Shock at Sparks quotes

The video of Nneka Ogwumike’s injury has been up for a couple days. You can see why it scared the crap out of those of us in the arena.

Afterwards, I interviewed Ogwumike in the locker room. The cut over her eye was pretty big, and trainer Courtney Watson was rubbing antibiotic on it. Ogwumike was in good spirits, but hoarse from yelling, as both teams did all game long.

Me: You seemed to get fired up by your own injury, going on a scoring run after that.

Ogwumike: “It was an and-one, and celebrations can get out of hand sometimes. It was a good team effort to get the play, and when something like that happens, there’s an adrenaline rush. I would definitely say it uplifted the team.”

Me: What got you all going in the fourth quarter after a slow start?

Ogwumike: “It took the coaches getting into us, and then us getting on ourselves. (Assistant Coach) Bridget Pettis really got on us between the third and fourth (quarters), and then we took it upon ourselves to make up for everything. We were trying our best to keep going every single possession.”

Me: Do what do you attribute the team’s slow start tonight?

Ogwumike: “I have a bad habit of playing reluctantly when I get into foul trouble, and I need to understand that my game is being aggressive, and I can be aggressive without fouling. I definitely felt accountable for that. I felt like I wasn’t helping my team do what they needed to to.”

Carol Ross corroborated Ogwumike’s story.

“We came out flat, and they came out inspired, and before we knew it, we’d dug a big hole,” she said of the Sparks’ 19-point deficit at the end of the third quarter.

“Assistant coaches are never praised enough or get the attention they deserve, but Bridget Pettis lit into that team. She’s my Buddha coach – she’s the one that’s always bringing all the positive energy. She unleashed it, and because they haven’t seen her that way, she changed the energy on the bench. I give her all the credit in the world for inspiring them, and I give the players the credit for taking that and going out and getting it done.”

Me: What can you say about the slow start?

“As slow as we started, it was still a one-possession game at halftime,” Ross said. “Our offense wasn’t great, and we’ve relied on it too much. Our defense kept us around the first half, but the third quarter was just bad – it was bad basketball on both ends. But as bad as we were in the fourth quarter, we were excellent in the fourth quarter.”

Me: Candace Parker almost had a triple-double tonight. How did hers and Ogwumike’s performances help the team?

“They’re warriors. I thought Candace took a bid leadership role. Her passion to win was exceptional. It only takes one player to get a team fired up,” Ross said.

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  1. In the Tulsa game, the possession just before they went all WWE and stuff, Nneka had scored on a dump-down pass from CP at the left elbow.
    Last night, in their very first possession, they used the same set and got the same result…also converted 14 of 20 1st quarter possessions.

    Didn't Lavendar have a fair bit of success from that high-post area when CP was hurt on the recent road trip?

    Often when watching the Sparks, I suspect that Red Auerbach and John Wooden are doing flip-flops in their graves as Parker leads another foray down the floor.

    How 'bout putting a two-dribble limit on CP after she snags a rebound? Give it to a guard, and go play in and around the paint.
    Imagine the kind of interior passing someone like Laimbeer could conjure up for two athletes like NO & CP!

    No Disrespect to Coach Ross, but I think their title hopes hinge on smarter play (and the discipline and mental toughness that requires) moreso than more physical play.

  2. Good quotes. Glad to see Nneka seems OK. I don't really know what to think about Ross as a coach but I suppose we'll get a better perspective on that at playoff time.

    Attendance update… 80% (165/204) of regular season games have now been contested. Average attendance has been 7,499 as reported in the ESPN box scores. This is slightly higher (42 fans or .06%) than last season's average attendance of 7,457 per game.

    Also looked at games with attendance of >10,000 fans. There have been 20 this year or 12% of the total games played. Los Angeles is far in the lead with eight of those games followed by San Antonio & DC with three each, IN, CHI & PHX with two each and MN, NY & ATL with one apiece.

  3. Actually I was wrong on the detail of the 10K games. There were 20 of them but correct detail is as follows:

    LA – 8
    SA – 3
    IN – 2
    PHX – 2
    MN,NY,DC,CHI,ATL – 1 each

    Abacus – glad to see someone else thinks its a bit strange to see Parker trying to go coast to coast. She's an OK ball handler for a Big but if I was coaching I'd throw one of my little quicks at her when she tries that act and make her prove that she's Pistol Pete.

  4. Ironic that you bring up Maravich, as earlier this summer I'd read the recent bio…very well researched and informative.
    Pete was a player who saw the game as a platform that offered opportunities to flaunt his skill, rather than a contest against the abilities of a particular opponent.
    Maybe it's just "old-fartism," but I tend to think of players as one of those two ways.
    I don't mean this as a "shot" — she's a magnificent talent and from all indications a class act — but Candace strays a bit close to the dividing line at times (e.g. she loves using that left hand).
    Actually, the comparison that comes to my mind more than Pistol Pete is Ralph Sampson.

  5. Ha. All Bigs seem to dream about being guards. Some get away with acting out their dreams, some don't.

    Methinks that Ross needs to sit down with Parker before the playoffs and have the discussion. Doubt that approach will work in the post season.