Thursday, July 19, 2018
Page 720

Well, well, well – Sparks to have a season ticket holder appreciation event

Check out the email I got this morning:

Dear Sue:

After Lisa’s Farewell Game presented by Nike on Friday, September 11, you are invited to a special MVP Appreciation Party at ESPN Zone at LA Live. Sparks players and coaches will be in attendance mingling with fans and playing games. Enjoy appetizers at 50% off (excludes Tailgate Platter) and a special hamburger, fries, drink and $10 game card for only $15! During the game, one lucky fan will have the opportunity to win a $1,200 ESPN Zone Experience in honor of Lisa’s 12-year career if he or she can sink a half-court shot! And don’t forget that the first 10,000 fans will receive a commemorative Nike t-shirt, so get to the game early!

‘Bout time!!

I will make sure to get my rest for Friday, so I can stay awake for this one.

WNBA news, and a tough young lady

Love this meaty piece about the Lynx’ Nicky Anosike finally getting her due as a player.

Finally, a retiring veteran is sent off properly, as Vickie Johnson was honored Tuesday in a ceremony. Check out the chronicle. The last line is right on the money:

“I love playing basketball. I love competing. It’s been eating right, staying in shape and praying.”

Angel McCoughtry picked up her second consecutive rookie of the month honor for August. People were thinking DeWanna Bonner was a shoo-in for ROY this year, but maybe not.

And on the up-and-coming front, Long Beach Poly point guard Ariya Crook-Williams overcame a heartbreaking year to show up big this summer. Among other achievements, she tried out for the U16 team. I appreciate tough people – especially when they’re kids.

Catching up

Apparently, there is towel kid abuse in the WNBA.

Childhood homies Ashley Walker and Courtney Paris will play for the same team in Israel this winter.

And some fans on rebkell claim Kelly Miller has always been a crybaby, which is why she was in tears during last night’s game.

Dream 84, Sparks 79

Another unecessary loss last night for the Sparks. There was no rebounding going on, and they were again resorting to outside shots instead of taking it to the hole. But the Sparks still had the game in the end – they just let it slip away.

Team co-owner Kathy Goodman asks “what is it with Atlanta?” Lisa Leslie was taking the blame herself. Whomever tweets on behalf of the LA Sparks twittered last night after the game: LA_Sparks Devastating loss 2nite… We gave the game away, senseless turnovers, we didnt box out, left people wide open… Prac 2morrow, SA Friday!

This is why we need a bigger league: mediocre teams wouldn’t be in playoff spots.

I’d be more upset by all these losses if I felt as connected to the Sparks as I did last year. In 2008, the organization had numerous opportunities for fans to meet and see the players. This year those chances have been scarce.

They had the player picnic last month only for season ticket holders who had fully renewed for 2009 by Sept. 30, 2008 – two days after the Sparks’ devastating loss in San Antonio. Who was thinking about renewing at that point? I heard that the players stuck to themselves during the event and barely talked to fans, too. I was glad I wasn’t invited after all.

There have been almost no post-game autograph sessions this year. And tonight I got home to see a tweet by the LA Sparks that there had been a player appearance at the ESPN Zone from 5-7 p.m. I went back and checked my email, but there was nothing sent to MVPs about that.

It’s an inevitable fact that when a franchise gets going and/or new owners take over, there are more perks, and that those opportunities slowly dissipate as the years go by. But I think the Sparks should re-establish more of a connection with their fans. If they did, I bet what happened last night wouldn’t happen again: when I got up to leave with 15 seconds to go, I turned around and saw that everyone in the eight rows behind me had already gone.

Candace Parker blocks Erika DeSouza in the first quarter.

Just like old times: Bobbitt vs. Latta.

As Angel McCoughtry releases her second FT shot, Michelle Snow is more than ready to go.

Latta can’t stop looking at the timeout entertainment.

McCoughtry and Marie Ferdinand-Harris await a FT shot.

Lisa Leslie and DeSouza try to box each other out.

Delisha Milton-Jones’ shot didn’t fall.

Betty Lennox and Tina Thompson put the hurt on Coco Miller in the fourth quarter.

Sparks 91, Sun 81

Not to be disrespectful, but I don’t understand Sparks Coach Michael Cooper’s substitutions. Never have. Prime example was last night when Candace Parker began the game playing like a wild woman, pulling down every board possible. For the first few minutes of the quarter, she had all the Sparks’ rebounds. Not to mention all the points she was putting up. If this is her version of 80-85 percent back, then people should be scared. But right in the middle of this rampage, Cooper sat her down.

Same thing happened later in the game when he finally put Betty Lennox in. Of course, Betty went to town. She was driving, penetrating – the whole bit. She got her own rebound twice, and was making everyone else on the floor look slow. Lennox was putting up points, but Cooper pulled her too.

It confuses many of us in my section.

