Wow Factor: The Mystics vs. The Pulse

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One thing’s certain, the Auckland Mystics know how to do mascots. From the oddly melancholic LG dog , to ‘Netty’ the dancing Fisher and Paykell … ummm, person with a netball for a head, it’s all there. And it works. It was a big  day for the LG Mystics, playing their first game of the season in the full heat of North Harbour’s Furnace, trying to crawl back from last weeks less than impressive loss to the Waikato Magic.

This week’s opponents were the Central Pulse. There was a tense vibe in stadium and the pregame house band, an affable acoustic guitar duo, captured the tone perfectly with a rousing version of “Sex on Fire”. A hit with the multitude of mothers and their six year old daughters in attendance.

Full disclosure: this is only the second game of real live netball I’ve seen. Let’s just say my knowledge of the game is… limited.  I’ve never been a fan  because I can’t get past the rules-based nature of it. It reminds me of a phrase my colleague has a habit of jovially reciting, “rules control the fun!”. True, but sometimes I just want to see people jump and run without fear of hearing a whistle. Now that’s out of the way, lets get down to tonight’s action.

A weird moment of eye contact shared with LG the dog. She looks kind of sad.

A weird moment of eye contact shared with LG the dog. She looks kind of sad.

After last week’s offensive debacle, the Mystics jumped out to an impressive lead – the ball getting down the court the with ease. The Mystics have an odd GS and GK combination, Latu and Davu. Both, let’s say, bigger boned, they look like heavy bookends holding together a frantic and athletic through-court offense. Davu is out of shape, but there is a sense that she has full control of what happens around her, picking of passes with relative ease. Latu started out strong, but when the Pulse came back from a 9-17 first quarter deficit, she seemed reluctant to shoot from anywhere further than 50 cm away from the hoop. Not really good for a player who’s job description involves, you know, shooting.

The second half saw Rawina Everitt take over centre from Temepara George, who moved to wing attack. Everitt seems a little lost on the court, and it didn’t help that Temepara George was no longer controlling the movement of the ball. Anyway, it didn’t matter in the end. After an impressive comeback, the Pulse ran out of belief and ability, passes weren’t connecting and the ball struggled to get down the court. Mystics won 54-50.

What made this game interesting, or at least semi-interesting, was that it contained what I didn’t think possible in netball: a comeback.  OK, it was only from 8 points down, but in netball that seems like the equivalent of a 20 point comeback in basketball. We’ve talked about this before on this site, but perhaps netball needs a few rule changes to make this kind of thing more regular.

Here’s a novel idea, that admittedly I think fellow DeadBall contributor Justin came up with, start a rebel league like basketball did with the ABA in the 1970s. You could have two point shots, dunking, lay-ups and cool nicknames for the players. For a game that has two mascots, rousing pregame entertainment and more than enthusiastic fans, it’s odd the on court action lacks that wow-factor. It needs more show-time, damn it!

You wouldn’t watch this league? I would. I also suggest a prison league, which would essentially bring to the surface the inherent aggressiveness that bubbled just below the surface of the two games I’ve watched.

Or maybe it doesn’t need it. Everyone at the Furnace seemed genuinely engrossed in the game, despite the fact it never really seemed that there’d be much chance of the Pulse winning  Maybe netball is meant to be appreciated on a level I don’t get. It’s not about the comeback, it might be about something simpler. I don’t know what, but it seems that way.

-David

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Wow Factor: The Mystics vs. The Pulse

  1. Just on note of the Mystics there return from the magic hiding I suppose was a lucky one. For the Pulse who were one of the ANZ bottom tier teams they performed well and at the end of the day it was a few poor passes a step and just the lack of some wayward calls. Yes Everitt looked lost out there which could mean that she will have to start footing the bill with the likelihood of development of junior players. Does this mean this is the phase out year of the lil general master mind Ms George. I think that could leave a a great big hole in the netball attraction statistics with her missing.
    So if you think the action on court is boring without Ms George I’m assured the ANZ would be quite bland. She brings life not just to the court but off the court she lights up the Auckland Isthmus nightlife.
    If you think netball is boring and shares no sense of excitement yes that is true and unfortunately is the nature of the game. Once considered “the ladies game” it has always remained a safe haven game. Changing the point systems I don’t think it would make it that much more interesting. Lets face it Netball is not that much TV rivetting.

  2. Yeah, I was really impressed with George, she seems to have an innate feel for the game – she pretty much makes the right decisions at the right time without making it look like the heroic accomplishment it sometimes is.

    Having experienced the game in person, I’m not sold on it as an exciting game, but in a weird way that seems to be besides the point. I’m trying to articulate that I’ve been viewing netball through the wrong lens, instead of looking for a wow-factor perhaps I should be trying to tap into what the enthusiastic crowds were seeing. Sort of like test-cricket, you need to adjust your expectations to draw pleasure from the game.

  3. tom

    Thunderstix – that one word encapsulates how amazing it is that you even contemplated attending. That and all that high pitched screeching that is only rivaled by the cow bells in Waikato games on the gratingness scale. What was the real reason?

  4. Tom:

    It’s actually kind of a cool atmosphere at the games, kind of carnival like, kind of family day out… and did I mention the mascots?

    But yeah, I guess I view it as an opportunity to get to the bottom of what this sport is about. I’m challenging myself to empathise with a game that I have taken so much pleasure in dismissing in the past. Maybe I can learn some lessons.

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