Friday, July 21, 2017

July 21st, 2017: All-Star open practices

For shenanigans, players doing things right, throwback jerseyse, complex offenses, the Brigade in the house, and halfcourt shots shots shots, join your intrepid and satiated blogger after the jump.

Good afternoon! We’re coming to you on a three-hour time shift from Key Arena in the heart of Seattle Center, reporting on the All-Star open practices.

Jonquel Jones spent, like, ten minutes signing autographs, and she might still be in the tunnel.

There’s a tall blonde over there who looks like Jayne Appel-Marinelli.

Sugar! Hi, Sugar! Go get ‘em, Sugar!

So far we have Storm fans (of course), Sparks fans, Lynx fans, a pair of Mercury fans, a Chicago fan (hi, Eric, you are probably reading this over my shoulder), and possibly a DC fan. (And of course, the two of us repping the Liberty, but given that I’m wearing an Isabelle Fijalkowski jersey right now, it’s hard to claim us.)

Players are sort of gradually drifting out and gravitating towards the tunnel where people are getting autographs.

The tiny All-Star kid has emerged and gotten her round of applause. I have a distinct lack of sentiment, so I don’t particularly care about this bit.

More Mercury fans have arrived. Shoutout to the fan in the Swin Cash Shock jersey! Throwbacks are the best. There are also a lot of people in Yankee gear here, which makes sense, since the Yankees are playing the Mariners this weekend in Seattle. (We considered going to the game on Sunday, but the ASG-Reign double-header is more practical, and also, women’s sports are the best!)

Biggest hand so far has been for Taurasi, who played it off like she was surprised. Merc fans threw up the X-Factor X. (I mean, I’m assuming that’s what that means, and they’re not making obscene gestures at her or accusing her of a flagrant foul.)

I think I spotted SeƱor Fred across the way. And the crew for the game will be Lobo and Ruocco.

Mercury Brigade is here! Hi, caune, mb, Huskie, and mmaniac!

Those practice jerseys are hideous. They are all the things that Adidas has done wrong with WNBA jerseys during their deal. It's no wonder half the players don’t even seem to want to wear them. Tiffany Hayes, Tina Charles, and Sugar Rodgers all have them sticking out of their back pocket, or reasonable facsimile thereof.

It’s her hair and her choice, but I still miss Layshia Clarendon’s golden ‘hawk.

Curt Miller is so far running fairly straightforward drills, and as I type that, we have a shooting contest starting! After that, though, it was back to running actual plays. It looks like Miller wants to pound the inside against the West (which isn’t the worst plan without Griner)

Size war! Alyssa Thomas is a bit of an outlier among the guards, but they really don’t have any alternatives if they want the teams to be the same size.

There’s a woman sitting next to Appel-Marinelli who looks just enough like Shameka Christon to make me wonder.

Oh, come on, AT, you were so far over the line you were practically in the paint.

Halfcourt shot contest won on the second round by Stefanie Dolson, who brought out some celebratory dance moves in response. I liked Layshia Clarendon putting up a finger to test the wind before putting her shot up.

Alyssa Thomas is wearing her jersey like a cape, and it’s working for her.

Dolson’s smile is gorgeous.

Jonquel Jones just bombed a three from parallel to the second E in the KeyArena logo on the court.

We’ve reached intermission. The fans are gathering thick and fast around the other tunnel, where the West comes out.

Someone’s being brought down to the VIP level and hugged gingerly by many players. I think that might be Swin Cash.

The fans are, perhaps not without reason, more excited about the Western Conference All-Stars. Nneka Ogwumike came out popping the West jersey, so I think this might be more free-wheeling than the East.

We have a Wings fan sighting! I thought I saw an Indiana shirt too, but it turned out to be a Los Angeles shirt.

Brave, brave Cougs fan.

Holly Rowe just got a cheer from the audience, and that’s cool.

“Fans, please welcome to the court your 2017 Western Conference All-Stars!” And the crowd goes wild.

What the WNBA is all about: Stefanie Dolson, Layshia Clarendon, and Jonquel Jones went into the seats to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

Someone gave Stewart what appeared to be her own custom Phillippines jersey. No, I don’t get it either.

Yeah, the West is going to be a lot more free-wheeling. We’re starting with a dance-off, with just a little tiny bit of awkward as people chant for Stewie, who wants to dance about as much as I do. She NOPE’d her way right out of that plan.

Breanna Stewart is wearing a body camera. This should be dizzying.

Reeve’s shooting contests are starters versus reserves, going from spot to spot, and they have to make a certain number of baskets to skip spots or at least not go backwards. From the way Seimone is leading the reserves from spot to spot, I think this is a common drill for the Lynx. It’s interesting to see how they consider their shots depending on the makes and misses.

Reserves won, and one of the starters took it badly. The second ball ended up in about the twentieth row. Unfortunately, the fan had to give it back.

I think Ace really wanted that lob for the dunk attempt. Stewart got rim, but nothing else. She was the only one who seriously tried. (Diana Taurasi attempting to dunk is not a serious thing.) I liked the dipsy-do lay-ups more than the dunk nonsense, to be honest.

Well, there’s free-wheeling, and then there’s Cheryl Reeve actually trying to install offenses. I think the players are listening as little as they have to in order to do this. Parker especially looks like she left her damns to give in Los Angeles.

Ticha Penicheiro in the house! Cute jacket.

Coach, your offense might be too complicated for an All-Star game if you can’t keep it straight yourself.

Now it’s quiz time.

Diana. Switch to decaf.

Diggins-Smith looks weirdly out of place and uncomfortable here. She looks like she doesn’t want to be doing this, for whatever reason. At least Parker more looks distracted than unhappy.

The starters beat the crap out of the second shooting contest, after the reserves won the first. I think the reserves were still on the first round of shots when the starters won. Coach Reeve: “Congrats. You get to start tomorrow.” By the end, when they only needed one made shot from each position to win, they were adding degrees of difficulty, whether it was distance (Maya went into the courtside seats), style (soccer throw-in), or just ridiculous (Big Syl, you may have gone to LSU, but you are not Pistol Pete).

Breanna Stewart won the halfcourt shot contest, after everyone took many attempts. I am constantly amazed at how close so many of the shots were.

It was a lot of fun. Come on, East Coast people, where are you at? Rep with us!

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