Lisa Leslie and Noelle Quinn had been sick and were not up to their respective full speeds, but the Sparks were on fire. The crowd and I loved their energy.

But not everyone was happy. Both Parker and Leslie each took aside a player and talked to her emphatically for a long few seconds. I have no idea what it was about, but I loved that they each did that. Very leaderly of them.

Tan White and Anete Jekabsone-Zogota were beasts for the Sun. But a few Connecticut players had some thuggish moments out there. It didn’t help that the reffing was atricious on both ends of the floor.

Attendence 11,072!! Next up, ATL tomorrow. I just wish Chamique Holdsclaw was with them.

CP was hyped before the game…..

…..and during the game.

Delisha Milton-Jones boxes out in the first quarter.

CP passes it to Tina Thompson in the second quarter.

Marianne Stanley stands up to coach the game.

The Sun’s Amber Holt tries to get past the Sparks defense.

Holt takes a shot in the fourth quarter.

CP inbounds the ball late in the game.

Post-game huddle.

Ups and downs of west coast WNBA teams

The Seattle Storm clinched a playoff berth Thursday night, only to find out today that all-star center Lauren Jackson has a stress fracture in her back and is out indefinitely. (What a frightening injury!) Tonight the Storm fought it out in two overtimes to beat Atlanta, 91-84. Last year Jackson was injured at about this time, and had to sit out for a spell. This is not the kind of deja vu Seattle wants.

In the meantime, Candace Parker is set to play against Connecticut tomorrow, but teammates Lisa Leslie and Noelle Quinn might not be. And just when the Sparks got a full lineup back……

Sacramento actually won! Beat Indiana, 79-78. Lisa Willis didn’t play, and I didn’t know Kara Lawson was out with knee tendinitis.

Sparks at da beach today

Kind of an obscure annoucement, as I found out about it Thursday night from a flyer I picked up at the door on the way into the game. But the Sparks will be cleaning up Santa Monica Beach today from 2-4 p.m. I will be at the “end of summer” picnic for the club ball team my kids are on, but I hope anyone who goes takes some pictures. I also hope the Sparks wear sunblock, as it’s supposed to be 94 degrees today.

‘Round the WNBA, and a bit of college

Heyyyy…..Lisa Willis has a new job playing for the Monarchs. The LA native, who played for the Sparks and the Liberty before being cut last spring, was signed to a seven-day contract today to play up north. I guess all that pickup at the gym has paid off.

Meanwhile, today another LA native and UCLA alumni – Noelle Quinn – hosted a Nike event in Hollywood today for the Chatsworth High School basketball team. Lucky girls.

And surprise, surprise: Kat Lyons is back at Marist, and playing for the team. She is the player whose scholarship was cut after she admitted depression. A lawsuit she brought against the University was thrown out last month.

Finally, Nikki Caldwell hasn’t has a “pondering” on twitter in a while, but today’s is a doozy:

Nikki Caldwell Pondering: Why do fat chance and slim chance mean the same thing?

I’m still smiling four hours later.

Mercury 98, Sparks 90

The starting lineup was the one I’d been dreaming about: Lennox at the 1, Quinn at 2, Milton-Jones at 3, Thompson hanging on 4, and Leslie at 5. But that lineup stayed in for only a few minutes before substitutions began.

Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (14) was one of the first substitutions, which surprised me. Above, she battles DeWanna Bonner under the hoop.

The Spark Kids did a tribute to Michael Jackson, who’s birthday is Saturday, during a timeout. The kids have mad skills.

Lots of scrambling in this physical game. Here, Marie Ferdinand-Harris fights with Cappie Pondexter for the ball.

Second-quarter action.

Bonner = ROY?

Both teams fought hard in the fourth quarter, but the Mercury squeaked it out.

I’ve never seen Pondexter with the ‘do she was sportin last night. She played like an animal.

____________________

The Sparks tried, they really did. No one could fault them for not finishing, because they left it all on the floor – especially Lisa Leslie and Betty Lennox. But when you’re missing Candace Parker, you’re missing a lot.

Before I’d left for the game, I saw Parker’s twitter that her daughter was sick, indicating how worried she was. So when I got to Staples Center and saw she wasn’t on the floor, I knew what was wrong. Mechelle Voepel summed it up well. Co-owner Kathy Goodman was philosophical.

Much of it was a slugfest between the two teams. Lookit all the fouls on both sides. Then there was the score; the Sparks haven’t put up that many points since the last time Phoenix came to town. This tells me that LA plays to the level of the other team, which has disturbing implications.

The Sparks players who get the most applause when they come out are, in no particular order because there is none: Shannon Bobbitt, Marie Ferdinand-Harris and Betty Lennox. Crowd favorites, one and all.

Finally, I’ve been impressed with the size of the Staples crowd the last several games. Almost 10,000 last night.

Hopefully CP will help us kick Connecticut butt Sunday.

You’ve had Bear warning

You don’t want to get chased by a Cal Bear this year.

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