The view from our seats with the Puget Sound Flyers at half-time! Rosalie's in the left foreground!
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(Being a collection of my home game notes that I scribble
while I'm keeping score and yelling my lungs out - all at the same time!)
Yeah, sure, there's lots of games left, and "Well, we can come back later if we lose this one..."
This was a game where we could have delivered a message to San Jose and to the rest of the league. If we delivered a message, I'm not sure it was a good one. Maybe it's just another loss... We'll see.
What happened was we were kinda in the game all the time, but not with any authority. Hey - and face it - San Jose's hot! So we could get close, but couldn't close and overtake 'em.
Check it out: Holland-Corn high for SJ with 23pts; Bird high for Seattle with 20pts; then Davis-Wrightsill 20pts and we drop to Niesa with only 13pts; they get Azzi with 15pts and our next is Angela with 10pts; they get 10pts from Machanguana and we get 9pts from Val; Smith 9pts vs Astou 7pts; Sam 8pts vs Shay with 6pts; we finally get ahead because next they've got DeForge with 2pts and then nothing, while we had 5pts each from Nadine and Omi (who played pretty great!) and finally Kate with 3pts. So we were down on points to each and every one of their shooters all the way down the list.
Then figure in Seattle with 24 turnovers (there's a lot of the story right there) vs San Jose with 15; they had 15 steals vs our 9 steals; Seattle with 34 total rebounds vs SJ 37 (we did OK here - but we were still behind!); Seattle called for 23 personal fouls vs 17 personal fouls (The officiating was lousy and had strategic consequences - I always yell at the ref's but this was the loudest booing I've ever heard at a Reign game - and the Seattle crowd is usually pretty even-handed!); and finally, after you look at the foul calls, San Jose hits .870 freethrows vs Seattle's hitting .750 - you get the idea.
We hit .462 from the floor vs .451 for San Jose, so we were barely ahead there but it just wasn't enough. So we were kinda close, somtimes, but kinda close is all we got.
So what does all this tell us? San Jose's hot - do I pick 'em yet to take the ABL West? Hell no! I'm a Reign fan! But Seattle's gotta turn this around, and the sooner the better. Again, this would have been a good game to deliver a message, and it didn't happen. So now we've got to turn it around on the road at New England and at Columbus and at Nashville - three road games in four days - and then home for the Holidays. Let's hope we all have a Merry Christmas!
Autographs after by Shay and Nadine.
My excuse? I started coaching a twice-weekly 7th-8th grade girls' basketball camp this afternoon for two hours straight, and sprinted to the Reign game right after. The Reign's excuse? Beats me. We didn't have anything for 'em.
Philly came in after a win over Colorado at 7-and-2 and looks real strong. If Cass Bauer had 16 Saturday and Teresa Edwards had 14, tonight it was Chastity Melvin who stepped up with 21pts and Teresa was in with 26pts. Taj McWilliams had 12pts and La'Keisha Frett shot 11pts.
We had nothin'
I had Niesa for high points with 18pts; Shay had 13pts; Nadine had 12pts; Val had 10pts; Angela and Kate each hit one 3; Astou had 2 in freethrows; Bird had nothing from the floor and only 3 in freethrows; all of those points were not made easily. (I musta missed four somewhere 'cause I think that adds to 64..)
I forgot to bring in something to scribble notes on; probably just as well..
We were getting hammered inside: Bauer is 6'4" and had 4 personal fouls; McWilliams is 6'4" and had 4 fouls; Melvin is 6'3" and had 4 fouls; Frett is 6'3" and had 5 fouls; Nagy had 4 fouls. Philadelphia had 8 total fouls in the first half and ended the game with 21 total fouls. Astou is listed at 6"3", Val at 6'2", Angela at 6'2", Shay at 6'1" - we were out-rebounded in the first half 13-21. Last year I said we didn't have enough size inside; it sure was the case again tonight. Omi didn't even play first half, and although I've got her marked as having been in second half, I kinda don't recall her as having played. She had a knee brace on.
