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8/1/04 vs. Charlotte Sting

Final score: Storm 87 – Sting 55 (W) (17-8)

Attendance | 7489

Anthem Watch | The Seattle All-Star marching band.

Fan Psyche | Well this is fun.

Game Highlight | Pony-tail first half, braid second half. Everybody plays, everybody scores.

Halftime | Another dribble, pass and shoot drill.

Flopometer | The flopometer was unused.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Wow.

Game Photos | Game Photos (Scott Larson)

Chalk this monster game up to a good hair day, for which I take official credit.

At the season ticket holder open practice event this morning, I asked Coach Donovan about Lauren's hair — specifically if LJ knew that when she had a ponytail during the first half and then came out in the second half with a braid she usually dominated. Oh, and no more buns. LJ shook her head and didn't say anything, but mostly had a "Is there anything these crazy people don't notice?" look on her face. Later, at her book signing appearance at Bulldog News, I asked her what she thought about it and she said she didn't have time before the game to do anything with her hair so it was staying in the bun.

Well, when we got to our seats before the game... she had a ponytail. Sure enough, she dominated in the first half and the Storm lead by 20.

When the team came back out of the tunnel for the second half... drumroll please...

Braid.

We win by 32.

You're welcome, my fellow Storm fans. I turned to Angie at the end of the game and said that if the ponytail/braid combo means the USA loses the Athens gold medal, I may have to flee the country. I'll deal with that eventuality when it gets here. For now, let's all revel in the power of the hair.

Seriously, this was a textbook complete team effort from the opening tip to Trina Frierson's basket to end the game. The Storm flat out tore up the Key and played like the Sting were cardboard cutouts. The only thing keeping me from going into total hyperbole over this game is that there was this thing that happened last Tuesday in which a certain team was blugeoned by 25. All I can say is the Sting looked like we felt on Tuesday.

The Storm could almost do no wrong. Except for some missed free throws, absolutely everything was going the Storm's way. One of Angie's favorite things to yell is "Rebound!" Part way through the first half as the Storm were leading in the rebounding column 20-5, she turned to me and said that she didn't need to keep reminding them this game.

The Storm had 20 assists on 30 made shots — a solid sign that they were successfully running their offense against a team who runs THE EXACT SAME OFFENSE. During the last Seattle/Charlotte game, Coach Donovan had to tell Sue to stop flashing the hand sign for their plays because the Sting knew what they meant and were able to counter them. Tonight, it didn't matter. The Storm played their game, dicated the tempo from start to finish and kept the Sting reeling the whole way.

The cool thing was that during the morning practice, the Storm bench played as the Sting and would run some of the Sting's favorite plays so that the starters could work on figuring out how to stop them. It worked because every time Dawn Staley would give the single for their key plays, Sue would give the signal too and sure enough the Storm would read it and be there in the passing lanes or deny the post — where ever the ball was going they were there. It was beautiful.

The only real positive for the Sting was Nicole Powell who was able to break free a few times for some open three-pointers. Other than that — cha, I don't think so.

I don't think you could even credit the refs for calling the game against the Sting since they made just as many boneheaded calls against the Storm as they did against Charlotte. We were all worried about the refs before the game when we say that it was the Ultimate Trio of Evil — Roy "Blindman" Gulbeyan, Darla "Shudder" Foutz and Kurt "Fonzie" Walker. They did call some weird stuff, no doubt about that, but it could have been so much worse.

All the Storm players contributed. The only Seattle player who didn't hit a basket was Adia, but she was driving with some authority and was fouled so she picked up her points from the free throw line. Greco had a couple amazing drives and layups — she has to be a keeper for next year. Thompson had two jumpers, including a three. Simone passed on a few open looks late in the game when she should have turned and shot the ball. but did get a chippy. Tully came up huge with 10 big points and would ran back up the court pointing at the bench every time she got a basket. I don't know if you can get a technical for taunting your own bench, but I think she was doing a "nyah nyah" to either LJ or Sheri. And not to be left out of the scoring fun, Trina Frierson hit her first basket with two seconds left on the clock. The place went wild.

Here are a couple interesting stats from this game:

LJ outscored the Sting starters 25-23

Our bench outscored the Sting starters 26-23

The Storm had almost as many offensive rebounds (18) as the Sting had total rebounds (19).

The bench players actually helped to build upon the lead every time they went in.

What can you say after a performance like this? The Storm closed out their run before the Olympic break on an enormous high, winning 7 out of their last 8 games. They are firmly in second place in the West and have kept pace with the Sparks for the best record in the league and eventual home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Storm are one of three teams with a .500 or better road record — another major goal for them this year, and they have the best home record at 11-2. The Storm have positioned themselves as best they could for the playoff push in September. And, they've left all of us hungry for more.

Have a good break. Good luck to Lauren, Sue and Coach Donovan in the Olympics. Please come back healthy and ready to stride confidently into the playoffs. As David Locke said at the end of the post-game interviews, only one national team may win the Olympic gold, but LJ and Sue can both share the WNBA trophy gold.

Other notes:

Another source of pregame nervousness for the Storm faithful — the Sting ended their shoot around with a little "who can hit the half court shot" game of their own (the Storm had one earlier today at the open practice which Tully won). The big difference between the Storm's version of this and the Sting's version was that all the Sting players who tried the shot eventually MADE the shot, except for Feaster. It was fun to watch, but we were getting a little worried there.

This game was televised on FSN and boy was their sideline cameraman super aggressive when it came to getting Sue or what. He followed her around and had his camera inches from her face at all times. She was juking and jiving to lose him, but he was persistent. I wanted to know why he needed to be that close — don't those cameras have a zoom feature?

One group who works very hard at each game finally got their due tonight - the ball kids. They were introduced before the game and were each able to get the spotlight for a few minutes. To all who distribute the water and chewing gum ("The red, no, the yellow," — a common Adia Barnes quote), fetch the warmups, track down the towels, and keep the supply of basketballs flowing during the shootarounds, we here at Stormfans.org salute you.

There were many Olympic-themed signs at the game tonight. I hope that some of them made it on the broadcast (we tried to TiVo the game, but since it was listed as an NBAtv game on TiVo but was shown locally on FSN, we got 2 hours of nothing - DAMN!).

Doppler got ambushed in the stands across from us by a group of fans wielding silly string cans. They coated him up real good in retaliation for the many times he has gotten them with the sticky stuff this season. Not to be outdone, he came back in the second half with two silly string SWAT style mini-guns and was able to completely spray several rows of seats. This can only escalate into nuclear silly string first strikes. This silly cycle can only by a bilateral MASS policy — Mutually Assured Silly Stringing. (Okay, maybe too old of a reference for the younger readers — ask your parents).

Kristen Veal was back up in the family and friends section. Apparently, she is the "stylist" who bleached out LJ's hair. I think Kristen needs to stick with the point guard position.

Tammy Sutton-Brown doesn't sweat. She perspires. A lot.

Alison Feaster was blowing bubbles with her chewing gum as she played the game. It was kind of funny to see her popping a bubble right before taking one of the Storm guards off a screen and driving to the basket.

The FSN media people had picture rosters of both teams taped to the sides of their cameras so they would know who to look for when the director told them to zero in on a specific player.

It seems that Nike has been outfitting the star players on each team with their own personalized shoes. Dawn Staley had a pair on with orange stripping and the number "5" embroidered on the sides, like Sue's "Birdy" shoes and LJ's "15" pair.