WNBA Today, 08/19/2012 (Part One): Catching Up

Yes, I know this is desperately late, but yesterday sitting in the pub and watching the start of the English Premier League season took precedence over writing about the WNBA (even though the first really important game isn’t until Monday). But just in case anyone still cares to hear my thoughts about Friday night’s WNBA games, here you go. It was at least a small step up on the three snoozefests that got the season back underway the night before.

 

Washington Mystics 69 @ Minnesota Lynx 98

  • Yep, we’re going to get the game only a mother or a blowout fan could love out of the way first. The Lynx reopened their season with their roster back in one piece, Rebekkah Brunson, Jessica Adair and Devereaux Peters all having recovered from their respective injuries over the break. Brunson returned to her customary spot as the starting power forward, alongside the three Lynx gold-medalists (who’d all somehow made it back from London in time to play).
  • Washington kept faith with the same starting lineup that lost in Indiana the night before (the schedulers sure weren’t kind to the Mystics – a road back-to-back against the Fever and Lynx to kick off the second half. That was never going to end well.)
  • Brunson came back from London with some seriously ugly fluorescent yellow shoes.
  • It didn’t take long for the vast gap in talent, chemistry, confidence, and everything else required to win basketball games showed up in this one. From the opening tip Minnesota were moving the ball well and stepping into shots with clear belief that they could make them, while also finding repeated holes in the Washington defense. The Mystics, on the other hand, looked tired and defeated well before the first quarter was over, with them already facing a 26-15 deficit.
  • While a home game against Washington was a nice way to ease back into the WNBA, there were no signs of Olympic hangover from the Lynx players we saw win gold only six days earlier. Seimone Augustus couldn’t miss with that pretty jumper (along with several wide open layups), Lindsay Whalen was playing her typical solid all-around game from the point, and Maya Moore slid right back into rhythm on the other wing. It was like they’d never left (after all, they closed the first half playing Tulsa twice – so those were comprehensive blowouts too).
  • The Minnesota bench kept things rolling as necessary as, although it was interesting to see Amber Harris as the first post off the bench, ahead of Peters and Adair. Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve sometimes makes decisions like that based on matchups, so we’ll see if that rotation decision continues in future games. Continue reading
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WNBA Today, 08/17/2012: They’re baaaaaack!

Yes, with barely time to catch our breath after all the Olympic excitement, the WNBA got back underway last night. Some still seemed to be suffering from an Olympic hangover; some looked rested and rejuvenated; some picked up right where they left off; and one quite literally didn’t even bother to show up. Regardless, WNBAlien is back for the stretch run of the regular season, before we hit the games that really matter in September. Three games last night, and we welcome everyone back with a Bullet Point Breakdown of all of them. Enjoy.

 

Connecticut Sun 66 @ New York Liberty 79

  • As much as anyone in the league, the Liberty welcomed the Olympic break. Without a single player heading to London, they had time to heal from a variety of injuries and try to rebuild some of the chemistry that had been sorely lacking in the first half. Plenette Pierson was back in the starting lineup after recovering from her left calf/knee injury. Kia Vaughn and DeMya Walker, who both suffered with injury issues in July, looked healthier as well.
  • Connecticut, on the other hand, were one of the few teams who would’ve prefered if the season had kept on rolling. With a 15-4 record from the first half, their only fear coming back was that the momentum they’d built would’ve been killed off by the break. Due to a strained achilles, they also had to play without one of their gold medallists, as Asjha Jones was sidelined. Jones is only expected to miss a week or two, and was replaced by backup Mistie Mims.
  • New York made an extra unforced change, promoting Nicole Powell back into the starting lineup over Essence Carson. Possibly an attempt to recapture last season’s form by reinstituting something close to last season’s rotation.
  • It wasn’t exactly a glorious first half to welcome the world back to WNBA basketball. Still, Pierson clearly made a difference for New York. Her hustle, her energy, her interior presence and her basic leadership gives this team something they’d been missing late in the first half of the season. Of course, the Liberty were pretty terrible even in the games she played this year, so it wasn’t all about her. At times it was noticeable that the Liberty had been together as a group for the last couple of weeks, while Connecticut had been without Jones and Tina Charles – New York were a little more cohesive. Continue reading