Again: we're getting beat up inside! Lot of forwards are nice and all, but you need some bangers down at the low post, too!
In the first half we hit 7-7 freethrows, but you'll never win at the foul line. In the first half we shot only .303 from the floor vs Philly's .600; I'm not sure it improved much in the second half.
Bright spots? Hmmm.. I dunno.. I'm beat - I'm going to bed..
Didn't hear 'em announce attendance - probably around 2,500, I'd say. Autographs after by Naomi and Astou.
Portland looked good in warm-up (I wasn't paying complete attention, but I think Katy Stedding hit everything she put up during warmup!) and looked really confident waiting for the opening tip.. OK: Let's do it..
Portland takes the tip and we're off. Q1 develops slowly but Portland still looks confident and Seattle looks a little tentative; it's 4-8 at 5:56 and Val turns the ball over; another Seattle T/O at 4:10; Astou comes in for Val (Val looks a little unfocused) and Portland is doing a lot of full-court pressing; Niesa steals at 2:08 but we get no points and it's 8-12; just like that Astou has 3 personal fouls at :41.8 score 8-17 - hmmm.. Katy Stedding hits 2 3's at the end of Q1 (did I say she looked good at warmup?) and Q1 ends 8-20 and the crowd is muttering but we've got a long way to go.
Q2: Val hits 2 freethrows at 8:40 and it's 10-22 and at least we're in double figures.. Then two double-dribble turnovers by Val and it's 12-24 - Seattle takes a :20 at 5:38 down 12-27 - let's talk about this. Portland commits a bad pass turnover to Niesa assist to Angela for 2 and it's 14-27 and Seattle takes another :20 to make adjustments. At 2:37 a Portland turnover to Seattle; at 1:55 a Portland timeout as Rhonda Smith has picked-up her third personal foul and it's 19-29 - so we've scored eleven to Portland's nine; back out from the T/O and Val hits 1 freethrow and hits the second and it's 21-29 and we're down by eight! Timeout Seattle :53.1 at 23-31; Stedding misses a freethrow; Shay gets fouled and makes one and makes two and now it's :31.0 and 25-31; with under :10.0 left Niesa is fouled and makes one misses one and we end Q2 26-31 and we're down by five! This can be done!
At half-time an annoucement about the "Cascade Trophy" - a nice glassy pale blue-green trophy handed back and forth between Karen Bryant (Reign GM) and Linda Weston (Power GM) and to be kept by the team that has the best record in the eight games this season between Seattle and Portland! Cool idea - it'll sure look great in the Reign front office ;-)
So let's get back to business. Q3 32-39 at 7:58; Bird drives a great layup from the right side but it doesn't drop but she's fouled and hits one hits two and it's 36-41; Stedding misses two freethrows (did I say she looked good warming-up?) at 6:50; 6:03 a Portland shotclock turnover but Astou travels; Niesa a turnover at 5:30 and 38-41; at 4:58 Kate fouls Henning, count the 2 but she misses her freethrows but Seattle can't rebound; Portland timeout when Bird is fouled but they're not in the bonus so we get the ball out at 4:10 and a quick inbounds to Val and a 2! 42-43 Whoa, baby! Shotclock turnover by Portland on CROWD NOISE 3:35 still 42-43; at 3:10 Astou hits for 2 and WOO HOO! we're up by one 44-43 at 3:10 and the crowd goes nuts!
At 1:58 Astou is fouled by Milton and she hits 1 hits 2; Turnover Kate at 1:14 at 46-47; OUCH! Shay picks up her FOURTH personal foul at :59.5; Natalie Williams misses two freethows but no R/B to Seattle; Portland shotclock turnover to Seattle; Seattle shotclock turnover to Portland and Astou steals and shoots at the buzzer but it won't drop and Q3 ends 46-47 and we're down one!
Q4: Seattle comes running back out onto the court from the bench. A Nice! pull-up jumper by Bird at 9:10 for two 48-49; BANG! Bird hits for 3! 7:06 and it's 51-49 and we're up two; 51-51 by Milton at 6:25; Val is fouled and misses both and Shay rebounds and misses the put-back; then 51-53 by Crawley; BANG! Angela for 3! 54-53 5:20 time out Portland; Shay fouls Henning (OUCH! that's 5) and Henning hits 1-of-2; 54-54 and an official's timeout; inbounds to Seattle and a full-court press and Stedding fouls but it's non-shooting; BANG! Kate Paye for 3! at 3:35 57-54; BANG! Kate Paye for 3! at 2:29 60-54; 1:54 shotclock turnover to Seattle 60-54; at 1:43 Shay gets her sixth personal foul and goes out to an extended standing ovation; Natalie Williams hits one hits two 60-57; BANG! Kate Paye for 3! at 1:15 63-56!
(Editorial: I have been waiting for this from Kate! She's a class, quality player who's seemingly OK with Niesa at starting 1-guard, and Kate has been putting in her time, doing her job as bench 2-guard and now when we need her she's right there! It couldn't have happened better! Alright Kate! She ended with 13pts 2ast 1rb in 23 minutes!)
Then Portland takes a timeout with :05 on the shotclock (!) and when they come back on Stedding misses; :41.4 Bird is fouled by Milton but no freethrows; Henning fouls Niesa for her fifth P/F and Niesa hits one hits two 65-56; BANG! Stedding (did I say she looked good in warm-ups?) hits for 3 but it won't be enough 65-59; Bird is fouled by McCulley hits one misses one 66-56 at :24.5; Bird fouled again by McCulley and hits 'em both 68-59; McCulley hits 2 68-61 :04.5; Stedding fouls Kate who hits one hits two and at under :03.0 we're up 70-61 and that's all, folks!
Hey! We were down by 15 points at 5:38 in Q2! This is another quality come-from-behind win, folks! The Reign started out slow, but didn't panic, and hung around, hung around, hung around, and crawled right back in it! What a great comeback, and what a quality rebound from the blowout down in Portland!
Val 18pts 12rb! Kate 13pts 2ast 1rb; Bird 12pts 2ast 6rb; Shay and Niesa each 7pts; Astou 6pts; Angela 5pts; Nadine for 2pts.
Good crowd: 3,562. Autographs after by Angela and Kate! Can you say "Seven-and-One"?
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This hard-fought game was played by two powerful teams that simply do not know the meaning of the word "quit".
San Jose came to play and played hard: Davis-Wrightsil 26pts; an unstopable Azzi with 19pts 6ast 6rb; Holland-Corn with 18pts; Machanguana with 11pts; Sam 10pts; Smith 6pts; DeForge 4pts; Gaither 3pts. These women came to play! Major factors? Machanguana, Gaither and Smith all fouled-out; Gaither at 3:29 OT1 and Machanguana at :30.4 OT1 so neither player was available for OT2; Smith fouled-out at :13.5 OT2. Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil was awesome! She sent the game to OT with a clutch 3pt shot at the buzzer Q4 and was just a major force; Jennifer Azzi was seemingly unstopable but was perhaps asked to do too much at the end..
Seattle just played hard basketball, too, and didn't fold. Bird was held to 12pts, but 12pts was still major help; Bird hit one-of-two technical foul FT's to force OT2 when Davis-Wrightsil, falling out-of-bounds, tried to call a T/O San Jose didn't have. Shay and Val were really the story (not to take anything away from anyone else, but..) Shay 37pts 12rb and put Seattle up for good 97-95 with a 2 at 1:30 OT2; Val 24pts 14rb; Niesa 15pts 7rb 6ast; Bird 12pts; Angela 11pts 4rb; Astou 3pts; Omi 1pt.
I've got six pages of notes and my scorecard from a game that was a real dogfight:
Q1: a great last-minute inbounds play where Bird v-cuts out and in and takes a pass from Kate for 2; 18-21 San Jose up..
