Ladies Night

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Yes fellas, I know there are fewer than 20 games left in MLB’s "Hunt for October" and that college football and pro football season are in full swing, but it’s time to show some love for the ladies.

No, this is not about your wife/girlfriend/significant other, but that would also work, especially if they sit down and watch with you. Rather, this is a last-minute invite to check out Game 4 of the WNBA Finals between the Detroit Shock and Phoenix Mercury Thursday night on ESPN2 at 9 p.m.

With an 88-83 win at Phoenix Tuesday night, the Shock is on the verge of wrapping up their second consecutive WNBA title and third overall. Like their coaches, former NBA ruffians Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn, the club features a bruising inside game, fueled by Cheryl Ford, the daughter of the legendary Karl Malone. But what’s really worth watching is their backcourt tandem. Katie Smith is a hard-nosed player with a smooth jumper that has made her the all-time scorer in women’s pro basketball history and the athletic Deanna Nolan, whose quickness and jumping ability would certainly leave most guys looking up.

Across the court, the Shock will encounter a Mercury team reminiscent of the other club that plays at the US Airways Centers, the Phoenix Suns. Coached by former Los Angeles Lakers and Loyola Marymount leader Paul Westhead, the Mercury believe in running, gunning and stunning in a manner that would make Mike D’Antonio and Steve Nash proud.

Cappie Pondexter is a strong, second-year guard from Rutgers who deploys a killer cross-over to launch her springer and gets to the hole, seemingly at will. Don Imus might have been in a big trouble if he talked trash about Pondexter. 

Phoenix also features the former UConn swingwoman Diana Taurasi, who can drain the 25-footer and make the threes the old-fashioned way, by drawing contact. And Australian Penny Taylor-Gil, the MVP of Australia’s 2006 FIBA World Championship team, is more than a solid third option who does much of her damage going to the tin.

Okay I know: the action still takes place–for the most part—below the rim. But make no mistake, these ladies play an exciting, up tempo brand of ball. Backdoor cuts, turnaround Js and pull-ups off the break are all on display. And emulating their NBA brethren, there’s a ton of missed free throws: Phoenix missed 10 that cost them dearly in Game 3.  

So, when there’s a break in the action, turn the dial from your RSN and the hardball action or away from West Virginia at Maryland on ESPN. You may be surprised by the caliber of play—and find yourself rooting for a Mercury win so you can check out Game 5 on Sunday back in Motown.

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