The morning of the outdoor game

Preview of tonight’s matchup between the Sparks and Storm.

I’m not going to talk about last night’s WNBA games. Out of four games, exactly NO ONE I wanted to win got the W. The Sparks’ loss is especially maddening. I don’t know what to say.

Candace Parker chose a fan to write a piece on last night’s game, and it’s pretty good. Can the LA Times hire her?

Two Pac-10 teams each land one top recruit.

Jody Conradt is given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators. I miss seeing her coach.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Sue, I always seem to jump the gun on your postgame posts, but I can never wait for 'em because the thoughts are in my mind *now* and I just gotta get 'em out! And now here I go again:

    I just got back from the outdoor game at the Home Depot Tennis Center, where my daughter and I had a great time. I'd definitely consider the whole thing to be a big success, just judged on its own merits as an event (with the nothing-you-can-do-about-it exception of that bad smell of burning oil or rubber that was either coming from the refineries, or from some sort of nearby garbage fire about which there was some rumbling in my seating section). I do hope the Sparks do it again next year (the game, not the garbage fire) 'cause I'd definitely return.

    But now let's talk about this team, all 1-6 of it. Now, I don't pretend to know a fraction as much about basketball as anyone in the Sparks' organization (on-court or off), but to my ignorant eye, the deficiency on this team seems to be incredibly glaring. It's the defense. And it's the rebounding.

    Wandering over to the WNBA stat tracker on Yahoo Sports, I note that the Sparks are giving up 85.5 points a game (3rd worst in the association), and giving up a field goal percentage of 44.7 (2nd worst overall). And boards? We're third-worst in the nation (at 31.3 rpg). Why? Maybe 'cause we have exactly two people who board: Candace and Tina. That's it. Our third-highest rebounder (DeLisha) gets fewer rebounds a game than Sue Bird. Sue Bird! Think about that. Phoenix has *six* players who get more rebounds a game than DeLisha (who, again, is our third-highest rebounder, at a whopping 3.1 a game).

    Tonight, defensively, we were right on our usual lousy par, opponent percentage-wise (44.4%), although we at least kept the point total down somewhat. And we pulled down even *fewer* boards tonight than we usually do tonight (27).

    Certainly the lack of a true post is a lot of it (it's a *whole* lot of it). But there're also just a bunch of frustrating mental lapses. Momentum-killing things which killed rallies tonight, the same way that they killed Sparks rallies against Atlanta last week. People being left wide open who have no business being left open (how many times in that 2nd half did we see Sue Bird getting the ball on the wing with nobody within 10 feet of her… she absolutely killed us tonight). Opponents sneaking in under the glass unbodied to collect boards and easy put-backs. Unnecessary turnovers all over the floor.

    Certainly I give the Sparks a lot of credit for not folding in the 3rd quarter, like they could've. That showed heart. That said, there sure was a lot of iffy body language out there tonight. Did you notice? Tina Thompson did a lot of sulking out there. Candace did her share as well. I'm sure they're just really frustrated at this terrible start and I'm sure that some wins would go a long way toward fixing it all, but some of what I saw out there just wasn't very encouraging.

    Part 2 to follow…

    Patrick Meighan

  2. And here's the Part 2 that I had to get out as long as I had my flamethrower handy. And believe me, this'll be painful for me to say, as a Bruin and as someone who likes to root for nice people to do well. But I can't restrain this any longer, so here goes: the Sparks are just getting nothing out of Noelle Quinn. *Nothing.* I mean, it's nice that she's got size and physicality for her position, but she is demonstrably the weak link in that starting lineup on the offensive side of the ball. Plus, her size isn't resulting in rebounds (believe it or not, little Andrea Riley gets more rebounds per minute than Noelle does!). Noelle's assist-to-turnover ratio is basically 1-to-1. And her plus/minus is constantly in the heavy negative, so it's not like we're getting a lot of defense out of her either. Yes, Noelle's 3-point percentage is decent, but she only attempts a whopping 1.1 of those per game. So if she's not giving us points *or* rebounds *or* assists *or* defense and if she's not even stretching the opponents' defense with her j, what exactly *is* she doing out there?

    Not that it's even fair to pick on Noelle because, outside of Candace, what is *anybody* doing out there? Tina's still Tina, but she's lost a step on both sides of the floor. DeLisha is no longer interested in rebounding the basketball. Betty Lennox has just fallen off a cliff. And I gotta imagine that they were hoping for more than 2 points a game out of Ticha.

    Personally, I feel kinda sorry for Candace. She's really having just an incredible year so far (everybody knows she's leading the Sparks in points, rebounds and blocks, but did you know she's also second on the team in assists? And third in steals. Which is insane for the alleged "Center" on this squad). It's too bad that she can't get some help out there.

    Anyways, I sure do hope that the Sparks can get this thing turned around. Win or lose, however, my daughter and I will keep showing up to root 'em on and to hope for the best.

    See ya at Staples,

    Patrick Meighan

  3. Hi Patrick,

    I appreciate your energy. I can't get into my immediacy mode until late June, after school's been out for a few weeks. This is a tiring time of year for teachers – ask Kathy Goodman. Last night's game was past my bedtime, so I just came home and went to sleep.

    Yes, the defense is the key to their unsuccess. I've noted that before in this space, and it doesn't seem to be improving. On the flip side, the Storm's strongest asset is defense. Is it any wonder they have the best record in the league? No. Wait til you see the quotes I got from the pre and post-game interviews.

    I also agree with your assessment of Noelle Quinn. She's not acting like a starter. But why just focus on her, as almost the entire team is lacking in some respect. I also feel badly for Candace, who did seem irritated last night several times, because she worked so hard to get back in shape and is doing everything one person can possibly do. Unfortunately, it takes more than one person, though.

    Are you going to Tuesday's game? I think it's high time we meet in person.

    Let me get to these game reports…….

  4. Ha! i wrote that article by the way.and yes, i should be hired by the LA Times lol j/k. love your blog as well.

    i just wish the Sparks will get it together and help Candace out. it always seems to be 2 people clicking on this team night in and night out.

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