Q2: I have 6 turnovers by San Jose in this quarter; the Reign have the ball stolen on a quarter-ending inbounds play but the clock expires and San Jose's shot is not allowed; 34-33 Seattle up..
Q3: Machanguana picks up her fourth PF early Q3, and her fifth PF at :10.5; Val picks up her fourth personal foul at 1:51 on a bad charge call; Niesa hits 2FT's at :10.5 and Azzi can't hit the jumper and time expires 55-57 San Jose up..
Q4: Suddenly Seattle is scaring us: T/O San Jose but Seattle can't connect; Shay makes 1 FT of 2 and Angela rebounds the missed second FT but can't get it to drop; but then Shay is fouled at 4:39, count the two, she hits 2-of-2 FT's and it's 65-66; Val hits 2 at 3:13 69-70; San Jose shotclock T/O at 2:45 on CROWD NOISE!; 2:27 Shay fouled, 5 San Jose team fouls and we're in the bonus; 71-70 at 1:50 and another shotclock T/O to Seattle on CROWD NOISE!; Azzi passes inside to Holland-Corn who hits 2 and Azzi flattens Bird on the continuation but no foul is called 71-72 at 1:23; Holland-Corn offensive foul :41 and it's 73-72; another SJ T/O to Bird and Niesa is fouled, Niesa hits 1 74-72 and the crowd goes nuts! Niesa hits the second and it's 75-72 at about :07.1 seconds left! SJ inbounds and JUST LIKE THAT gets the ball out to Davis-Wrightsil on the left baseline and bang! a three and we're tied 75-75 on the 3 at the buzzer and on to OT1!
OT1: San Jose takes the tipoff; at 4:10 it's 75-77; 80-77 at 3:29; Gaither fouls out and Val hits 1 of 2 81-77 at 3:02; Davis-Wrightsil for 3 at 2:54 81-80; Niesa comes back with a 3 2:24 84-80; Sam a 2pt tip-in 84-82; Bird misses a 3; Davis-Wrightsil a 2 84-84 at 1:27; Holland-Corn misses a 2; Val hits for 2 at 1:00 86-84; Machanguana makes it 86-86; with :09 on the shot clock Shay is fouled by Machanguana 6pf and she's gone at :30.4; Shay makes one and misses one 87-86; Azzi hits for 2 and it's 87-88 at :13; Seattle brings the ball down and shoots and misses but Davis-Wrightsil takes the rebound out-of-bounds calling a T/O San Jose didn't have; the technical is called; Bird ties 88-88 with one of two FT's to force OT2!
Where's my nitroglycerine pills?
OT2: San Jose takes the tip-off; tied 95-95 at 1:44; Azzi is called O/B at the Seattle end; Seattle inbounds and Shay hits a 2 97-95 and we're up at 1:30; they get one 97-96; we get two 99-96; Azzi hits a FT 99-97 at :51.1; still 99-97 at :32.6; Charolotte Smith fouls out at :13.5 and Val hits two of two 101-97 and we all take a deep breath because that's a four-point lead; Niesa is fouled shooting at :3.7 and hits two of two to make it 103-97!
Everybody at the Key goes absolutely nuts!
Absolutely a fantastic game played by both teams! You can't take anything away from San Jose, but Seattle just beat 'em!
Seattle just doesn't know how to give up! What a turn-around from last year! Last year they could have lost this game several times over!
The Key Arena was a fantastic venue! 7,358 fans in the lower bowl only and the Sonic's awesome sound and video systems cranked-up! - the place was rockin'!!
Autographs after by Val and Hedge!
On to Portland! 6-0! That's six-and-zero! WOO HOO!
This team is playing really solid basketball. Bird (21pts) is back in the zone: she's looking like she did when Stanford used to come up to Hec Ed against the Husky women! Niesa is awesome (12pts); Angela (only 2pts but played strong) and Val (14pts) are major contributors; Shay had only 6pts in the first half and then she came back and had 12pts from the floor in the second half for 18pts; Astou was a force inside with 9pts; Nadine had 4pts; Kate 3pts; Hedge and Omi 1pt each but both played good hard ball; Omi is coming on as a major force inside but had 3 fouls called in 11 minutes on the floor.
