Brian’s Courtside Blog - June 26 vs Phoenix

Hey, Sky fans, Brian here, coming to you from the scorer’s table. Tonight the Sky hosts the defending WNBA Champions, the Phoenix Mercury. It’s always exciting to come to work knowing that you are going to get to watch one of the league’s elite players -- that being Diana Taurasi.

There was a buzz in the arena before the doors to the Pavilion opened tonight, regarding the NBA Draft that is taking place as I write. The Bulls have selected point guard Derrick Rose out of Memphis, and everyone around me is talking about what a great player they hope he will be for years to come. My question is, what number will he wear? He wore 23 in college, but I think that number is retired in Chicago…right?

Anyway, onto the game at hand, the Sky needs a win tonight. In my opinion we are much better than our 3-8 record, we have just been on the wrong end of some really tough games. One of these games was against the Mercury last week, as the Sky dropped a heart breaker in overtime 112-105. With Detroit coming in town this Saturday, and then 8 of our next 12 games on the road, this is a game that would go a long way for us in the W column.

Early on in the game, Taurasi hit a three with Brooke Wyckoff (who started tonight in place of Armintie Price) in her face. As the ball went through the net, Taurasi immediately turned to the ref and began working him, arguing for a call. As a superstar, sometimes if you argue enough, calls may go your way later in the game if the refs feel they “owe you one.”

“I like her intensity,” said my partner at the scorer’s table, Demetris. “We could use her on our squad.” Who couldn’t? Then she hit an amazing fade away floating jump shot from the right elbow. It was quite impressive.

I noticed the Mercury played a 2-3 zone for the majority of tonight’s game. When Mercury Head Coach Corey Gaines would send a sub into the game, he would walk over to them as they checked in and tell them to “go to a man-to-man D, let’s get them.”

At the end of a strong and aggressive first quarter for the Sky, we had already grabbed 11 offensive rebounds. That’s one more than Phoenix got on both sides of the ball!

Half-time tonight was a treat as Quick Change performed. If you have not seen them in action, it’s very impressive. Somehow they are able to change clothes and props right in front of your eyes without you seeing how they are able to do it. I have seen them several times in person, and every time I think this is the time I’ll figure it out…well, tonight was not that night. They are remarkable. You know it’s good when the fans give the half-time act a standing ovation.

In the second quarter, the Sky continued to pound the glass but came up empty handed. At the break they had 20…that’s right, 20 offensive boards, but trailed the Mercury by 9. I can’t imagine the frustration in that locker room right now.

Just after the start of the 3rd quarter, Chas Melvin and Taurasi had a jump ball against. Melvin must have flinched before the ball went up in the air because the ref pulled the ball down and said something to both of them. She smiled to both Taurasi and the ref and said, “Come on, what do you want me to do?”

In a third quarter break, during a dance contest, I saw something almost as amazing as Quick Change. A middle aged gentleman, on the heavier side, danced like I have never seen anyone dance before, HE EVEN DROPPED AND DID THE SPLITS! Everyone in the arena jumped to their feet and went crazy. I wish we had video to post. It was something you just didn’t expect to see.

Tangela Smith was called for a technical foul after the Mercury scored a basket in the second half. Coach Gaines did not see what happened and called the refs over for an explanation. I head the ref’s explanation. “She hit Wyckoff with an elbow after the shot,” said one of the refs. “Okay, I respect that,” said Gaines as he clapped his hands, accepting the ref’s decision.

Throughout the game, Taurasi continued to make her own calls against the Sky and argue about every call that went against her or the Mercury. It’s interesting to watch someone of her caliber work the floor, not only is she able to dominate the game during play, she seems to be able to control it while it’s stopped. I wish she came to town more than once a year. (I doubt Coach Key does, though.)

The game ended as I hoped it wouldn’t, with the Sky losing their sixth straight game. I have never witnessed a team dominate the offensive glass like the Sky did tonight and walk away with a loss.

On a positive note, Chas Melvin set a career record for offensive rebounds in game with 10, her previous high was 8. She also tied a career high in total rebounds as she grabbed 15 on the night, scored a season-high 19 points and hit her first 3-pointer of the season (we all wondered what the heck she was doing when she took the shot...).

The Sky also set three franchise records tonight, total offensive rebounds with 25, surpassing their old record of 20; 49 total rebounds beating their old record by one; and 26 second chance points with 26, beating the old record by one. I heard the scorer wonder if the 25 o-rebounds were a league record. We also had two 4-point plays in the game (Jia Perkins and CJ Joens), and he wondered if that was also a league record. I’ll let you know what our PR staff finds out from the WNBA’s stats bureau.

I’ll be back Saturday night, when the Sky takes on the Shock. I’m sure I’ll have some good Laimbeer stories for you...