Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 19th, 2017: Connecticut at New York

See you in Seattle, loyal readers! (I’ll be the one in the Cleveland jersey at the open practice and the Sophia Witherspoon jersey at the game! I swear on my honor as a former Girl Scout, I don’t bite except on request, and I’m not nearly as much a jerk as you might think I am.)

Oh, yeah, Camp Day. Tina is awesome. But you knew that already, right?

It’s too early for this. I mean, for a night owl like me, it’s pretty much always too early for this, but it’s Camp Day, which means it’s twenty to eleven and I’m waiting for basketball to start. The Liberty have their equilibrium back after a monster win over the short-handed Mystics, while the Connecticut Sun are one of the best stories of the season. This should be fun, and I’m sorry more regular fans don’t get to see it.

I have game notes of non-doom, thanks to a colleague. (Hi, Ray!)

Tina’s dad is wearing a very snappy hat. (He always dresses snazzy- Clyde’s got nothing on him. But this hat is especially sharp.)

The groups in the upper deck are probably salty at the swathes of empty seats in the lower bowl, but it takes a loooooong time to check groups in through security, plus kids usually need to be fed and watered.

Who sold Connecticut fans seats four rows behind the Liberty bench? This is a bad plan, and you should be ashamed of it.

Just to let you know, there will probably not be a halftime report. There’s a level 3 raid set to go off at 11:24, so I will probably be spending halftime going after that. Shavonte is a good unisex name for a Jolteon, right?

Uh. Someone tell the Sun that the flags moved! They did. They got turned around in time.

Shavonte would have been a fabulous unisex name for a Jolteon, but MSG screws up GPS so badly that I kept getting kicked out of the gym, and I now have a Swiss Pikachu.

I have no idea why Lynetta Kizer didn’t play until the second half, but she certainly made up for lost time once she did. She drew fouls and took full advantage at the line, finishing through contact. She’s one of the most underrated players in this league. Danielle Adams was very short on many of her threes, and seemed determined to foul out of the game as quickly as possible. Gravity is a harsh mistress. Brionna Jones threw her weight around, but she was outclassed by the Liberty posts. Kayla Pedersen saw brief time in the first half, set a screen, and did nothing else of note.

I think having Alex Bentley come off the bench is good for the Sun, but I don’t know if it's better for her. She didn’t seem to be in the rhythm of the game, and was extremely happy to the point of overcompensation when she put in the baskets that she did get. There seemed to be a chip on her shoulder, and I don’t know if it was a playing-New-York thing or a being-relegated-to reserve thing. Morgan Tuck seems to give the Sun more lineup flexibility, but she looked like she was trying to figure out what she should be doing most of the time. Lost is too strong a word- disoriented, maybe? Rachel Banham was brought in to shoot, and didn’t shy away from that responsibility. Near the end of the game, I thought she took the intentional foul to get Amanda Zahui B to the line so she could get some points. Turned out to be a Danielle Adams foul.

I love watching Jonquel Jones play. (I also like saying her name. It has such a ring to it.) I think I would enjoy it more if she played for my team, but I can live with that. She’s developed in leaps and bounds from the raw, foul-prone player she was at George Washington. Her athleticism, her flexibility, her sheer drive, are all amazing. She tore rebounds away from players who had better position and should have had a handle on the ball. Her battle with Kia Vaughn was intense every time one of them had the ball (and a few times they didn’t). Shekinna Stricklen surprised me with the start, and put up a quick three that seemed to justify it, but after that her shot went cold. She had a nasty block on Rebecca Allen, though. Alyssa Thomas is fierce and fearless, and deserves that All-Star bid. She had one shot that she powered through the defense like it was nothing. There is so much power and force in her frame that it’s a little scary sometimes.

I don’t know how Jasmine Thomas put that left-handed shot in. I still don’t. She ran a good game and was pesky defensively. She overcommits on stupid reaches, but she’s going to keep doing that. Courtney Williams cuts to the basket so well. She’s quick and she’s got ups. She doesn’t always take the smartest shots, but she finds ways to make even the most ridiculous shots work.

Connecticut got too many good looks in the fourth quarter, mostly from Lynetta Kizer. But our defense was solid for most of the game, and it threw the Sun off balance.

I think everyone wanted Amanda Zahui B to get minutes and buckets, and even if she didn’t get a field goal, at least she got a nice under-the-basket rebound and a couple of free throws to take home. I hope the break gives her back a chance to heal up. Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe was aggressive on the offensive glass- I love her motor. Kiah Stokes had another solid game in the middle defensively and on the glass- I’m worried about the easy look she missed at the end of the first quarter, though, because that was a gimme and she blew it. In general, I’d like to see better touch from our posts around the rim.

Sugar Rodgers needs to save some of those threes for the contest on Saturday! And I have no idea how she threw that one shot into the basket, only that I think Bill’s going to do something drastic to her the next time she tries it. But you can’t have your hands down on Alex Bentley and you can’t have your hands down on Courtney Williams, and given how much emphasis she’s put on defense this year, that’s a disappointing lapse. We got good offense out of Rebecca Allen, especially in the fourth quarter against the Sun reserves. I liked the one she finished through contact in the paint. Lindsay Allen is starting to slow down too much for my liking- I’d like to see her push tempo more and be more assertive in her decision-making. I love her on defense, though- she hadgot the y nifty steal on Morgan Tuck. I’d just like to see her keep that edge on offense.

Kia Vaughn needs to stop bringing the ball down. You’re 6-4, Kia. You know that, right? Be stronger. Be bolder. (Not use the ice tub as a beer cooler bolder, but go up with the rebound bolder.) We need her to be picking up the garbage rebounds. Tina can’t do it alone. Tina Charles took that passive game she had on Sunday and used it as fuel to be more assertive in the paint and on the glass in this one. She snatched the ball away from Connecticut rebounders. She went hard in the paint. On the other hand, she threw up a last-second outside shot that made Bill’s eyes bug out of his head and had him gesticulating angrily at the court; I get the feeling that if she ever tries it again, she’s getting benched, whether it goes in or not. Shavonte Zellous’s passing was good, and she was looking for her shot. I like when she looks for her shot. Also, this is important to remember: happy Shavonte is best Shavonte.

Decent game from Bria Hartley. Nothing really terrible, nothing really noteworthy except for a nifty steal in the third quarter. I’ll take decent over some of the games we were getting from her earlier in the season. Epiphanny Prince was way too hesitant to shoot and way too tentative when running offense. If she’s not going to bring anything that vaguely resembles pace, she needs to lose minutes. I can’t be having with her passing up open shots.

I shouldn’t complain about the officiating, since it was pretty bad both ways and we got most of the dubious calls. I missed why Curt Miller got the technical, though.

Not as many kids in my section as I expected. It was refreshing.

Seriously, MSG, what is with your GPS scrambling?

Lil Torches were awesome today. Some of the body control is incredibly tricky, and I salute them.

I wish Bill had taken Tina and Sugar out of the game sooner (and kept Sugar out when he did pull her the first time in the fourth quarter). Miller pulled his All-Stars fairly early.

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