The Reign was quickly out in front; 17-2 at 4:30 Q1; 21-4 at 2:46 Q1; good strong play and steals and rebounding and shooting; Q1 ended 29-11.
Q2 more of the same: 34-13 at 6:41 and down to within 36-21 at 4:22 mainly due to poor shot selection; 39-29 at 2:34; and a fantastic REJECTION! by Shay at under 1:00 and Q2 ended 43-31 with 8 Reign scorers (Bird 13pts) to only 5 New England scorers (Young 10pts).
Shay came alive Q3 with 6 quick points by 7:22; 53-37 at 6:11; 59-39 at 4:44; but then Bird got her third foul at 3:30 Q3 and Angela her fourth foul at 1:41; Rizzotti got her fourth foul at under 2:00 Q3; Q3 ended 69-49!
The fourth quarter (and the end of the third) had some poor shots and hasty shots and sloppy play for the Reign but again we didn't panic or collapse. At 5:04 (79-54) Carolyn Young went to the floor hard contesting a rebound against Omi; the play continued down court with no whistle and Seattle scored to make it 81-54; Young was carried off by her teammates while KC Jones protested to the officials that the whistle should have blown; he was probably right. ESPN later reported she may have suffered a torn ACL.
New England came back out down instead of mad and at 2:52 the score was 82-59; at 2:18 Omi and Wolters traded freethrows to 83-60; we had 3 turn-overs as the game wound down but we were firmly in command: final 85-68 and we're 5-and-0! WOO HOO!
A good solid crowd of 3,827; autographs after by Bird and Nadine!
A strong Q1 with several good blocked shots by Val and Bird; consistent scoring but Columbus stays with us; goofy foul-calls by the refs that deteriorated; Tammy had to set the refs straight when Columbus went over-limit on team fouls and we should have got a FT; Q1 19-19..
Q2 continued with consistent shooting and we start to pull out: one fabulous full-court fastbreak with passing from Niesa in the backcourt 'way down to Bird on the left wing who passes across the key to Shay down on the right block and 2pts! It happened faster than you can read it! And an absolutely fantastic fake-right and roundhouse-righthand-to-lefthand layup by Bird just as Q2 ends! Q2 34-26!
Quickly out to 40-28 at 7:21 in Q3! The flat third quarter deal seems to be history! 45-30 @ 4:47 Q3 and then slowly Columbus makes a run.
Then we have our cold start at the beginning of Q4. At 6:10 Q4 it's 54-51 and it's time to hang on. Around now we're having a coupla weird airballs by Kate and Bird; a definite lack of blocking-out and rebounding at both ends; some errant passing and one or two steals and the crowd is restless but the Reign just suck it up and play on!
Bird hits a 3pt at 4:54 Q4 and it's 57-51; then suddenly Bird has 4 fouls and its 57-53 at 2:35; then suddenly Bird has 5 fouls; then Bird is fouled shooting a 3 and hits 2 of 3 FT's and it's 59-57 and we're down well under 1:00; it's 59-57 at :10.4 as Sonja Tate misses but Columbus gets the ball out-of-bounds; ball inbounded and Val steals and is fouled! The crowd goes nuts! Val makes 2 of 2 freethrows and we win 61-57!!
Just a good solid win. The Reign took some bad foul calls; had some weird shots; needed to blockout a lot better in the second half; but they were up the whole time and played hard-nosed basketball when it was needed!
So now we've won one squeaker; one blow-out; one come-from-behind-on-the-road; and now just a good solid game where we refused to suffer from our few shortcomings!
I'll say it again: the Reign is for real! Beleive it!
Only 2,502 in attendance; autographs after by Niesa and Astou (I think..)
