Brian’s Courtside Blog - June 1 vs. Connecticut

Hey Sky fans, Brian here, from the scorer’s table. Tonight’s matchup is the first game of the year for the Sky vs. an Eastern Conference opponent. The Connecticut Sun come to town having won 4 of their first 5 games this season by an average of just under 19 points per game. It was exciting coming to the game today knowing the Sky is in for a tough test. I was thinking that the Sky had to start off hot tonight to give themselves confidence after coming off a very tough loss against Minnesota their last time out. Sylvia Fowles made it happen, as she stormed out of the gate, quickly scoring 7 of her season-high 17 points. After the first quarter ended, I overheard the Sun’s radio announcer say to the team’s general manager about Big Syl’s 1st quarter performance, “She is just not intimidated at all.”

Fowles was presented her USA basketball jersey at mid-court before tip-off tonight. She was named to the Olympic team yesterday, and will head to China in August to try and deliver the USA a 4th straight gold medal. Sky Head Coach Steven Key and Sun Head Coach Mike Thibault, who is an assistant coach for the Olympic team, presented Fowles her jersey. Coach Key looked really proud of his rookie center.

Chicago Bulls guard Ben Gordon stopped by the Pavilion tonight to cheer on the Sky and say hi to Barbara Turner who attended the University of Connecticut at the same time as Gordon.

For the duration of the first quarter, Thibault was verbally upset with his team as the Sky dominated the glass early on. Just about every trip down the floor, as his team would pass, he would scream at them to “HIT THE GLASS…EVERYBODY REBOUND!” When he sent Barbara Turner into the game midway through the quarter, he looked at her clapping his hands and sarcastically said, “Let’s see how many rebounds YOU can get.”

Now that we’re three blogs into the season, you’re probably sensing that my favorite part of sitting at the table during the games is listening in on the on-court communication between coaches and players – and refs. I can hear just about everything said during the game... but some of it I can’t repeat!

The Sky fell behind early on in the 3rd quarter, but Jia Perkins led the team back with a barrage of jump shots and exciting steals. When you watch her play, you can really sense when she is about to take over the game and look for her own shot.

At the beginning of the 3rd quarter, there was a loose ball right in front of me that resulted in Armintie Price diving into the scorer’s table to try and save the ball. Chasity Melvin and a Sun player ran into the referee, pinning him against the table, and he did not see the play. As a result of not seeing who touched the ball last, the ref called a jump ball. “I couldn’t see it, jump ball,” he said. Chas immediately ran up to the ref and said, “But I could, white ball, it’s our ball!”

Throughout the game both coaches could be heard barking at the refs about traveling calls…or the lack thereof. It was almost comical at times to see one coach complain about traveling at one end of the floor, and then when the game would shift ends of the court, the other coach would shout at the refs about the same exact thing.

As far as the outcome, the game came down to its final possession. Cathy Joens nailed a big three-pointer with 6 seconds to go in the game to get the Sky within one. After Lindsay Whalen made good on one of two free throws, Jia Perkins had the game’s final shot of the night. She received the in-bounds pass and drove to the right side of the floor, forcing up a tough shot as time expired. The shot was no good and the Sky lost their second straight game at home. Up next for the Sky is a tough test on the heels of two tough home losses: Candace Parker and the L.A. Sparks come to town for their only game in Chicago this season on Tuesday, June 3 at 7pm. I’m hoping we see the fast-breaking Sky that beat Sacramento 10 days ago.