Friday, September 28, 2007
Your favorite mid-season surprise and mine is hosting a blog throughout the off-season. Ms. Marvel is a half-way decent writer (unlike SOME athlete bloggers I could mention) and there's some interesting (and heart-felt) stuff written there. Check it out.
Top passes and such from the season are up on the WNBA's official site. I'm having some problems with links, but if you go to the homepage, it's the fourth story down at the scroll. You know you like it.
The US Women's team dominated Jamaica, 115-47. Considering that this is the United States, home to 300 million people, facing off against an island nation of 2.65 million, this isn't a feat so much as a slaughter. Really, did we have to play Diana Taurasi against this team? Did we really have to show them up SO much? No wonder so many other countries hate us. This is almost as embarassing as the time that the US Junior Hockey team played Trinidad and Tobago.
Paul Westhead, coach of the Phoenix Mercury, is skipping town to join on as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City... er, Seattle Sonics.
That's it. If someone's got something better, PLEASE let me know.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
So, for starters, the Libs are doing full recaps of everybody's season. That is, every PLAYER'S season. Here is Erin Thorn's, the latest. There are also ones for Jessica Davenport, Lisa Willis, Tiffany Jackson, Ashley Battle, and Cathrine Kraayeveld. They're only about four to six paragraphs each, and they don't really tell much beyond the obvious, but it IS the company line, and there are a couple interesting facts in there, even if they gloss over some of the other elements of the season.
According to Clay Bennett (owner of the Sonics and Storm), the Seattle Storm will be staying put... for the 2008 season. Not to ruin the party, but this man ALSO said that he would keep the Sonics in town until 2010, and is currently trying to get out of their lease. He also says that he doesn't want to split the teams up, yet to keep the teams together, he would need to begin the proceedings for a move by October 31st, the NBA deadline for the 2008-2009 season, and really, would there be any sense in keeping the Storm in Seattle for another full year when he's already printing out "Oklahoma City" stationary? He might say that he's the King of Thule, but until you see the crown jewels, don't start paying him taxes. Bottom line: I don't trust him, and neither should you.
Other that, quiet. Until tomorrow, then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Sure, Martina is back in the news, but it's in GERMAN, for God's Sake! I can't make heads nor tails of it! The WNBA is at it again, although I'm not sure if I linked this page before or not. More CBA rumblings, but really, is there going to be a strike?
Oh, and apparently the WNBA isn't Brittany Hunter's dream. Which is fine. It's not my dream either. But saying that if she's drafted, she'll play, but that she doesn't want to be playing at 27 or 25 would definitely dissuage a team from choosing her in any round.
Anyway, that's about it. Hopefully, I'll have some more news for you tomorrow. I've started cleaning up the site, so that's going to be taking most of my blog-time, but I won't shirk my responsibility of informing the public with my own unfunny-brand of comedy. Until tomorrow?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Weight: 145 lbs.
School: Maryland '07
Can she kick it:...
In actuality, Shay is pretty bad-ass without all of my pandering and such, so I'll play it straight. Starting in Rotenberg High School in Tel Aviv, Doron commenced lighting courts on fire with her strong play and strong shooting. She led her team to several state championships, and also excelled at track & field, for which she won some 60 odd medals.
When she was done messing up enough Israeli's, she moved to New York at Christ the King High School in hopes of one day making it to the NCAA and WNBA. You know how THAT story goes, but I'm getting ahead of myself...
She couldn't be contained in High School - 17.1 points per game, took her team to a Brooklyn-Queens Championship, led her team to the New York Federation Finals, named All-American, took MVP and Player of the Tournament honors from the Nike Tournament of Champions - and thus was quickly scooped up by Maryland. Could the Terps handle her?
Under the coaching of Brenda Frese, Doron led Maryland to four straight NCAA Tournament Appearances, winning it all over Duke in 2006 for the first time in Maryland history. Along the way, she broke several school records and posted top ten finishes in a handful of others (three-pointers, assists, steals, et cetera, et cetera) while majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice.
You know the rest of the story. She was drafted 16th overall in the 2007 draft and promptly buried on the bench by Patty. She saw game time only seven times in the regular season, totaling 10 points and 3 rebounds in 35 minutes of play. But if her amateur career is any indication, Doron won't be able to be contained for long. Currently, she's playing for the Israeli National team, as well as Elitzer Ramle in the Israeli league. If you hear about some kind of revolution involving female sports in Israel, don't be surprised if you find Doron leading the pack.
From national to international, from college to the pros, from on-court action to off-court heroism, Doron is an all-around bad ass. If you can't get enough of Shay (is it really possible to get too much of her), then head on over to her website. Check it out. Shoot her an email. Just don't fall into her shadow. Her temple guards may have to cut out your heart for such a heretical action.
Friday, September 21, 2007
First off, my favorite German-born, Iona-bred b-baller is back on the court. Way to go, Weber! My German is about as good as my Klingon, but I THINK the website says that she got 15 points. She's been popping up all over the place. Is she playing for the national team? Someone with some German skills? Help me out? Maybe Pat will actually play her next season. No, no. That's too much excitement in one day for me.
Next, ESPN screwed the pooch on the WNBA championship. Are any of you surprised?
