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6/3/04 vs Phoenix Mercury

Final score: Storm 72 – Mercury 45 (W) (3-2)

Attendance | 7668

Anthem Watch | 3-part harmony with the Bass singer hitting notes lower than I've ever heard someone sing (you know he gets all the chicks)

Fan Psyche | Will the real Storm please stand up? And please please please be the Storm from the 2nd half from now on.

Game Highlight | LJ going medieval MVP on some Reese's Pieces in the second half, Tully being Tully, and Janell with a couple well-timed blocks.

Halftime | Tiny Cheerleaders

Flopometer | New Feature! Kayte Fish actually stayed vertical the whole game. I was shocked.

Game Photos

We've all kept thinking that if the Storm can just put it all together - defense and offense - all at the same time, they might just be unstoppable.

I give you the second half.

The Storm's performance in the second half was simply beautiful. They totally controlled the game and were able to, as Coach D said during a time out with about 15:00 left, keep the Mercury "flustered and out of their game."

The Storm were crisp in their offensive execution and smothering in their defensive pressure. They were able to force the Mercury into a reactionary mode instead of the aggressive style Phoenix played in the first half. By taking on the role of the aggressors themselves, the Storm turned a one point deficit at the half into a 20+ point rout.

During the first half, the Mercury had all the energy and were seemingly reading the minds of the Seattle perimeter players. Every pass into the posts were heavily contested and many were picked off. Every time the Merc successfully stymied the Storm, you could see Phoenix's confidence go up a notch while the Storm were in a bit of a daze. It almost seemed in a couple of situations that when the Mercury were able to successfully deny the Storm's first option in an offensive set, the Storm weren't quite sure what to do. They would make another pass into a double team, or a pass to a player who was out of position or not ready and the Mercury would be scrambling for the ball.

In fact, the only reason why the Storm were even in the game during the first half was because of free throws. The refs were very "active" tonight and the Storm were lucky to get half of their 22 points at the line, especially since their offense was going nowhere.

During a timeout with maybe 5 or 6 minutes left in the half, Coach Donovan didn't even bother with standing back to confer with her assistants like usual. She met the team at the bench and went at them for the entire length of the timeout and focused on the poor passing and poor offensive decisions the Storm had been making.

Even after this rather stern speech, the Storm kept making bad passes and turning the ball over. At one point, Coach D turned to Lauren who was sitting on the Coach's end of the bench and she said, "That's exactly what I was talking about. Did you see that?"

Whatever Coach said to the team during halftime did the trick, because they came out with a mission and everything changed. Energy, hustle, determination - the Storm were able to completely take the momentum away from the Mercury and dominate the rest of the game.

There were numerous individual plays from all the Storm players that tipped the game from a tight nail-biter to a blowout.

Tully again played with no fear against the taller Phoenix guards. She may have been outsized, but she didn't let that get in her way. She may not pick up the offensive slack that the team loses when Sue is out, but she definitely brings the big time defense. I am amazed sometimes at how unfazed she is when she gets isolated against a forward or even a center on a switch. More often than not, she will win the mismatch because she goes on the attack every time. Normally, the taller player would be looking for the mismatch on the smaller player - I think Tully actively looks for the mismatches against the taller players.

Betty again had the game high in rebounds for the Storm. Energy and a never-stop attitude makes up for height disadvantages. It can also get her into trouble on offense - not tonight though - and she seems to be a foul magnet, but I'm willing to take all of that if it means she can help will the Storm to a win.

Sue was losing the early rounds of the SB vs DT bantam weight bout, but came on strong late and took control. Watching the two of them play one another, it almost looks like the one to get the first edge is able to take off and control the other until something external to their match-up comes along to change the rhythm. Tonight, Diana was in control early and had Sue on her heels. Even at the beginning of the second half, DT was getting the better of Sue, until Diana picked up a bunch of quick fouls. She then backed off and got tentative and Sue picked up the baton and ran like crazy. It was like 2 prize fighters who know each other's tricks waiting to see who flinches first. You flinch and you're toast until you can force the other person to step back. It will be interesting to watch these two play against each other over the next few years.

