THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-McCoughtry magic on display as USA carves Turkey 89-58
The Olympic women's basketball television announcers marvel and fawn over the way Angel McCoughtry comes in and takes over a game.
Old hat stuff to Cardinal womens' basketball fans or Atlanta Dream followers...who've seen #35 do that for the last 7-8 years.
Wednesday against undefeated Turkey followed a predictable pattern. USA falls behind early. Trails the Turks 10-6 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Geno does a five player substitution at the 4:12 mark and Angel scores seven out of the USA's next nine points to give USA a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
It was a demonstration of basketball excellence.
3:19 -- McCoughtry fouled driving to the basket. Hits a free throw.
2:12 -- McCoughtry muscling inside for a putback and two.
.55 -- McCoughtry fouled again on the way for two. Free throws fall through the net.
.02 -- McCoughtry steals a pass and breaks away for a layup and score.
Production figures the guys out at the Ford Plant on Fern Valley would be proud of.
Scenarios Cardinal fans have seen time and time again. All we need is Louie the Cardinal Bird, Al Greener's Pep Band and Sean Moth crooning...
"Angelllllll MC Coughtry !!"
This time, it's on the world's stage. Intensity, drive, desire. A spark, a dominant player.
Yeah. That's our girl.
Four more McCoughtry points in the second quarter gave her 11 at the half in just eight minutes of first half action. USA 41-26 at the half.
Give the Turks credit. They didn't roll over and play dead until the fourth quarter. Actually trimmed the USA lead to 50-45 with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter. A crowd buzzing with excitement and the anticipation of the underdog attempting to slay Goliath.
It was Angel time again. A putback for two and a free throw. Missed three but a rebound and pass to Maya Moore for a gimme. A 13-2 run and the scoreboard reads USA 63-Turkey 47 at the end of the third.
There will be no David today.
Two free throws at the 8:00 minute mark in the fourth quarter give Angel 18 for the game. 69-50 USA. Turkey, with tired legs and sagging spirits, submits to the beat-down. How do you like her now, Geno?
"From the minute she (Angel) stepped on the floor to when the game ended she was the dominant player. That's something that I think we have that very few, if any, teams in this tournament have...so I'm fortunate to have that option." Aureimma commented after the game.
Yes you are. Just use the force, Luke. It may have been the most intelligent thing you've said since you landed in London. Yoda, you ain't...but even a programmed droid can figure this one out.
The reserve role had feted Angel well. Not really a new concept for her. She didn't start her freshman year at UofL but Tom Collen was playing mind games with her that he'd eventually lose. This is the same guy who abandoned Louisville to "Whoo, Pig, Suey" in the bottom half of the SEC West Division at Arkansas.
Sometimes career moves don't compute.
Sometimes you just have to take the Maserati out of the garage and drive it.
Sometimes a door closes and a window opens. Collen's departure cleared the way for a young, hungry and driven coach named Jeff Walz.
"Honestly, not starting has been the best thing for my career. I've gained discipline and I think before I didn't have the discipline. This took my game to another level." McCoughtry confessed after the rout.
Kind words? Backing up the boss? Maybe. Not starting the leading scorer in the WNBA is puzzling but when half your roster consists of ex-UConn players and the head coach is...well, you get the picture.
McCoughtry knows her game will be there whether she's the first or last player to step on the court. She can also be a diplomat on the world stage.
You just gotta wonder if these slow USA starts would disappear if it was Angel, Tamika, Candace, Lindsey Whalen and just one of the UConn twins out there shaking hands with the opponent before the opening tip-off.
As long as the wins keep coming by 30 or so, I guess it's crying about small beer. This team has twelve excellent players (actually, 11 until "Big Syl" and her tendon feel better) and the Czech Republic and China aren't going to pull off the upset of the century in the next four days and beat USA.
A USA team that will go through pool play 5-0 and then see what Australia, Brazil, Canada and France have to offer. A USA team averaging almost 87 points a game for 40 minutes.
The queens of the playground, standing at half-court, ball on hip...asking "who's next?"
Team Angel returns to action Friday against the 1-2 Czech Republic, who beat Croatia earlier today.