Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

WNBA: Storm Deals Liberty "Perfect" Loss

By Mel Greenberg

_ Erin Thorn’s shooting was the only positive in a sea of three all-time negatives for the New York Liberty in a WNBA game Saturday night in Madison Square Garden.

The Liberty (4-19) were ripped 91-54 by the Seattle Storm, making it the worst loss in the franchise’s 10-year history. Speaking of the number of 10, that’s the total of consecutive setbacks New York has reached, also a record. The 19th loss on the season also set a futility mark as the squad fell to 4-19 overall.

New York, mired in sixth place in the East a game ahead of last-place Chicago, an expansion team, now trails fourth place Washington by eight games with 11 remaining for the fourth and final playoff spot. The tragic number for elimination is four.

Thorn, whose 19 points were one below her career high set Thursday night in Sacramento, made 6 of 9 field goal attempts, including 4 of 5 on three-point launches.

However, by the time the former Brigham Young star made her first shot, the Storm (12-12) had solid control of the game at 23-8 with 1 minute, 53 seconds left in the first quarter.

“They didn’t get to see us healthy, but they did get to see us play and execute well,” Storm coach Anne Donovan said of her family and friends from northern New Jersey as Seattle stayed in playoff contention in the Western Conference.

“We play back-to-back. We’re at Washington tomorrow (Sunday), so this was a great way to get out in front and stay out in front. It was important so we could rest people,” Donovan said. “We definitely were not out to embarrass anybody, but we shot the ball well early (62 percent at one moment), and it enabled us to get out in front and rest people we needed to rest.”

Iziana Castro Marquez, a native of Brazil, scored 26 points off the bench for Seattle.

Lauren Jackson added 18 points to the Storm total, Betty Lennox added 14 points, most of which occurred early in the game, and Sue Bird scored 10 points.

“Some times teams just have those games and tonight was one of those games (for us),” Bird said. “We got some stops and were able to run and when we are in transition, that is when we are at our best.”

New York was again without All-Star point guard Becky Hammond, who is recovering from an ankle injury suffered in the Phoenix game here just before the All-Star break.

Kelly Schumacher was lost for the season with an ankle injury in the loss at Sacramento.

Meanwhile, rookie Barbara Turner, a former University of Connecticut star, went to the bench for Seattle with an undetermined injury to her right knee with 4:19 left in the third quarter.

The knee will be evaluated in the next two days but Donovan commented afterwards, “It doesn’t look good.”

It hasn’t looked for the Liberty for a long time after the WNBA charter franchise underwent a major roster change last winter when four starters left the squad. Crystal Robinson signed as a free agent in Washington, Vicky Johnson signed a deal as a free agent with San Antonio, and Elena Baranova and Ann Wauters remained in Europe.

“We just came out slow, we let them hit shots early and they got on a run,” Thorn said about the loss to Seattle.

“They’re a great shooting team and if you let them hit shots early, it’s hard to come back.”

Asked about a common theme in the 10-game losing streak, Thorn responded, “It’s the little things. I don’t think it’s something huge. It’s little things that we don’t take care of, whether it’s doing the scheme that our coaches gave us, whether its’s playing hard all 40 minutes, whether it’s taking care of the ball (New York had 21 turnovers to Seattle’s 11). It’s little things. It’s not any one big thing.”

The Liberty have a big thing next on the schedule when first-place Connecticut visits Monday night.

-- Mel


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