Saturday, April 4, 2009

April 4th, 2009: WBCA All-Star game

Everything's bigger in Texas, the referees really don't know what they're doing, and Skylar Diggins does.

And then it was off to the WBCA high school All-American game, in the company of the lovely ladies from Full Court Press, some folks from Purdue, one woman who I accidentally hit in the face while putting my jacket on, and a few other miscellaneous people. Oh, and a bus driver who had to have done his initial lessons on a horse and buggy. Good LORD. He had no idea where he was going or what he was doing. Still, there's nothing quite like the feeling of looking out the window and going, "Hey, that's Coach Staley." (Or, for that matter, "...did I just walk past Carla McGhee?")

Washington University in St. Louis has a beautiful little gym. Very crisp and clean. The seat cushions wouldn't fit in my bag, but they would have come in really handy on those hard bleachers. Really big crowd, all things considered, because I don't think they were prepared to open the upper deck. I think we were actually sitting in the wrong place, but the Big East pad that t6w gave me probably made me look convincing, even though I was mostly using it to keep track of gear I'd seen or schools I could otherwise prove had been in the house (I mean, I didn't see anyone in South Carolina gear, but I consider Dawn Staley and Carla McGhee to be successful representatives of the Gamecocks). I'm going to continue being starstruck liek woah, because OMG we were four rows behind Pat Summitt and OMG we were a section over from Sylvia Hatchell, and OMG was that Marissa Coleman who just went by? In case you have not figured out yet, a) "eeee omg eeee omg eeee omg" has been my train of thought for most of the last week, and b) there were a lot of familiar faces at the game.

I know everyone's got themselves squeeing their pants over Brittney Griner, and she has the tools to become a star player, but right now, she's not an immediate OMG type player. Yes, she's a defensive presence because of her height and wingspan, and she changes shots both directly by blocking them out of bounds and by forcing people to shoot over or around her and therefore take some godsawful shot, but so does DeHaan, and DeHaan's not talked about as a superstar. I think Griner will develop- Mulkey will force her to- but right now she looks unsure of herself when not shot-blocking, and really has to work on the fundamentals of her game. I wasn't really impressed with any of the players on the blue team. I know Griner put up the big numbers, and I know Williams got to the line, and good Lord, is everything bigger in Texas? Damn, they got some posts. Clarendon's got a nice shot, but a dreadful tendency to exaggerate her falls.

White team had the players I was most intrigued by. Ruffin-Pratt may be, well, a bit of a prat, but she's ahead of her peers in one way: I could hear her on the court, communicating screens and whatnot, which is something I know college players who have trouble with, let alone incoming freshmen. I like Tinkle- she reminds me of a slightly scaled down version of Jayne Appel, so I suppose Stanford is a good fit for her. *g* Walker's got a nice stroke. A lot of players took their turns to shine- Tinkle, Ostarello, Oliver, Walker. But the player who impressed me most, the one who almost single-handedly pulled her team out of the hole, the one who showed the most hustle on both ends of the floor, the one who made me swear like a sailor when I realized my teams would have to deal with her four times each, was Skylar Diggins. If it weren't for the fact she'd be making my teams' lives hell, I could watch her all day. She's very smooth.

But Lord, were there missed shots and missed shots and missed shots, and for good measure, a few more missed shots. Unfortunately, the women's game isn't quite ready for primetime. Some nifty plays, but most of them were negated by missing the damn shot afterwards. I know it's an All-Star game, and those tend to be about as organized as that mythical herd of cats, but this was an exceptionally hot mess.

The refs didn't help either. First they were calling nothing, then they called two in a hurry on Greene defending Williams (which just made me think of that commercial- you know, 36 in a 35 zone?), then it got tight, then it got loose, then it got tight, then it got loose. They learned how to call travels with about twelve minutes left in the game, after everyone and their Aunt Sadie took three extra steps (Tinkle's footwork was especially egregious, but Vanderveer will knock that nonsense out of her).

They did little ceremonies for the junior college, NAIA, and Division II and III championships, and for the four All-Americans who weren't otherwise occupied. While Toliver, Lavender, and Bonner made themselves scarce afterwards, Coleman worked the room, signing autos for some of the young girls in attendance- she even worked her way up to the upper deck and hung out there. I like her more and more the more I see her, both as a player (the Vandy game) and as a person (the L'ville game and today).

It was nice to see Yo and the Warrior Princess serving as celebrity coaches. TT looks good.

I'm going to go collapse now. But this has been so much fun. Pictures will be up someday.

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