Really, other than that, it's pretty quiet on the home front. Until Monday, then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
So, my first WNBA season has come to a close, and what can I say? I enjoyed it thoroughly. The games were exciting, the tickets were cheap, and good times were had by all. I scored major brownie points with my girlfriend, watched a high level of sport, and got a blog out of the deal. Not bad. But largely, it was mostly fun connecting with a team in the New York area that didn't make me feel like I'd sold my soul to Lucifer.
While I’ve lived in New York for the past five years, nothing before the Liberty that I have encountered made me want to root for any other major sports team in the immediate Tri-State area. It wasn’t fun, and while I met tons of nice fans, they were greatly outweighed by the dicks who called my girlfriend a cunt for wearing a Phillies cap and generally hyper-machismo that pervades much of the New York sporting scene.
I love reveling in my masculinity as much as the next guy, but I don’t feel the desire that so many men do to reaffirm their choices by degrading other people’s. Why is it that rooting for the Boston Red Sox makes one less of a man? What does it say about a person who calls a person a “fag” for rooting for the Braves, even when that person doesn’t claim to be homophobic? What does it say about the current sexual hierarchy when degrading the feminine and pumping the masculine full of steroids is de rigueur?
The Liberty were a pleasant surprise, then. For all of the talk of sports radio Neanderthals and late-night comedians, the quality of play was high and a good time was had by all in attendance. Maybe it was just that I had never really watched basketball avidly before, or maybe it was that without all of the chest-thumping bullshit that goes on in the higher echelons of the male sport, I actually found something that I could enjoy. In any case, there was something that brought me there and kept me in my seat for the whole 34-game season and through to the playoffs.
I’m not afraid to admit that there was a part of me that is sexually attracted to female athleticism, nor am I ashamed that it was a bit evident in my early excursions into the sport. Some men are afraid of women in traditionally male roles; I am not. Some women believe that any sexual attraction by a man to a female in a position renders that relationship tainted; I do not. If a man is secure with who he is, than any person (male or female) shouldn’t be able to shift that alignment unless there is truly something wrong with that man’s world-view. And, like it or not, men are attracted to women, and women are attracted to men. Simply saying that we shouldn’t view women in a sexually objectifying way isn’t going to stop it; however, that doesn’t mean that men need to go around exploiting themselves and women for a dollar or a bit of titillating pleasure. That being said, I find certain women in this league attractive. This was not the main reason why I liked the league, but I would be lying if there wasn’t something there.
Once I got there, though, the basketball and camaraderie is what kept me there. It was like joining an exclusive club, and the benefits were almost tangible. I was in on the secret; everybody else was demeaning this sport, but we lucky ones got to see it for cheap and cheer on people without qualms of guilt. We were enjoying ourselves, sure, but there was something else to it; we were a part of something bigger and better than most other sports. We weren’t bashing our heads against a break will or drowning our sorrows in cheap swill. It was fun, but it wasn’t degrading, and it was something that actually mattered.
And, of course, there was the basketball. I love sports of all kinds and levels. I am equally comfortable discussing minor-league hockey as I am Canadian football, and everything else (box lacrosse, curling, even a little bit of golf) in between. Basketball, however, was never near the top of my list. Growing up in Pittsburgh in the 80s and 90s meant that there wasn’t a lot of action (pro or college hoops) for me to dig. It took me a long time to get interested, and to an extent, I still don’t care too much about the NBA. But the WNBA proved to be intriguing. It featured all of the intrigue and passion of other sports, and there was something that I could get behind.
In the process, I discovered what I liked about basketball. It was fast. It was structured. It had the flow of hockey with the strategy of football, with individual contests of skill married to an overarching sense of teamwork. It was what originally attracted me to hockey and baseball in my youth, and I found it anew once again in the games that I say at the Garden.
The season itself was thrilling and heart-breaking, with the ups and downs of a roller coaster. I’m not sure that I could follow the team every year if they featured a five game win, followed by a 2-7 skid, followed by a 3-1 run, followed by a 7 game losing streak, followed by another 3-1 mark to close the season, but it was certainly exciting at the time. When I discovered that I was upset that I was going to be out of town when the Libs played their most important games of the year, I realized that I was hooked.
I am upset that the WNBA and the Liberty didn’t try to court me earlier. I literally had to go out of my way to find out information. Mostly, it was for my girlfriend and for a bit . But my interest grew, and so did I as a person. I’m not by any means perfect or free from hypocrisy, but I would like to think that the Liberty, at least in directly, made me think about sexual paradigms and societal hierarchies in an entirely different light. Along the way, I decided against going to Law School, performed in a comedy troupe, and started really writing again. The blog both kept me focused on the team and writing on a regular basis. Without it (and the league) I am not sure where I would be right now.
This is all becoming highly over-dramatic, but I did find something great this summer. It was a lot of fun, and for you who have read from the beginning, or joined late, or left comments, or sent me emails, or anything else, I truly appreciate it. I started this off hoping to maybe find a small niche of fans and keep writing. Instead, by the end of the season, I was attracting two thousand unique visitors a day for game reviews and at least fourteen-hundred during the off-peak areas. That has fallen somewhat now that the season is over, but it is still high.
So, lastly, I would like to thank you, the faithful few, those who have read my blog and kept me going. Every time I decided not to write that day, I thought of all the people who actually liked reading what I wrote and brought myself back from the brink. Really, it’s all about you at the end of the day. The Liberty and this blog wouldn’t exist without that, and I’m a better person for it. Thank you, and I hope to meet up with you all again next season.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
We all know how things got under way for the New York Liberty in 2007. At the draft, Becky Hammon was traded to the San Antonio Silver Spurs for the 2nd overall choice, with which the Liberty chose Jessica Davenport. Hammon was (and still is) a crowd favorite, who later led the Silver Stars to their first post-season appearance in San Antonio, and the transaction bred a lot of anger and resentment against the New York front office. The Liberty, coming off their worst season in their existence and missing the playoffs for just the third time ever, were facing declining attendance and a rebuilding roster, and while the move made sense from a team standpoint, it did nothing to alleviate fears for one of the WNBA’s premier franchises.
New York could have been viewed as emblematic of the WNBA at that point; forced into an uncomfortable situation by decreasing attendance and viewership, and the subject of a lot of out-of-city ribbing and fan-based griping. Some choices seemed impossibly short-sighted (Orender’s coverage debacle, the Liberty’s cutting back on advertisement), while others seemed confusing (at best) or . There was little coverage heading into the WNBA 2007 Season in the mainstream press, and what little there was did not bode as good news for the Liberty. Few gave them a chance, especially against the increased quality of play in the East (thanks to the dispersal draft from the folding of Charlotte).
The first five games came as a great surprise to many, then, as the Liberty played with strength and speed not seen in the 2006 Campaign. Starting off with an unsteady, come-from behind victory over the Chicago Sky, the Libs managed to knock of their first five opponents, including a hotly-contested match against Phoenix (won in the waning seconds by a spectacular driving lay-up by Davenport) and a come-from-behind win against the then-conference leaders, Indiana Fever. The combined score of the first four contests was 395-357, hardly dominating, but impressive for a team that had finished 11-23 the previous season.
Major reasons for this opening went to the head coach, Pat Coyle. A fan of a modified zone-system of play, Coyle began the season as the maestro of a flailing orchestra, replacing the pieces of the Liberty’s ensemble when they were sputtering with players from the bench. Erin Thorn started out the season red-hot, seemingly unable to miss from beyond the three-point line, while Shameka Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld also put up strong numbers to assuage fans’ fears. All five games featured the Liberty losing in the early parts of the game, only to have the ladies find their confidence and Coyle find her team, leading to a strong victory pulled from the jaws of defeat, sometimes in the final minutes of the game. It was nerve-wracking, to be certain, but exhilarating, also; it was the kind of play that the Liberty hadn’t seen since their seemingly perennial Finals appearances, and all of this coming from a group of youthful overachievers that most had written off before the first whistle was blown. The picture was bright, and many New York fans were hoping that it is was just the beginning.
Unfortunately, it was the peak.
The next nine games saw setbacks in nearly every category in which New York had developed. Three-point shooting was down as Thorn went into a major slump (and eventually was injured). Team defense, once key to New York’s game, became slack as points from turnovers increased and lazy fouls were taken. Coyle, at the beginning of the season seen as a beacon of wisdom, became the target of some fans’ anger. Coyle, who preached a more open game (and movable lineup) at the beginning of the season, began playing her “favorite eight,” relegating certain key figures in the first five wins (particularly Davenport) to bench roles while only at times reaching to the deep bench, despite lackluster play from some of her starters. Through this all, the Liberty lost seven of nine, including humiliating losses to Washington, Indiana, and Chicago.
The worst of it (and one of the low points of the season) was the June 26th game against Sacramento. The Monarchs were a defense-first team (and at the time, the conference leader in the West) and coming off of a Finals lost; they were the favorite to go back to the finals, but even that couldn’t excuse New York’s lackluster played. The Liberty scored single-digit points in each of the first two quarters, not scoring non-free throw until 7 minutes into the game and managing only 15 points in the first half. Despite horrible showings by Christon (1 point), Loree Moore (1 point), and Tiffany Jackson (4 points), only seven players were given significant playing time (Davenport and Lindsay Bowen both played four minutes, most of that time coming during the end of the game) in New York’s worst loss of the season. The final score? 59-46.
This overture of woe was broken by a brief interlude of hope. The Liberty took three of four, losing in resounding fashion to the Seattle Storm (84-53), but taking games from the Los Angeles Sparks, a rematch against the Monarchs, and an overtime nail-biter against the streaking (and conference leading) Detroit Shock. Janel McCarville, picked up by New York in the dispersal draft from the Charlotte Sting, began showing the promise that had made the Sting choose her first overall two years earlier. Thorn, out for nearly a month, made a comeback as well, while Christon and Moore both showed flashes of brilliance that helped the Liberty take games that shouldn’t have rightly been theirs. It seemed that the Liberty’s nightmare was over.
This was not the end of the Liberty’s pain, however, as New York went on a seven game losing streak and almost took themselves out of the playoff race. Their conference rivals, the Washington Mystics, whom the Liberty had battered in previous outings, helped their chances out by beating the Liberty during that span. The Mystics, hounded by a 0-8 start, made a surge after picking up Monique Currie in a trade to Chicago Sky (for Chasity Melvin) to aid Alana Beard, placing them at times in the fourth spot in the East. The Sky, meanwhile, after going 5-29 in their inaugural season just ten months before, was still in the playoff hunt as well, thanks to New York’s play and Connecticut’s limping start out of the gate.
The Liberty faced a tumultuous season off the court as well. Rabid fans and strong early play couldn’t hide the many empty seats at the Garden. Viewership, while slightly increasing across the league, was down for New York on MSG and during its national TV contests. Without a star player to focus around, the faithful had to settle for a 7-17 product (before the Liberty awoke to win three of four and secure a post-season appearance) that, at times, seemed lethargic, boring, and committed to a system that wasn’t working. Consistency woes plagued the team the entire season, and it could be felt in any game in the waning moments as all but a faithful few remained in their seats to see a team that at points seemed poised to overtake their opponents, and at others maddeningly dispassionate. Advertisement was down, as was corporate sponsorship, and there were times that it seemed like 2007 would go down as the dark-mark on the Liberty’s otherwise strong record.
The season was not a complete loss, however, regardless of appearances. Despite going 16-18 (just the third sub -.500 season in their history), the Liberty managed to pull their talent together and take three of their last games and secure a playoff spot on the last game of the season. In the first round, they took the opening game from the Shock (the regular season and eventual Eastern Conference Playoff champs), while leading them on a wild ride for the rest of the series, ultimately losing in the decisive Game 3 by a single point in overtime. By the end of the season, Coyle’s strategy seemed to finally click with the girls, who managed to finally move past their consistency problems and work together as a team. . In a rebuilding cycle, without a single All-Star, the Liberty managed to play a team game and found budding superstars in McCarville, while Kraayeveld, Thorn, Christon, and Moore all had career years. From an on-paper standpoint, this team is a star or two away from playing powerball and winning back the crowds.
Through it all and despite the various setbacks that had hindered the franchise through the season, passion among fans at the games remained high, and several high attendance crowds were seen at the Garden. Strong promotions kept people in the stands happy, while attendance rebounded a bit towards the end of the season. The Garden was often noisy, never silent, and rarely bored. Even during the doldrums, the Liberty faithful could be seen cheering on their gals. It was a heartening sight for the team, and for the franchise itself, as the season came to a close and 2008 marched closer.
That is not to say that there isn’t much to do for the Liberty in the upcoming months; there will have to be some hard choices made if this team is to become the darling of the league once more. The draft is right around the corner, and the Front Office needs to decide who is necessary for next season and who is expendable. Trade rumors are circling over Kraayeveld, a native North-Westerner who would compliment the Seattle Storm well (should they remain in Washington), but at what price? Things are going to get... interesting, and there will almost certainly be heart-break for the fans who have newfound favorites among those who may not wear the orange and blue next season.
Overall, however, it has been a fantastic ride. The Liberty made the playoffs and proved their nay-sayers wrong. The crowds still came without a star to lead them. There was reason to hope and cheer, and new heroes were made on a nightly basis. Looking back, it wasn’t the best year that the New York Liberty had ever seen, but there was reason enough for optimism even during the darkest moments. Will the 2008 season be brighter? We can only wait and see.
EDIT: I incorrectly labelled San Antonio's team the Spurs (NBA) and not the Silver Stars (WNBA). I can only say; wow. This has been changed, and I have been chastised. I apologize for the error.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
So here are the things that are going to be done in the off-season.
- Finish the final Liberty Belles and Nicknames (I know, I know... I promised this a while back, but since the Libs have been ousted, I just haven't found the energy and time.)
Post a Season in Review.
- Post a "Thoughts on a First Season Essay"
- Update random comings and goings in the league, including (hopefully) information on what our gals are doing over-seas.
- Take down all hot-links and replace with pictures (this is going to go slowly, probably about two or three a day, at max)
- Clean up the site; repair broken links, update sidebars, etc.
As you can see, this is not a very extensive list. I have about maybe a dozen or so hard posts that I must do, and the rest is up to the hands of fate. If there is a lot of news, then I will post often. If not... well, we'll see how it goes.
I will be posting at least once a week, probably more like two or three times. However, I won't be posting everyday. There just isn't a need for it, and there's only sometimes I would be able to say "Ho Hum. Nothing much going on today, is there? Who likes Women's Basketball?"
In an ideal scenario, I will be posting Monday, Wednesday, Friday, with maybe an occasional post in between those days. Depending on the amount of news, however, this might be a bit optimistic. I'll be posting essays every once in a while, and in a best-case scenario, I'll do an in-depth preview and follow-up on the draft. Any major comings and goings will be reported here, but if you're looking for major news, you're probably better off scanning the league's official site.
It's been a great ride. I'll go into more of that on Thursday, in my main essay.
AROUND THE LEAGUE...
Paul Westhead, fresh off coaching the Mercs to their first championship, has been offered an assistant coaching position for the Seattle (Super)Sonics. I gotta say, it must be a tempting offer. Who knows?
Temple fans will find interesting stuff here. Those who aren't (which is 99.9999967% of you)... well, it's vaguely interesting otherwise.
Wrap-up of the season courtesy of Donna Orender and the Ministry of Information. It touches on a lot of topics: attendance/ratings increases, the new CBA, the potential for disruption next year due to the Olympics, and more. In maddening fashion, however, nothing is "really" discussed but only mentioned. Thanks for clearing the air, Donna.
Until tomorrow, then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Monday, September 17, 2007
PHOENIX 108, DETROIT 92
The Phoenix Mercury upset the Detroit Shock last night and became the first WNBA team to clinch the title on the road as they rolled past Mo-Town's finest for their first championship. It was a hard-won series for the gals from Arizona - featuring chippy play, hard-nose offense, and a decided lack of defense on part of both teams - but the Mercs held it together, and led by Taurasi, Pondexter, Taylor, and Smith, brought the trophy home for the 2007 season.
The game was more similar to the defensively-absent games of the first two contests in the series than the grittier play of games 3 and 4. The Mercury jumped out to an early lead and led the Shock 30-17 at the end of the first ten minutes. They never looked back, taking the Championship in deciding fashion by never allowing the Shock to even come close to touching their point total again. Penny Taylor led both teams with 30 points, while also hitting all 18 (yes, as in a one and then an eight) of her free-throws. The rest of the Mercs also did well, going a gargantuan 52.3% from the field and a strong 39.3% from beyond the arc. Six of the eight players seeing court-time made double-digit points, while still falling behind Detroit in most statistical comparisons (rebounds, steals, assists, etc.).
Detroit couldn't pull it together in the face of such an onslaught. Powell came out of the game early, and despite being MUCH stronger than Phoenix in the passing game, gave up too many turnovers (17 to Phoenix's 9) while never playing with a decent sense of urgency. Deanna Nolan did her best, scoring 27 points, but the reserves, so strong in earlier games, couldn't pull it together in this contest. By the end, the Shock were going through the motions, down by 18 in the beginning of the 4th, they shadowed the Mercs, but never put any kind of pressure on them. The game, as they say, was decided before it was decided, and Detroit, for all their gains in the season, for all the come-from-behind wins and marvelous play, for all the time spent at the top of their conference, could not pull a rabbit out of their hat. Their team played their system well, but it was not enough.
This game - and series - is going to have a major effect on the WNBA of 2008. Truthfully, there are few teams that have the kind of talent that Phoenix has, but the defense-first game of Sacramento and Detroit took a huge hit as Paul Westhead's offense-only system obliterated everything in its path. It took a while to implement, sure, but by the end of the season, Phoenix could not be stopped. They swept through both Seattle and San Antonio, before taking apart the best of the East despite losing two games and playing on the road for three matches. Everything - history, intuition, statistics, and more - were against them, and yet, they got through. What a series. Damn.
Be Proud, Phoenix. Be Proud.
- Turnovers were huge. Phoenix had 9. Detroit? 17.
- History. Just to reiterate, Phoenix is the first WNBA Champion to clinch on the road.
- 108 Points. The same number that Phoenix took in the first game.
- Detroit's defense. We can hem and haw all we want, but really, it should have been better than that.
- Strong crowd, especially seeing their lassies go down like that. I was surprised to see how many stuck around until the end.
Cappie Pondexter took home Finals MVP. Hardly could've picked someone else. While a case could be made for Diana Taurasi (her points total was only a little bit lower than Cappie, while being more consistent in her shots and topping in rebounds), Cappie brought an element of scrappiness and (dare I say it?) defense to a team that desperately needed it. Not only that, but she came through when it counted, scoring the game winner in Game 4 and posting 26 points and 10 assists in the deciding match. Taurasi may have pushed the ball more, but Cappie kept the team together for the long haul.
And so the playoffs end, not with a whimper, but a bang. The Mercs are the new WNBA Champions. They got over a middling opening to come back and, through a brand of offense unique to the league this season, smashed through supposedly wall-like opponents with poise, grit, and an engine like a freight train. It didn't hurt that they had four players that all could have started for the All-Star team, either, but that's neither here nor there. They rocked on, and I salute them for it.
So here's how it's gonna roll. Today is my last official entry of the season. Tomorrow, I'm gonna outline my plans for the off-season. Expect hilarity, off-color jokes, and a general lack of any real reporting. On Wednesday, I'm going to wrap-up the season. Until then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
(All Photos from this entry are from the WNBA's Official Site).
Friday, September 14, 2007
PHOENIX 77, DETROIT 76
If you wanted exciting playoff basketball, you got it. Detroit lashed out after a languid first quarter to go ahead strong for much of the game, but unlike Game 3, the Mercs managed to come through in the clutch and punched through the ceiling to even-up the series at 2-apiece, with a single game left to go in Detroit.
That is going to be a tall order for Phoenix, but not impossible. Detroit played like Titans of old at home during the regular season, going 12-5 (two of which were within 3 points), and have lost only once at home during the playoffs... to the Mercs. Phoenix isn't shabby on the road, either, going 11-6, but only losing 1 game in the regular season on the road after June 22nd. Their only loss on the road in the playoffs? To Detroit, of course.
If Phoenix and Detroit play like they did in Game 4, it will be a heart-stopping finish to the season. Pondexter played solidly, particularly in the 4th, going for a total of 8 points in those ten minutes (with two clutch rebounds) to bring her point total to a game-high 26 points. Also solid? Plenette Pierson, with 23 points, but still prone to making stupid fouls.
Was there something lacking for both teams in the game? Definitely. Phoenix only got great games out of three of their starters, while Smith and Taylor both had off-nights. Detroit played well, spreading the ball around, but MUST pick up loose balls and open rebounds; three times last night the Shock allowed the Mercs to essentially control the ball for minutes at a time, and by the law of averages, the Mercs are going to have to start hitting those shots SOMETIME.
