Friday, August 31, 2007
Yeah, so now's the first weekend of the year without Liberty coverage, and I'm a bit sad. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. And the playoffs are still going on, so for all women's hoops and WNBA fans out there, keep watching those games.
PHOENIX 102, SAN ANTONIO 100
A game marked by extremes of athleticism, where the protection of one's own end was at a paramount. Every quarter seemed to be a struggle between giants, with neither giving any ground. Truly, if one can use one word to describe this game, it would be "Defense".
Yeah, so, San Antonio ALMOST pulled off beating Phoenix at their own game, but thanks to a pair of Pondexter free throws at 2.1 seconds left in the 4th, Phoenix goes up a game and is a victory away from the finals. Becky Hammon (34 points) and Sophia Young (24 points, 18 rebounds) did their best, but it looks like it will take a herculean effort of mythic proportion to lift the Stars into the Finals.
Tully Bevilaqua has been named Kim Perrot Sportsman of the Year. Good for her. Always nice to see an Aussie other than Paul Hogan do well.
Yeah, so I'm probably going to get season tickets next year. Anybody got some suggestions in either the 10 or 20 dollar price range?
On another note, in relation to my essay "Geocentrism and the End of Ration," I have had to make an edit. In the original essay, I stated that Berman, in his book, Dark Ages America, cites a study that found that 46% of its respondents believed in Geocentrism (that is, the belief that the Sun - and perhaps the universe - revolves around the Earth).
However, a reader (Debra Hershkowitz, props) wrote in to tell me that she looked for the study in Berman's book and could not find the quote. I went to find the original website from which I quoted, but could not find it either. Berman's quote can be found on couple of websites (one of which being Wikipedia, hardly a reputable source), but without direct citation.
Hershkowitz DID find something on page 36 of another one of Berman's books, The Twilight of American Culture...
"A random telephone survey of more than two thousand adults, conducted by Northern Illinois University, revealed that 21 percent believed that the sun revolved around the earth, with an additional 7 percent saying that they did not know which revolved around which."
Not quite as mind-numbing as my original source, but still astounding (perhaps 63 million Americans ignore the last 400 years of science...). Berman does not give any more information for the study, so there is still room for error. While the mistake is regretable, my essay (and my point) remains largely unchanged. If anyone can find the original source, I would appreciate it. Until Tuesday, then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The team that everybody in New York is beginning to hate versus the Tamika Catchings-Show. These two teams have been at it since the beginning of the season, trading the number one spot back and forth until Indiana collapsed at the disappearance of Catchings and the Shock exploded with the absence of Ford (whaaaaa?!?). It's going to be a brawl for it all, and fortunately for the Shock, their close-scare with the Libs probably put the fear of God in them. If they can barely handle a rag-tag group of scrappy underdogs, how are they doing to fend off Tamika Catching's divine-like powers?
Indiana, meanwhile, scraped a win off of the bottom of the Sun's shoes. One win in triple overtime? Another squeaker in extra minutes? True, they did beat Connecticut at home in a fashion that should reassure Indiana's five fans. The series was even during the regular season, each winning and losing one at home (but never by more than 10), and both faced tough opponents in the first round. I still think that Detroit is a much more well-rounded team and that if they can contain Catchings, half of their work is done.
PREDICTION: DETROIT IN 3.
Mercury breezed through the first-round, defeating the Seattle "Why Are We Even Here?" Storm in two games by a combined 23 points. They never really struggled, and no one got hurt. Getting out early rested them and they should be ready to take on San Antonio, whom Phoenix beat three times out of four in the regular season.
The Silver Stars could take the series, however, if they manage to make Phoenix pay for their lax defense. San Antonio plays its best when they work as a team and spread the ball, slowing teams down and gobbling up rebounds. Phoenix is a group of individuals - strong, super, and mammoth individuals, to be sure - but San Antonio, if they can come together, could prove to be too much to handle. Will Becky Hammon's leadership take the Stars to the finals?
I would like to say yes, but honestly, I don't think so. Taurasi, Pondexter, Taylor, and Smith are not only fast, strong, powerful shots, good passers, solid on defense, brawlers, scrappers, and also rather attractive, but... wait, where was I... oh, yeah, they're awesome.
PREDICTION: PHOENIX IN 2.
Quick post about Shay Doron from the Jerusalem Post. It's just a blurb, but still, always good to see the Hebrew Hammer in the papers.
Ten years ago today, the New York Liberty fell to the Houston Comets in the first ever WNBA Finals. A single game it was - a single game full of thunder, rage, joy, and despair - and unfortunately, it would set the tone. Balls!
This LiveJournal-er has a blurb about the Libs, and makes a good point. I'm not that hard on the gals; they're young and can definitely only go up. Patty, on the other hand, needs an oil change. Eight is not enough for the Libs. Let's see some more bench movement.
That's it for now. Until tomorrow?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Detroit 71, New York 70
The first quarter was marked by a sense of passion mixed with desperation by the Liberty. In the two and a half minutes alone, they had taken five shots (making two threes) and even though the Detroit defense forced the Libs to the outside for awkward shots, Kraayeveld was there under the basket to pick up three rebounds. However, after Christon made a turning jump shot at 7:16 in the quarter (making it 8-2 in favor of New York), the Libs wouldn't make another basket for six minutes, as Detroit rallied their troops. The Libs missed eight in that time frame, while the Shock spread the ball to Braxton (2), Ford (4), and Smith (4), until Tiffany Jackson went to the line and sank two. Erin Thorn grabbed a rebound off of Swin Cash's jump shot and passed to Loree Moore, who threw the ball in for two to tie it at 12 with 35 seconds to play. Both teams tried twice more to grab the lead before the end of the quarter, but the time ran down, and the second quarter was on.
Detroit continued with their poor outside shooting in the second ten, missing two 3's and several long balls while allowing the Libs to creep ahead. Tiffany Jackson scored four quick points, with Battle, McCarville, and Farris each adding a jump shot to make the score 22-16 with half the quarter finished. The Liberty defense held strong, and although the offense couldn't keep pace for a few minutes as Detroit threatened to overtake them before the half (22-20 Libs after a Deana Nolan jumper), New York wasn't down for the count. Jackson grabbed four more points, as did Thorn, while McCarville started it off with a driving layup. The Liberty had opened it up in the final minutes to go lead by ten going into the locker room.
"O, how this spring of love resembleth/The uncertain glory of an April day"
The first half had been dominated at different corners by both teams. The Libs had shifted from shooting from the outside at the beginning of the game to moving to a more flow-and-go game by the end of the first twenty. Tiffany Jackson led the team with ten points of her own, while also grabbing seven rebounds. Detroit, on the other hand, couldn't seem to build any momentum in their game. They had several sparks of glory, led by Cheryl Ford's 10 points, but their shooting beyond the arc was atrocious (a single 3 made in the half, at 11 seconds left) and their defensive, while strong, had collapsed near the end under strong play by the Libs.
But as any follower of the Liberty knows, a ten point lead isn't enough. The Shock weren't out, and they proved it by going shot for shot, piece for piece, woman for woman down the stretch of the third quarter. It was mostly equal throughout (mostly), save for a couple breakdowns on the Libs end (Kraayeveld in the lane for 3 seconds leading to a Shock basket, Farris forcing a pass that leads to a jumper, etc.). When the smoke cleared, the Libs were still in the lead, but the score had been cleaved a bit, to the tune of 49-43. The Shock weren't going out without a fight.
"So wise so young, they say do never live long."
