

First, that the coverage of women's sports in general in newspapers is not only poor, it's miserably poor. Here are some percentages over time regarding total column space devoted to women's sports:

1900: 1.2 percent
1925-50: 4 percent
1975: 7.1 percent
1996: 11 percent

Clearly, there's been a lot of progress, but also a long way to go. Whenever women's sports is the subject, coverage in general remains quite poor.

Part of that reason is because of the "big four" in sports: baseball, football, basketball (NBA) and hockey. Those are the sports that drive purchase of newspapers by their respective fans. Thirty percent of newspapers are purchased by people primarily interested in the sports section. The impression from the article is that the fans of those sports wouldn't mind if the entire sports section of the newspaper was devoted to their particular sport, and their sport alone. This leaves no room for women's sports, much less "second tier sports" played by men that are not one of the big four above.

The second interesting fact is that actual amount of paper - physical pages - assigned to the sports section changes. The WNBA makes a smart decision in scheduling its season when few of the "big four" sports are active. However, this is also the time of year when the masters of the paper decide, "Okay, nothing important is going on in sports. Let's take two pages off the Sports section and give it to Lifestyles."

Still, for this brief amount of time, the WNBA can elbow its way into the paper. However, mid-July becomes a critical time of year. Why? Football training camps open. Every paper wants to cover football, and the WNBA has to take the hit because of that. Coverage of WNBA games becomes reduced.

The major focus of the article is how the print media and the WNBA interact. Is it the case that "the WNBA isn't popular, therefore no one covers it" (the jock/fratboy viewpoint) or "no one will cover the WNBA, therefore it can't become popular" (the feminist viewpoint)?

I agree with the article that sports editors act as gatekeepers - they decide how much of the sports section gets devoted to any particular sport. These sports editors - probably 95 percent of whom are men, if not more - most likely reflect the biases of the society they come from. To claim that their perceptions on the relative worth of men's and women's sports would not come into play - in other words to claim that these sports editors live in a vacuum and are completely uninfluenced by their cultures - would be a ludicrous assertion.

The editors claim "hey, we just give the readers what they want to read". Then again, that's the same argument used by television executives when we see the 479th reality show on television - "we just give people what they want". Editors fail to make the jump that one of the reasons the readers come to like particular sports is visibility, and that by acting as gatekeepers, they get to decide what is visible. They influence what the readers want to read.

There was a glimmer of hope, however. The article stated that in both Miami and Orlando, rather than assigning the WNBA beat to the peach-fuzzed kid out of college - the person to whom you give the unpopular beats to - both papers actually hired someone to cover the WNBA, and those hires were people who had backgrounds either in women's college basketball or women's sports in general.

Just remember what Gandhi said: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." The WNBA is in the second of Gandhi's steps in its struggle for survival. (In some necks of the woods, in step three.) But the battle for acceptance is going to take a long time, and it won't be easy.

2008/12 - Mystics 72, Dream 61

"If that was your first exposure to the WNBA, you'd never come back."
--TonyL222, on Rebkell

I always have a great deal of reluctance writing the game summaries now that we're in a 12-game losing streak. Writing them depresses me a bit. Obviously, I love the Dream and I want to be the WNBA be successful in Atlanta, but how successful are we going to be if we keep losing games like this? I'm not going to walk out, but I wonder if others will.

Yep. Twelve straight losses, you read that right. That is third in terms of all time consecutive losses. Here are the records, as far as I know:

2001-02 Portland Fire: 14 (I believe that the Fire closed out 2001 with 11 straight losses, then lost their first three of 2002)
2006 Chicago Sky: 13
2002 Detroit Shock: 13 (losses from opening day)
2008 Atlanta Dream: 12 (losses from opening day)

Some people might not count the Fire's record as it's spread out over two seasons. However, the Dream might tie the record on Sunday against the Shock.

How do I know? I just hooked up to NBA TV and watched the Lynx-Shock game while following the Dream-Mystics game on the computer. In both circumstances, I couldn't believe what I was seeing/watching/hearing.

The Lynx-Shock game ended in overtime, with Deanna Nolan dropping over 40 points on the Lynx at Detroit. Whereas in Washington, the Ravenwood Finishing School was playing the Bluebelle Girls Academy. Both teams shot under forty percent in the first half. The score was 23-22 after halftime, which is basically one quarter of any game played by the Phoenix Mercury.

The Mystics, furthermore, scored 15 turnoversr in the first half. As Kathy Orton of the Washington Post said, "It was nearly as many turnovers at halftime as they manage in a game."

