score: Storm 93 Sparks 67 (W) (2-0)
Watch | Excellent - not quite a verklempt-inducing
performance, but just the way it should be sung.
Psyche | Beat LA (and Minnesota, and Phoenix,
Highlight | Umm, everything but the first
5 minutes or so.
| Awesome trampoline slam dunk group, featuring
StormInCali making an "attempt"
Photos | Game
Photos (Scott Larson) |
Photos (Christine Nelson)
There are a lot of things to talk about with this game, but
there were 2 major elements of the Storm's performance that
I think ought to be emphasized and should give Storm fans
everywhere much hope for this season.
THIS was our home opener. The Minnesota game was really the
Storm's final preseason game where they were able to expose
their own strengths and weaknesses and still eke out a win.
I know some fans will be looking at the Storm team who played
the Lynx and then the Sparks and wondering if our team is
going to once again be the schizophrenic type which plays
great against great opponents and struggles against the bottom
feeders. After watching how smooth and confident tonight's
Storm played, I'm confident that THIS is the real Storm.
and this point is what really has me excited as a fan —
the Storm, from the MVP through the end of the bench, played
the Sparks straight up. They weren't intimidated, cowed, or
afraid to go toe-to-toe with anything the Sparks were dishing
out. If there is one word right now to describe this team
it is fearless. Not out-of-control or brash fearlessness —
it's a fearlessness that comes out of the knowledge that they
are just as good as anyone they face and that they are the
team to beat, not the other way around. The Storm matched
the Sparks step for step in intensity, toughness and, dare
I say, talent. As one person commented to me at the half,
it almost seems like the Storm were built to beat the Sparks.
I'd agree with that and I think this game put the Sparks on
notice that the Storm aren't scared of them anymore.
person I talked to said that as Betty goes, so goes the team.
True enough, if you compare Betty's performance tonight to
the Minnesota game you will see a perfect example of both
of my points from above. Betty played with more confidence
tonight in both herself and her teammates. She threw herself
into the fray time and time again like she did against the
Lynx, but tonight she took advantage of opportunities to score
instead of forcing opportunities to score — and that's
all the difference. Her turnovers were down, her shooting
percentage went way up and she was called for fewer fouls.
So goes the team - fewer turnovers, fewer fouls, better shooting
equals kick-sand-in-your-face butt-stomping win. I think that
Betty still has a big target on her back for the refs and
she will be dealing with foul trouble all season unfortunately,
but I think if she continues to play as she did tonight —
and not obviously drop her shoulder as she forces a drive
to the basket, that target will fade away. I also think that
Betty made believers out of a lot of fans tonight.
didn't have as dominant game tonight as she did against the
Lynx, but then she didn't need to. The Sparks' defensive mind-set
early on was focused on muscling LJ out of position and keeping
the ball out of her hands. I'm sure that this will be the
case for most of the season — she is the MVP after all
and will be seen by our opponents as the number one threat.
It will be up to the rest of the Storm, as they did tonight,
to force the other team to change its defensive approach and
to get the other team off their game plan. Even with the added
pressure from the Sparks defenders, LJ was able to pick her
spots within the flow of the game and play her game instead
of playing L-squared's game.
again had "quiet" night, or maybe it would be more
accurate to say she didn't have to have a "loud"
night. Sue is in an interesting spot as a player right now.
She is not necessarily the second or even third scoring option.
Her role is much more of a traditional point guard than it
has been for the last 2 seasons in Seattle. On the one hand,
this is great — she is being freed up from having to
score a lot of points and is able to direct the Storm more
effectively and find her scoring opportunities instead of
forcing them. On the other hand, this situation may feel less
than great — she is being supplanted by new players
who are getting the highlights and the attention she used
to get. I think how she will handle this change in her overall
role is rooted in how she played at UConn where she was not
necessarily the biggest star nor was she always the focus
of the Huskies' offense. I think she did pretty well in that
situation. In fact, seeing how uncomfortable she was at times
over the last two seasons being the focus says to me that
she may welcome a little sharing of the load. I also think
that Sue is the type of player who knows what it takes to
be a championship team and one of the most vital elements
is that each player knows her role, is able to play to her
strengths and has other players around her who can do the
same. So if Sue has more "quiet" nights, I think
that may be a good thing.
is probably the one Storm player who isn't looking very comfortable
right now. I don't know if it's due to a minor injury of some
sort we haven't heard about, or that she is still readjusting
to the ball or the WNBA style or what, but she's not quite
at the same level she was last season pre-injury. The Sparks
forwards were attacking her with almost as much intensity
as they were LJ, so that had a lot to do with Kamila not being
able to assert herself. Whatever the reason, I'm hoping it
is something temporary that she can work through, because
new players or not, we need her rock steady presence inside.
had her hands full of Mwadi Mabika — not an easy task
for any player. Mabika may be one of the best players in the
league and it is a credit to Sheri and the other Storm players
who matched up against Mwadi that M2 only had 15 points tonight.