They come out on an 8-2 run, scoring jump shot after jump shot and making it seem like the Libs were a practice squad. Three missed shots and a Kraayeveld foul put the Libs behind, playing catch-up, but thankfully, the Shock once again can't find the throttle and stall. The Liberty drive again, and though they can't come through on all of the shots, they go ahead 55-53. It's back and forth, miss and foul, each team coming up big at clutch situations. Detroit goes ahead, but McCarville won't have any of it. With 18 seconds left, she scores a sick layup to tie the game at 62. Detroit takes a timeout, then goes on the warpath, but the Libs hold down the fort. Nolan goes for a shot, but it's ugly. The Shock come up with a rebound, but the buzzer has sounded and the light has gone off. And you know what happens next...
Season on the line. Five minutes. Is there anything more exciting in sports, save for the occasional streaker? Five minutes will decide who moves forward, and who goes home.
Could it be anything less than a brawl? Kraayeveld comes up big, grabbing the jump ball and throwing it in for two. Detroit gets the ball and misses, then rebounds. Then misses, then rebounds. Then misses. And finally, the Libs come up with the ball, leading to Christon swishing it home on a jumper to put the Libs up by 4 with 3:48 left in the game. But Detroit gets the ball backs and plays their game again, shooting and rebounding, and this time, there is no savior. Kraayeveld fouls, and Ford goes to the line, sinking two and shifting the tide.
Detroit seemed to get their second wind after that. Kraayeveld would get another basket, but the Shock controlled the game, rebounding and passing and keeping the ball out of their end. They scored seven points in a minute and a half, and thanks to a shot clock violation by the Libs with 45 seconds left, managed to keep the ball almost the entire time. Score? 71-69.
With eight seconds left, Coyle calls a timeout. The Libs are down by two. One basket, no chances. Get it deep, drive it hard, take the shot as you should, take a foul if you must, and keep the game (and the season) going on life-support for another five minutes. The ball goes in, and the Libs try to find an empty gal, but Pierson fouls, and McCarville goes to the line with three seconds left. The season is on the line for the former 1st overall draft pick, awoken and playing like the everybody thought she could down the stretch, with the weight of her fans desires and passion on her shoulders.
Maybe history could repeat itself. As when the Davenport drilled home that layup to boost the Liberty over the Mercury, 83-82. Or when, so recently, Erin Thorn had taken an awkward end-over-end wobble soaring on little but hope to take down this same Shock team and keep the Libs in the playoff hope. McCarville scored one basket, and all of the fans of the Liberty held their breath as her last shot sailed through the air. It had happened before.
"But not here, not now, nor never hence,"
McCarville's second shot bounced off and into the hands of the awaiting Shock. A timeout and a pass in led to a foul, and though Nolan missed both, there was no time left. Literally, the clock had run out, both on the game and the New York Liberty's season. No more last minute gasps for this team, for as the buzzer sounded and the confetti rained down, the Liberty were out of rabbits to pull out of their hats. Detroit rushed the floor, and all of the hope and love that New York had for it's Belles burst, washing away the adrenaline and sweat from the game and the August heat. All the wins and losses and cheers and heartbreak added up to this moment, a moment of realization that once again, the curtain has been closed on the Liberty's summer. No championship, no finals. Just the door, and our memories.
Both sides had heroes. Detroit only featured three players that scored double-digit points - Nolan with 22, Ford with 17, and Smith with 12 - while only two other players scored more than two (showing just how strong the Libs were playing in their own end). New York had four players with 10 points or more (Kraayeveld - 16, Jackson - 14, Moore - 11, McCarville - 10), with Christon adding a further 9. Defensive player of the game? Tiffany Jackson, with 10 total rebounds (Dutch had more defensive rebs, but also had a couple more lapses). All in all, New York started stronger, but Detroit found their groove and were able to substitute players as needed, while New York stalled a bit in the later half (either through exhaustion or inability to adapt to Detroit's shifting game-plan).
Had this been at any other point in the season, I would have chalked it up as a good learning experience. Yes, the Libs let a ten-point lead fade away into nothingness, but they also were neck-and-neck with the best team in the league and almost scammed their way into the second round, despite finishing 16-18. It was the season finish, however, and that always leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Oh well. As the Cubs said, and the Red Sox before them, and the Brooklyn Dodgers before them, and back to the time when the first fan watched his or her team get defeated and awaited for the turning of the seasons that would mark the coming of the new season, like a harbinger of spring...
- Patty played only eight players. :::shakes head:::
- Crowd in Detroit? Electric.
- Overall Play by the Libs? Superior, with a couple moments of breakdown.
- Sad ending, but the Libs played well. They just couldn't pull it off.
- All photos from this post from the WNBA's official site.
It was good to see the Belles one more time. Next year, there will be different faces and different times, but this will be the season that I remember. I'll be doing a full recap of the season next week, as well as posting the various odds and ends that I have to do (Belles, Nicknames, etc.). I will be updating everday; however, if there isn't a lot of news, I won't be doing big updates. We'll talk more about the off-season after the Finals. Until next time, oh faithful few?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
So, finally, I am back with a full update. It's taken a while, and I'm sorry for that, but I had a great time. But you guys don't care about my personal life. You care about the Libs. And what a run...
First, the Libs do everything in their power to try and take themselves out of playoff consideration. They lose to Chicago in a game that they should have had, and they were on the brink of playoff elimination. But, thanks to the plucky play of Erin "Muffin" Thorn, the awakened Shameka Christon, and the one known only as Dutch, the Libs came back to defeat the Mystics (a 73-72 squeaker in their must-win game) and Sun (a more comfortable 74-66). The last game was it, and the Libs came out and played... pretty terribly.
Still, they hold of the Sky and come out on top, 58-52. They're in the playoffs and MSG goes nuts. I can't say that I was thrilled with the Libs by the end of the season, but they did finish 6-4 in their last ten games and never gave up. Their lack of passion in the middle of those 10, however, is something to worry about for our final game coming up. But first, some context...
Liberty 73, Shock 51
This game started off like a fight between an old married couple, with back and forth jabs, insults that would sting later, and eventually make-up sex (okay, so that last part was more like make-up free throws). At the end of twenty, the score was 25-25, but that doesn't really do it justice. The tide of the game had definitely swung to the favor of the Shock, and though the New York faithful were doing their best, a bit of wind had been taken out of their sails. This is almost the definition of a spanking.
Thor opened up Mjolnir on the asses of the Shock, shooting 16 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Marvel and Dutch scored 13 each, although both suffered from some defensive lapses (although the Shock were never able to capitalize on either).
The Libs went on an 18-0 run, and if that wasn't enough, then went on a 16-0 run. They kicked the Shock six ways from Sunday and didn't let up until the final minutes. It was a strong game for them, and while the Shock's shock at the Liberty's liberty probably had something to do with it, it was good to see that the Libs were able to pick up the slack when able and not play down to their level.
And let's face it; a team that barely made the playoffs beat the best team in the league. It feels good. But no one can (or should) rest on their laurels, because two days later, it was time for another match-up, this time in the far away fairy-tale land of Detroit.
Shock 76, Liberty 73
Gotta give credit to the Libs for never backing down. The Shock were up by 17 points in the middle of the second half and watched it drain away as the Libs kept pushing and pushing and pushing and please stop pushing I'll give you my lunch money just stop pushing I want my mommy and...
Anyway, so, yes, but the Libs did well (especially in the first and last), but like so many close games that they've played, seemed to lack the passion needed to cap off a victory when they most desperately needed it. With less than 15 seconds to go, the Libs manage to steal the ball on a play that is VERY close to foul territory, and what do they do?
Dutch, with a bit more time than she thinks she has, shoves it down low and can't push it in. She should have pushed the extra mile to force a Detroit foul, or stopped and set up the play again, but instead, she half-asses it and the Shock come up. Nolan makes two free throws and that's that.
But, as Shakespeare said...
Let's get it together. Will this be our last game of the year? Or will it be the catapult to the Eastern Conference Finals and Beyond... beyond... beyond... beyond...beyond...)
