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10/3/04 at Sacramento

Final score: Storm 66 – Monarchs 54 (W) (1-1)

Attendance | 8,737

Anthem Watch | Very good and he was only 13.

Fan Psyche | This is feeling a little familiar — and where did the WNBA find those 3 numbskull refs, behind a 7-11 or something?

Game Highlight | The win is highlight enough.

Halftime | 2 guys who put on a show of amazing strength and balance. All I can say is, "Ow Ow Ow Ow," (for the beyond horizontal the wrong way splits).

Flopometer | Oh my stars and garters, The Flounder's butt was on the floor more often than a baby trying to take its first steps.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | New Refs!

Game Photos | Game Photos (Scott Larson)

I feel like I can cut and past my Gameday from Friday's game — it would save some time.

The Storm jumped out to a lead, the Monarchs crept closer to end the half, the Storm kept the lead at around 10-12 for most of the second half, the refs started calling some incredibly awful calls, and the Monarchs clawed their way back into the game while the Storm stalled on offense.

Sound familiar? The difference was that the Storm held the double digit lead longer tonight and the Monarchs ran out of time to cover those last few points. The Monarchs had to resort to fouling and the Storm were mostly able to hit the free throws (Sue!?!?) to widen the lead just enough in the last minute to put the game away.

If the trend continues, game 3 should be all Storm since they will keep the 12+ lead throughout the whole game — game 1 they had it until about 10 minutes left, game 2 until about 4 minutes left, game 3 all the way. And no, I'm not guaranteeing anything so lay off the emails. Man some of you Sac fans are touchy.

I'm not going to rant about the refs, except to say that is incredible a group of refs this bad would be allowed to work a conference finals game. It was simply unbelievable, and I'm not just talking about the calls that went against the Storm. I think the Monarchs fans out there would agree that the insane calls were going both ways. Normally, they balance out, but this was so over the top bad that even if they did balance out I don't care. Something has to be done at the league level.

LJ was spectacular again, but she was hampered late in the game with foul trouble. When she was out, the Monarchs took advantage and the Storm didn't seem to have an answer on the offensive end. No other Storm player scored in double figures except Sue and she did it at the end of the game by shooting free throws as the Monarchs fouled her to stop the clock. The Monarchs were similarly cold with only Yo and Flounder hitting double figures.

Amazingly — because it certainly didn't seem that way watching the game — the Storm outrebounded the Monarchs. It seemed that the Monarchs were in complete control of the boards — their box out techniques are killer. It would be interesting to see a break down of where the rebounds for the Storm came from, because it seemed like the key ones went to the purple jerseys.

One thing the Storm also led the Monarchs in were turnovers. Sheri had 7 on her own. Much of that was due to the Monarchs slap happy style of defense. During one timeout mid second half, Coach Donovan pointed out that the Monarchs were jumping the passing lanes more and more and urged the team to make better decisions with their passes. Luckily for the Storm, the Monarchs got turnover happy themselves late in the second half and shot themselves in the foot more than once as the score got down to 6 or 4.

Speaking of timeout huddles, Coach Donovan was as calm and down to business as I think I've ever seen her in such a tight game. I don't recall seeing her get into any of the players' faces like she has in the past. There was one timeout in which she laid out what she wanted and then had Sue and LJ give their takes on what the Monarchs were doing on defense. It was certainly a moment when the coach let the team leaders take the reins a bit. It's all about building the players' confidence since by this time they should know what they are doing wrong or doing right. It seemed that Coach Donovan did a little less do-what-I-tell-you coaching and more you-know-you-can-do-this coaching. Sometimes sitting behind the bench is beyond cool. Okay, it's beyond cool all the time.

Some of the other memorable moments — Tully getting control of a loose ball and calling a timeout before the Monarchs could tie up the ball and force a jump, and then the whole arena chanting, "Tully, Tully, Tully." Coach Donovan following one of the refs around the floor yelling at him after a particularly bad call, and not getting a T for it. Howard Schultz motioning from across the floor for the two Sonics players to stand up at the beginning of the second half. Kamila getting her head knocked back by a Yo elbow like she was a Rock-em Sock-em robot only to then have a foul called on her. LJ spinning away from a foul called on her looking like she was going to go Mt. St. Helens on the ref, but holding it in since it wouldn't have done any good. Threes from Sue, Betty, LJ and Chelle that you knew were going in the instant the ball left their hands (including the last second one Chelle took on a whim). Watching Adia's mom go nuts even though Adia didn't get any playing time. Seeing the Monarchs let it go as the clock wound down.

It definitely felt good, no matter how nerve wracking it got at the end.

I think the key to the game was that the Storm was able to keep the Monarchs at bay longer than in game 1 and were able to withstand the Monarchs run once it materialized. The key for game 3 is going to be to put the Monarchs on their heels early and often, and then keep them there.

Other notes:

Lots of basketball folks in the stands - Bill Russell (if you don't know who he is, you need to), Phoenix coach Carrie Graf, Kristen Veal, Sonics Rashard Lewis and Reggie Evans.

Big Lo made it back, thank God, and might be back for game 3. He was the anchor for the crowd over the last few seasons and it is only right that he be here now.

We gave the Foam Finger on the Head Guy one of our Go Storm shirts since he is the absolute best fan in the building and he got some prime Arenavision time in the second half after he put it on. It looked good on you buddy.

Angie is now a minor celeb apparently. She got a few seconds of screen time on Friday night's Oxygen broadcast of game 1 and she had all sorts of people coming up to say, "I saw you on TV!" It's going straight to her head. I expect Diva behavior any time.

There were again signs a plenty which is always great. I'm going to pull out all the stops and do a little mass production tomorrow and Tuesday and try to make at least 100 signs to pass around for people to use. I've also got a couple ideas for 2 signs in particular that can only come out once the end of the game is in sight. I won't say anything so as not to jinx it, but you'll like them if I get to show them.

There were a few Sac fans in attendance, and despite the venom being spewed my way for having the horrible manners of actually trying to disrupt the other team's free throws on their own court, the Sac fans tried to return the favor by whistling right as the free throw attempt went up. Not too effective.

For some reason, it seemed really hot in the arena tonight. Maybe it was just our nerves, but several people commented on it being very warm.

Our little buddy Jack got the silly string birthday treatment from Doppler. Jack had some great reactions as he saw himself on the big screen and then when he gave Doppler a big hug. Jack is one smart little Storm fan — he knows all the players' names, what they are good at, what some of their stats are and he's only 7 or 8. He is the future of the WNBA fan base. Happy Birthday Jack.

The sound levels achieved by the crowd were incredible. I would love to see the arena install a decibel meter — a real one, because we would have been pegging it tonight. A well placed source told me recently that the league almost fined the Storm because the arena was so loud during game 2 of the first round against the Lynx. The Storm pointed out that it wasn't the arena sound system that was making the noise — it was the fans. When we are too loud for the league's standards, we're damn loud. That's Bringing It my friends.

We are Fairy Godmother minus one, and counting.