Kamila was closer to being her old self. She didn't have a great game - 3 points, 5 rebounds - but she looked a lot better, much more comfortable, and was much more aggressive with the basketball. All she needs to get her shot to start falling - not getting hammered every time she gets within 5 feet of the basket might have something to do with her shooting percentage - and she'll be golden.

Sheri also did not have a huge stat night, but she was guarding DT a lot of the time and was expending a lot of energy on defense. On offense, she drove to the basket and forced the Mercury to guard her, which helped ease some of the pressure on LJ enabling Lauren to get into her own offensive groove. One of the main things that Sheri did was just be the wise veteran on the bench. After timeouts, she would go talk to the players on their way back onto the floor. She would pull someone aside and talk to them away from the coaches - and you could see clearly that the younger players were actively listening to her. She may not be contributing big points yet, but she is contributing big in other ways.

Adia didn't get as many minutes tonight as she has in the earlier games so far, but she, like Tully, was the player Coach D would call up as soon as the Mercury started to get a head of steam or if the Storm's energy started to falter a bit. In comes Adia and we're back on course. She too did not end up with a big stat line, but she had rebounds and at least one steal that helped turn the tide in the second half.

Janell did get some significant minutes and made her presence felt with some monster blocks, hitting her free throws and offensive rebounds. There was one sequence where she was relentlessly going after the rebound again and again, surrounded by Mercury players, and was finally fouled. It is heartwarming to see that kind of tough play in a Storm uniform.

Simone, Michelle and Chelle got limited playing time towards the end of the game and were all able to produce compared to the Phoenix bench. I think Coach D might have been able to bring them all in sooner than she did, but she knows her players and I'll not sit behind her and second guess.

This game showed us 2 teams that are potentially very dangerous this year. The Mercury have a swagger to them that they haven't quite earned yet, but it is enough to keep them in games and get other teams out of their comfort zones. The Storm are a click away from stomping everyone in their path - IF they can get everyone on the same page and working together. In my opinion, the Storm can be legitimate contenders for the Western Conference this year, if not the Championship - if, if, if. I think the Mercury are still a step behind, but that doesn't mean they aren't going to spoil a lot of parties before the season is through. Which ever team can consistently play their game - the Merc from the first half or the Storm from the second half - will be successful.

Other notes:

LJ got a nasty kick to the shin near the end of the game. We'll need to keep watch to see if that becomes a problem.

Most of the Washington Huskies womens' bball team was at the game, as were a few Seahawks. Damon Huard came out and threw a football to Doppler from mid court to the upper part of the open seating. Basketball fans that we are, many people were leaning this way and that asking "Who is he?"

Adia received her Community Assist Award before the game and had a video segment during a timeout in which she discussed her community-based efforts through the Stormin' the Sound initiative and her foundation, Adia's Dreams in Action. The Barnes' Buddies group was highly visible in their yellow t-shirts, although for some reason they were split between 4 places. You can check the Adia's Dreams in Action website - http://www.adiabarnes.org - soon for information on how you can help support Barnes' Buddies and the other activities the foundation sponsors in this area. (I say "soon" because the web guy helping Adia do her website seems to be extremely busy these days).

StormFan7 and Shed were interviewed during the pregame by KING 5. They called out to Diana during the shoot around and she came over to sign a couple things. The KING 5 guys saw that and made a beeline to get SF7's and Shed's opinions on DT. Always in the spotlight these two.

I finally broke out of my quiet mold and let the refs have it a couple times tonight. I've been holding back because I'm sitting right behind the players after all, but I couldn't keep it in. Right in front of the bench, Anna DeForge kicked the ball out of bounds - CLEARLY kicked it out of bounds - and the stoopid ref called it Mercury ball. Since the ref was right there (and I had my megaphone), I tried to inform her that the ball had in fact gone out off DeForge's foot. I know she heard me because both the trainer guys who sit in front of me along with the players on the bench all looked back to see where the maniac was. Now that I've broken them in without frightening them (I scared Rita Williams last year doing something similar), I can let loose more often. It's not a game unless I can yell at the refs.

This game was televised by ESPN, and the ESPN sideline reporter kept running back and forth in front of us as she tried to get her various tidbits of information. She was polite about it, but her perfume was a little heavy.

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