Thursday, June 8, 2017

June 7th, 2017: Atlanta at New York

Just the Facts, Ma’am: The New York Liberty kept on rolling in their 76-61 win over the Atlanta Dream. Tina Charles had 18 points and 15 rebounds to lead New York, with Kiah Stokes adding a game-high 17 rebounds. Tiffany Hayes and Brittney Sykes each had 14 points to pace the Dream.

For truce, buffer room, unexpected flashbacks, impressive youth, and guarded optimism, join your intrepid and comfortable blogger after the jump.

School Day.

Teams love it. The league loves it. There are even misguided fan souls who love it.

I? Am not one of those. I don’t like children. I don’t like large groups of children. I don’t like directionless screaming. I don’t like having to schedule vacation days, or else waste a $46 ticket, to be surrounded by thousands of screaming children. If I had my way, there would be no School Days, or Camp Days, or Kids Days. You want to do stuff for the kids? Fine. Why should season subscribers have to pay for it? Do an event that is exclusively for schools, not accessible to season ticket holders, no matter their VIP level.

To the three cops at Fulton Street: sorry, you missed the train, the doors are closed, y’all have to wait for the next train like everyone else. (Given that one of them was carrying a folding table, either they were returning from a shift as random search checkpoint personnel or on their way to a wrestling match.)

I am not comforted by the chaperones of the group next door using their thundersticks to mete out discipline. Y’all claim to be a leadership academy?

Well, this is going swimmingly so far. At halftime, the Liberty are up 47-29. Tina Charles is doing Tina Charles things, the bench has been productive, the kids around me are either engaged with the game or being quiet about their disinterest, and no one’s hit me with a thunderstick.

I could do without the anti-bullying slam poetry at the half, but this is what makes it E/I programming.

I’m starting to get the feeling that Layshia Clarendon is not a morning person.

Brittney Sykes is kind of adorable, in a refreshing honesty sort of way: as the half ended, she was smacking herself in the forehead for whatever mistake she made that led to the foul by Williams and the free throws for Shavonte.

I am totally here for Kyle O’Quinn’s mom kicking butt on the dance-cam.

There’s something bizarrely ironic or hipster or something about one of the “oversized” jerseys for Dress and Dribble being a Schimmel jersey. (And the other one was a Maddie jersey. I mean, really.)

Someone needs to get Mike W. a pronunciation guide. This is a recording. I think he had three different pronunciations for Damiris Dantas’s last name so far. We ended at four, and maybe the first one was correct.

I don’t think Atlanta are morning people. They rely very heavily on youth, and when that youth does not serve them, it’s going to be a long day.

Matee Ajavon was already working the ref before she even checked into the game. She was a sparkplug for the Dream in the second half, taking the rotation spot that had belonged to Meighan Simmons in the first half. She was aggressive at both ends of the floor. Meighan Simmons still likes to shoot, but to be honest, I missed about half her second stint on the floor because I was tweeting about the game (which will show me not to tweet during games, but it was picking up on something I started during a timeout). Brianna Kiesel is slight, and fast, and gritty. I admire that kind of player.

So are we sure that Brittney Sykes isn’t actually Deanna Nolan with a little plastic surgery and a fake ID? Because holy crap on a stick, she has the same two skinny braids behind the thick headband, the same build, the same ridiculous vertical, the same drive in the lane, the same fallaway jumper. I am genuinely weirded out by this. She doesn’t have the consistent athleticism that Tweety had, but she’s also torn her ACL multiple times, I can forgive that. I managed to miss her when Syracuse played at St. John’s, so I had no idea what I was getting into. Damiris Dantas, in addition to the indignity of having her name mispronounced all night (source: I went and asked a Brazilian), could not get her shots to fall, either in the lane or from the midrange. She had looks, and they simply would not fall. It was a bad day for her; it happens.

I know I joked about Layshia Clarendon not being a morning person, but I swear there’s something to it. She didn’t play great at all, but she was more out of it in the first half than the second half. In the second half, she was at least able to create a little bit, both for herself and her teammates. Overall, she didn’t seem to have the control and command over the game that she’s shown in Atlanta’s televised games this season. I really don’t like Tiffany Hayes. I respect her shooting, and her willingness to perform full-body sacrifice at all times. She’s a heck of a player. But at the same time, I could do without the flopping, and the milking of every time she hits the floor, and the dramatic overreaction every time there’s a call or non-call that she disagrees with, whether she was involved on the play or not. Tip, sometimes your teammates need to fight their own battles.

