WNBA Today, 06/22/2011: Night of Celebration finds a Hollywood Ending

It was WNBA madness yesterday, with five games spread from lunchtime until midnight on the US East Coast. I spread the load a little with a Pseudo-Live Game Diary of the early game between Atlanta and Chicago, so now we get to focus on the four late games. Here’s the quick tale of the first three: two decent teams beat two crappy teams even though they were without a key player for most or all of the night; and one mediocre team beat another mediocre team who were missing a key player of their own. The end. Okay not the end, and I’ll cover all three games in a little more depth towards the end of this article, but first we’re going to skip to the night’s showpiece event – New York @ Los Angeles, a rematch of the first ever WNBA game, commemorating the WNBA’s 15th season.

Firstly, this was the most entertaining game we’ve had so far this season, so if you didn’t watch it, I’ll wait while you go and check out the archive. Go on, I’ll still be here when you get back. You can even just click here and it’ll start for you. See how good I am to you?

Anyway, on to the analysis. Continue reading

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WNBA Today, 06/21/2011: First Ever WNBAlien Pseudo-Live Game Diary!

Nothing to write about from yesterday, five games today that’ll drive me crazy if I try to cover them all tomorrow, and the first camp day game of the year. You know what that means? It’s Pseudo-Live Game Diary time! I figure this’ll get one of the five out of the way, give us a closer look at the Chicago Sky and Atlanta Dream, and might even be mildly entertaining along the way. So I’ve got Wimbledon on mute on the TV, LiveAccess linked up to my gorgeous IPS monitor, and plenty of Diet Coke and snacks ready to go.

All we need now is for some actual basketball to replace this ‘Game has not started’ screen…

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Pregame

Phew, the feed’s actually started. I wasn’t looking forward to coming up with something else for the update today. Also a positive, this game’s on Fox SportSouth in the US, so we get some halfway decent production values for once. Our Atlanta broadcasters, Bob Rathbun and LaChina Robinson, focus on the Sylvia Fowles-Erika de Souza matchup in the introduction. That’s reasonable, considering the Dream perimeter went 0-a million in their last game and Sancho Lyttle is still somewhere in Poland. Expect LaChina to say something completely nonsensical at some point this afternoon, just to keep us entertained. Or possibly because she doesn’t know the rules of basketball. Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/20/2011: Blowouts and Beginnings?

Firstly, apologies for the late hour of posting. Once in a blue moon I actually have other things to do besides watching and writing about the WNBA. Another quadruple-game day yesterday, and three of them ended up in blowouts of one description or another, so let’s start with the only one that didn’t. Indiana visited Phoenix, the last team left in the league without a win (and it’s kind of embarrassing to lag behind Tulsa, even if the Merc had played three games fewer than the Shock due to the quirky WNBA schedule). The Mercury were desperate for a win to get their season started, and after being held to a miserable 54 points on 29% shooting by the Storm in their previous game, the Fever will have been salivating at the prospect of facing some nice friendly Phoenix ‘defense’.

The Mercury got off to their now-customary early lead, pushing out to an eight-point edge behind some transition scores and Kara Braxton actually managing to make a few layups. That made a nice change, after the number of point-blank efforts she’d missed in the opening three games. Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/19/2011: Mystics are Shocking

Just the one WNBA game last night, and that was unfortunate. Because this was one I could’ve happily glossed over if there were any other games to pay attention to. Nevertheless, Tulsa fans will be delirious at getting off the schneid with a home win over Washington, and they didn’t even have to bite their fingernails as the minutes ran down. Mystics supporters, on the other hand, probably won’t be reading this. They’ll be trying to forget.

We’ll all happily forget the first half. WNBA.com’s LiveAccess was on the fritz, but the game was hideous anyway so I doubt they got too many complaints. 11-10 Shock at the end of the first quarter due to an assortment of turnovers and bricks from both teams, the game was virtually unwatchable whether you had a smooth video feed or not. In roster news, Liz Cambage was back from her concussion for the Shock, although she came off the bench and only played 16 minutes in the game, so she may not be quite all the way back. For Washington, Ta’Shia Phillips eventually entered the game, which means emergency replacement Kerri Gardin must’ve been released. Not that anyone on the Mystics bothered to inform the public. Still no Alana Beard.