You know how it's gonna roll tonight. Detroit. The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Detroit Shock Treatment versus the New York "Man Who Shot" Liberty Valance. Detroit isn't exactly beating steel into sword, but they can definitely take care of the Libs. They're entire starting lineup is capable of scoring over 15 points a game, and no one on the bench can be counted out, either. Plus, they're at home, and in front of their zealots, they are like a runaway freight train. They're well-coached, well-disciplined, and well-trained. They can play it hard, play it soft, push, pull, and work around the arc. They have no problems with any team in the league.
Well, except for the Libs, of course. The Shock can't seem to get around the Libs, splitting the season series and losing the first, big game of this post-season. This is not without reason; the Libs are capable of levels of play only spoken of in Myth. Christon, Thorn, McCarville, Kraayeveld, Moore, Battle, Davenport, Willis... all have had double-digit points this season, and all are capable two-way players. On paper, the Libs seem like a complete team.
Unfortunately, paper isn't practice. The Libs are hounded by inconsistency, with only two or three players playing up to their full potential per night. In a year or two, when some of the younger players start to mature, this won't be so much of a problem, but now? It could be the toll of midnight. The Libs are going to have to step it up if they are going to escape Motor City and meet up with the Fever in the Conference Finals.
- Contain Nolan, Ford, and Cash. Even containing one will do. In essence, limiting one of these players to less than double-digit points takes at least five points away from the Shock, and as seen in Sunday's game, sometimes that's all it takes.
- Play more than 8. Lisa Willis, despite only playing in 8 minutes, scored five points. Erin Thorn, in twenty, scored 2. Let's find the pieces that aren't working and switch 'em around.
- Thor and Marvel. Both Christon and McCarville have got to keep up their stellar play.
- Defense. It's hard to pick up a team that has as much firepower as the Shock, but if the Libs play hard and fast, those couple of rebounds and open balls that would be anyone's would instead become a New York fast break.
Get 'r done, ladies.
Indiana beats Connecticut, 2 games to 1
This was a balls-to-the-walls set, with two games going to overtime (including the last and deciding game). Indiana's indifferent fans were apparently the deciding factor as Connecticut continued their inexplicable ineptitude at home, losing in front of a huge hometown crowd, and then barely keeping the Fever in check in the last game before succumbing to a huge comeback (the largest in WNBA history). Catchings? You truly are a Goddess. Douglas? Don't trash talk until the game is over. And Connecticut?
Sacramento took the first game of this series in deciding fashion (86-65), cleaning the floor with the Silver Stars in San Antonio's first ever WNBA post-season appearance. But the Stars steeled themselves against the Monarchs in game two, coming up big in the first half and securing the game in the final twenty, and then brawled it out in the last game to beat the Monarchs by 2 (80-78). Star of the series? Do you even need to ask?
Phoenix soundly thumped the Storm, and is it any surprise? Out of all the teams that made the playoffs, the Storm played like they least deserved the honor. They played horribly down the stretch and were handed their post-season based on the awful opening of the Comets. Phoenix played well, but not as strong in the past. In the end, however, it was enough, as the Storm (despite stong play from Bird, Lennox, Jackson, and Marques) relied too heavily on their starters and found their reserves... lacking.
Janel McCarville won the leagues' "Most Improved Player" Award. Which is nice, but really, she didn't have much of an opportunity until now to show off her skills before this.
That's it for me, ladies and gents. I'm not doing Belles or Nicknames on a regular basis anymore (I only have a couple to do, and they will go up when I get the chance). My comedy troupe's show is coming up this weekend and I will need every available moment during the day to work, memorize lines, and get things done for it. (If any of you are interested in showing up, give me an email).
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
We all know what happened. The win over Connecticut. The win over Chicago. The post-season slot. It's all here, it all happened, thanks to the Libs coalescing at the right time.
Now we're going up against Detroit, the top team in the league, but also a team that we have beaten twice (both in squeakers). It's going to be a rough series, but if we can manage to play like we have in the past two games, we'll be fine. Detroit is the 800-pound gorilla, but confidence can wreck a team. Sports History is full of big teams going in, confident in their success, and losing to the underdog. Yankees-Pirates, 1960. Tyson-Douglas, 1990. I can go on and on. The Libs can allow themselves to be longshots, or they can grip the bull by the balls and rip 'em a new one.
I won't be able to cover most of these games, but fear not. I will return next week at the latest. orry this isn't more full. Once I get back to New York, I will be doing full recaps on the games that I miss. I'm having a fantastic time down here, and since it was my birthday today, I thought I'd update since I had the opportunity. My only regret is that I wasn't able to see the Libs secure their spot. But I was cheering from here.
Keep it up, you classy Libs fans. I'll get back to you soon.
A helpful reader, Kevin Hyslop, pointed out that I made two errors and I would like to remedy that situation. I had said that the Mystics magic number was 1, but it was in actuality 2, as proven by the games that we played. Secondly, they did start 0-8, as he says, although I had reported 0-7 (based on another article, even though I had been following all season).
Until I can get more time?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Thursday, August 16, 2007
New York vs. Washington
The Ladies of Liberty versus the Strumpets of Satan
Quick game preview. I got things to do and people to see. Besides, everyone knows what needs to be done. Play the whole bench, take out players if they're not doing well, keep the ball moving, make quality shots, etc...
The Mystics, who started off the season 0-7, are now in sole possession of 4th place and the final playoff spot. They're magic number is 1, which means that if either they win or the Libs lose, the Mystics are in the post-season (due to them having the tie-breaker). It makes this game simple, then: if the Liberty lose, the Mystics are in.
Strong play in the second half (aided by a timely trade of Chasity Melvin to the Sky for Monique Currie) has propelled Washington to the ridge of respectability. Their defense, once the worst in the league (behind even the Lynx) stands strong now, as the guards have taken charge and anchor a swinging zone. Their offense has perked up, as well
The Liberty can't take any chances with these guys. They're rebounding has turned super-solid, and any errant shots or passes will almost inevitably lead to an odd-woman rush. The Mystics suffer no fools, and the Libs are going to need to bring their A-game if they don't want to suffer another humiliating defeat like their last bout with Washington (80-68... ugh).
So, here's how it's done; we play up to our level. As evidenced by our win over the Shock (albeit a day after they had played a tough game against Indiana), we can hang with any team in the league as long as everybody plays up to their ability and when players aren't doing well, they're pulled. McCarville is going to have to keep producing at the level she's been doing, while Kraayeveld will need to pick up on defense. Moore, Christon, and Thorn need to be more consistent, and Davenport and Jackson should see playing time if they're doing well (as they have been doing in the last few games). Keep it simple and play strong ball; the Mystics are good, but they aren't fantastic. We can beat them, especially if we keep our defense strong. Focus on the positive and deal with the negatives as they arise.
- Rebounds. We've routinely been outrebounded. We need to pick it up, because Washington will shove any open ball down our throat.
- Less bad passing. Turnovers lead to points against, and we've pushed a lot of bad passes to set up mediocre shots. Let the play unfold naturally and one will find an open shot or player.
- Three-Pointers. Washington is still weak from outside the arc. We haven't been hot, either, but we're definitely over-due for a long-ball game update.
- Forget the past. The past is prologue. Right now, we need to win three games to even consider getting in the playoffs. Ignore eveything that happened before and focus on winning.
That's it. Take it to 'em, ladies.
Connecticut 77, Fever 74
Sacramento 81, Silver Stars 74
The Fever and the Sun will play each other in the first round no matter what, and this game was a good forecast of what could happen. The 1st and 4th quarters were relatively evenly matched, and if Catchings were playing, that could shift the balance of power. The 2nd and 3rd, however, were something else, as first the Sun smashed through the formally impenetrable Fever Defense, and then the Fever returned the favor. Props to Indiana for managing to almost come back, but the Sun were able to right their ship late in the game, which is a good indication of post-season success. Indiana better have had their notebooks open; they'll have to watch out for Connecticut in the playoffs.
