Saturday, June 3, 2017

June 2nd, 2017: Dallas at New York

Just the Facts, Ma’am: The New York Liberty roared back in the third quarter and hung on late to beat the Dallas Wings 93-89. Tina Charles had a game- and career-high 36 points to go with 10 rebounds; Shavonte Zellous added 27 points, and Kiah Stokes had 13 points and 15 rebounds. Skylar Diggins-Smith had 19 points to lead four Wings in double figures.

For fashion disasters, the judgment of Mama Taj, worrisome guards, trials by fire, and getting off my lawn, join your intrepid blogger after the jump.

Why do the four-day weeks always seem longer? You’d think they wouldn’t be, right? And yet here we are. At least it's Friday. We can make it. I believe in you. I don’t know if I believe in me, but I believe in you.

Let’s take a moment to offer up prayers for the recovery and/or soul of my beloved Jocelyn, who may be dead or dying. She wouldn’t start up this morning, but I’m hoping I can fix that with a system restore. She’s been a good computer, sleek and beautiful and fast. As useful and lightweight as Kim (my Samsung tablet) and Manuel (the Lenovo laptop I’m typing these notes on) have been, things just won’t be the same without Jocelyn.

The difference between a 7:00 start and a 7:30 start is so stark it's not even funny. Even if Dallas did pretty much blow everyone off. That includes the two girls in Dallas green. Y’all. People are willingly wearing that putrid color you claim as your primary, and you ignore them? You deserve your bad karma. (Except for Chong, Christmas-Kelly, and Davis.)

It’s going to be a torch night. I didn’t think that this was that big a matchup, but you do you.

Hello to the Irish fans down in the front row of our section. I hope you and the rest of our visitors enjoy their visit!

No Timeless Torches, but we get Lil’ Torches instead. This is an acceptable exchange.

At halftime, it’s 50-45 Dallas, and I feel like it could have been worse.

Cierra Burdick is utterly adorable, between her dance moves with Amanda Zahui B and her patting the back of her hair as if to make sure it was still there when the torch flared off.

Shavonte. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. I know you’re frustrated. But stop talking. Just. Stop talking. Certainly stop talking to the Dallas bench.

I feel like the picture-perfect crossover followed by the airball 3 is as succinct a synopsis of Bria Hartley’s season as we’ll find this year.

Stupid Dallas fan frat boys.

Stupid jerks doing the Bleacher Creature roll call for the Wings.

Stupid ugly Dallas uniforms.

Not for nothing, but seats in our area are $46 per game. I have issues with people who pay $46 to go to a Liberty game and watch a Yankee statcast during a one-possession game.

(Peripherally related, I think I have my new sig line over at Reb’s.)

This was entirely too close for comfort, and I can’t shake the feeling that we got out of it as much by the Wings’ issues as we did by Tina Charles Being Awesome And Doing Everything So Well She Deserves All The Capital Letters. There were recoveries. But there’s a problem. There’s a big problem. But we’ll get to that.

Seriously, Dallas, is that red accent supposed to represent the bleeding your eyes do if they have to stare at those green uniforms for any length of time? I’m normally all about getting away from blue uniforms, but Dallas has a really nice and somewhat unique blue I’d like to see them use more.

Saniya Chong still has a lot of work to do, but I like her instincts on the floor. She got outplayed by her Liberty rookie counterpart, or at least outhustled. She got a surprisingly big hand from the crowd; either there are more UConn fans among the Liberty crowd than I thought or the population of Ossining was temporarily transported to Manhattan. I see why they kept her, though. She’s technically sound. Kayla Thornton sort of came off as the poor man’s Glory Johnson; there were a couple of sequences where I had to double-check the number to see who made the play. She’s not quite as a lot of things as Johnson is: not quite as tall, not quite as athletic, not quite as quick. She got into foul trouble in a hurry in the third quarter. Kaela Davis is a very nice shooter, and there’s no reason we should be leaving her open.

