Friday, June 17, 2016

Liberty 91, Wings 88: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

New York City- You are hosting a team that, going by past records, you should handle.

There is always an inherent danger in this, especially if you are on  the sidelines. The late Al McGuire had an analogy regarding this situation. It was similar to visiting someone’s home where a dog was present. “The host knew the dog didn’t bite,” Al reasoned. “The dog knew he would not bite, but you were never sure.”

On Tuesday, the New York Liberty were in this very situation. Entering Madison Square Garden was the Dallas Wings, a 3-6 team mired in a five-game losing streak. The Liberty were 5-4, coming off a road swing that saw them win two of three.
 
The recent past did not matter. It was what transpired on the Garden floor. The Liberty were in a battle. New York trailed a good part of the contest. With two minutes remaining, the score was tied. Those last 120 seconds saw the Liberty execute the essential plays to finish the 91-88 victory. It literally came down to the last seconds, as Dallas’ Odyssey Sims, a 19-point scorer, had her potential game-tying three blocked by the Liberty’s Tanisha Wright seconds before the final buzzer sounded.
 
Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer praised Dallas as much improved and “better than their record.” The Liberty players took heed to the coach’s message.

The McGuire days saw a ‘cupcake’ or few  on the schedule. Not so in today’s WNBA, as even the club struggling to get to .500 can rise up and present a 40-minute test. A common denominator of the two eras, though, is the coaches’ anxiety. In their minds there is no sure thing, no matter who the opponent is.

The hot dog cart outside Madison Square Garden brought back memories of Baylor's NIT championship in 2014. All winning coach Scott Drew wanted was a "New York-style hot dog from the cart." Interestingly, Baylor product Odyssey Sims had a big night for visiting Dallas:
A beautiful day in midtown Manhattan beckoned for this game to be contested outdoors:
The halftime oasis, with free coffee in the hospitality lounge:
Skylar Diggins reflects just before resumption of play following a timeout. The ever-popular Diggins scored one point as she struggled to come back from last year's ACL injury:
A Dallas sub waits to get back in the game:
The Wings huddle during a timeout:
With the victory in the books for the Liberty, the Garden gives us its own rendition of "The Sound of Silence" 45 minutes after the buzzer:

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