Taking (errant) shots on love

ABC/Mark Brendel

Andi, center, and her WNBA friends didn't get much competition from the guys on the court.

Monday's episode of "The Bachelorette" was by far the darkest we've seen from the franchise -- and that includes Ali Fedotowsky's season, when Kasey Kahl got that ill-advised "guard and protect your heart" tattoo and serenaded the poor girl with vocal stylings reminiscent of a critically wounded cat.

This episode began with sweet, soft-spoken Dylan breaking down while telling Andi about his brother and sister, both of whom died of drug overdoses, and ended with Andi fighting with world traveler Eric and sending him home before the rose ceremony even began. The ceremony itself ended up on the cutting room floor, as producers elected to close with Andi and host Chris Harrison sharing memories of Eric, who died in a paragliding accident several months after he was eliminated from the show.

One of the only real bright spots in an otherwise tough watch was a group date in which 10 of the guys suited up for some hoops on the Connecticut Sun's home court, Mohegan Sun Arena. Atlanta Dream forward Swin Cash was one of five WNBA players called in to put the guys through their paces and she dished on all the behind-the-scenes stuff viewers didn't see Tuesday night.

The date started with Andi welcoming the guys to the court and inviting them to shoot around a little bit. "Pantsapreneur" JJ showed up to the date looking more like a college kid during finals than a guy ready to play some hoops. A long-sleeve flannel, a knit cap and a pair of sweatpants is not a good workout look, bro. (Especially when you're a "pantsapreneur!" You don't have any workout gear in your line?!) JJ stripped down to shorts and a tee to play, but I'm not sure rockin' a shirt with his own name on it was any better.

Chris, the handsome farmer from Iowa, didn't look the part, either -- and he heard it from Cash and company when they joined the guys on the court.

"Farmer -- that's what Andi nicknamed him because he did some type of cropping or whatever," said Cash, who was teammates with Tamika Catchings, Elena Delle Donne, Lindsey Harding and Nneka Ogwumike for the day. "I called him Pretty Boy. Dude showed up not even in basketball attire. They told him he was going to work out and dude had straight-up soccer shoes and Gucci pants or something. I was like 'Is this real life? This cannot be real life.' They didn't show the behind-the-scenes of us talking -- we were over here killing this guy!"

Pretty Boy Chris isn't the only bachelor who went by a different name that day.

"It was hard for us to remember their names, but we started naming them ourselves," said Cash. "Like, 'This guy here is Muscle Milk. This guy over here is Blue Eyes.' There was one guy, we just called him Blue Shirt."

The ladies took on the guys in 5-on-5 and ran 'em out of the gym.

"There was this one moment I kind of felt bad," said Cash. "There was this one guy, I posted him up. I did a power dribble to go in, hit him and he went flying back. I was like, 'What happened? We hit the girls harder than this!' He just flew back. I guess he wasn't expecting me to body him up. I was dying laughing. I thought that was beyond hilarious. Like, 'You guys think we're joking around out here?'"

After getting roughed up a bit by the ladies, the guys went the ol' pickup game route, using brute force whenever talent failed them.

"I feel like it was a natural instinct that once the girls started scoring and stuff, they start playing harder, but they didn't have the skill set," Cash said. "I'm like, 'Everybody look out, here come the football players!' You know, just driving to the basket out of control."

The participants of the lopsided contest discussed it on the show.

Said Nick V.: "These girls are smokin' us. We are running around here like a bunch of little infants and they are barely trying."

Sparks forward Ogwumike: "You know, it was kind of more of like a little warm-up, I guess you could say."

Sparks teammate Harding: "I really hope they have more game off the court than they do on the court, 'cause [if not] she'll have a real difficult choice."

After doling out a thorough beating, the ladies stepped aside and the guys played one another for a postgame date with Andi.

The red team, wearing fancy jerseys with "Rosebuds" on the front, featured Eric, Cody, Marquel, Nick and Brian, a high school basketball coach. Team Five of Hearts, wearing white jerseys on which they had to draw their own logo, was made up of JJ, Chris, Tasos, Patrick and Josh, a former professional baseball player who also played football at Georgia. (He's also the older brother of rookie Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray.)

Cash said Marquel, a former UNLV second-string defensive back and current UFC sponsorship salesman, spent most of the early part of the date cozying up to the WNBA stars and nursing a "hamstring" injury.

"I can't tell if he was flirting or just trying to get cool with us, but [Marquel] was being extra friendly and Andi gave him the business about it! He basically faked an injury and then when it was time to play to win the date with her, all of a sudden miraculously, now he doesn't need our hugs anymore because his hamstring was OK to play. Everybody was going in on him!"

At halftime, the score was ... 6-6. Even if they gave them a point a bucket instead of two, that's just an embarrassing display. Even Butler and UConn circa 2011 couldn't get behind that halftime score.

In the second half, Brian, a.k.a. Coach, turned on the jets and outplayed fellow athlete Josh.

"Coach, he was going so hard, I felt like by default he should be given the date," Cash said. "I was like, 'Is he auditioning for a head coach at a college or something, 'cause he's all over it.'"

Andi was just as impressed, saying during the game, "Brian is in his element right now. He ... looks ... hot."

Coach got hot and the Rosebuds ran away with it. You could tell the game wasn't fixed because in the movies the team with the homemade jerseys always wins. Not this time.

While Coach and the Rosebuds celebrated with a champagne shower in the locker room, the Five of Hearts sipped beers quietly, lamenting their loss and muttering the occasional expletive.

Cash said that before they left the WNBA stars had a chance to tell Andi which bachelors they liked, and she didn't mince words.

"I was immediately like, 'Andi, I'm sorry, but I couldn't date the unathletic dudes. There's just something awkward about that and my kids would be awkward.' If I did a dating show like that, there's just certain things I'm attracted to and I'm looking for. You don't have to be a pro athlete for me, but if you look crazy shooting a basketball or throwing a football, then we just can't be. We're just not gonna be together."

In the end it was Eric and Tasos who didn't make the cut, leaving the fashion-flustered duo of JJ and Chris still in the running. I guess Andi was able to look past their sartorial slip-ups (and their weak J's) in the name of love. Let's just hope they can throw a football, or Cash might fly back out there to talk some sense into her.

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