Sacramento took advantage of an exhausted San Antonio like the Stars were a drunken prom queen. True, their much-touted defense once again worked only SO well, but they managed to get together and score the points needed and keep Becky Hammon rather isolated. Three starters for the Silver Stars scored most of the points, and the rest of the team chipped in a bit, but Sacramento knew what they were doing. This is another probable first-round match-up. It's going to be an interesting postseason, that's for sure.
Chicago @ Houston
Boy, is this easy. The Shock (THE best team in the league) versus the Lynx (the WORST team in the league). The Shock could spot the Lynx ten points and still come out on top. If you need any reasoning for this choice, you haven't been following the WNBA for that long. Shock by 11.
Both the Sky and Comets are out of the playoffs, but both managed to do a lot with very little this season. Both started off weak, managed to put together a decent middle of the season, and then faded near the finish line. On paper, the Sky are a better team, but Houston plays better as a cohesive unit, and their home record isn't so bad, considering their overall record. If Melvin is still out with her eye, then it will make things a whole lot simpler for Houston. Comets by 5.
I'm heading out of the city in the afternoon and will be gone for a while, but I will probably have internet access at various points. Posts will be smaller than normal, however, and I might not get around to doing the special posts (essay for today is probably cancelled as well). I might not be posting tomorrow, as I will be travelling for most of the day, but if I get a chance, I might throw something together in the late evening. Keep your fingers crossed for me, and while you're at the games, make sure to give the Libs a big cheer for The Writer. Until my next post, then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The Wreck of the Liberty's Season
(Sung to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot)
The legend lives on from Hudson on down
Of the big place they call MSG
The teams that play there have been called unfair
To the fans who love them, like me
With a team full of rooks, the court's wood had shook
With the preseason basketball there.
The Liberty weren't dreamed to be much of a team
But the ladies, the thought they would dare.
Erin Thorn could shoot, as none could refute
And Christon and Battle could play
Davenport had game, and she couldn't be blamed
For Hammon's walk gone astray.
"McCarville and Moore," Kraayeveld roared,
"Could rid the last season from minds."
The haters assured that New York was not cured
But the Libs, they thought it was time.
It started out well, as anyone could tell,
With five wins and no losses to mention
Then came the game against the Detroit dames
And with a beating, the fans felt the tension
Again, shock found the team against Indiana's cream
The Fever did sour their feelin'
And later that week when Washington was beat
It was found the win brought no healin'
There were two losing games before another win came,
And the Liberty's hearts had turned sour
Saint Patty knew well, that the season'd turned to hell
But she knew of her ladies' power.
They struggled mightily, and of course, vitally
As the losses kept mounting each night.
They lost ten more rounds, the playoffs came down
And the Libs were out of the fight.
There was a game against the Sky, for one more try
As Washington beat on the Sun.
Like the season - it's a crime - they played well at times
But with no passion, it couldn't be done
What could anyone do, save the Liberty few,
As they realized they must pay the toll?
They wept on their play as they all rued the day
When they'd started diggin' their own hole
The game was on the line, but no one played fine
Could no Lib be brought to reason?
The buzzer rang then, and of course, that's when
Came the wreck of the Liberty's season.
Quick question: what happens when the eighth woman into the game is your point leader, and yet only plays for 16 minutes? Answers along the lines of "You Lose," "You Blow," and "You slit your wrists" are acceptable, as anyone watching last night's game in Chi-town could tell you. This was one of the worst performances of the Libs all year, and this beating came from a team that was eliminated from the playoffs before the final minutes of the game were played.
It didn't start off that badly. It was mostly back-and-forth during the 1st quarter, with the Libs going down by 1 (18-17) at the end of ten minutes. Sure, there were some bad turnovers by the Libs, but that could be attributed to any number of reasons (1st quarter jitters, worries about the US Economy, voodoo). McCarville was playing well (4 pts, 3-4 on all shots), and the entire team was helping out.
The 2nd quarter then starts, and the Libs bring themselves back from a shakey start. Davenport starts it off with 2 solid free throws, and by the time she's taken out five and a half minutes later, she has six points and a defensive rebound. There's a three minute stretch near the end of the quarter that spells a bit of worry, as the Libs can't seem to mount any offense, but the Sky barely manage to capitalize on the opportunity, scoring a six points, but also fouling and turning the ball over just as often. Jackson and Christon score a basket each, however, and things settle back down. Heading out after twenty, the Libs are ahead 38-34.
Now, one could think that, based on the play of the first half, that the Liberty can handle the Sky, and one would be right. The Libs were shakey at points, but they didn't commit too many stupid fouls and they were keeping the ball under control. Patty isn't playing the bench, and while no one is lighting up the board, so to speak, no one is sucking balls too much.
And then the third quarter happened. When the dust settles, the Sky have scored 20 points and are ahead 54-45.
What is it about coming out of the locker room for the Libs that is so detrimental to their playing ability? It happens game after game after game. Last night, they only managed 7 points in ten minutes, and couldn't get the ball out of their zone, let alone shoot it. The last three and a half minutes saw seven missed shots (three of them free throws), and the rest of the quarter wasn't pretty either. The Sky had pulled ahead, and that's the way they stayed.
Sure, another ten minutes were played, but the Liberty didn't play like it. It seemed that after a half an hour of gametime, they were ready to call it quits and give the Mystics the chance to scoot ahead a bit. Davenport does her best to bring the Liberty back (8 points in that quarter), but she's only one woman (one woman who Patty only played for 16 minutes). The rest of the team plays grab-ass with the Sky, back and forth, and then the game ends, 77-65.
The end of the game could be best summed up as empty. Basketball was indeed played, but nothing really HAPPENED. Davenport was the only one playing with anything close to passion, and the rest of the team seemed to forget that at one point, they could burn Chicago like Mrs. O'Leary's cow. That quarter totally mystified me; the Libs gave up and stopped caring, and almost, in effect, created a blackhole of playing equal to the size of the UIC Pavillion's court.
But that's the way it is. The Mystics are now a single win away from the playoffs, despite opening the season 0-8. That means they've gone 15-9 since then. That's a playoff team: that's a team that never gives up. The Liberty? They can't even play a full forty against the Sky. We might make the playoffs yet, but would we deserve it? Based on this game, I have one answer.
- Chicago Sky turnovers: 9. New York Liberty Turnovers: 20. Ouch.
- Chasity Melvin got her eye poked out of its socket at the beginning of the game by Christon (she's fine now). THAT. Is crazy. Thor? A little much.
- The Libs made fifteen fewer shots than the Sky.
- Patty's quote: "You have to forget (the loss)," New York head coach Pat Coyle said. "We have to win out right now. That's what it comes down to." It's kinda hard to forget about losing 10 out of 13, however, especially when no one is getting any time.
- Second largest crowd of the year for the Sky: 5.5K. They're gettin' there...
So, the Libs have three games left and are 1.5 games out. We're officially going to end the season with a sub-.500 record and our players are playing without passion on the floor. Patty refuses to play more than eight players a game and attendance is falling. Fighting for a playoff spot, we've gone 3-7 in our last ten games and can't get any momentum going. Anything else?
Tomorrow, 7 P.M.
Bring Holy Water
THE biggest game of the year. A loss, and we're out. That's the way it is, ladies.
Washington 65, Connecticut 64
Houston 83, Detroit 71
Seattle 81, Minnesota 67
San Antonio 84, Los Angeles 77
No time. You know which game is a surprise (hint: It's not the Storm-Lynx).
San Antonio @ Sacramento
Connecticut must win this game if they want second place. Indiana can still lose and retain its position. Connecticut, despite their loss to the Mystics, are still playing really well. Indiana is doing their best impression of Lindsay Lohan's career. Despite all of that, Connecticut is on the road and coming off a game last night. I don't like the Fever's chances, but Connecticut is running against statistics. Fever by 4.
Once again, a team (San Antonio) comes off of a victory to play on the road the next day against a contender (Sacramento). The difference being that I don't mind picking against a stronger team here. Sacramento isn't as good as the Stars, but they play their system well (especially at home), and despite San Antonio's astounding away record (11-4), the Silver Stars are going to be tired. San Antonio's gonna get romped like a cow in the middle of a cattle drive.
Sacramento by 6.
That's it. Performance Piece up in the afternoon. Take care, y'all, and take the guns out of your mouths. Save that for when the market crashes due to the overspeculation in real estate and our obscene debt finally crashing down.
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Having to share a last name with Michael Jackson, as I've discussed before sucks major donkey balls. Thus, I feel that it's my duty to bequeath to Ms. Jackson a name that will conform to her skills on the court.
The problem is, that every time I come back to it, I keep thinking "Michael", making it very hard to concentrate. Add to this that I'm as tired as a bartender on payday, and I can barely think straight, let alone think up a nickname that will do Ms. Jackson any kind of justice.
So, with that in mind, I'm going to have to force this one out - pull it out of my ass, if you will - as unless I get this post done in ten minutes, I may never finish it. So, thus, I am left with only one option. It's not my best, but well... go to hell.
Sure, it's not the most "original" nickname in the world. But hey, it's catchy, it rhymes, and it's something easy that I can remember.
We're going to Chicago, and it's clear to both teams that a victory is needed. The Libs are in a much better spot for post-season action than Chicago, with destiny in their own hands: if they win their next four games, they're in no matter what. Chicago, meanwhile MUST win this game if they are to reach the post-season (not to mention their season finale in New York), while also hoping that the Mystics lose two of their next three games. New York has breathing room, but not much. The Mystics are playing today, and the Libs are half a game out (with a game in hand). A win today will put them into fourth and give them a chance (with their extra game) to put a full match between them and the 5th spot.
We've split the season series so far with Chicago, winning our home opener against them 83-71, but losing a month later, 73-66. Both games came at completely different moments than where both teams are at the present. The Liberty are coming off a win against the Shock and winning three of their last five after dropping seven in a row. The Sky, meanwhile, have lost five straight after winning four of five (against Detroit, Indiana, and San Antonio!). Clearly, things are up in the air tonight for both teams.
Chicago isn't without talent. Candice Dupree, who is averaging a hair under 17 points per season, leads the team in points, but other notables include Jia Perkins, a stalwart guard who can throw a mean dish, and Chasity Perkins, a strong forward who can rebound and throw a body. They're top five players are averaging double-digit points a game, and they have been known to upset any opponent that doesn't take them seriously.
Their problems, however, stem from a weak bench and inconsistent play. Dominique Canty and Armintie Price are both strong regs (averaging 8.8 and 8.3 points, respectively), but the rest of the bench is weak, has been hurt, has not played enough, or can't perform up to their talent-level on a nightly basis. Dupree, meanwhile, has scored beneath her average in eight of her last fourteen games. The Sky are a team of streaks, winning a bunch of games, then losing a bunch of games, and like a city on a fault line, can be dangerous after lying dormant for a period of time.
It's not like the Libs are some powerhouse, however, as despite our recent nail-biter victory over the Shock, we've played pretty poorly. Our last three losses (Phoenix, Washington, Los Angeles) were all fairly decisive, with the Los Angeles game particularly distressing. Patty, while getting better about spreading the bench, still likes to play her favorites into the ground, and most of the team has been fairly inconsistent.
New York HAS woken up recently, though, taking three games out of five and beginning to show what we are capable of. McCarville's emergence has been a big factor, but as other players on our team have begun to step up and fill the void left by Becky Hammon, more and more confidence has been seen on the court. Whereas about a month ago we couldn't close down a team after going ahead late in the game, now it is the Liberty who are the ones banging down doors, taking down Detroit and Houston despite being down at several late points in the game.
Sunday's game proves that New York can hang with any team in the league. Six Libs scored 10 points or more, including four of our starters. All that being said, it was essentially an seven-person show, with Davenport playing 6 minutes and Willis and Farris combining for just a little over 3 minutes total. Kraayeveld, despite waking up late in the game, continued to play despite missing key shots and turning over the ball late in the game. For today to turn out well, we are going to need at least three of our starters to have good games and several regulars step up to fill the void of those that flail, much like what happened against Detroit. Chicago can pick a team apart if they want to, and while New York's zone can shut them down, if we start to scramble, it's all over. Kraayeveld is going to need to be strong on D, Moore is going to need to keep coming up big, and the entire team can't force a pass that isn't there. Turnover points have killed us in our last ten games and we need to cut them down.
Look for Patty to play a more conservative game tonight. Chicago is going to push as hard as they can - they are indeed desperate to make the playoffs after finishing 5-29 last year - and Coyle will probably try to us their momentum against them. Hopefully. Step it up, ladies, and we can play it well.
- Take your time finding shots. The Sky's defense against Field Goals is second worst in the league (.430, right behind the Lynx), but they rebound well. If the Libs pass enough, they'll find an opening in the defense.
- Shoot from the arc. The Sky aren't great defending against the 3, either. Set up outside, and if they collapse in, go for it.
- Cut off passing lanes and hold your ground. Force them to shoot from the outside, and if they decide to run in, and for God's sake, plant your feet.
- Keep their heads in the game. Chicago is really not that good of a team. Sure, they have Candice Dupree, and yes, Claire Coggins gets my blood boiling, but they aren't any better than us. Just remember that.
I would like a little Liberty-Sky rivalry to build up, and if the Sky can survive their horrible attendance numbers and one of us eliminates the other from the post-season, that could add some fuel to the fire. Let's just make sure that it's US on the inside, and THEM on the outside.
Connecticut @ Mystics
Houston @ Detroit
Minnesota @ Seattle
San Antonio @ Los Angeles
Connecticut is in the playoffs and will secure at least the third spot if they win tonight. Washington has been playing very well overall, although they've struggled mightily in their last few games. They haven't lost at home since Detroit in late July, and before that, San Antonio at the beginning of that month. While Connecticut is the better team (by far) of the two and could bump up to the number 2 spot in the Conference if they take two more games than Indiana, they have much less at stake here than the Mystics. Look for the Mystics to try and prove to a hometown crowd that they deserve to be in the playoffs. Mystics by 4.
Detroit is now rested and looking to enter the post-season on a strong note. Houston, while playing much stronger than a few playoff-bound teams at the moment, is now eliminated. Both have little to play for except pride, but I think that Detroit is going to look to get the bad taste out of their mouths after their loss to New York. Ford is out until at least the playoffs, but Cash could come back if Detroit feels she's up to playing. That could spell doom for the Comets. Shock by 7.
Will Minnesota even both to wake up? Which Seattle team will show at the Key tonight: the one that has several super-stars, or the one that looks like a female-version of the Washington Generals? Will Seimone Augustus be able to lift the incompetence around her, or will the stellar play of Jackson cancel her out and make it an easy pick-up for the Storm? All these questions will be answered tonight in a game between the worst team in the league and the worst team heading into the playoffs, as well as another question; will anyone care? Storm by 6.
San Antonio is a game behind Phoenix in the Western Standings, but has two games in hand. They're going in against a Los Angeles team that has upset several opponents in the past but is still far from being competitive. Becky Hammon will be in (supposedly) as this will be the last time that the Silver Stars can gain ground on Phoenix. Expect quick work. Silver Stars by 8.
Erin Thorn's got a chat going on today. If you're into that kinda thing, it starts at 2.
Penny Taylor and Deana Nolan were named WNBA Players of the Week. Hard to argue with either choice, especially Nolan, who has been carrying her team (absent Ford and Cash).
Nickname up in the afternoon. Until then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Monday, August 13, 2007
Height: 5'6'' (5'7'' in some sources)
College: Michigan State
Years Pro: Rookie
Former Star of: Cheers.
Hailing from Dansville, Michigan (named, one presumes, after someone named Dan), this Liberty Guard is fast, killer outside the arc, and currently owns the Great Lakes Record for most number of dreams broken in a single game. By day, she plays for the New York Liberty, but by night, she fights crime as the Necromancer!
It all started back in Michigan State, where Bowser holds the record for most three-pointers made in a season and was named Co-Big Ten Freshman of the year. There, she averaged over 13 points a game, going big on the free throw line (309 out of 352) and three-point arc (.405 average), while also becoming the Spartans second all-time leading scorer.
Sources are scarce for Lindsay Bowen's information online. I would make stuff up, but really, I'm too lazy. Lindsay Bowen's acts can speak for herself. Sure, she's only played in six games for the Libs this season (1 started), but in that time period (37 minutes), she's scored nine points and gone 3-6 from the three-point line. Clearly, she has the skills to pay the bills, but can the coaches stop acting like roaches and give her a chance to get in the dance?
An interesting article about Lindsay from her alma mater can be found here. It's a pretty touching story, filled with the kind of sad, sad stuff that makes for a great Disney movie. Cut from the Liberty practice squad, practices in Europe for a year, friend gives up, Lindsay goes to Switzerland to hone her skills (no, really), and then comes back and makes the squad to the joy of her family. It would warm my heart if I wasn't actually a robot, hell-bent on destroying humanity.
Bowen's just going to get better and better, as evidenced by the time that she has been able to get on the court. For more information, use your imagination, write to the Liberty, or start your own fansite. Just, whatever you do, don't stalk Lindsay outside her apartment. It can lead to bad, bad results.
Talk about thrilling. Talk about excitement. Talk about... about... about a last second shot at the buzzer that, based upon all prior knowledge of physics and the universe, I thought had no conceivable chance of hitting the rim, let alone bouncing up, up, and in. But we'll get to that in a second...
Anyway, you guys want actual reporting? I can't give it to you straight as, while I was at the game, the box score STILL isn't up. However, I can definitely give highlights.
This game proves that the Liberty can hang with the big boys, if they so choose. Sure, Detroit was tired from a knock-down-drag-'em-out fight with Indiana the night before, but they were playing a full bench and were swtiching up players four at a time to start off the game. They might have been tired, but that's just an excuse. The Liberty found a way to win, and everybody in uniform contributed.
The 1st quarter was a doozy. The Libs grabbed 32 points and, despite some defensive lapses (Detroit scored 28 themselves), made the Shock look tired and beat. McCarville came up with a huge eight points, while several other Libs (particularly Moore and Christon) made big shows and huge moves. It looked like this game was going to be a strong, strong show.
Of course, this is New York. Nothing is so easy. The Shock stormed back and tied it up, went down, then tied it up. Going into the half, the Libs and Shock were tied (if I remember correctly), but momemtum had definitely swung to favor Detroit. They were gaining big, and with Katie Feenstra filling the void left by Cheryl Ford and Swin Cash (both out due to injuries), it seemed that Patty would have to give a major pep-talk to keep the girls on top of the ball.
That didn't happen as well as she had hoped, however. The second half started, and it was all Detroit, all the time. The 3rd quarter was, save for the last few minutes, a travesty on par with the Teapot Dome Scandal.
The Shock start whipping the Liberty like they were a redheaded step-child. Again an again, the Liberty can't seem the bury the ball, and the Shock come up huge and score big. At one point, halfway through the third, the Shock, once down by six, are now up by 13 points. Slowly, the Liberty begin to come back into the game, but can't manage more than an extra point per drive. We're down by 10, down by 8, down by 9, down by 6... you get the idea. Frankly, with the way the Libs were playing, I was happy to get out of the 3rd quarter only down by 4. It was a shit-show, pure and simple, and I thought that, despite the Libs surge at the end of the 3rd quarter, that they were losing steam.
Nothing could prepare anyone for the 4th, however. Deanna Nolan proves why she's an All-Star by scoring 12 of her 19 points in these ten minutes alone. I wish I could go into the details of all of what went on in those ten minutes, but like some Russian epic about the Napoleanic Wars, I would only begin to scratch the surface while leaving you, dear readers, with the impression that I had beswamped you in details.
Some key points stand out, however. Battle making three free-throws on technicals (starting with one at the beginning of the quarter on Shock Coach Bill Laimbeer). Tiffany Jackson making a diving lay-up to keep the game close. Nolan coming up big from the key, then Moore making a three of her own, then Nolan making ANOTHER three-pointer. Dutch scoring a huge two points with 44 seconds left. Barbara Farris, put in for the first time all game, coming up with a huge rebound with less than half a minute to play. The Liberty's time-out, leading to two shots - both missed but both rebounded - and the Libs retaining possession on three OB's. Then, with about seven seconds left, the Libs get one more shot. Around and around they go, before it goes out of bounds, but thankfully, mercifully, the Libs come up with it again.
3.3 seconds left. Time for ONE shot. Dutch (I think it was Dutch; my memory grows hazy with time and alcohol) looks, left, looks right, squeezes the ball through to Thorn with a planck-length of room to spare. The seconds tick down. Thorn is cut off, pushed back. She has one shot. In a weird, twisting, jumping motion, she throws herself into the air and WILLS the ball in the general direction of the net.
The buzzer goes. Time literally slows down to a heart beat as the nine thousand people in attendance hold their breath. It is astoundingly quiet; so quiet that when Thorn lands (before her shot), one can hear the squeak of her shoes echo. The shot arcs, almost wobbling, in a strange trajectory that everyone KNOWS can't be good, but PRAYS will hit the rim.
Bounces on the rim. Off of the backboard. STRAIGHT UP.
And while I'm sure that it never was more than two feet above the rim, in my mind's eye, the ball travels like some homemade rocket before making its descent back to the court.
And then it goes in.
Madison Square Garden erupts. You would have thought that it was a sell-out from the noise. People are dancing in the aisles as Thorn jumps into a throng of her teammates and is lifted onto shoulders. The Shock, upset and dismayed, nonetheless pull it together to shake hands. And, for one second, before anyone knows what the Mystics did, it feels like the Libs managed to beat the odds and take something that no one gave them any credit for. A group of ladies that no one gave any shot at doing anything this year took down the big dog of the league and were winners.
And then, of course, reality set in. There are still four games left until the end of the season, and the playoffs after that. The battle is won, the war continues.
- The Shock outrebounded the Liberty by at least a margin of ten. I wish I could be more exact, but the WNBA's site STILL doesn't have the boxscore up.
- By the way, WNBA's site = horrible.
- The Referees? I wish I could say that the Libs won on their own, but they had some HUGE help from the refs, who made several home-town calls late in the game to keep the Libs in contention.
- Everyone had a hand in this. Thorn? Obviously. McCarville? HUGE first and last quarter. Tiffany Jackson? Her second half was magical. Barbara Farris? Massively clutch rebound with less than a minute left. I could go on and on...
- The crowd? Electric. For the final minute, on those who literally couldn't stand up were sitting in their seats (and even a few of these defied medical science and stood up anyway).
- Martina Weber was on the sidelines. That sucked, but she WAS wearing a nice blue dress number that, allowing me a moment of sexist lust, was smokin'.
So what's that all spell out in terms of standings? Well, to put it mildly, this was probably our most important win all year. We're now a half game behind Washington for the final playoff spot, with a game in hand (we have four games left, they have three). We play each other IN Washington on Thursday (talk about ramifications), while each playing Connecticut once (Washington plays them twice). We play Chicago twice, meanwhile.
Revel in the victory for now, ladies. I still am, frankly. But let's not lose sight of our ultimate goal. This beating of Detroit will only ring soundly if we can manage to overtake the Mystics and hold off the Sky.