Finally managing some decent ball movement, Tulsa put together a nice little run behind a Kayla Pedersen three and a couple of Jen Lacy layups to take a six-point lead early in the second quarter. Then the Mystics woke up for about six minutes of game time, pretty much the only period where they weren’t slumbering all evening. Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/18/2011: Four times the Fun

Four games last night, and the first to tip off was one of two that turned out to be somewhat competitive, with the shorthanded Dream travelling to Minnesota. With Sancho Lyttle off playing for Spain for the next couple of weeks, everyone and their dog was predicting yet another big game for Rebekkah Brunson, and we weren’t to be disappointed. Atlanta went big to start, replacing Lyttle with 6-7 behemoth Alison Bales, and it was reasonably successful for a while – but it didn’t last. A fun back-and-forth first half between two teams that are happy to push the tempo ended up 39 apiece, but in the third quarter the Lynx made their move. With Whalen pulling the strings and Brunson racking up the rebounds, Minnesota went from 43-41 down to a 54-43 lead in the blink of an eye. Brunson made a couple of typically athletic plays, Augustus hit a pretty jumper, Whalen dropped in a couple of buckets and Maya Moore had a steal that led straight into a breakaway layup. That’s the scary thing about this Lynx team – they can hurt you from essentially any spot on the floor. Even when they go to the bench, you’ve got the likes of Candice Wiggins and Monica Wright coming in, but it’s that Whalen/Augustus/Moore/Brunson/Taj starting lineup that’s doing most of the damage. Stop one or two pieces, and they’ll just come at you from another angle.

Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/17/2011: Out of the Zone

“Too. Much. Charles. And a complete Mystical inability to penetrate a 2-3 zone. There’s your game.” As a late-adopter, I’m still getting into this whole twitter thing, but when there’s one game all evening, and you really can sum it up in 140 characters, I just felt like I might as well say it. That really was about it for Connecticut’s win in Washington last night, except that it somewhat short-changes Renee Montgomery, who had another nice offensive game. But if you’re reading this, you probably want to hear at least a little more.

While Washington were still missing Alana Beard and Ta’Shia Phillips, the early news wasn’t good for Connecticut either. Starting off-guard (and ‘backup’ point guard) Kara Lawson was a late scratch due to a sprained ankle suffered the previous day in practice, leaving Allison Hightower – who didn’t even play in two of the Sun’s previous three games – to start in her place. You might’ve expected the absence of Lawson’s steadying hand to negatively affect Connecticut’s offense, but through the first 15 minutes of the game the Sun’s offense was almost irrelevant. Continue reading

WNBA Today, 06/16/2011: Wild and Wonderful Possibilities for a Tulsa Roster Spot

So here’s the thing. If you’re a dedicated enough follower of the WNBA to be reading this, there’s a decent chance that you already know who Tulsa are adding to their roster to replace Miranda Ayim, waived yesterday. But I’d already written half of this before the news emerged. So I’m going to post it anyway, in the hope that it might offer a little light entertainment, even if the factual value has rather disappeared. Plus there’ll probably be another roster spot open in Tulsa soon, anyway.

The real answer is revealed at the end, by the way.

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When Miranda Ayim was waived yesterday by the Tulsa Shock, it was hardly a surprise. They’ve only played five games, but Ayim didn’t even make it off the bench in the last two, which tends to be a Nolan Richardson sign of impending release. Inevitably, fans immediately began speculating about who might replace her, and let’s face it, I’m not immune to a little speculation myself. So here they are, the numerous possibilities for that 11th spot on the roster of the worst team in the WNBA. Some serious, some just a little tongue-in-cheek.


The Guards

Tulsa only have three guards on their roster. One is Ivory Latta, who’s at least proven that she belongs somewhere in this league by now; and the other two are Andrea Riley and Marion Jones, who haven’t. Amber Holt, barely a small forward after playing her whole college career at the 4, was starting as a pseudo-guard before breaking her thumb, leaving their ‘guard’ options even shorter. So you could understand why a lot of the names being thrown around were little people who might help them around the perimeter.


Betty Lennox

Gunning scorer cut by Tulsa the day before the regular season started, reportedly injured, and possibly retiring. But this is Nolan Richardson we’re talking about. And Betty knows basketball.

Chances: Poor. Even Nolan seems unlikely to bring back someone he waived barely two weeks ago. Continue reading