I don’t have an Internet connection right now, so I can’t go back in time and look at my notes from the times I’ve seen LSU play. But I’m pretty sure at some point I saw Theresa Plaisance in college, and I’m pretty sure I commented on her soft touch and long range ability back then. If an untrained fan sitting in the stands can spot it, I would think trained professionals would have it on the scouting report. And yet we kept leaving her open for threes (and we’re lucky one of them wasn’t a four-point play; the ref must have decided that Tina was giving her a high five for the basket). Glory Johnson brought a lot of speed and athleticism to the floor; there were several sequences where she was the one bringing the ball up with long, loping strides, and she wasn’t half bad at it. She kept moving, especially on defense, tipping away passes. Karima Christmas-Kelly appears to have misplaced her jumper, and attempted to make up for the loss with reaching and grabbing. As much talking as was coming from the Liberty end (and there was plenty) she was doing more than her fair share to the refs. She took a couple of hits, though I only saw the aftermath of them and thus cannot pass judgment on who did what and why would they do such a thing. She was very physical. She’s a Bad Girl, but without the Detroit part of the pedigree.

I don’t like Skylar Diggins-Smith, but she does have moves. (I actually dislike the cult of personality around her more than her personally, but I also dislike players who cultivate said cults. Anyway.) As pretty as she is on offense- the long jumper, the floater in the lane, the drop passes- I think I like watching her more on defense. There’s something about the quick movement of her feet and the way she holds her hands out that just works. But also, I am a sucker for defense and have been since jump. Allisha Gray wasn’t afraid to shoot, which is a good sign for Dallas’s future. No, really! You know she’s going to be a big part of it, and given the trouble the Liberty have had with getting players to shoot, it’s sort of refreshing to see a rookie who isn’t.

I might have had the successful three-point shooter out on the floor in the final minute or two instead of the hothead with five fouls, but I’m not chill enough to be Fred Williams.

Rebecca Allen got some brief run in the first half, hardly worth mentioning, and Bill didn’t go back to her. She’s playing like someone who’s lost confidence in herself, and while I can’t say I’m surprised, I hope she finds her footing. Cierra Burdick does exist! She played briefly in the second half, and they were unmemorable minutes. But I’m glad she’s okay. Amanda Zahui B got first half run, but in the second half she was sort of balancing on a board on the sideline between dance numbers, so I think she might be dealing with some kind of nagging foot injury. Foot injuries are not to be messed with, especially for posts.

Welcome back, Lindsay Allen, and we’re just going to throw you straight into the fire, no pressure whatsoever. She was first off the bench (though that was partially out of necessity, not out of rotation) and she acquitted herself about as well as could be expected with a rookie in her first game back. She’s got to be more careful with her hands, and we could use a little more offensive aggression from her, but she’s shown me more in one game than she did in three preseason games. Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe got the bulk of the minutes at all the forward positions, and I love the activity she brings to the floor. She tips balls and she makes plays happen.

Tina Charles, my goodness. She knows she has to be the center of attention, and she knows she’s going to be getting doubled and tripled pretty much every time she even thinks too hard about the ball, and she still put up a reasonably efficient career-high with a double-double to boot. We’re so lucky to have her. The only quibble I have is that she needs to be more careful with her fouls- we need her too much for her to have to be off the floor or backing off on defense. Kiah Stokes brought strong interior defense and rebounding. It was the kind of game we needed out of her; it was the kind of game we’re going to keep needing out of her. Shavonte Zellous had a fantastic offensive game, both shooting and driving. She had some defensive lapses that I found disturbing- you can’t have your hands down on Diggins-Smith. Also, Z, it is bad form to yell swear words so loudly that people ten rows up can hear them... especially if you did, in fact, commit a blatant reach-in foul on Christmas-Kelly.

Bria Hartley did better as a shooting guard than as a point guard, which is reassuring in one sense (that she’s not a complete walking disaster) and distressing in another (well, we did kind of bring her in with the expectation that she was going to be able to run point for at least a few minutes). Playing her as the shooting guard makes her more effective, but someone still has to do the ballhandling. And her shot has been inconsistent. And then there’s the other issue in the backcourt, the elephant in the room we’ve all been too distracted to discuss because there are too many other issues to count. I love what Sugar Rodgers has done for the Libs, but this year, she’s been too inconsistent, taking steps back to the volume shooter she was at Georgetown instead of the more measured player she’s been for the last year or so. I’ll give her credit for her defense and passing, but we’re not going to survive many games where Sugar’s first points are the game’s last points. She has to make better decisions on the floor.

Refs somehow managed to call a boatload of fouls and still let a ridiculous amount of contact by both teams go uncalled. It got physical frequently and often. I’m surprised no one got hurt.

Survive and advance. Three rotation players down, that’s all you can ask. It’s unrealistic to expect Shavonte to shoot like that again, or for Kiah to drop another double-double with such emphasis.

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