Speaking of which... Next Game?
Tomorrow, 8 P.M.
The UIC Pavilion
There's an "ICUP" joke in there somewhere. I know it.
Get 'er done, ladies. Every game's gotta be a win now.
AROUND THE LEAGUE...
Houston 83, Sacramento 75
The Comets still had life at this point, despite a razor-thin margin for error. They took a team that prides itself on their defense and scored 83 points against them, putting their backs to the wall and coming out swinging like Barry Bonds on steroids (a redundant phrase, I know). Tina Thompson scored 24 points, while Michelle Snow grabbed 11 rebounds, as the Comets, while allowing six Monarchs to score more than eight points, did not allow the Monarchs to score more than 20 points in any quarter. I'm glad that Houston could do this and prove to themselves that they had a bit of something left to give. Great stuff.
Detroit 74, Indiana 69
San Antonio 63, Houston 60
Connecticut 88, Chicago 66
Phoenix 100, Los Angeles 83
Seattle 91, Washington 68
Indiana finally played like they had some life, outplaying the Shock in the first quarter (in particular) and the first half (in general), but it wasn't enough as the Shock pulled another game out of their ass and made it six straight wins. Deanna Nolan scored 26 points and almost a dozen rebounds as the Shock held the Fever to just 9 points in the third and 28 points in the second half to win their game and removed the "almost-assured" from the phrase "almost-assured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs".
Yes, Becky Hammon rocks. She led her team to victory, despite some close calls (the game was tied at the end of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarter). Houston stuck with it, though, and played like a team desperate for a playoff spot. They couldn't pull it together, however, with only one of their starters scoring double-digit points and no player scoring more than Snow's 11. San Antonio is now a full game back of Phoenix, but have four games left to play, to the Mercury's two. It's going to be a photo finish.
Chicago is still technically in the playoff hunt at this point, being two games out with three games to play. However, with their decisive loss to Connecticut on Saturday, they must win their last three games (including their season's finish IN New York) and hope that both the Liberty AND the Mystics forget the game of basketball and instead take up Professional Bull-Riding. Or the Mystics and Liberty could COMPLETELY implode and hand Chicago the playoff spot. Considering that Jamie Carey of the Sun (a second reserve) scored more five more points than three of the Sky's starters COMBINED, that's a tall order.
The Mercury beat up on a bad team (Taylor- 28, Pondexter- 21, Smith- 16, Taurasi- 12). They scored 100 points in forty minutes. The Sparks (the SPARKS, mind you) managed 83 points against THE team of the Western Conference. This shows one of two things: 1, that Phoenix has come to grips with the fact that their defense is non-existant and 2, the Sparks' death has been GREATLY exaggerated.
Washington played Marv Albert and Betty Lennox (34 points) dressed up as a high-priced Manhattan call-girl as the Storm beat the Washington like they begged for it. Seriously, this game couldn't have gone worse for the Mystics had they just not shown up and forfeited the game. At least then they would have been well-rested. After this, they were shown up, humiliated, and left gasping for air as they took a plane-ride to take on Sacramento the next day. Huge victory for the Storm, who FINALLY secured their spot in the playoffs.
Sacramento 86, Washington 82 OT
Los Angeles 89, Minnesota 80
Washington had to step it up. They needed this win, took Sacramento into overtime, and blew it with several turnovers. They could be a game and a half ahead right now, but instead, they squandered their chances and let Nikki Powell lead the Monarchs to a victory that both teams desperately wanted. I guess a Sacramento team wanting home-court advantage plays better than a Washington team fighting for it's life.
Minnesota's season ended about a month ago. They haven't won a game in so long that they'd throw stones at it if they saw it. Is anyone besides Augustus even bothering to show up to practice anymore, let alone games? Sure, they scored 80 points, but against the Sparks? They were basically spotted twenty at the beginning of the game. At least the Sparks have spirit. They were down and out about two weeks ago, and they're still trying, despite failing. This team, with a superstar and a stauncher defense, could definitely compete for a 3rd or 4th playoff spot. The Lynx? They just depress me.
Shay Doron is helping out with breast cancer. As a man, I can't possibly comprehend the terror of breast cancer for women, but I know prostate cancer, and it scares the shit out of me. Check out the site and bid on some of the things she's putting up for auction, if you're so inclined. It's a good cause.
There's an article up about the Australians in playoff contention. They're missing a few (like Tully Bevilac... Bevel... that one from Indiana), but it's a solid read that doesn't digress into the usual "love letter to Lauren Jackson" kinda stuff.
Sorry about not getting the game preview for Detroit up, but it was hell in the office and I couldn't do it at home.No games today. Which is nice for me, considering that I would have to research them all and I have NO TIME. But that's that for today. Liberty Belle up in the late afternoon. Until then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Friday, August 10, 2007
Phoenix 97, New York 86
It started off not all that bad for the Liberty. Sure, at the end of the first ten minutes, we were down by 3 (26-23) and our defense was looking a little shabby, but the game was still close, Phoenix is known to make the BEST defense's look bad, and there was still a lot of ball to be played. The game was really back and forth, and while Christon didn't come alive until the later parts of the quarter, the entire team was chipping in at the beginning. Unfortunately, it all slid downhill from there.
Davenport fouls Schumacher twelve seconds into the 2nd, setting up an easy point out of two for Phoenix (Schumacher's free-throw skills... eh). The Mercury score twice more to go up by 10, before finally, almost three minutes in, McCarville lands a lay-up and the game resumes. Phoenix controls the ball for almost the entire quarter, with the Libs shooting bad shot after bad shot (10 misses, 6-16 overall, including multiple missed foul shots), while turning the ball over at several horrible moments (seven points from turnovers, not to mention the rebounds).
At halftime, the score is 44-35. There is still hope for a comeback, but the Liberty aren't exuding any kind of confidence. Desperation has settled in, as evidenced by them trying to force plays into situations that just resulted in Phoenix grabbing the ball and shoving it back down our throats. Thorn just isn't coming up in big situations, and while McCarville and Christon are doing their part, very few others are stepping up.
The 3rd quarter starts off in the same old fashion, as Tangela smith makes three straight baskets, interrupted by a McCarville lay-up, to make it 51-37. The Mercs don't back down, and while the Liberty begin to surge late in the quarter, it's too little too late. Kraayeveld, who has been quietly racking up points, scores her 11th, but Thorn continues her struggles. Ten minutes pass and its 71-58 Mercury.
Thor, Marvel, and the Beatle take the game into their own hands for the Libs. The 4th sees only one other Lib score a basket (a lone free-throw from Moore), while Phoenix continues their onslaught. The closest that New York gets is six points with a minute left in the quarter, but then Pondexter, pissed from her performance in the last New York-Phoenix game, shuts the door with six straight points. The game ends, the Mercs high-five, and that's that.
Overall, the officiating wasn't awful on the court, but it wasn't spectacular either. The Mercs played hard and got away with a lot, while the Libs backed down and allowed themselves to be dominated for large stretches at a time. Add to this that they couldn't make key free throws at desperate points and it just allowed Phoenix to play the game their way without much interference.
As for the players, inconsistency once again proved deadly. Battle, McCarville, and Christon had the best games out on the court, while Kraayeveld also had a decent game, although she still was wobbily on defense. Thorn? On the court for over thirty minutes, but with only four points, while going 1-10 from the field with only 2 assists and rebounds. Patty played her regulars again, with only six players averaging over nine minutes of game time, and only one other player (Tiffany Jackson) receiving anything other than pity time.
Let's not just gang up on Patty... or Thorn, or anyone else for that matter. There's a lot of blame to go around this time. We can hem and haw until we're blue in the face, then argue about who's fault this is, and find a little bit of shit-pie to put on everyone's place, but there is only one, true conclusion. The Mercs outplayed us, and that pretty much sums it up.
