Even though they off to a bit of a slow start last night, it was obvious from the get-go to many of us there that the Sparks are a different team than they were before the break. I asked quite a few other people what they noticed, and all said defense. Some also said offense. I noticed both.
The Sparks were playing the defense I knew they were capable of playing. Stops were being made, and blocks were being thrown down. Shannon Bobbitt got a particularly good stop late in the game that earned her a round of applause, because it seemed to represent the vigorous effort the whole team was putting forth.
The LA Times reporter said in his story today that “several on the team were noticeably thinner” since before the break. I thought that was strange. I didn’t notice anything like that, but what I did notice was the hustle on both ends of the floor. Players weren’t standing around on offense; they were screening, setting picks, rotating. There were only two times where Bobbitt and Temeka Johnson had to take matters into their own hands and drive, but that was mostly because the Monarchs were playing their own stifling defense at that moment. Bobbitt yelled at her teammates a few times, doing her PG thang. But it was a great move to start Kiesha Brown at the 2 and Bobbitt at the 1. I hate to say I told you so, but I’ve been saying they should do that 1-2 combo all season.
In the same Times story today, the reporter commented that though the Sparks still let points slip by them in the fourth quarter, as they have been, that they still kept it under control. Cooper was quoted as saying that before the break, the game last night would have gone into overtime. I agree with that one. They obviously worked on all the right things over the break, because they are tighter as a unit, and some who have lacked energy in past games had it last night. I was also expecting jetlag from our Olympians, but it was nowhere in sight.
The Sparks are solidly in third place at this moment, which is so dope!! I am encouraged. I really need this team to go to the playoffs.
Tonight, Connecticut beat Atlanta and became the first team to clinch a playoff berth. We better beat San Antonio tomorrow night so they aren’t the second team to do it.
Another thing I was pleased about last night was a couple new musical selections that were played. I have long said that the Sparks need to hire me to do their music. I have so very very many songs in my collection, and all are on my iPod. I could handle it; I am portable. And some of that cracker jack music they play has got to go.
But last night, they played a very brief snippet of Jay-Z’s song “Encore,” when the Sparks were being slow to move the ball on a possession – the line that goes, “what are you waiting for?”
And then later on, when Sacramento got called for traveling, they played one line from Missing Person’s 1982 hit, “Walking in LA” : “Nobody walks in LA.”
Oh, did I love that. The fact that someone up there has a sense of humor. They need to to it again and show that it wasn’t just a fluke. (And they still need to hire me as musical consultant. I could really get that place rolly-roll-rollin’!)
I met some of the Tennessee fans last night who are coming in from there and other parts of the country for this weekend’s games. Oh my lord, what nice people. Being a part of the nationwide “Vol family” is truly special. Time and time again, I’ve asked for help on “The Summitt” message board, and several people come forward and then go above and beyond to help me, just like they do with other Vol fans. Anytime I’ve seen an orange Tennessee shirt like mine at a Sparks game, we wave and smile, at the very least; usually we talk for a bit.
Last night I met kbhersh and navahovol from the message board, along with their respective possees. It’s always nice to put a face to a name. Tomorrow, the rest of the Tennessee faithful are comin in from good ol’ Rocky Top.
They are coming for UT Alumni Night tomorrow, which is a production of the University of Tennessee and the Sparks. Some fans are coming for the football game Monday, too (UCLA vs. Tennessee), so the organizations decided to work it.
Us basketball fans are meeting up tomorrow evening at the sports bar in Staples, before the pre-game meet and greet. Then after the game is the event. When I found out Pat Summitt would be there, I thought my head would explode. Hell, it probably will. I’m meeting all these great people, all of our Sparks/Tennessee players will be at the event, and so will Coach Summitt and Coaches Nikki Caldwell and Tasha Butts. Good lord!! I will be giddy.
I will also be head to toe orange. I can’t wait.