Thursday, August 20, 2009

August 19th, 2009: New York at Connecticut

Connecticut Sun 74, New York Liberty 69

Things get out of control.

Okay, look, guys, if you're going to piss away a 17-point lead and look like zombies in the fourth quarter, could you let me know in advance so I don't spend over seven hours on a bus and an hour on a train to see you do it? Thanks ever so much.

No, seriously, it's great that they're doing heavy work on I-95, because it needs it and the infrastructure of our country should be as strong as possible, but do they really have to have work crews every ten miles slowing things up. Going out of Flushing, it ran me four hours going and three coming back, for a trip that should take less than three.

Respectable crowd for a Wednesday night. Not as many New Yorkers as usual, but that probably also had to do with the day of the week.

I have to give a shoutout here to Tywan and the nice lady from the Sun who helped me swap my extra ticket for Saturday for a ticket to tonight's game. Very helpful and very professional, and that's always been my experience with the Sun box office.

Excellent anthem, even with the sour note near the end. Nice power, and a nice-sounding voice.

The Tiffany Jackson Experiment would appear to be over, as Cathrine reclaimed her place in the starting lineup. I haven't been thrilled with either of them as starters, to be perfectly honest with you, but Cathrine's game seems more suited to a reserve role. She sets good screens, no matter what the refs say, and she keeps her hands up on defense, and sometimes she'll hit a big shot. Sometimes she won't. Them's the breaks. Disappointingly quiet night for Shameka, but not all of it was her fault- Connecticut did a great job getting on her as soon as they saw her doing that thing she does with her feet when she's getting ready to shoot. Loree, to borrow a phrase from the Libertine (wherever he's wandered off to), alternated between bouts of greatness and failure, sometimes even on the same play- the bit where she had the nifty steal and then went "Look, ma, no hands!" and the ball went out of bounds comes to mind. I'm starting to wonder if the "pound the ball into the ground until you see a dent in the floor" thing is a Tennessee problem, not a Shannon Bobbitt problem, because Loree has no sense of goddamn urgency. She's driving the lane more and just generally looking more for her offense, and we're going to need that if this season isn't going to completely go to shit in a handbasket. Janel. Hon. This is not college anymore. Please stop passing to Lindsay Whalen, kplzthx? At least she's going towards the hole, but she's being too pretty about her shots ad passes. Essence finally hit a lay-up. Shame that's the only thing I can recall her doing.

So Leilani's Rebkell-given nickname of Fluffy Little Bunny is appropriate in more ways than one, since the pregame ritual of high-fives, crossed arms, and whatnot involves her hopping up to meet her teammates' hands and arms. Seeing her leap to high-five Cat is hilarious. Bunny fears nothing, not even Erin Phillips. She was finding people tonight. Ashley Battle: where big plays happen. I love a good full body dive. Just. Stop dribbling, AB. Kia wasn't bad in terms of being a body in the paint, and she set a wicked Screen of Death on Lindsay Whalen (and it takes a lot to knock Whalen down), but not so much with the rest of the basketball skills. Spencer did not completely suck tonight, but we appear to have traded a potential lottery pick for Anne Donovan's new microphone. Ladies and gentlemen, the incredible FFO. She'll be here all week. And month. And year. *weeps* Tiffany, stop traveling, OMG. Seriously. AD, you and she need to have a long talk about footwork. Yesterday. Erlana is adorable, in a butch kind of way, but I can only assume her role on this team is as part of the chemistry and energy, because she helped us start choking the lead away.

Lindsay Whalen annoyed me, but that's because I'm a Liberty fan and she was abusing us. (And traveling, but referees' counting skills aren't exactly consistent.) In the second half, a lot of stuff that she was just tossing up there started going in, and I think that reenergized both her and her team (though that may be a redundancy- sometimes I think she's the Energizer battery, and the team is the bunny). I love Jekabsone-Zogota's shot. I'm a sucker for deep follow-throughs. I guess the weird spacing in the font meant that she didn't get to have her married name on her jersey. Either that, or Taj stole all the hyphens when she left a couple of years back, and they just didn't notice until now. There's a smoothness to Sandrine Gruda that I like- she doesn't get down low enough for my liking, but that's the Euro style. And that block on Leilani was beautiful. Tan White hit some big shots. Kerri Gardin, for all that she hasn't played that much since Gruda arrived, was a big part of the Sun's win; she's the dirty work player, much like Cathrine is for New York. She got a few early rebounds, did some offensive work during their run, and played tough defense.

Tamika Whitmore's not ready to be back. Whether it's the knee or further conditioning issues stemming from her new weight plus the time off, she looks like playing is pain. No one should be shining with that much sweat during warm-ups. No matter how much she's pissed me off over the years, I don't like seeing her suffer needlessly. Chante Black did a nice job on the offensive boards. Erin Phillips is still crazy. Surprised that she's fallen so far down the totem pole, though. Her teammates weren't always finding her when she was open. Kiesha Brown did just enough to prove that the Roaring Rampage of Revenge is still a going concern. Amber Holt is... interesting. As soon as the woman next to me said she was awful, she started going on the tear that helped set the table for Whalen's run. It was all out of control, crazy shots. When she missed them... wow, did she ever miss them.

I have one rule of thumb to determine a good coach: if you can tell what they're doing, what kind of strategy they're putting together, that means they know enough to make it obvious what they're doing. Thibault is one of those few. Starting Gardin put a little grit into the lineup, protected Black and Whitmore from foul trouble, and allowed the rotation to stay intact. There was a long stretch where he went with a lineup of Holt, Gruda, Phillips, Jekabsone-Zogota, and Whalen, which doesn't look like it would make any sense, but made the Sun a lot more mobile than the Liberty (especially while someone like Kia was out there) and made them offensively dangerous from all positions. That lineup made the big run.

I despise inconsistent refereeing, especially when the style changes from half to half. Fuck you, Gulbeyan. There were quite a few bad calls, and a few that had very light contact. Gruda was involved in most of the "what is this I don't even-" calls- the one the Sun fans hated (where there was light contact with the lower body), the one I hated (she shoved Janel to the floor!), and the one everyone hated (a loose ball foul on light contact, with a late whistle, after the Liberty had already gotten possession and were starting to move the ball). It was like the refs thought everyone forgot about them and wanted to flex their muscles.

So frustrating. I love this team, but I have no idea what's wrong with them.


Q McCall said...

This looks like a classic example of where it's time to just start trading players and starting over.

Zombies, waterbugs, roaches or whatever are all indicative of low morale to me... this unit doesn't really seem to care anymore... and made not one move at the trading deadline...which means the zombie problem might extend to the front office..

Anonymous said...

I know what's wrong with them: the management. Who in their right mind trades Becky Hammon? Blaze sucks.

Rebecca said...


The management is definitely the overarching problem that leads to such things as picks made solely for attendance reasons and not to actually bolster weak spots on the roster, incredibly stupid trades that indicate no knowledge of anything related to the player or the fan base, and moves that seem designed to piss off every possible member of the fan spectrum. Blaze sucks as a GM, as a businesswoman, and as a human being.

That being said, I was thrilled to see the back of Becky Hammon, and I think Jessica Davenport got a raw deal from the Liberty. The same deal was on the table a year earlier- Hammon for the #2 overall pick- and something tells me you and a lot of other people would have been singing hallelujah to have Cappie Pondexter in a Liberty uniform. I'll admit my bias, because Hammon has rubbed me the wrong way for many years, but the only time I was happier to see a player leave was when Tamika Whitmore signed with LA.

Rebecca said...


You can't see from Seattle just how much I'm glowing that you left a comment. I love your blog and greatly respect your opinion, so I'm trying to cut through the fog of "eee he noticed me" that I thought I'd left behind in high school so that I can leave a coherent response.

I don't know that it's necessary to blow up the team. The fish rots from the head down, and Dolan and Blaze are both entrenched problems. I do think the team needs the kick in the ass that a major trade would be- "in this country it is a good thing to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others". Too late for that this season, though. I think we're more than one piece away, no matter what FFO "thinks", and something needs to be done.

A guy I know darkly joked, or at least I hope he was joking, that the team is tanking so they can get Katie Douglas in the dispersal draft. A "strategy" like that makes me want to punch people in the face, or kick them in their imaginary balls.