WNBA Playoff Mania

by September 17, 2007

By Adrienne Goodson

Game 3 Recap: Detroit 88-83

Yes my good friends, we’ve already concluded that the playoffs are on fire and the WNBA is holding it down in the media war. Major League Baseball is going on, the NFL just recently kicked off, soccer is on the rise and then there’s the WNBA. As the NFL tries to figure out how to clean up player images, the WNBA continues to be a light for many to see.

The games have been good because of the pace and the battling. The run-n-gun style of play is back and I love it. I was real surprised to see how many people have doubted Detroit (2-1) throughout the playoffs. Some forgot about how fast they are. Deanna Nolan, Katie Smith, Swin Cash, and Plennette Pierson are pretty quick. They are equally as quick when they transition into defense. Coach Laimbeer was constantly screaming for them to get back after a shot because the Mercury are skillful at pushing the tempo on offense. Detroit can run n gun with the best of them on any given day.

The series has been crazy. Some players were hot on one night and cold on the next, leaving the door open for reserve players like Shannon “ Pee Wee” Johnson and Kelly Mazzante to step up for their teams and make big plays. Veteran players are valuable for various reasons but most of all, for their knowledge of the game. Pee Wee knew that Detroit needed to penetrate the zone defense and she did it well. She was dropping dimes to Cheryl Ford down low, hit key threes, found the open shooters, dove on the floor for loose balls, etc, etc…. I’d call it the perfect example of what to do with your minutes.

Phoenix on the other hand, created a lot of the scenarios that led to a bad-shooting night. First of all, they took quick shots in crucial situations. Not only were they quick, but short, rushed, and fading away. A three will always be more than a two but you must mix it up. Tangela Smith is having a monster playoff but the Mercury will have to come up with some in the paint points from somewhere. You can live and die by the jumper or you can go to the cup when it’s not falling. The best way to get a rhythm is to make a nice move to the basket. Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi can get to the cup at will. Secondly, the Mercury should have taken advantage of being in the bonus. Every foul committed by the Shock put them on the line so a simple pick and roll between Cappie and Diana would have kept them shooting free throws. I’d really like to see Diana posting up on the block a little more.

Although they struggled from the floor, the Mercury still battled. They shot 34.7% overall, 16.1% from the arc, and still managed to only lose 88–83. Penny Taylor and Tangela Smith each finished up with a double-double. Penny had 16 points and 14 rebounds while Tangela had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Taurasi scored 22 hard points. Pondexter went 5 for 15 from the floor. When she doesn’t score the Mercury have a hard time getting a win. To be honest, when one of the trio goes, Phoenix has problems. The Mercury are one player away from a dynasty.

Detroit did a good job of finding the shooters in transition. They locked it down on defense and lit it up on offense. Katie Smith stepped up for 22 points, 5 assists and 3 steals while Deanna Nolan had 20 points, 11 boards, and 6 assists. The “Dynamic Duo” put a lot of non-believers to bed, the bench contributed 31 points and 13 rebounds, the team is going back to Detroit, and home court surely awaits.

There will be one more game in the southwest tonight at 8:30 on ESPN 2 and it will be good for the Mercury to draw another 12,040 fans into the US Airways Center. General Manager Ann Meyers Drysdale is showing Cheryl Miller like ability to pack the house and that’s so hot.

The fat lady really does like singing in Detroit. I hear they put out hits. Stay tuned…

Game 4 Recap: Phoenix 77-76“The Cappie Pondexter Show” featuring Cappie and friends. Nothing left to be said. Well, if I could say anything I would say, “move over bacon here’s something meatier”.

Game 5 Recap: Phoenix 108-92

Phoenix came out ready to play from the door. The first quarter was a reminder of what Cappie had done to Detroit in Game 4. An aerial attack of threes, the back door cuts, and unorthodox play of Penny Taylor had Detroit shook: It seemed as though they had no clue on defense and the Mercury were on fire. They shot 73% from the floor.

Detroit had no swagger. That gangsta swagger they usually possess was nowhere to be found. A few players needed to catch up with Pee Wee Johnson. She came to play for 40 minutes and looked hungry for the title. In order for them to win everyone had to contribute. Cheryl Ford was not 100% because of her knee, therefore Feenstra, Pierson, and Braxton needed to command the boards. They collectively finished with 13, which equals one less rebound than Cheryl had in Game 4.

To be quite honest, I was real pleased to see Geno Auriemma refrain from making a comment on the “Swin Cash Episodes” in Detroit. The media planted a seed. Rebecca Lobo questioning Swin about her lack of playing time on national television was crucial. Swin took the bait and the rest is history. Team Rule # 1: Never speak about family issues to the media. The commentators ran with it the whole series and the Shock was a different team after that.

Phoenix on the other hand, never gave up throughout the playoffs. It didn’t matter whether they shot badly, they kept on shooting. It didn’t matter when they didn’t get the calls, they kept on playing. Penny Taylor had a horrible shooting night in Game 4 but came back and torched Detroit for 30 points. Cappie pulled a flip mode on ‘em and went back and forth from shooter to play maker: Dropping dimes like a snitch in cell block H. Kelly Mazzante was hitting three’s from another planet (4-5). She’s got so much range and a quick release that as a defender you wonder if you should get a hand up, but by the time you react she dun shot it in your face. Taurasi didn’t have a monster game but played hard from the tip finishing up with 17. Once again it was Cappie’s World. She had a double-double (26 points and 10 assists) and took the MVP award right along with it. Detroit simply didn’t have it for various reasons. Their body language and approach to the game was suspect. They lost 108 – 92 on their own court in a packed house of 20,000 fans. Deanna Nolan finished with 27, Katie Smith dropped 18 and Shannon Johnson added 13 in their effort to win back-to-back titles.

Congratulations to the Phoenix Mercury and General Manager Ann Meyers Drysdale on an awesome season and their passion for excellence. God has a way of making things right. Rutgers took an unnecessary low blow and Cappie Pondexter was raised up so the next time you think about retaliation remember “Vengeance is mine” thus saith the Lord. You need not worry. The watcher is near.

And finally, a video: