Spirit V Lightning - Three Things I Learned
Spirit eventually got the job done in OT.
1. Lightning will have a lot of "honourable" losses. Defence was great and every player worked their tail off. If, however, the offensive output is gong to be left to Hodges and the two imports Logic and Planeta, then they will struggle to turn that effort into too many W's. Those three contributed 73% of Lightning's total and that is too much to sustain. Lightning were only down by 5 when Logic fouled out and they really weren't going to be a threat after that. Eventually depth of class told and OT was rather a one way street. Foul trouble and/or injury to just one of those three and Lightning are cooked.
2. Spirit's offensive issues won't be with the spread of threat but range of threat. Their top 3 contributed just 54% and they got significant output from 3 others as well. They did show a little reluctance to fire from downtown and although they were fairly efficient (6/14) that meant the Lightning players weren't under much pressure to close out and a consequence the opportunities to drive were rare for Spirit. The offence looked a little one dimensional until OT. I don't think they need to jack up threes willy nilly but a 25 to 30% lift would have the defence stretched a bit more. Their increased depth means they could also afford to be a little more aggressive on the boards and get some second chances off missed shots.
3. Heather Oliver is hidden gem. Her hustle has always been great but Pritchard's pre game assertion that she was shooting the lights out were on the mark. Just when it looked like a Spirit offence had come to nought there was a blonde flash from the wing resulting in a put back or the ball knocked out to the top of the key for a restart. Down the other end was a similar story, just when Lightning thought they had unlocked the D, there was a blonde flash from the wing and a blocked or changed shot jacked up. Olly registered 3 of the 5 steals and 3 of the 6 blocked shots for Spirit and knocked down 15 points (5/8 2pt, 1/2 3pt and 2/2 ft). She not only has great foot speed but her anticipation is top notch too. Molloy was in the house to scout Lightning but would have been recording a few notes on Olly.