Sparks Dim As Sun Shines Too Brightly In Connecticut


“I firmly believe that any woman’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that she holds dear, is that moment when she has worked her heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – defeated.”

Hey now, Vince Lombardi never said that! However, Saint Vince did coach girls basketball at one point, and he surely taught his students how to handle disappointment. Fans anticipate certain games as schedule losses in the NBA, perhaps a cruel back-to-back or last leg on a road trip.

The WNBA is even more grueling, with the Sparks facing their fourth straight opponent home-opener.

With few charter flights, travel wears on even the brightest Spark. But, with the season just started, LA holds but modest concern.

Burnt Out

Continuing a trend, the Sparks tripped out of the opening tip. The Sun bamboozled LA quickly in a Mohegan Sun Connecticut crucible, starting 14-2. Nneka Ogwumike provided a quick burst, as anything titleless Connecticut can do in the long run, the Sparks can do better.

After the game, in the team press conference, coach Derek Fisher, visibly exhausted, patiently explained solvable reasons for the Sparks’ first-quarter struggles. “I think our defense is really what is letting us down; on the road, in particular, you’re not going to walk into a gym and hang up with 25 or 30-point quarter offensively most nights.”

Despite Ogwumike’s respite, the active-rebounding Sun (45-21 edge on the boards) continued its positive momentum. Thankfully, Connecticut had a week off after their first game, helping hold the rising franchise to 5-of-20 on threes. But LA performed no better from behind the arc, only connecting on 3-of-12.

Whoops! The tired Sparks trailed 49-25 at the break, probably too big a deficit for even a properly rested team to overcome.

But in basketball, it’s easy to lose focus with a big lead. And the Sparks kept their concentration.

Dora The Lost

The Sun announcers’ minds wandered, too, as they chose to talk about Dora The Explorer instead of the game.

Now, hey, Dora’s a great show. But LA’s got a better one.

The Sparks more than halfway climbed out of the sunspot, reducing the shortcoming to 67-58 after Jordin Canada’s challenging jumper.

Ah – that cruel false hope. The Sparks got no closer as Connecticut celebrated its first win.

Sure, we’ve all heard the lame clichés only expressed after losses: process, how you play the game, yadda yadda yadda. No way championship-seeking LA is going to be satisfied with a closer loss!

Rather than hand waving the set away, the Sparks accepted responsibility, however difficult the situation. The Sun sets every day. Los Angeles, by contrast, is a 24/7 city.

I Mean-Thrilled

After the final horn blew, one reporter asked Chiney Ogwumike how excited she was to play at their renamed LA gym, Crypto.com Arena.

Chiney didn’t waste a byte. “I mean – thrilled. I think to be home, yeah, it’s exciting. Our home opener, we’re looking to bring energy and effort. That’s what we’re looking to do. And this is exciting, super fun, like, it’s crypto now.”

Don’t understand crypto? No worries, investment knowledge is not a prerequisite to achieving basketball success.

There are a lot of fake quotes out there, but it doesn’t take a Lombardi to know: Los Angeles is America’s championship city. The Sparks return home as the next step in the orange-ball dance leaves an imprint on the soul of a wonderworld of women’s basketball.

About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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