- With Washington's win and our loss, that drops their magic number from 5 to 3. There is not much wiggle-room left for us.
- The Libs shot 30-70 from the field (almost 43%). Take out Marvel, Thor, and the Beatle and we were 9-36.
- Martina and Bowen weren't dressed, while Doron didn't get any playing time.
- Almost all stats are comparable to each team. Assists, turnovers, steals, blocks, etc. Except for Shots. And points from turnovers. Which were both WAY in Phoenix's favor.
4 P.M., MSG
Be There, At the Square
Washington 80, New York 68
New York 77, Houston 71
Phoenix 97, New York 86
This has been an interesting week, to say the least. Loss to Washington, beat Houston, then a beating from Phoenix. We're down by two games against the Mystics and a half a game above last place. It's not a good time to be a Lib fan.
Janel McCarville led the Libs with 57 points in three games, while Christon finally began to awake from her long slumber. Patty finally played Davenport a bit after someone moved the Gatorade cooler and revealed the Middle-Man still on the bench. Loree Moore had a couple of strong games (and a couple of big mistakes) and the rest of the Libs were all over the map. We're still searching for consistency, and we may not find it until the end of the season.
The Washington game was particularly bad. Bad coaching, bad playing, inconsistent offense... it was a true terror to behold. Had we taken that game (or at least shown up), we would be in a much better position than we are right now. We did manage to take the game from Houston, and while we lost to Phoenix, I was sadly expecting to lose to one of the hottest teams in the WNBA. However, this team is not playing like a team hungry for the post-season. While I have not give up all hope (not by a longshot), I am beginning to despair.
Sunday marks the last week in the regular season, and minus our 5-0 start for the year, we are 7-17, which is truly abysmal. Our team is definitely young. VERY young. A few players (Thorn, Willis, Farris) have been around for several years, but the majority of our team are players that have played in three campaigns or less. We're still gaining experience, and in a year or two (with good drafts, trading, and maybe ONE more solid player) we'll be a monster. Just you wait. I would be willing to chalk up this year as a learning experience if we can somehow come out on top for a long time to come.
In terms of this blog, I have radically shifted the site from something that was definitely humor and picture heavy to something drier and more sports-centric. I like the look of it now, and I still post some pictures, but this may change coming up, although how much change there will be is questionable. With five games left in the regular season, there isn't a huge amount that I would want to shift before the end of regular play.
Of course, two days after I discontinue hotlinking (today), I get an email from someone pissed off about one of my older posts (about a month or so old) that isn't on the front page anymore. I removed the picture, but it's definitely some bad karma that as soon as I decide to change, someone tries to bite me in the ass for sins of the past.
Anyway, this week has been all over the place. This weekend is going to be crazy, too, what with all of the games and all of the importance placed on Washington's next two outings. I will be in the South (Virginia, first, then North Carolina) starting Thursday night, so my posts will be a bit smaller than usual, depending on if I can get time and an internet connection at all. If I can't, I will try to have a friend fill in for me. No promises as to the caliber of their stuff. Not everyone can have stellar writing skills, a knack for seeing between the lines, and razor-sharp wit like me.
Detroit 97, Seattle 70
San Antonio 72, Sacramento 61
Washington 80, Los Angeles 75
I was pretty much of on these games for everything except Washington. I'm not going to go into too much detail because I haven't had the time to look over them, but it's quite obvious that Seattle is content to lose their way into the post-season (27 point loss to the Shock? They're good, but not THAT good). San Antonio obviously still has a lot of spunk left in 'em, and the Sparks are garbage. That's about it, really. Check the WNBA's official site for more info.
Sacramento @ Houston
This will be the second game in two days for Sacramento, not to mention the flight. Houston, meanwhile, has had several days rest and still has a glimmer of a playoff hope. Sacramento is still the obvious choice to pull this off; they are a much more well-rounded team. I would like Houston to pull it off, but I don't think that they are going to have the gas in the tank to push them over the edge. Monarchs by 7.
Indiana @ Detroit
Houston @ San Antonio
Connecticut @ Chicago
Los Angeles @ Phoenix
Washington @ Seattle
This would have been a much more interesting game had Tamika Catchings not left the Fever in a tailspin and Detroit, despite losing Cheryl Ford, begun to look like a team made up of Hero-Gods from the days of yore. A win for Detroit will secure them the top spot (and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs). An Indiana win? It still means that they'll have to win three more games and pray that Detroit loses their last FIVE. Detroit is so much hotter right now, and Indiana so much colder, that the choice is easy. Shock by 7.
Houston, once rising and breathing down Seattle's neck, has begun to fall back into their early season form. Rookies are taking stupid chances, Tina Thompsons's drama is dragging down the fans, and the schedule? Well, it's not the kindest one in the league. The Silver Stars have surprised many people this year, and with Hammon back, there is no reason to think that they shouldn't be able to take care of their cross-state rivals. I like Houston, but I don't think they can take this game. Bye-bye, playoffs. Silver Stars by 9.
The Sun and Sky? One last joke before the end of the season? No? Fine then. Connecticut is tearing up the court and Chicago has faded from semi-decent to semi-awful. They've lost four straight and are two and a half back from Washington, a game out of pocket, and thus all but statistically eliminated from the post season. If Chicago loses this game and Washington wins one more, they're out of the playoffs. Period. Connecticut, meanwhile, still has a shot at 2nd place, with a game in hand against the Fever and down by 2.5 with five games left to play. That would be a MAJOR benefit to them, and with the way they are playing behind Douglas, I don't see any reason why they shouldn't take this game. Sun by 9.
Los Angeles? The losers of 14 of their last 16 games? Against Phoenix? The highest scoring team in the league? Mercury by 10.
Seattle is trying their hardest to keep Houston in the playoff race, and with their game against the surging Mystics, I think they're going to instill even more false hope while backing into the playoffs. I don't like how Seattle's playing - on a team as talented as they are, they continue to lose close games and squander chances while giving up WAY too many turnovers - while Washington has finally coalesced. Look for Alana Beard to have a good night and for Bird, Lennox, and Jackson to try and lift the rest of the dead-weight around them. Mystics by 5.
Washington @ Sacramento
Minnesota @ Los Angeles
With Sunday's game in Sacramento, Washington will have played three games in four days, all on the road, and all on the West Coast. Sacramento, meanwhile, will be coming off a day's rest and looking to try and either gain on Phoenix or solidify their second-place spot. Washington will have a great deal on the line (if they win on Saturday, there magic number will be 2) and with a win (and a New York loss), they will have clinched a play-off spot. Sacramento is damn-near impossible to beat at home, however, and Washington's energy has been awful at the end of road trips, bunched together or otherwise. Monarchs by 8.
The Battle of the Cellar Dwellars will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday. Minnesota seems to have given up on this season; they're still playing, but their starters just seem to be going through the motion. Honestly, a high draft pick would be a much better option than one or two more wins, especially on the road. Los Angeles is also done, and has been for almost half a month now. They can't get anything going and the stench from the Staples Center can be smelled from as far away as Berdoo. With Augustus, I feel that the Lynx are a better team than the Sparks at this point, but overall, and at home, I think Los Angeles can still throw a bit around. Sparks by 4.
ABC is going to have an insider's view for the upcoming Indiana-Detroit game, via half-time locker room views. Voyeurs, eat your hearts out.
Katie Douglas's husband was apparently ejected from the Suns' game against the Monarchs. Read up for the details (which are few and sketchy). Douglas was happy that her man stepped it up, apparently. Too bad the Sun couldn't get anything from it (they lost by 2).
That's it for me. I'm going to try to put up a Detroit game preview later in the afternoon. My home computer is fried, you see, so I'm not going to be able to update this weekend. I'll see you guys on Monday, when I post my game review. Until then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...