I think that Sheri's stat line doesn't tell the whole story
since she was expending more energy on the defensive end than
she was on her own offense. In an slightly twisted way of
looking at Sheri's game, I would almost label her few drives
to the basket in which she continually drew fouls as defensive-minded
offense. Whaaa? It's simple really. She started forcing the
Sparks to expend energy defending her and also forcing them
to adjust how they play as they racked up the fouls —
all of which made her own job as a defender a little easier,
hence her defensively-minded offense.
of the other big time stories from this game is that all the
active players got some PT and they all produced when given
the chance. It is important to point out that Coach Donovan
did not hold her deep bench in reserve until the lead got
to 30. No, she played a 10-person rotation tonight throughout
the game, which is what helped get that 30 point lead.
brace or not, Adia was out there kicking some butt and tearing
away rebounds, not to mention a little up-and-under lay-up
that I don't think the Sparks were expecting. Coach D. kept
calling Adia in to be a defensive stopper and to help out
against Mabika and the Sparks guards, which she did again
was using her long arms to disrupt passes, pop the ball out
of players' hands, tap rebounds out to her teammates and to
plant well-timed elbows into her opponents. She also knows
exactly what to do with offensive rebounds — take it
directly to the basket, no dribble to get ready and to let
the defense get set. Get the ball and slash directly to the
rim. She did pick up 5 fouls, but at least a couple of those
were loose ball fouls during rebound scrums that could have
just as easily gone against one of the Sparks.
didn't have much PT tonight. Looking back at our history against
the Sparks, she never really plays that well against them
and tonight was no different. I try to point out the good
stuff, but Simone wasn't out there long enough to really have
a lot of opportunities. She missed a couple chippies and that's
all I can unfortunately remember.
Tully, Tully. Normally, when a 5' 7" guard finds herself
defending a 6'+ forward, the taller player usually has the
advantage. Tully makes her own advantages. I can remember
3 times she found herself facing DNasty or Baby Spinach and
was able to bat the ball out of their hands or get in their
grill enough to force them to pass the ball away. Height is
not an issue when you've got the savvy and determination of
Tully Bevilaqua. I heart Tully.
my opinion, when I saw Michelle Greco on the floor in the
first half and play, as I said of the whole team in my opening,
with confidence, intensity and no fear of the Sparks, I knew
I was seeing the "real" Storm. It was telling I
think to compare how Michelle played to how the new additions
to the Sparks played, even the headhunted veterans. She was
calm, in control and aggressive. They were passive, timid
and, except for one around-the-back drive and layup by Raffaella
late in the game, playing like they were expecting the Diva
to save them from getting their butts kicked. Greco looked
like she was out there to win, even if she was only out there
for 10 minutes. That my friends is a sign of good things to
not going to waste any time talking about the Sparks, except
to say that their "excuse" for their performance
was that this was their first game while it was Seattle's
second. Whatever you need to tell yourselves. Just remember
that your worst 2 losses EVER didn't come at the hands of
the Comets or the Liberty or some other 7-year team, they
were laid on you by the Seattle Storm and we've got more where
that came from.
many things to note...
Storm introduced a new DJ tonight. Sacramento has a DJ during
their games and Leighway sent in a comment form last season
saying that we ought to have one too. I don't know if the
Storm listened to the sage Leighway or came up with the idea
themselves, but we gots ourselves an in-game DJ.
many out-of-towner Storm fans were in attendance tonight and
a couple of them got some quality ArenaVision time. Storm
Fan in Comets Land (SFICL as eclair calls her), had a great
sign she made (I got a pic of it in the game gallery) out
of a Beat LA sign with all the other WNBA cities attached
to it. She won a prize pack for best sign of the night. StormInCali
(currently SICko) was picked to take a try on the slam dunk
trampolines at halftime (hopefully we'll have a video clip
of this to share) and failed majestically. She then posed
triumphantly for her adoring public. Also gracing the Key
with their presence were WNBATalker from NYC, NewSocks and
hubby from So.Cal., Trinity from Mid.Cal. and Shed from Australia.
I think the Socks need to be here for every Sparks game since,
as NewSocks pointed out, the Storm have won every game against
the Sparks that she has seen in person. Sounds like a good
luck charm to me.
Storm bench was having too much fun during the second half.
Janell Burse again led a fastbreak, which had the bench cracking
up. They were up and joining in on the "Beat LA"
chants and giving a lot of "she didn't just say what
I thought she said" looks after hearing some of the more
colorful language coming out of the both the Storm and Sparks
players. Yes kids, when Sue Bird or Sheri Sam get a sharp
elbow in the chest, they do exclaim some bad words. And Mwadi
Mabika's "F You" to the ref after getting her technical
ought to have gotten her tossed from the game.
coaches were all smiles too. Normally during the timeouts,
the coaches will step out from the bench to discuss their
options before joining the huddle and giving the players instructions.
During the last few minutes of the game, every time the coaches
stepped out, they all had big time smiles on their faces and
there was little discussion, other than to come back and tell
the players to keep on doing their thing.
Spinach. A few of us had informally decided to yell out "Baby
Spinach" every time the Diva shot free throws due to
her Subway commercial. Well, Stormfan7, Shed and SICko started
a little early and were yelling it during the Sparks' shoot
around. The Diva ignored them of course, or at least gave
them no reaction. Teasley and Dixon, however, were definitely
laughing. Teasley walked over in front of the 3 amigos to
get a loose ball and I think they may have told her what Baby
Spinach meant. She was chuckling as she walked back. Dixon
was also smiling when she came over in front of them and heard
it too. So even if the Diva ignored them, you know Teasely
and Dixon told her about it later. Excellent.
halftime trampoline slam dunk group was simply awesome. Yes,
I'm sure they were gymnasts and yes they were using trampolines
and landing pads to achieve the amazing moves they performed,
but DAMN all the same. I think they pulled SICko and the other
fans out to give it a try just to show how hard it really
is. Again, DAMN.
Donovan also had a big assed grin on her face at the beginning
of the game right after the fan "instructional"
video they play on the big screen to get people up before
tip off. Sheri Sam had the "make some nooooise"
clip on the video and the Key freakin' erupted. The lower
bowl sellout combined with thundersticks got our normally
stoic head coach smiling with appreciation.
it was a lower bowl sellout and yes there were empty seats.
All I can say was for those fools who bought tickets and then
decided to not show up — what were you thinking?
I would like to end on the word of the day, "Brilliant!"
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