Monday, July 17, 2017

July 16th, 2017: Washington at New York

We won. This is a thing I like.

For anything resembling details, join your intrepid and lazy blogger after the jump.

Here we go again, back at the Garden as the Liberty take on what’s left of the Washington Mystics.

Mel Greenberg over by the Mystics bench, getting his dose of Philadelphia from Marianne Stanley.

I kind of want that seafoam green jacket Brittany Boyd is wearing as she dribbles in the courtside seats, but it’s a little tight and form-fitting for my style. She’s been discovered by one of the group sales groups. She still looks kinda lonely, though. Don’t worry, Boyd. This too shall pass.

They moved the flags, which is very confusing during anthems.

At halftime, the Liberty are up 45-29, and Washington looks demoralized. Someone lit a fire under the Liberty, and it shows. Almost all the loose balls are going New York’s way. The hustle has been fantastic. We questioned the change in the Liberty’s starting lineup, but it seems to be working.

I’m really not sure what these refs are smoking, but I don’t think it's legal in the state of New York in the present time. I think during one review, Bill and Mike were going to buy each other commiseration beers.

EDD first sighted at halftime, still in the boot. Yeah, I think we’re going to have a couple of replacement All-Stars...

We needed a game like that. I don’t know how much of an indicator it is for the rest of the season, since Washington looked pretty shaken up, but we needed to get out and run, and we needed to have players other than Tina prove they could step up.

Thibault went all the way down to the end of his bench and gave extended run in the second half to Jennie Simms and in both halves to Asia Taylor. I was unimpressed with Simms, and only slightly less unimpressed with Taylor, though Taylor at least had a good look at the basket (she missed it, though). Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had the green light from beyond the arc. Something about the way she handles herself on the court reminds me of a poor man’s Kahleah Copper, which is funny, because they’re so different stylistically.

I don’t know if I would have given Tianna Hawkins the green light to shoot quite as much as she did. I get that she was a mismatch, and she was hitting early from the outside, but I don’t think she was the best option. She missed too many shots on the inside- contested, but she should have had the power to put them in. Natasha Cloud brings an interesting, different dimension at the point, and I wonder if she’ll get the start next game. Might make more sense. She had a nice block on Rebecca Allen.

I’m really glad Kristi Toliver couldn’t hit water falling out of a boat in this one, because she had reasonably good looks. She really seemed out of it. I don’t know if it was her playing out of position, or if she just wasn’t taking the slow start well, but she really didn’t seem to have her head in the game, especially on defense. Ivory Latta was busting her ass, especially in the second half when the Mystics tried to string together a comeback, but time is starting to catch up with her- she looked a step slower than her brain.

I can’t say enough about Tierra Ruffin-Pratt’s hustle in this game. She was one of the few Mystics whose head was in the game- she wasn’t great shooting, but that’s never been her strength. She hit the floor hard and often for loose balls. Krystal Thomas was solid in the middle, picking up rebounds and blocking shots. She’s not a superstar, but she’s a brilliant example of the right person in the right place in the right time in the right system. Emma Meesseman lit us up from outside, and drove the lane with beautiful changes of pace. She reached a lot on rebounds and defense, and that didn’t help Washington; when your most effective player picks up her fourth foul early in the third quarter, you’re not going to have a good day.

I think everyone in the arena who wasn’t wearing red was rooting for Amanda Zahui B to finally get one of those shots to fall. She was coming up short consistently enough that I think her back was really bothering her. I’m also assuming that was the reason she didn’t hit the floor for the loose ball that she so awkwardly bent over. I’m thrilled about the resurgence of Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe- she still relies too heavily on throwing her shot off the glass, with all the crazy bounces that result, but not only is it good to see her on the floor again, it's good to see her fighting for rebounds and getting putbacks. Kiah Stokes was an anchor in the middle (though her best block was out on the perimeter), cleaning up rebounds. I’d still like to see her be more aggressive offensively, but I’ll take double-digit rebounds any day of the week (and twice on Sunday).

Lindsay Allen seemed to get stronger as the game went on, though that might also have been a statement about the quality of her opposition. She stepped her game up on defense, deflecting and stealing passes, and generally disrupting whatever excuse for flow the Mystics had. She’s going to need time to develop, and I don’t know if New York will ever give anyone that kind of time. We’re not a patient city. I think she’ll make something of herself, and I’m afraid it's going to be somewhere else. Rebecca Allen showed flashes of offense in the fourth quarter, and hustled on the boards, even if she had very little effect in that respect. Sugar Rodgers seemed to respond well to leading the second unit- it opened up more opportunities for her, and she was able to get good looks.

Bria Hartley had a great game offensively, and wasn’t half-bad defensively. She had open looks and hit them, and she made some fantastic passes to set up her teammates. She flourished in this lineup. So did Epiphanny Prince, even if the numbers don’t reflect it. She was able to make plays on defense, disrupting the ballhandler and going for loose balls. Taking her off the point also sped up the game- we were way more of a transition team, and it was glorious. Shavonte Zellous brought the fire, and some slick passing as well. She looked good.

Kia Vaughn was solid, finishing on the inside and either grabbing rebounds straight up, grabbing rebounds off her teammates’ deflections, or deflecting the ball to her teammates. I think I’d still rather have Kiah starting, but I’ll take whatever Kia provides. (Including confusion, between Kia, Kiah, and Bria.) This was actually one of the most passive games I’ve seen out of Tina Charles- again, she’s relying too much on the outside jumper, and she’s not reacting well to being doubled and tripled defensively. I’m glad we didn’t need her to be Superstar Tina in this one, but I’m worried about her at the same time.

Officiating was very hands-off. I’m surprised no one got seriously hurt.

Two busloads of Mystics fans showed up and cheered their team during intros; their team gave them little to cheer about during the game. I still want a variation of the “if lost, please return to Verizon Center” shirts for us, though I suppose you’d have a checklist of places you could leave me, personally.

We needed a breather game, a get-out-and-run game, a light-the-tree game. Now the tricky part is bottling that energy to go up against a stronger, deeper, talented Connecticut team.

No comments: