After what seems like forever, the WNBA season has started. It's been almost nine months, with tons of info and goings-on happening in between. Trades, an expansion team, the draft, the announcement of an Outdoor Classic (for inspiration, see Buffalo Sabres vs. Pittsburgh Penguins), and a whole lot more.
As for me, I've been out of commission since January. If any of you are still around, thanks. It was quite crazy there for a while. I'll update everybody about my various to-do's that happened in that time span, but I know why you're all here...
The 2008 WNBA Season tipped off today for New York, with the Libs trying to best tha already 1-0 Connecticut Sun for that all-important first win. No one wants to be like the 2007 Minnesota Lynx or Houston Comets, you know?
Unfortunately, the Liberty started off on the wrong foot. Sure, we won the toss, but that was followed by three missed shots before the first non-free throw basket was made some three-plus minutes into the quarter. Whoever thought that the "Clap/Stomp Until We Score" thing was a good idea should be executed, Muppet-style.
Tamike Whitmore continued to prove Carol Blazejowski wrong (read, "moronic") for the trade that sent her out of town, while the remnants of Connecticut's "Big Four" (Whalen and Jones) showed why Connecticut finished a strong third in the conference last year. Janel McCarville managed to keep things interesting, however, netting the first four points of the Libs and making a few nice rebounds and plays. Unfortunately, the Libs couldn't get much out of anybody else and by the end of the first 10, the score read 20-16.
The Sun just kept pounding going into the 2nd, despite missing shot after shot. Raymond kept the Sun ahead with 6 rebounds, 4 points, and 2 clutch assists while the Sun seemed to be dazed at the lack of offensive-awareness shown by the Libs. Even McCarville slowed down. Rutgers alum (and the Liberty's 1st round draft pick this year) Essencse Carson saw most of her action in this quarter, but was limited to just one basket.
Now, if you were Pat Coyle, and two of your starters (Kraayeveld and Moore) combined for six points in twenty minutes of play, what would you do? If you answered "Keep Playing Them and Bench McCarville", you're damn right. Unfortunately, you also just blew it.
And so it went, with the 2nd half starting out just as poorly, with the sole saving grace being the Timeless Torches and their bad-ass routines.
The Belles began to show some life through the end of the 3rd and into the 4th, going on a 18-4 run that put them within 4 points of the Sun. McCarville, finally seeing some action, put together a nice few plays (and two solid shots), while Tiffany Jackson, and Shameka Christon continued their decent games...
... but just like that, the Libs lost their mojo again. Rebound after rebound was being picked up by the Sun, while the missed shots were finally beginning to add up. Kraayeveld awoke - briefly - from her slumber to score a basket and then turn over the ball on some bad shots before finally, the Sun pulled an Old Yeller and did what they had to do.
The final? 77-63. Most telling stat? 46-29 rebound total, in favor of the Sun. Best game? Connecticut's Ashja Jones, with 16 points (5-10, 6-6 for FTs), with another 4 assists and 5 rebounds. All of this despite the Connecticut Sun turning over the ball 20 times to the Libs. Of course, the Libs turned it back another 20 times, so... yeah... ugh...
Good things I noticed? The new, up-tempo defense worked really well (at points). Tiffany Jackson, when not seemingly lost on the court, had a strong game. Pat Coyle seems more willing to play from the bench than last year.
Bad things I noticed? Newcomers to the team still need to find their stride. Coyle has GOT to take out players that aren't cutting it. Turnovers are killer, but bad shots are WAY worse. And for GOD'S SAKE, LADIES! GET YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR WHEN ITS OBVIOUS THERE'S A SHOT ON THE WAY!
Overall, this looks like its going to be a decent season, but the Libs have to work on a few things. Everybody just needs to calm down. Sure, we're 0-1, but we have Washington up next, and the Satan-Worshippers... I mean, the Mystics... are going to have to deal with an angry group of Belles.
Still not satisfied? Listen to this. It'll calm you down.
Good? Can we continue? Very well.
Essencse Carson got a good write-up from the Daily News. She wasn't overwhelming in her opener, but hey, the crowd was into her and she still has some room to grow. I'll hold my tongue for now.
Lastly, I just want to call someone out.
You know that I like you, Kraayeveld. I think you're the bees knees, in fact. Unfortunately, your play today was worse than awful. It was atrocious. Your pappy taught you better than that. It seemed like you were a net-minus every time you were on the court. Sure, you made a couple decent plays, but every time I looked, you were making a bad shot, or in some other way destroying whatever rhythm the Libs had going. Your numbers weren't horrid (2-7, 6 rebounds, 6 points), but that's not the whole story. For a starter (over 33 minutes played), you need to produce more. I know you have it in you to be great. Just promise me that today you were suffering from SARS or something, and all will be forgiven.
- A little over 10,000 people at the game today. Strong crowd, but the lowest turnout for an opener in Lib's history. Looks like that decision to cut down on the size of the arena paid of dividends.
- Connecticut wasn't exactly overwhelming. Still, they got the job done, and in the end, they're 2-0.
- Tamika Whitmore = strong first half, dull second half.
- Lindsay Whalen is a beast.
- Officiating was all over the place. As in, I had no idea what they were gonna call next. Roping, perhaps? (Bonus points if any of you got the D2 reference).
- Newcomers Leilani Mitchell and Megan Duffy will have to pull double-duty to replace the gaping hole left in my heart by the departure of Martina Weber. But if anybody can do it, it's those two.
A more "professional" recap can be found here.
LYNX 84, SHOCK 70
Thanks to the ineptitude of the updaters at WNBA.com, I am unable to give a decent recap of this game. Not that I should be talking about updaters...
...but in anycase, It looks like the Lynx were able to hold off the big guns of the Shock and post a strong win to open up their season. A lot better than last year, huh? And Detroit? Come on. Whatza mattah wit' you? Huh? Yous otta be ashamed o' ya-selves!
No games tomorrow. Monday's are bad for the WNBA. Just like Garfield.
Candace Parker's debut went off swimingly. More than swimmingly, in fact. Her 34 points in the Sparks victory over the BLANK marks an NBA record for a newcomer. A writer for the LA Times thinks that Parker is exactly what the WNBA needs. I would argue that better management would be first on the list, but a healthy dose of star-power in a strong market wouldn't hurt, either.
The Atlanta Dream lost their first game 100-67. Ouch. Owner Ron Terwilliger is trying to do damage control. If this is how the Dream are going to play all season, he's going to need a lot more than band-aids, however.
A decent WNBA Preview is available here. Just a low-down on what happened in the off-season and what might happen during the 34 game schedule. Solid.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin is not happy about how she's been dealt with by the Sparks. I certainly wouldn't be happy winding up playing in D.C. But then again, I've had it in for that city since it swindled the Expos out of Montreal (with the aid of the MLB).
The Storm are settling in to a happier future, one without the threat of destruction or relocation. The same can't be said about the Sonics, but we must take one victory at a time. In case any of you want to help OUT Seattle's NBA team, however, might I suggest THIS for owner/scumbag Clay Bennett.
One note; I will not open any email without the word "Libertine" somewhere in the title. Any email without that word will be trashed. I've been getting a crapload of spam and junk, and unfortunately, if you've mailed me something and I haven't responded, it got lost in the pile. So if you want to get my attention, you know what to do.
There's a lot of stuff that I missed in the off-season, including the absence of two favorite players of mine. But enough of that now. More will come soon. I promise. And this time, I mean it. Until then?
See ya, Space Cowboy...