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.

Monday, June 24, 2013

WNBA Report: Loose Play Sends New York to Narrow Loss

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, N.J. --
The tightrope the New York Liberty had been walking in several home games here at The Prudential Center snapped the wrong way Sunday afternoon in overtime as second-year pro Shenise Johnson’s shot with 36.1 seconds remaining produced the decisive point in a 78-77 cross-divisional win by the San Antonio Silver Stars.

This is one of those games that will add to the list later in the season, perhaps for both teams, depending how they fare in their respective Eastern and Western Conference races.

New York (4-3) still had opportunities to pull out the win before launching a 10-day, four-game road trip but veteran Katie Smith missed a pair of threes.

For the crowd of 6,123 fans, many of whom also came to see all-time Liberty and Rutgers great Sue Wicks honored for her recent induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., this was definitely one that got away from New York.

There was another rough start with San Antonio (3-5) taking a 13-point lead in the first quarter and then there was once again the matter of turnovers with New York coughing up 23 miscues to 11 by the Silver Stars and the visitors capitalized with a 29-9 differential.

“We came out like we were going to win the basketball game just by showing up and it looked like it,” Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. “That was unfortunate and it had nothing to do with the (nine-day) layoff. We just didn’t show in the first quarter.”

As for the sloppy ball handling, the veteran coach back in the league since leaving the three-time champion former Detroit Shock in 2009, observed,”I was telling the players that I take all responsibility because I have not been able to instill in them about taking care of the basketball.

“We just started throwing the ball all over the gym,” Laimbeer said. “You can hear it in the fans’ voice, some of the passes we were just fingering the ball to get rid of it. We were just batting the ball around the gym. It was painful to watch. We need more conditioning.”

Both squads are among the many in the league beset by injuries with New York recently losing former Rutgers all-American Essence Carson to a left knee injury while San Antonio was missing former Stanford star Jayne Appel to a concussion, Sophia Young, the former Baylor great lost for the year with a torn right ACL, and former New York star Becky Hammon still out until next month with an injuried right middle finger.

Former Oklahoma star Danielle Robinson had 18 points for the Texans, while Danielle Adams, the most outstanding player on the 2011 Texas A&M NCAA champions, had 16 points and 11 rebounds.

“We wanted to get Danielle (Adams) more shots so we’re happy with the 16 she had – that was about right,” Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said.

DeLisha Milton-Jones, who may be the longest-serving player in the league next season after Seattle’s Tina Thompson and New York’s Smith depart, had 15 points, while Jia Perkins scored 12.

Former Rutgers great Cappie Pondexter had her first double double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Liberty. Plenette Pierson had 18 points, and Leilani Mitchell had 11 points off the bench.

Recently-acquired Avery Warley had six points and six rebounds.

“I thought she did exactly what she was brought in to do, rebounds, play defense, work very hard, run the floor,” Laimbeer said. “I probably should have found more time for her in the second half but she is still learning our stuff.”

New York heads to Chicago for a Wednesday night matinee game and then makes its Western swing to Seattle, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

But unless the Connecticut Sun and defending champion Indiana Fever overcome their injuries and turn things around, New York may not lose ground if the Liberty get wiped out on the trip, though stealing a few wins could solidify their spots in the standings above the playoff cuts.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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