Both teams cut down on their fouls, however, and made it clear that they weren't going to go easily. Detroit shot 50% from beyond the arc and nearly that much from the field (48.3%). Phoenix didn't have nearly as impressive a shooting game, but they kept throwing it until their shots FINALLY started hitting.
It's going to be some good basketball. Stay tuned...
- Sloppy play in the first half by Phoenix. The Mercs shot less than 30% from the field in the first twenty. For shaaaaaame...
- Ford. Word on the street is that she might be out for the last game. If so, then that make's Phoenix's job a HELL of a lot easier.
- ...that's about all I got, really.
The Palace of Auburn Hills
430 ET, ESPN2
Two teams enter, one team leaves... then a little while later, the other team leaves.
The WNBA will NOT take action following the Pierson-Taylor scuffle of Game Three. Surprised? You shouldn't be.
Attendance problems plague the Finals. I was able to find 10 dollar tickets within a dozen rows of the floor. Ugh.
Attendance increased across the league this year, up to 7,739 from 7,476, an increase of 3.5%. Not exactly earth-shattering, but still, the first increase in years. (Source: Women's Basketball Online. The numbers aren't crunched correctly, but if you put them in yourself, you can see the change.)
Liberty news? Nada. Sorry, but it's the off-season. Until Monday, then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Nothing really on the Liberty front. You know how it is. And so, onward and upward...
DETROIT 88, PHOENIX 83
Detroit leads series, 2-1
The Shock got off to a hell of a start, scoring 30 points in the first quarter to the Mercury's 23, allowing them to coast the rest of the way to victory. To be sure, they weren't exactly resting on their haunches, but neither did they attack the ball all the times that they could have. This was purely a "Get-ahead, stay-ahead" approach, and the Shock pulled it off masterfully.
The Mercury did not have a bad game, but nor did they look like a team in contention for the WNBA crown. They shot an anemic 16.7% from beyond the arc, while going 34.7% from the field; both are hardly the numbers that an offense-only team needs to put up. They DID manage to out-rebound the Shock for the first time in the series, but rarely turned these moments into baskets, instead taking dumb chances and awkward shots and forcing the ball. By the end, with Detroit still nicely (though not firmly) ahead, a sense of desperation began to ooze out, with 18 missed shots in the 4th quarter alone. This was not judicious-haste; this was panic.
The game moved slowly, both due to the Mercs inability to move the ball and also Detroit's holding-pattern. Chippy play dominated throughout, leading to plenty of fouls on both sides, and while I can't say that the game was fun to watch, I can say that it was... interesting. The Mercs couldn't reach back over the never-beyond-nine-points lead of the Shock, however...
...And so, Detroit managed to hold on and put themselves in a nice place to secure their second-straight WNBA title. A win tomorrow by Phoenix would only mean a stay of execution, as the series would then move to the Den of Lions that is the Shock's home court (the Palace, for all you unitiated). Winning two games in a row seems like a daunting task for a Phoenix team that hasn't seemed all that put together since their first game. Don't measure ring sizes just yet, Detroit, but measuring the shelf space you have to hold the Finals Trophy wouldn't exactly be out of the question.
- The Mercs played seven players total. No starter played less than 33 minutes. Nice way to get things moving on your end, Phoenix.
- The Shock, meanwhile, played 10, 9 of which got significant playing time. Coincidence? I would not posit so.
- Desperation personified. In a 40-second span near the end of the 4th, the Mercs missed and rebounded the ball six times. A simple lay-up was even beyond their grasp, as they also dropped several of these (three in the 4th).
- 28 of the Mercs 83 points came from Free Throws. Detroit still hasn't gotten the hang of the whole "not-fouling-your-opponent-when-you're-kicking-their-ass" thing.
- 7 of the 19 points scored by the Shock in the 4th quarter were also from Free Throws. Phoenix, meanwhile, needs to work on the "don't-take-stupid-fouls-when-you're-down" way of thinking.
- Questionable action by Plenette Pierson at the end of the game. With the game essentially decided, Pierson gets tangled up with Penny Taylor and then takes a swing at Taylor. Should action be taken? Yes. Will action be taken? Hell, no.
If the heat doesn't kill you, Plenette Pierson just might.
At least ONE ESPN blogger found last night's game fun to watch. If he thinks THAT'S indicative of WNBA-quality play, well... shit. Maybe he should've watched the Shock in the REGULAR season.
There won't be a Colorado team in the WNBA next season after all. Colorado, which in The Writer's opinion had the best shot of landing a franchise next season due to the market and surprise success of the Colorado Crush, will now have to wait until next season, at least. This means, barring a hideously bad decision or something similarly catastrophic, it'll be a 13-team league next summer.
Anyway, that's about it. Until tomorrow?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
No photos today. Just down to basic basics. That and I'm lazy and have WAY too much to do. I know, I know; that's my usual battle-cry. But for now, just forget about it. It's been TOO long of a stormy late-summer workday.
The Libs have a couple of nice things up on their page. Check out their by-the-numbers feature. It's a cool bit of news that, while little more than an appetizer, can at least put down your Liberty-driven hunger for a few moments. Or can it? Can you handle a few days without the Liberty in your life? I know I can't. I have daydreams of Erin Thorn hitting a long three and then Davenport making some Mystic player look foolish, or maybe even shame the Sky for ever coming into existence. That, and then Martina Weber gets into the game, and...
But I digress. Also take a look at what the Libs will be up to during the off-season. English news is hard to get (let alone actual coverage), so my coverings will be a bit hit-or-miss, but hopefully, I'll be able to catch up with some of these ladies.
The Official Site is also doing player-by-player reports. Dutch is up first. It's little more than propoganda, but it's nice to have some coverage and to see some actual coverage of the Belles.
Trenton is going to be the home of a game between the U.S. Women's Senior National Team and Australia. Tickets start at 10 bucks and are going to feature a whole slew of WNBA stars. Check it out. I won't be going, because 1.) I don't have a car, 2.) Paying to go to Trenton on the train is not my idea of a good time, and 3.) I'm busy that day. But, check with your Liberty friends and see if they want to go.
What's your favorite moment from the season? Tell the Libs. If it involved The Libertine in any way, shape, or form, make sure to ask if I can get a press pass for next season.
That's it, oh faithful few. You know what tonight is. Watch Game 3 on TV tonight, or better yet, get a bunch of friends together, bring some quality brew, and watch it together. My suggestions for a cold, rainy night?
- Anything by Magic Hat. Number 9 is a strong, slightly hoppy, apricot-tinged pale ale. Circus Boy is a nice Wheat Beer that is a little more tame than Hoegaarden, but also infinitely more quaffable. Speaking of which...
- Hoegaarden. A Belgian Witbier. Whenever someone tells me that they "don't like beer", I give them this and they love it. Sweet, but not overly so, with strong coriander and orange flavorings, as well as a couple light seasonings that I can't quite put my finger on.
- Heineken. If you're going to go the commercial route, go with this brand.
- Anything by St. Peter's. If you can find it, tremendous brew.
- Dogfish 60-Minute IPA. A great brewery with a spectacular India Pale Ale. Hoppy, strong, and intensely flavorful. Go for the 90-Minute IPA if you're more adventurous.
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Monday, September 10, 2007
First, a few points of old news...
Shay Doron's doing well for the Israeli National team. On the 5th, she scored 7 points and helped her team to a 76-64 win over Bulgaria. Go, Hebrew Hammer, Go!
This is from a while ago, but it features Ashley Battle. As a Pittsburgh native, I gotta give it up to Battle. Black-and-Gold gotta stick together.
And now that that's out of the way, on to...
PHOENIX 98, DETROIT 70
Beyond the 3 minute mark, Detroit never held a lead and watched as Diana Taurasi slammed home 30 points to lead the Mercs to one of the most uneven victories of this post-season. Only two players from the Shock scored double-digit points(Nolan with 12 and Cash with 10), while shooting only 32% from the field and 15% from beyond the arc. Truly, it was a beat-down of a savagery not seen since the days of Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Everything about this game was uneven. The Shock never won a quarter, turned over the ball 16 times (leading to 21 points), and couldn't handle any part of the Mercury's offense. By the half, they were scrambling, looking for a way to somehow staunch the flow from Phoenix's offense, but even then, they couldn't break a Mercury defense that had suddenly, inexplicably decided to show up and DO something (admittedly, letting in 78 points, but still a 30-point difference in the last game).
Phoenix, meanwhile, evened up the series as the Finals moves to Arizona for the next two games. Coming off a game like this, and having two full days of rest, definitely won't hurt the Mercs, and should they win the next game, it will be mighty hard for Detroit to come back and take two, even with the final game in Detroit. Let's not count our chickens, however. First, Phoenix has to win another game which, despite last-night's game, isn't anywhere near a certainty. It will be VERY interesting to see how this plays out.
Dan Hughes of the San Antonio Silver Stars was named Coach of the Year. Not exactly my first choice on the matter, but it's hard to argue with what he did in Texas. Well played.
Armintie Price was named Rookie of the Year.
And, unsurprisingly, Lauren Jackson won league MVP. Which would be boring, except for the gargantuan numbers that she put up in the season. The Writer's Analysis: Had Jackson not been so huge, the Storm would've been 10-24 for the season and Houston would've been the team getting swept by Phoenix in the opening round. You go, you Down-Under Goddess, you.
Just do a Google Image Search for "Lauren Jackson" and you will get an approximation for my feelings for Lauren Jackson.
As for that, that's about it. Take what ya can in the off-season, as they say. Until tomorrow?
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Friday, September 7, 2007
Guess who's going to be on the US Women's Basketball team? Loree Moore, that's who! Boo yah!
Other than that, not much news to talk of. If you like propoganda pieces, or are just interested in the company line, head on over to the WNBA's official site. Okay, okay, so it's not all that bad, but still, nothing that would push too many buttons.
Instead, I'll give you what you all came to see, and it's something that even the most mind-numbed among us can appreciate... hardcore nudity!
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Thursday, September 6, 2007
No Liberty news, but if you like Beer and live in New York, your holiday extravaganza of the year is coming up next week when the New York Brew Fest kicks off. No, this isn't related to the Liberty in the slightest, but hey, it's kinda cool, and what has more to do with Liberty (the concept) and New York (the city) than a Beer Festival? As Benjamin Franklin said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
Onto basketball news...
DETROIT 108, PHOENIX 100
SERIES: Detroit leads, 1-0
I could make a joke about defense, but that has been done enough. Yeah, yeah. The offensive capabilities of both teams were on show, and Detroit's team-first attitude won out. It was a mildly exciting game for someone (me) who doesn't have a vested interest in either team (Go Libs) and who didn't watch the sport that much until this season (too much Hockey, didn't live in New York full time, yadda yadda yadda).
The game DID have a few surprises, however. The Mercs managed to finally start hitting some three's, Diana Taurasi was limited to ten points (due to foul trouble), and Phoenix only played eight players... no wait... that last one was surprising at all.
Detroit essentially dominated after going on a 17-6 run to close the first half 41-35. Sure, Phoenix scored more the next quarter and threatened the Shock at several points, but Detroit put them away with a 39-point 4th and that, as they say, was that. Penny Taylor scored 32 to lead both teams in points, while also going 11-19 from the field. Plenette Pierson led the Shock with 26 points (and 10 rebounds).
Speaking of point totals, the boxscore is rather ridiculous, if you want a laugh. Pondexter and Taylor combined for 47 shots; no other Merc had more than 8. Elaine Powell (DET), in her thirteen minutes of gametime, didn't register a single shot from the field. Defensive rebounds compared side-by-side: Phoenix 17, Detroit 33 (more than Phoenix's TOTAL rebounds). Ayana Walker and Tyresa Smith (both DET) registered exactly five seconds of game-time each.
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
You all know what today is...
On the Liberty front, no news. Expect much of the same until the gals head to Europe. I'll try to keep up with news on that front as it comes in, but unless they play in the Netherlands and I can use my Dutch contacts to go to games, it's going to be hit or miss.
Watch the game and be wowed. I, unfortunately, will be watching the Fashionista Diaries because The Writer's Girlfriend knows two women on that show. If anyone knows where Pepto is sold in bulk quantities, please let me know.
See ya, Space Cowboy...
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Liberty news is slow, but that’s the way it is.
Deposits are being taken for Liberty Season Tickets. Not that they’re going to sell out of them, but it’s always nice to get a jump.
A nice article on Becky Hammon (everybody’s favorite former Belle) from ESPN. It’s a little fawning, but then again, Hammon’s making a serious case for MVP and may lose out simply because Lauren Jackson is the major reason that Seattle was in the playoffs as opposed to 7-27. Or is the MVP the same thing as the Peak Performer of the year? Someone get back to me…
A former Lib intern is now an assistant Coach at Longwood. Props, and try to make sure the head coach plays more than eight players on a regular basis.
But the WNBA marches on, with or without the Liberty in the Finals…
Phoenix scammed San Antonio in a close sweep (oxymoronic, I know), while Detroit had problems with Indiana, but ultimately resolved it in three. Am I killer, or what?
So, it’s come down to this… the best in the West and the beast in the East, or, that would be how I phrased it if the WNBA hadn’t already put it up on their website. Instead, I will refer to them as the Adroit from Detroit and the Mean Chicks from Phoenix.
Each couldn’t play a more different game. Detroit focuses on a team-first approach, playing a long bench while also focusing on some superb (if not super-star) starters, passing the ball, playing good defense, and relying on their small game to overcome their lack of strength from beyond the arc. Phoenix, meanwhile, plays a balls-to-the-wall offense with little attitude towards their own end, and now that their whole team has awoken and begun to play together, their points up front definitely make up for their defensive ineptitude. Who will win?
Detroit took the season series, defeating the Mercs in a close 87-84 match in June and a month later by the more dominating tune of 111-82. Both came before Phoenix’s rise from the ashes of defenseless mediocrity.
Phoenix has since exploded, going 16-3 and sweeping both the Storm and Silver Stars in the playoffs. Will the Shock be the next S team that they dominate in the playoff?
For my money, the leaders on the Phoenix are definitely the better basketball players. Taurasi? Money in the bank. Pondexter? Already constructing a statue of her. Taylor? The mere mention of her name brings ecstasy to the minds of many. Smith? Like a ball of raging flame and fire, burning deeply across the night sky. They’re top five players combine for a total of almost 90 points a game. That’s twenty more than the entire Shock team combined.
But the team game is decidedly Detroit’s. Look beyond the Merc’s top five and you’ll see one player averaging 6 points a game and little else. They’re as top-heavy as a San Fernando Valley Porn Star, and Detroit is adept at taking apart those kind of offenses. More balanced teams like New York (admittedly, still needing another star-quality player) can give them problems, as the Shock’s focus becomes defused, but Detroit can play a full 40 on their first half tank alone, not to mention their ladies-in-waiting.
It’s a 5-game series, but the games are scheduled loosely, with all but one match-up including two-days’ rest. That will have to work in Phoenix’s favor. It’s going to be hard for them to play their top five as hard as they have without running out of gas. Detroit is built for the long-haul, however, as evidenced by their success even without Cheryl Ford. Even if Phoenix gives them trouble in the first game, the Shock are adaptable enough to pick up their nuances and give them a run later in the series (see their series victories over Indiana and our own Belles). Gotta be honest: I would not want to be in the Mercs shoes right now.
My Pick: The Shock in Four.
The first game is on Wednesday. Make sure to buy extra Depends. You’ll need it.
See ya, Space Cowboy…