Brian’s Courtside Blog - July 18 vs Connecticut

Tonight the Connecticut Sun came to town for the second time this season. This is always one of my favorite games as the Sun is always one of the most competitive teams in the league. I also love watching Sun Head Coach Mike Thibault at work.

Before I start my blog, I wanted to thank a co-worker and friend that many of you may know from my past blogs, Demetris. Tonight was his last game with the Sky as he will be moving to New Jersey to work with the Nets. I wanted to personally thank him for working closely with me as well as putting up with me for over a year. Good luck D!

When I arrived at the arena tonight and headed towards the scorer’s table, I noticed someone had set up shop in my seat. Once I learned why I could not sit there, I took a spot right next to my buddy Ronnie (who you may know writes “On The Road With the Sky”) at the other end of the scorer’ table, down next to the Sky bench, where I have actually never sat for a game.

As I took my seat, I looked over a Ronnie, who is always smiling, and asked her if she thought we would win. She continued to smile and said, “I know we can Brian,” as she patted me on the back.

The Sky began the game as hot as the temperature in the arena…HOT! Everyone around me was extremely warm, fanning themselves with their programs or hands.

As the Sky jumped out to an early 16-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, I noticed Sky Head Coach Key applauding his team’s play on a consistent basis.

Midway through the second quarter, Key sent in Chas Melvin to replace Tye’sha Fluker. As he sent Melvin into the game he told her to “Tell everyone to wake up!”

A minute later a ball was tipped out of bounds by a member of the Sun, however the referees gave the ball to Connecticut. After a minute of argument from Key, the refs overturned the call and awarded it to the Sky. Once the call was reversed, Key turned toward the bench, lowered his head and said the words, “Thank you.”

Coming out of a time-out with 5:16 to go in the first half, Thibault was extremely mad about the length of a timeout. He was verbally and physically distraught about something, I think it was probably his team’s performance on the court, but he bashed the referees for allowing the timeout break to last what in his mind was too long.

Towards the end of the first half, Jia Perkins dribbled the ball toward the baseline right in front of me. As she went by, Melvin came up to set a screen for her. Coach Key got in her ear and told her to, ‘use it, use it, use it.” Sure enough Perkins used Melvin’s screen, resulting in an easy basket for Melvin in the middle of the lane. You have got to love to watch the pick and roll at its finest. No one does it like Stockton and Malone used to, but Perkins and Melvin may have something going if they can keep it up!

At the end of the first half, the Sky continued to dominate the game, as they took a 42-28 lead into the break. This is the most relaxed the Sky has looked all season to me. It’s great to see the Sky handle one of the leagues best teams like they did in the first half.

Mid way through the third quarter, Perkins hit a tough jump shot from the right side of the floor. It appeared that she came down on her defenders foot. As she made her way down court to play defense, she got Coach Key’s attention and asked for a sub. Can we please get a break? First Fowles, then Canty, we cannot afford to lose Perkins at this point in the season.

A few plays late K.B. Sharp hit the floor pretty hard and was carried off the floor. Again, we cannot afford this right now.

Both Perkins and Sharp would return to the game in the 4th quarter…thank god!

The Sun fought all the way back to tie the game early in the 4th quarter. With just over four minutes left in the game, Key grabbed Dupree and put his arm around her as he walked her towards to scorers table. “Be strong, finish this off, you can do it,” said Key. If I was a player and my coach said this to me, there is no doubt it would light a fire under me and push me over the edge to make sure I got the job done.

It must have worked as Dupree hit big time jump shot with just under 3 minutes to go to extend the lead to 3.

With 22.2 seconds to go, Jia Perkins drove the left side of the lane and hit a miraculous under handed scoop shot with her left hand to give the Sky a 71-65 lead. “This one’s in the bad,” said Demetris.

The Sky won the game 73-65, defeating Connecticut for the first time ever in franchise history at home. The Sky will head to Connecticut this Sunday at 12pm to tangle with the Sun once again.