Combine those two facts, and the Dream should have led by 20 at halftime. (Well, maybe 15.) Instead, they led by one.

At least, the Dream had three players in double figures. The two usual suspects (Lennox and Latta) and Tamera Young, who scored 11 points and six rebounds. Betty Lennox was one away from a double-double, with 18 points and nine rebounds.

After those three? Nothing. It was a repeat of the Houston-Atlanta debacle, where the bench fell asleep. The remaining six scores combined for 16 points. Camille Little played seven minutes without scoring a single point.

The Dream shot 32.8 percent from the field, which I believe is our second lowest showing all season, after Los Angeles euthenized us for 26 percent.

Our turnovers were no better than those of the Mystics. Tree Rollins screamed at the Mystics in halftime, and they gave up the rock only five times in the second half. At the end of the game, each team had 20 turnovers.

Even with all of that, we were still ahead 46-45 as late as the late third quarter. Then Monique Currie scored the next six points to give Washington the five point lead. After fighting back to bring it to a five point gap again, 65-60, with 4:40 remaining, the Dream proceeded to miss its next six shots:

4:04 Lacy Jump Shot: Missed
3:36 Young Jump Shot: Missed
2:58 Lennox Jump Shot: Missed
1:56 Lennox 3pt Shot: Missed
1:40 Latta Jump Shot: Missed
0:14 Lovelace 3pt Shot: Missed

Four minutes, forty seconds of play. Six missed shots. Six personal fouls. Feenstra fouls out. As Harry Doyle, the announcer of the Indians in the movie Major League might say, "Feenstra fouls out. (Turns away from mike.) Thank God."

The two factors that killed us:

1) Alana Beard came back after being benched in the second quarter. Beard scored zero points in the first half, 18 in the second.
2) The Dream basically packed up and went home in the final five minutes of the game. Maybe there was something good on TV back at the hotel. Maybe they wanted to catch Lynx-Shock in overtime.

The Dream get the Mystics one more time this year. That game will be Friday, July 25th in Atlanta. I just don't want to have to wait any more for our next win.

Fans are mad on the message boards. They're mad at Coach Meadors. They're mad at Katie Feenstra, who has come to typify our woes at the center position. As for Coach Meadors, I'll have more to say about that in my series of "Who is at Fault?" articles.

I will never give up on the Dream. They're my team. I bleed powder blue. What do I suggest as a solution to our woes? Maybe Coach Meadors needs to contact the coach of the Atlanta Diamonds in the Women's Blue Chip league. They're 2-0.

Looking ahead to the game on Sunday against the Shock, do I have any suggestions? "Prayer, Mr. Saavik. The Klingons don't take prisoners."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jambi the Genie Says....

Jambi the Genie has gone 13-11 this year (with the help of This may be his last chance before we lock his box!

Dream @ Mystics. The Mystics extend their winning streak, as five Mystics score in double figures. Washington 100, Atlanta 85.

Lynx @ Shock. The Lynx shoot over fifty percent from the field. Minnesota 91, Shock 79.

Sparks @ Silver Stars. Candace Parker gets another triple-double. Los Angeles 95, San Antonio 86.

Sky @ Mercury. Cappie and Diana lead the way to another win by the defending champions. Phoenix 70, Sky 53.

Sun @ Monarchs. After their walloping by the Mercury, the Sun find their bearings quickly. Connecticut 82, Sacramento 67.

Fever @ Storm. The Fever get an amazing victory in the final minute in a classic game. Indiana 69, Seattle 67.

Who is at Fault, Part II

I'm going to continue an earlier entry which asks the question "Is Coach Meadors the reason why the Dream are doing so badly? Or is it the team that's not up to par?

Offensive rebounds. Bill Simmons's uses an offensive rebound differential stat:

Your offensive rebounds - Your opponent's offensive rebounds.

I consider that stat just a bit suspect. Offensive rebounds are all about second chance points. However, your offensive rebounds are basically how many second chances you get at a shot. When you subtract the opponent's offensive rebounds, you're taken away your opponent's chances. I don't quite understand why these two should combine, except as a measure of general rebounding aggressiveness or toughness.

Here are the results:

Off Reb/Game
Off Reb of Opp/Game
New York
Los Angeles
San Antonio

The first smell test for a statistic is "do the results jibe with my common sense?" In this case, they do. We'd expect Detroit to be at the top of the table and Atlanta at the bottom. What I didn't suspect is how far down along the bottom we'd be. Note the big jump between the Mercury's difference (-1.3) and the Dream's (-2.4)

However, much of this isn't Meadors's fault. We've had problems for several reasons -- Erika DeSouza is injured. Izi Castro Marques was off playing for the Brazilian team. There have been gaps in the rebounding game due to the fact that the players we expected to be there weren't there.

