Shock at Mystics
For Detroit, will it be the cohesive unit that routed the Mystics last Friday at The Palace, building a 23-point lead during a 79-66 victory? Or the group that’s lost its last four road games by an average of nearly 13 points per outing?
Or, as witnessed last Saturday in New York and Wednesday at The Palace, perhaps it will be a Jekyll and Hyde display. The Shock had an 18-point lead at New York (and lost by 10) and a 23-point advantage on Chicago (and won by three).
Now the Shock face Washington, an opponent that has had its share of interesting comebacks. On July 8, the Mystics had 14 points at halftime and won, knocking off the Indiana Fever in a 50-48 final. The course of that game didn’t surprise Shock assistant coach Cheryl Reeve.
“It’s like I just told our players, Washington, it’s a team that’s … going to grind you out, and just stay within striking distance, and making you think they’re not playing,” Reeve said prior to the July 11 meeting. “You’ve got a 13-point lead on them or whatever and then – they’re still coming.”
In their victory Saturday over Connecticut, the Mystics spotted the Sun a 9-0 lead, yet had the lead by the end of the first quarter, 19-18. Washington won, 69-64.
Reeve said Washington’s incredibly deliberate pace is part of the deception. They are the only team in the league averaging fewer than 70 points per game (69.0 ppg) but they’re right in the middle of the pack in field-goal percentage (42.1 FG%) and third best from long range (37.6 3FG%).
“They can kind of force you into playing they’re style of play, which, for us, we want to go up and down. If you look at them, possessions per game is lower, they’re scoring the lowest in the league, but they shoot a high field-goal percentage,” she said. “So we have to be efficient in our possessions and make sure we’re playing at our pace. We want to avoid the grind nature of the Washington game.”
The Shock did that for the most part last Friday, thanks to a long-range barrage from Katie Smith, who tied the franchise record with seven 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 23 points.
Detroit native and six-year WNBA veteran Stacey Lovelace debuted with the Shock in that game. The 6-foot-4 forward/center, released by Atlanta earlier in July, made her first start for Detroit on Wednesday against the Sky. She played seven minutes, and did not score.
Tasha Humphrey, the presumptive candidate to be replaced by Lovelace in the starting lineup, has been reinvigorated by the competition to keep her job, which she has so far. (Sheri Sam exited the lineup for Lovelace). Struggling at the time of acquisition, the rookie broke out of her funk with 12 points and 5 rebounds against the Mystics. She’s been one of Detroit’s most consistent player in the two games since, posting 11 and 5 at New York and 12 and 6 against Chicago. Humphrey also has made five field goals in each contest, shooting 15-for-26 from the floor (57.7 percent).
The Shock – 5-7 on the road overall – would like to rectify their road record before the Olympic break, and could even reach .500 by winning at Washington and at Houston July 24. Last season the Shock didn’t lose their third road contest until Aug. 12, finishing with a 12-5 mark away from The Palace.