The Libs are coming off of a good win against the Storm, but let's not break our hands while patting each other on the back. That game was then. Houston is now, and despite the Comets 1-5 record, they're not a horrible team.
Where Houston gets it wrong is defense and teamplay. The Comets are near the bottom in points given up, point differential, field goal percentage differential, and assists. Tina Thompson leads the team with 16 ppg and 9 rpg, but after Matee Ajavon (10.8, 3.5), it drops off pretty fast. Where go Thompson and Ajavon, there go the Comets. Whenever the bench has a good game, its a bonus, not expected. So, to contain the Comets, the Libs are going to have to start with Double T.
Where Houston gets it right is rebounds and energy. Surprisingly, they are often the first to the ball in the offensive zone and play stronger-than-expected D around their own post. That's not to say that it's stellar, just better-than-average. A cynic might say that their exuberance to rebound is off-set by the amount of shots their opponents get off (perhaps), and that their excitement tends to lead to excessive fouling (undoubtedly true), but it also means that the Comets are not a team to let up. They'll be on the Libs from the opening tip-off to the last second, even if the Libs are up by over 20.
This kind of split denotes a sub .500 team that has more breaks go against it than for it, but just remember, a hidden python is deadlier than seen one. These are the kinds of teams that ruin a hot streak, or deny entrance into the playoffs. Last year's Comets started off by losing their first ten games, then played above-average ball the rest of the way. Had they picked up a couple games in those opening ten, they would have actually pushed for a playoff spot. Not won it, mind you, but been more in contention.
With the energy and whiff of the post-season that the Comets got, they've come out this year without a chain around their neck. They're going at it at all corners, and some of the less timid Liberty (Christon, McCarville) might find such hacking to be... uncouth. To put it mildly. If the Comets drag the Libs out of their game, we all know what will happen then. Desperation. Every woman for herself. Piss-poor passing. Random shots. In otherwords, chaos.
The Libs can get away with a lot against a team like Houston, but the Comets aren't pushovers. The best strategy is to play solid ball in the first and then try and open it up in the second, no matter what the score. If we're down, we're going to need the extra push. If we're up, we're going to need to extend the difference. If we're tied, we're going to need to jump over the hump. Panic cannot ensue. Houston thrives on it, and they don't back down.
My forecast for the game is good. Everybody who goes, enjoy yourself. I'll be on the road to Perdition... aka, Pittsburgh.
Sacramento is a whole different can of worms. Currently 2-3 (just like the Libs), the Monarchs have become a shadow of their defensive-trap selves that sported them to the playoffs last year. They've stopped passing as frequently, stopped working inside, and continue to hold onto hope that their D will carry them over their league-worst 69 ppg.
Of course, they CAN shoot it when they want to and get it back if they miss it. Led by Brunson, Lawson, and Powell (attorneys-at-law) - who average over 10 points a night, shoot on average over 44%, and control rebounds like a skee-ball machine - the Monarchs have a tight bench that works for the team and produces regularly.
See my comments above for what I think of the Libs. They're beginning to coalesce, but once again, they need consistency if they want to stay above water. A loss to Houston may put them into a scramble, while a win may make them cocky. Who knows? I can't give much of a game preview until we see how the game turns out tonight.
What I do know is that Sacramento, unlike the Mystics and the Storm, don't mess around with their system. Break it, and their toast. Play into it, and nobody can save you. The Liberty are going to have dig deep and find what took them over Seattle just a few days ago. It'll be rough, but they can handle it.
Chicago @ Atlanta
Washington @ San Antonio
Detroit @ Sacramento
Phoenix @ Los Angeles
Minnesota is still rolling, but beginning to slow down a bit. Their game against the dream left much to be desired, and if a ramshackle expansion team can rattle the cage of the best team in the West, it doesn't look good for the Lynx when they go into the Mohegan Sun. Connecticut, meanwhile, has leap-frogged Indiana into the number two spot after winning back-to-back games after their only loss so far this season. They look good, and though the Lynx seem to have the right sensibilities to take Connecticut down, I'm going to with my gut and take the Sun by 6.
If Atlanta can beat one team, it's the Sky. Both match up fairly well against each other for their numbers, and the Dream are at home and desperate. The Sky aren't doing well themselves, but at least they have a win. The Dream NEED something, especially to prove to their fanbase that they have at least some talent. I predict desperation, and while the Sky aren't fantastic, they know how to play against desperate teams (see their play against us late last year). Sky by 4.
The Mistakes against the Stars? Sorry, but San Antonio rules their home court while Washington has yet to win a game on the road. If Washington can put themselves on track here, they'll set themselves up well for the coming weeks. But the Stars also need to correct their current positioning, and with Becky Hammon and Sophia Young playing strongly, I don't see why they can't take this game. Stars by 7.
Sacramento is going up against Detroit, and it's going to be a bloodbath. Sacramento can't get points on the board, even though they shoot very well. Detroit, meanwhile, looks almost as strong as they did last year, even if they're missing a few of last year's squad. The Monarchs don't look like a team that can beat the Shock at home. Sorry, ladies, but it's Shock by 8.
Phoenix finally took a game and they're coming up against the Los Angeles (s)Parkers. Unfortunately for the Mercs, Los Angeles has a much stouter defense than Phoenix is thinking, while the Sparks also can play all angles of the court (that is, as long as their starters decide to show up). The Sparks aren't as hot as they were when they started the season, but the Mercs didn't impress me with their only win this year. Sparks by 5.
Only tangentially tied to the WNBA is this link, about a pair of lesbians who were kicked out of a Mariners game because they were making out. The front office argued that they were kicked out NOT because of their sexual orientation, but because they were making out. That seems a bit odd, considering there was a straight couple making out just a few rows in front. Why am I linking this? The article references the Lesbian "Kiss-Out" that happened in 2002 at MSG. I could write an essay on this. In fact... I might. See it next week.
See ya, Space Cowboy...