Some might point to the Ann Wauters/Camille Little trade as a mistake. However,

1) There was no guarantee that Wauters would play. She's sat out seasons before. She declined to play for the Liberty. She's European, and she can simply pick and choose what WNBA team she wants to play for. Do we have any guarantee that she would have even reported to the Dream?

2) We get a 2009 first round draft choice. That's going to help build the team.

I think even with the bad rebounding, we have to give Coach Meadors a pass. If the rebounding stays bad...? There are still over 20 more games to play. Give it time.

Other Linky Goodness

A new link has been added to the message forum. You can go there to hear what rabid fans are saying about that team of all-stars that lives in that wet northwestern city.

At National Sports, a new feature has been added to their matchup software. Would you like to play out the 2004 Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament to see if another team walks away with the gold? Click on the link, make the right choices, and go to it!

It Happened Elsewhere!

From Wednesday night....

Fever 83, Liberty 69. The home team Fever (6-4) outmuscled the visiting Liberty (5-5) on the boards, 38-28. Katie Douglas lead the Liberty with 16 points and 8 rebounds. It was the fourth time in a row that Indiana has beaten New York. Allison Feaster of the Fever scored her 354th three pointer, putting her seventh on the WNBA's all time list.

Mystics 67, Comets 63. The Comets found the visiting Mystics (4-7) poor sports as Washington went on an 10-0 run late in the fourth quarter to eclipse the hometown Comets (3-8). With under a minute left, Houston had cut the Mystics lead to just two points, but Hamchetou Maiga-Ba, Michelle Snow, and Tina Thompson all missed either shots or free throws and blew their chances at taking control of the game.

Mercury 102, Sun 81. The hometown Mercury (3-6) made 22 of 23 free throws and shot over 50 percent from the field to defeat the Sun (9-3), the WNBA's team with the most wins. Diana Taurasi of the Mercury scored 32 points as last year's WNBA champoins made it look easy. It was the Sun's second loss in three games.

Sparks 80, Sky 67. Four Sky (3-6) players scored in double figures...but five Sparks (8-2) players crossed into double digits, led by Lisa Leslie. Kiesha Brown failed to score a single point, but added nine rebounds to the Sparks's cause. The Sky were outrebounded 41-24 as the Sparks got their fourth straight win.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

2008/11 - Silver Stars 81, Dream 66

Another day, another bad game by Atlanta. We seem to be masters at finding more ways to lose ballgames. The loss brings up to 0-11 on the year and we are just two games away from the record of the Detroit Shock. (Guess who we play on our 13th game? Hint: This motor city team was mentioned in the previous sentence.)

My thoughts, brief as they are:

1) Our first shot was a "stuck bucket" shot -- one of those shots where the ball wedges between the rim and the backboard. We knew it was going to be an omen, but not for whom.

2) Stacey Lovelace had an amazing game. Thirty-one minutes, 18 points, 5 rebounds. She scored six points in the first quarter. Although, I suspect, one of her baskets was a "walk-in".

3) Every game there is a focus on a fan favorite. The Dream, being no fools, put Tamera Young on the scoreboard. If she can keep it up, she'll be a future WNBA superstar, but she might have hurt her knee during this game. Fans are holding their breath that this is not the case. She went back out on the floor anyway.

4) Then, in the second quarter, we got the shaft. The Silver Stars put Ann Wauters and Ruth Riley in, and the Dream were forced to figure out some way behind these two gigantic fenceposts. We traded the rights to Ann Wauters to the Silver Stars for Camille Little, I believe. That will give the Dream two first round draft picks in 2009, but somehow I feel that we got hosed.

5) End of first half:

Betty Lennox: 2 points
Ivory Latta: 1 point

I think the last time either of those players were held to two points or less in a half was in preschool. (Hey...remember heaving the basketball up at the goal in second grade?)

6) In the third quarter, it continued to go awry. Tamera Young picked up her fourth foul. Lennox was trying to get back into the swing of things, but tried to make some freak shot from under the backboard that Shaq himself couldn't have made.

7) They put Ann Strother back in the game in the third. I think she fouled someone less than a minute after they put her on the court. She got less than two minutes in the game. I'm beginning to suspect...hard...that Ann won't be with us next year? (How long does a WNBA contract last, anyway?)

