Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Page 737

Sparks 82, Storm 55

What a difference from Friday night’s battle between the same two teams.

Two nights ago it was the Storm that took a big lead and fought off a surging Sparks team to salvage the win by two points. Tonight it was LA that took a strong lead in the second quarter, and never looked back. It was a balanced scoring attack on the part of both teams, but the Storm needed to be balanced in double digits, not single digits.

The refs: sucked. But that’s what you get when you have Kurt Walker and Bonita Spence. I surmise they watched the physical matchup between these two teams on Friday, because they called tonight’s game tighter than hell. Lots of ticky tack fouls.

The Storm: surprised me. Janell Burse and Suzy Batkovic-Brown each flopped once. Since when did Seattle become a flopper team? Stop it already.

Brian Agler: usually stands, but I don’t remember him standing at all this evening. Is he ill?

Shannon Bobbitt: is getting her Tennessee swag back. She’s playing with confidence lately, and it shows. She was really getting into Storm guard Sue Bird’s head tonight and throwing her off her game. Bobbitt isn’t messing up much anymore, either; tonight she had four points, eight assists and zero turnovers. Late in the fourth quarter she did some fancy dribble crossovers between her legs, and crowd went “oooo!” As she ran into the tunnel toward the locker room, she yelled back at some fans and pointed at them. Did a little hop skip and ran away. It was pretty damned funny. I’m glad the kid is feeling good about herself. She worked really hard on her game between last season and this one.

Kathy Goodman: predicted it. The Sparks’ co-owner said they were going to “kill” the Storm. The picture at that link well illustrates what Bobbitt has been doing to Bird lately.

Sparks still need to work on: offensive movement and continuing the box out late into the game. Bobbitt has been criticized for dribbling too much, but it’s usually because the rest of her teammates are just standing around the paint like trees. Move, ladies! The Sparks were boxing out effectively in the first half, but weren’t doing so in the second. Gotta play a full 40 minutes, ya know.

Anthem: was sung by a children’s choir, and it was great. Towards the end, the Storm players (with their backs to the choir) were turning around to look at the kids, and smiling. It was cute. Personally, I prefer the anthem be sung by at least a quartet, because the notes are too easily messed up by a solo artist.

Michael Jackson: was remembered with a moment of silence before the game, and in player videos. Several different players spoke about what he and his music had meant to them. It was really cool. And the Sparks played a few more MJ songs than usual during timeouts tonight.

Funniest moment: Late in the fourth quarter, Bobbitt went in for a layup and was forcefully shoved backward. She reeled, taking about six cartoon character-like steps backwards before she regained control and stopped herself, without falling, at half court. Everybody was just giggling.

Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie: weren’t on the bench tonight. Leslie were at the BET Awards. CP was reportedly at home with fussy Lailaa. When are we going to get to see this kid?

Shannon Bobbitt and Kristi Harrower during pre-game shoot-around.

The Storm warm up before the game.

The Storm watch Betty Lennox shoot her free throw after Lauren Jackson flagrant-fouled her.

Bobbitt sets up the play in the fourth quarter.

In the other league game tonight, Detroit stopped a four-game losing streak by beating Sacramento. It’s new coach Rick Mahorn’s first win.

Edit to add: Kathy Goodman’s reaction to the win.

Dawn Staley = bigger fan base

Staley is courting a bigger fan base at South Carolina, and the University has also given a grant to increase awareness of women’s basketball. That’s ridiculously cool.

Why ask why?

With tonight’s four games added in, here are the current WNBA standings:

East

Indiana 6-2
Chicago 5-3
Washington 4-3
Connecticut 4-3
Atlanta 4-5
New York 2-6
Detroit 1-5

West

Seattle 6-2
Minnesota 6-3
Phoenix 6-3
San Antonio 3-3
Los Angeles 2-5
Sacramento 1-6

So, in the East there are three teams at the top that aren’t usually there. Detroit, at the bottom, hasn’t been in that position for years. Phoenix is back up top in the West, Minnesota might finally be living up to its potential, and Los Angeles continues to fail to live up to theirs.

No wonder some fans are cranky and asking why. It’s human nature to ask why, after all. But we only find out the answer to that question part of the time, and this is one of those times that we don’t.

There are so many factors that go into a successful team: a good coach, the team’s responsiveness to coach(es), solid players, team chemistry, effective plays, effective defense, execution of game plan, coach and team’s ability to adjust – among other things. There are also off-court issues.

Several years ago I became friends with a player from another WNBA team. She told me a few things about her team and its players matter-of-factly, but that I didn’t know about. Let’s just say the experience taught me that you really never know what’s going on behind the scenes of a team unless you’re either a player or a staffer, and any outsider who thinks they do know is kidding themselves.

Who really understands what exactly “it” is that’s keeping the Shock, the Monarchs, the Sparks and the Liberty in the basement of their respective conferences? It could be, and probably is, a myriad of factors in each case. I’m not going to torture myself trying to figure it out. That’s the job of each team.

But I can understand the urge to ask why. Personally, I spend at least a few minutes every work day trying to figure out why some kid said or did something.

Good thing there’s not a message board for that.

Seimone Augustus optimistic in face of injury

“It’s still tough…..”

It’s also difficult to look at the stats on wnba.com, because right now Augustus is still third in total points per game. She will eventually fall down the chart, but I’m enjoying seeing her in third right now, and pondering what her season would have been like if she hadn’t been injured.

*sigh*

Kathy Goodman blogging for LA Times!!

The Sparks co-owner speaks about the team’s trip to Seattle.

Candace Parker’s “twitterview”

I was out of the house yesterday when the Michael Jackson news broke. As I was headed to my girl’s game and reflecting on the passing of an entertainer whose music is much of the soundtrack to my life, Candace Parker was answering questions via twitter.com.

She did indeed have locker room duties last year

Bruin freshmen are here

UCLA Coach Nikki Caldwell announced, via twitter, that incoming freshmen Markel Walker (Pittsburgh) and Mariah Williams (Colorado) are on campus and begun summer school this week. Caldwell seems pleased with them so far, and said “Welcome, Bruins” in one post.

The lineup should be interesting after December 8, when transfer Jasmine Dixon is allowed to join the line up.

Littler girls need bigger girls

One of the six (baller) kids I took to the Sparks game Sunday night is the daughter of a friend of mine. All the kids were sitting in other areas, but when the seat next to me was open, I invited J to come sit there.

After the final buzzer and the handshakes, Sparks players started heading towards the tunnel to get to the locker room. J and the other kids crowded towards the railing with others and stretched out their hands toward the players as they walked by. I noticed that Candace Parker reached up and touched J’s hand as she strolled.

J is a quiet kid, so I had no idea what that moment meant to her until yesterday, when I talked to her mom. My friend said J texted her right after the incident and said, “I touched Candace Parker’s hand and I didn’t even cry.” Because I guess J had done the low-five thing with CP once before, and she got all emotional afterwards.

I was a bit blown away by that. Basketball players are such role models for the young women who look up to them. They exemplify strong women, and they show them that anything is possible.

I’m glad that most WNBA players seem to understand and appreciate that fact, and that they are good to their fans. Because little girls need big girls.

Dawn Staley’s youth foundation making an impact for kids

At a recent banquet, five products of the basketball legend’s foundation spoke about how they benefitted from the programs there. Mel Greenberg was there.

Marissa Coleman blogs

The injured Mystics forward details life on crutches, including an incident with her dog.

Adventures of the Young and Crippled

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