Strong defense, aggressive offensive; no quit, no letdown, no panic; the bench played solid support and put up a lot of points (16pts).
I had Shay for 13pts 11rb, Val for 21pts 11rb, Niesa for 22pts (15pts FT!) 6ast, and Bird for 25pts!
Angela had 7pts 5rb, Astou 6pts 4rb, Kate 5pts including one great three from the left baseline in Q4, Nadine 4pts, Omi 3pts including a field goal in Q4.
Great, great play by Niesa; great play by Bird - she was in her true form: hitting jumpers from outside (I had her for 3 3's) or driving to the basket against any defense; tremendous effort by Val; tremendous effort by Shay and Angela!
Omi showed who she is with some strong rebounding Q4 (she's listed at 6'4" 204lbs - she's gonna be a force inside!) and some good looks at the basket although she didn't get the ball to drop.
Nadine showed promise. Kate played solidly off the bench, as did Hedge when she was finally put in late Q4.
I think I finally see the concept, too: We've got a dynamite, fast, dead-eye 1 guard in Niesa (she can drive on everyone I've seen her face, so far); two solid 2 guards in Kate (I think she's more comfortable now as a 2 or as a reserve 1) and in Bird, depending on the combination on the floor; and suddenly a very flexible 2-3-4 setup that can vary from Bird-Angela-Shay to Angela-Shay-Astou to Kate-Bird-Shay to Kate-Angela-Astou - the combinations are pretty varied and very powerful when they all click.
Down at post we've got Val, or Astou, or Omi, later on; and Nadine as reserve 2 or 3; Hedge as reserve 2; Kate as reserve 1; Omi and Astou as reserve 5's or Astou as a 4.
If these women continue to play like they did, and if the focus of the team continues to sharpen, look out!
Great crowd! Probably close to a sell-out (4300+ I'd bet..) Celebrities included Sonic's assistant coach Nate McMillan; and guard Gary Payton, who bought at half-time auction a trophy ball signed by the entire team for $800.00; Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, who left early; Gary Cavalli and Jim Weyermann of the ABL front office; and the Puget Sound Flyers at half-time!
Autographs after by Shalonda Enis and Naiomi Mulitauaopele (we didn't stay: school night..)
Starters were Shalonda Enis, Angela Aycock, Niesa Johnson, Kate Starbird and Astou Ndiaye.
20-13 Q1, 40-35 Q2, 54-61 Q3, 68-77 Q4.
Shay 21pts (14fg 7ft) only 5pts 2nd half; Angela 9pts (8fg 1ft) 5pts 2nd half; Niesa 9pts (6fg 3ft) only 3pts 2nd half; Bird 12pts (4fg 8ft) 8pts 2nd half including 3ft when fouled shooting a 3; Astou 11pts (10fg 1ft) 7pts 2nd half.
The bench had nothing: Kate Paye 0pts; Barb Franke 2pts (Val Whiting was not suited-up); Hedge 0pts; Naomi Mulitauaopele 4pts (2fg 2ft) and 5 personal fouls quickly in Q3, and sat down.
So what was good? Niesa Johnson was dynamite! Any combination of Niesa and Kate and/or Hedge and/or Bird was hot! As soon as we were back to the '97-'98 1-2 guard combinations of Kate and Hedge only, things slowed down. Niesa seemed to be able to drive on Debbie (a sure '98 Oscar Nominee!) Black at will!
Shay was awesome! She picked right up where she left off last season! Astou was strong. Angela was strong but didn't seem to play a lot. Omi will be strong but was not focused tonight and (apparently..) fouled a lot.
And then there was Colorado: Edna Campbell was hot: 21pts (14pts 2nd half); Alisa Burras 14pts; Crystal Robinson 14pts; Dana Wynne 8pts; Debbie Black 6pts; Tari Phillips, Darla Simpson, Keisha Anderson all 4pts; Melody Howard 3pts - everybody who played, scored.. (No: Tiffany Gooden 0pts)
And what can you say? It's only preseason..
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