On To The Next Round
Random notes from the WNBA playoffs.
by Clay Kallam
One piece of really good news: With Washington out of the picture, we won’t have to listen to the terminally clueless pair of DC announcers on NBA TV. The guy knows something about basketball in general, but apparently spends his pregame scarfing down the press room food and talking about his jump shot, because if he even bothered to read the media notes, he might know things like how to pronounce Jayne Appel’s name.
And the female color analyst (the names have been eliminated to avoid giving them any publicity at all, which might translate into more work) also has a very limited grasp of the WNBA. For example, when Atlanta started two players who hadn’t started all season in the first round of the playoffs, wouldn’t that be worth a comment or two? Especially when the Dream jumped out to a 10-1 lead in game one? And this is a wild guess on my part, but I’m thinking Angel McCoughtry wasn’t the only player who knew Washington “really wanted to win this game”? Yes, that’s a direct quote—but you know, a lot of people probably thought the Mystics wanted to lose.
Speaking of Atlanta, the Dream are one of those teams that isn’t really connected to the opponent: If they play well, they win, regardless of who’s on the other side of the scorer’s table. If they play poorly, they lose. Of course, their team picture is right next to the word “inconsistent” in the dictionary, so it doesn’t really help much to know that.
Wings Iziane Castro Marques and Angel McCoughtry are spectacular, no-conscience gunners who are pretty much unstoppable when their acrobatic, what-are-you-thinking? shots go in, and are guardable by your local high school team when they’re not.
But Atlanta does have one advantage heading into the conference finals: There’s no way to know if Marynell Meadors will keep starting Armintie Price (if only she could shoot, even a little) and Coco Miller, or go back to Shalee Lehning and Erika de Souza, or throw Kelly Miller into the mix. So whoever comes out of Wednesday’s Indiana-New York game three will have to prepare at least two game plans.
And hope Castro Marques and McCoughtry miss.
And speaking of television analysts, everyone loves to hate Carolyn Peck, Doris Burke and all the ESPN announcers (except Rebecca Lobo, who rightfully gets a lot of love). But watching the local talent produce, direct and announce games makes it clear why the local talent is still local, and not getting paychecks from Bristol.
Give me the ESPN broadcasts every time. If nothing else, they have the score and the clock on the screen at all times …
Mercifully, the Western series both ended in two games. Los Angeles and San Antonio were both bad teams, and boring as well.
Sure, it’s fun to watch Tina Thompson pout, but that can only carry a casual viewer for so long. The Sparks just aren’t very good, and though I give them much credit for playing hard and opting out of the Maya Moore Sweepstakes, they still were far from riveting TV.
San Antonio might have had a chance with Chamique Holdsclaw, but once she tore her Achilles’ tendon, the Silver Stars were still two players short of a legit WNBA starting five. Even on the downside, Becky Hammon is still a good player, and Sophia Young is a very good one. Michelle Snow is competent, but after that, there wasn’t much that Sandy Brondello and Olaf Lange could do. (The critics howl that both should be fired, but that was one bad roster, even before Holdsclaw went down.)
Originally, an Eastern Conference Final game was going to get the only major network slot this coming weekend, but it didn’t take long for the suits to figure out that Phoenix and Seattle would be much, much more fun. After all, who knows what Diana might do? And who really wants to watch Indiana, should the Fever move on, grind Atlanta’s dreams into a 68-62 defeat?
And speaking of matchups, I’m rooting for an Atlanta-Phoenix finals. Defense? Who cares? Let’s play five 110-105 games with Diana Taurasi and Angel McCoughtry throwing tantrums at both ends of the court, Izzy making impossible shots and Candice Dupree never missing.
Indiana and Seattle would be entertaining in their own way, but to hell with fundamentals: Sign me for the Mercury and Dream never getting within 10 seconds of a shot-clock violation for the whole series.