Bria Holmes managed to make a fantastic impression without hitting the broad side of a barn, which is pretty impressive when you think about it. She showed a lot of grit and hustle going after loose balls and tipping away rebounds. I love what she brings to the floor, and when she hits more shots she’ll be even more dangerous. Sancho Lyttle doesn’t have that spring in her step anymore, and her jumper is not the weapon she thinks it is, but it is still a very bad idea to attempt to pass over the top of her. Elizabeth Williams got bodied up all night, and it showed. She took a lot of contact inside, knocking her shots off balance. She was just as physical defensively, and she’s a solid defensive player. I like watching hard-nosed post players at work.

I originally thought this was going to be a game where we found out what Atlanta was made of, and if that was the case, then they’re not made out of very much except smoke and mirrors. But I think it’s more likely that this game was the aberration: they ran headlong into a defensive post tandem that was in the mood to prove themselves and a bench that was able to rise to the challenge.

I would very much like for Lindsay Allen to stop committing stupid fouls, but she’s a rookie; that kind of thing is to be expected. She had some nifty passes in this one. I think she’s more comfortable with the starters than she is with the other reserves; I think she has a better sense of what her role is when she’s subbing for Sugar or Bria. Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe seems to have a knack for drawing trouble, or something, because this is the second game in a row where someone’s done their best to put a forearm in her throat. Lyttle was all up in her business, and I don’t know why. I mean, she’s stubborn, and she’s a little grabby, but not to the point of wanting to kick her ass that badly. Love her hustle. Love Rebecca Allen’s offense, but she’s got to play better defense. I’m not asking her to turn into DPOY or anything, but as the saying goes, defense is played with the feet, not the hands; she’s not doing enough to get herself in position to make the plays she needs to make, so she ends up reaching, and fouling, and causing Coach Laimbeer to throw out his arms and toss back his head in dismay. You know the pose. We all know the pose.

I’d also really like for Amanda Zahui B to stop making stupid mistakes on the floor so that she can be more than just a soaker-up of stray minutes at the ends of quarters to keep Tina from picking up cheap fouls and falling over (not necessarily in that order). I also want to know what’s up with Cierra Burdick, because she’s barely playing and her hustle seems to have disappeared in those precious seconds she does get.

Is it safe to say that Kiah Stokes might be back? She wasn’t the offensive threat today she was the last couple of games, but she was ferocious on the boards (Tina had to throw up the “aieee, don’t hit me in the face!” forearms under the basket a couple of times). The away-from-the-ball offensive fouls are starting to become a problem, especially since I don’t know what she’s doing (since they’re away from the ball and all that). But, most importantly, she’s being the physical bruiser we need next to Tina. Tina Charles got off to a hot start- she slowed down later on as the defense started to wear her down with doubles and triples, just draping themselves on her like so much laundry. I think the burden is starting to wear her down a bit- even though everyone else has been stepping up around her, she’s still expected to be the star, and needs to be if everyone else is going to have space to operate. Shavonte Zellous continues to be exceptionally passionate about all calls and non-calls that she believes should have gone in the Liberty’s favor. I keep thinking about the Barenaked Ladies line about wearing your heart on your sleeve and having a habit of taking off your shirt. (I’m paraphrasing.) She’s been handling a lot of the point guard duties- bringing the ball up the floor, initiating the offense, that kind of thing, and she’s surprisingly good at it. I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting that.

As awesome as the three Sugar Rodgers hit from somewhere in the vicinity of Newport News was, it was the result of a broken play, and you could see Coach Laimbeer’s “no, no, no, YES!” reaction as she shot it and it went in. I think she’s starting to find a little of her confidence again, though. She’s taking shots in the flow of the offense- they might be quick ones, but most of them have been good quick ones. I’m okay with quick shots if they aren’t just panic heaves with no one in position to rebound. Bria Hartley is definitely better off the ball. This was not her day, but we survived.

On one hand, I appreciate the clarity of Janetta Graham’s communication on the floor- she was crisp on her calls and signals. On the other hand, it looked like she was trying too hard to ensure that the coaches respected her authoritah. I wonder if that has to do with being a fairly young female ref dealing with two NBA alumni coaches. I’m really, really not sure what was up with all the offensive fouls.

T-shirts are serious business, man. I don’t get it. People attack those shirts like piranhas.

Kids weren’t digging the Timeless Torches. Their School Day routine isn’t one of the strongest they have, though. (I do think it’s weird we don’t have a regular dance team- we have kids and we have older dancers, but we don’t have the usual complement of svelte, toned, twenty-and-thirty somethings.)

The difficulty level goes up from here. But I think we’re starting to rise to the challenge. I do love this team.

No comments: