Friday, July 3, 2009

July 2nd, 2009: Detroit at New York

New York Liberty 80, Detroit Shock 64

Shameka Christon decides that she's not gonna be in the cellar. Awesomeness ensues.

Oh, that was refreshing and most needed in these unpleasantly sticky times. The win, not the glass of Diet Coke next to me, though the soda's certainly welcome too.

It looked like it was going to be another rough day on 33rd Street when Loree ducked out of the building towards the Duane Reade, and the heavens immediately opened upon our hatless, un-umbrellaed point guard. For that matter, it looked like we'd been rendered even more unwelcome than before when security opened up a new set of railings to keep people away from the usual approach to the side door where players often come in. I wouldn't have minded the new rules so much if the security guy hadn't done it the second it started raining. Hey, man, I'm just working on a story and trying to stay dry.

The Shock looked a lot looser and happier than I'd seen them in a long time. Maybe it has to do with the coaching change, maybe they have a perverse fascination with bad weather, maybe someone spiked the water with happy pills, whatever. I don't care. Anything that makes Taj McWilliams and Barbara Farris dance between stretches, or Olayinka Sanni work it so hard her teammates bust out laughing, or Cheryl Ford be friendly enough that Shavonte Zellous has to practically drive her towards the locker room (and I mean the "hands on waist, scooting her around like a bumper car" kind of driving). And I wish I'd been able to get a picture of Barb and Ashley Battle coming out together, arms draped around waists. It was adorable. It shouldn't have been, but it was.

Katie Smith was extremely frustrated, and I don't know if I blame her, but she let it affect her game. I don't know that I've ever seen her shoot that badly. Or Deanna Nolan, for that matter- oh, she got a decent number of points in the second half, when the defense started to flag (there was one exceptionally gorgeous cut to the basket that showcased her speed and her grace), but she didn't take control of the game as she usually does when she's in New York. Cheryl Ford, on the other hand, looked much improved, though she wasn't always good at holding her emotions in check. If she's not 100%, she's damn close, and if that's not 100%, I'm really worried about having the rest of our Detroit games coming up. Taj McWilliams was solid, but unremarkable, though a lot of the things she did were little veteran things that you learn how to do when you've been playing the game for as long as she has- screens, getting back on fast breaks, trying to get away with jersey grabbing. (Also, with the shorter hair, she looks even more like Michelle Obama than before. The resemblance is kinda uncanny, but made of awesome.) Alexis Hornbuckle was kind enough to sign for me before the game (I approve of that, but then, she picks up auto bonus points for being kin to St. John's). Her rebounding was phenomenal, and she works harder than a lot of players I see out there, but I don't know if Mahorn knows how to use that workmanlike mindset and build properly yet.

Barbara Farris's effectiveness stopped when the actual game happened. Sorry, Barb. Love you, but, um, no. Shavonte Zellous wasn't getting the calls that she's been getting for most of the season, so she was back to being, in Richyyy's immortal choice of word, diabolical- out of control and losing the ball a lot. She fouled out (as did Nolan). It wasn't a great game for the Shock bench in general. I don't think Mahorn wanted to go to Haynie as much as the foul trouble for Nolan and Zellous forced him to. She didn't set the world on fire, but she didn't suck too badly, either. I'm also surprised that Sanni didn't get into the game. Even if she would just be a response to bringing in Larkins, she might have done more than Farris did. Braxton looked like she'd missed being on the floor, so I hope she's developed some hint of responsibility, and maybe even the seed of the maturity she needs to become the dominant force she has all the tools to be.

Shameka Christon, y'all. Shameka fuckin' Christon. Goddamn, look at this small forward. Canning threes, hitting from the midrange, forcing the foul and getting to the line- if she's not an All-Star this season, something is deeply, deeply wrong with the process at all levels, and I will NOT be pleased. If dropping 25 results from magenta hair, then she can steal as much of Janel's hair dye as she wants to. And Loree's shots tonight were amazing! I'm amused that three of Janel's assists were on Loree's threes (and while I had to look up the exact number, I'd gotten the sense during the game that a lot of Janel's assists were to Loree). Janel still doesn't look like herself- her ballhandling and rebounding are still below par- but she didn't look gods-awful. I was also satisfied with Cathrine's shooting for a change, though I'd like to see her put some strength into those screens when she's dealing with veteran players- Taj was getting around her and not allowing her to set the screen, which left Loree or Essence facing a nasty double-team, and Cathrine couldn't get back in time to reclaim her defender. Those plays didn't tend to end well. Essence, other than that one phenomenal layup, wasn't so great on the offensive end. Her shots were missing, and missing badly, and coming off her hands very oddly. From where I was sitting, it looked like there was something wrong with her motion. Makes the need for an offensive-minded (and offensively capable, Ashley) shooting guard even more apparent. But since the Shock guards couldn't get going, I gotta assume Essence played a role in that.

It was so good to see Tiffany Jackson get some extended minutes. While she definitely displayed the weakness in her game (footwork, Tiffany, footwork!), she also showed her tenacity on the boards and her athleticism on the offensive end. If we have a coach who can polish her, I think she can be something special. Get to work, Anne, we don't have that much time left before she comes off rookie scale. It was also nice to see Kia in the game, and I think she played a major role in keeping Cheryl Ford from really taking over. While Kia's still rough around the edges, she brings a bit of grit that we've been lacking, especially with Janel's shift towards a more finesse and flash game, and Cathrine's transition towards being an exceptionally gawky shooting guard; her physicality knocked Ford out of her comfort zone and got into her head a little bit. Not a lot, and not for long, but just enough that when Detroit was making a run, they couldn't keep it up. Leilani chewed up minutes admirably, and with the way Loree was playing, that was really all we needed her to do. If Spencer is to be on this team, and if she is to play any length of time, she needs to ask for the ball when she's on her spots, because if she doesn't, about all she'll be useful for is getting an occasional rebound, emphasis on the occasional. It was good to see Erlana get into a game for a change, and while she didn't do much, she didn't have to do much, and she came in handy at the end of the first half to fight for possession.

While the boxscore doesn't look like it, I really thought Detroit got the short end of the stick from the referees. There were a few things that the Liberty were getting away with all night that Detroit wasn't, and it seemed like every borderline call went against the Shock. Except for one really blatant jersey pull by Taj (Taj, if we can see the jersey get pulled from the upper deck, you're gonna get called, and you're not gonna get away with it, and protesting your innocence just looks dumb), and a couple of almost-elbows from Ford, I really didn't see any of the Bad Girls play that I'm used to.

Anthem was a college girls' choral group. This is the only one of Blaze's fetishes I don't actually mind.

Disappointingly sparse crowd, but Detroit doesn't have the kind of pull a lot of other teams do, even as defending champions (no names stick out, which is what'll draw the casual fan) and the weather was so intermittently bad that I don't think there would have been many walk-ups.

Musical chairs, hardcore edition. When you have someone pulling the chair out from under someone's butt, you have the hardcore edition. You also have a fan with more killer instinct than his entire team. Can we give him a coaching contract, maybe?

It was good to sit with my old neighbors and kibitz about the game. They're very surreal. I missed them.

It was good to see a win. The team needed it and the fans needed it, and the team needed to get the fans off their back. MOAR PLZ.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I really didn't see any of the Bad Girls play that I'm used to."

Maybe that's because Lambier is gone -- might have been his influence. Some of these male coaches instill in teams to become thugs.