8) More crap in the fourth quarter. Lacy picks up a couple of fouls to start off the fourth. Lennox picks up foul number four on the way to a nine-point game. The only bright spot in the fourth was, oddly enough, Feenstra who made three out of four free throws in the quarter.

9) The refs love Hammon. She gets called for traveling in the fourth she confers with one of the referees. Clearly, the refs have seen the error of their ways. The call gets changed to a "jump ball" call. When you join the Hammonite cult, superpowers come with the package. It's like being a Jedi.

("You saw no traveling. There must be a jump ball." "I saw no traveling. There must be a jump ball.")

10) There were at least a couple of Hammon fans in the crowd carrying signs saying,
"WE SUPPORT HAMMON", and "HAMMON IS MY GOLD". Well, Hammon had nine assists so we can certainly call her a "medium of exchange."

10a) Number of Dream signs sighted in the crowd: zero.

11) The crowd was slightly over 6,000. Most of them came in in the second quarter. Atlanta traffic was as rotten as usual. It took me 40 minutes to get to the game. And the people behind me were kids...who were cheering they're little hearts out for the Powder Blues.

12) While driving home, I saw someone wearing a gold vest, with blond hair and bushy eyebrows, walking down the sidewalk with a realllly tall girl. Damned if it didn't look like...Becky Hammon. I thought it took three hours to recover from one of these games, but Becky's out on the town in thirty minutes. (It's superpowers, I'm telling ya.)

13) We shot 36.1 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from the free throw line. Those are San Antonio's stats (well, the field goal percentages are anyway). As for San Antonio, they shot over fifty percent.

Well, to quote a rap song:

For all you suckers - liars, your cheap amplifiers
You crossed up wires are always starting fires
You grown up criers - now here's a pair of pliers
Get a job like your mother - I heard she fixes old dryers
You have no desires - your father fixes tires
You try to sell ya equipment - but you get no buyers
It's you they never hire - you're never on flyers
Cause you and your crew - is only known as good triers

Somehow, I felt like Chuck D. was dissing the Dream. Could have been worse. Could have been Flavor Flav. The Dream is good triers. And that's about all.

Who is at Fault?

Note: Today might be just as busy as yesterday. So I'm going to start this post, and I will probably finish it later. And yes, I know we're still waiting for lots of things -- an analysis of the Dream's game against the Silver Stars, other WNBA outcomes, and the like. We might have to wait for some time if work keeps busy. I'm writing on my lunch hour.

Bill Simmons might be a jerk when it comes to the WNBA, and he might have unfortunately popularized the "more about my personal life and pop-culture tastes than actual game analysis" style of sport journalism, but every now and then, he writes a gem.

With some Atlanta fans turning against coach Marynell Meadors, I want to know if she's really just as bad as they say she is, or is it just that the team is bad and there isn't much she can do about it. You give Casey Stengel the 1962 Mets, and he's going to lose games. Maybe no coach could have made chicken salad with the chicken...stuff on the court that the Dream is providing.

Simmons, in an article about former Celtics coach Doc Rivers called "What's Up, Doc" lists what he believes makes a bad coach. The good thing about his list is that most of it can be hunted up in the statistics; the stats don't lie, but we have to decide how to interprent what they mean.

His bad-coach metric consists of anaylzing the following:

Lousy record in close games, or games with a final margin of five points or less. He does't provided much of an analysis of why this margin-of-victory stat is important.

The Dream have only had two such games: an 85-81 loss to Minnesota and an 81-77 loss to the Liberty. The Dream are dead last in average margin of victory, losing games by an average of 13 points. The first loss was really decided in the second quarter and the Lynx had to shoot the lights out to win it. However, if we're looking for Games Thrown Away, it would be the game against the Liberty, where the Dream turned a six-point lead going into the fourth quarter into a four point loss.

Turnover average. According to Simmons, well-coached teams don't turn the ball over. The Dream are 12th in the league with 18.7 turnovers per game. Two other teams in the bottom half of the NBA are actually worse, with the Monarchs actually an additional turnover worse than the Dream. In terms of "turnover versus", we turn the ball over on an average of two times a game more than our opponents, which puts us at 11th. It could be worse. The Sparks give the ball to their opponents three times a game, worst in the league.

I had a nice rant about rebounding coming up, but the WNBA site doesn't break down rebounds into offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds. So I might have to do that myself.

Lunchtime is coming to an end. Check in later!