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9/25/04 vs Minnesota

Final score: Storm 70 – Lynx 58 (W) (1-0)

Attendance | 4277 (um... yeah, right. Maybe half that).

Anthem Watch | Wow. A gospel-style chorus that gave us all goosebumps.

Fan Psyche | Somebody shut those 5 Seattle fans up!

Game Highlight | The bench finding a way to claw back into the game in the first half with LJ and Betty on the bench, the whole team acting like they owned this game all the way through, LJ taking over and pushing us into the double digit lead, Sheri with a near triple-double, Chelle hitting some huge baskets...

Halftime | Fans shooting for a free flight pass on Sun Country Air (I'd just take a pass period).

Flopometer | Svet was getting a little floppy, but nothing really jumped out, or fell back.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Brick!

Game Photos | Game Photos (Scott Larson)

Our first ever playoff win and it comes on the road.

This was simply a great game for the Storm, from top to bottom. I don't know if you could see it through the TV, but the Storm's demeanor during the whole game was one of complete confidence. They never got rattled even when the Lynx put together a mini run during the first half on Svet's drives and Lassiter's threes.

The Storm came out of the gate looking sharp and playing aggressively — maybe a bit too aggressively as LJ picked up 3 fouls in the first four minutes and had to sit down for the rest of the half. One of those was a legitimate foul, the other two were very shaky at best. It was amazing how many fouls Ohlde was able to get on the Storm and how many she wasn't called for. I don't even think the Diva gets that kind of kid-glove treatment from the refs.

The other fear-inducing moment came when Svet clocked Betty hard enough to rip Betty's headband off. No foul was called, of course — not with the three numbskulls we had reffing — and Betty had to come out. It looked like Abrosimova had wrenched Betty's neck was she hit her. Betty got playing time in the second half, but she was off her game and was getting neck stretching during every time out.

So, down the stretch of the first half the Storm were without two of their main offensive producers and the Lynx took advantage. The Storm were stuck on 15 points for what seemed forever (4.5 minutes, but I had to cheat and look at the play-by-play to get that) while the Lynx caught up, got the Storm in foul trouble and took the lead.

The Storm dug in and kept their composure behind some great defense from Kamila, Sheri and Sue. Throw in a couple key bench baskets from Simone and Adia and suddenly the Storm were surging back - with LJ on the bench looking like she was ready to spit nails.

The Lynx came out at the beginning of the second half and got a couple easy baskets off of Storm turnovers. Again, credit the Storm for keeping their cool. They took the Lynx's push and kept on executing on both ends of the court — denying the three-point shot from the Lynx guards and swarming Ohlde as often as they could when she got the ball in the post. They didn't bring the double- or triple-teams fast enough often enough and she was still able to get into her groove and hit from right under the basket. The Storm let her get away with that 3 or 4 times early in the second half, but really put the clamps on as the game wore on. I think there were two key possessions in a row in which she went in and tried to do her spin to the middle and was met by LJ, Kamila/Janell and Sheri who were able to force Ohlde into turnovers or severly altered her shot.

They were able to get away with focusing on Ohlde because the rest of the Lynx weren't really doing much at all. Teresa Edwards may have lit up the Storm in the last game played here in Minnesota, but not tonight. The only other Lynx player who was able to produce consistently was Tamika Williams. I would say about half of her baskets came off of rebounds or just being in the right place for Storm turnovers right under the Lynx basket (there were a couple of those in the second half).

The Storm, on the other hand, were getting great production from everyone — all the players got time on the court and all of them scored. True, we only had a couple players in double figures, but it didn't matter since so many of the bench players came in, scored and took the pressure off the starters. The story of this game has to be the way the team responded to losing LJ in the first half to fouls. They all came through, some in small ways that may not make the stat sheet — Tully swarming over the Lynx guards, Chelle moving without the ball and forcing the Lynx to guard her, Sue for bouncing back after getting nailed again by a tough screen (and rubbing the bridge of her nose the rest of the game — what is it with getting hit on the nose this season?), Simone yelling for the ball on offense and hitting when she got it, Sheri was everywhere and was not giving up on any rebound, Michelle getting one minute and finding a way to get 2 points, Betty for helping to keep Svet and Lassiter under control in the second half even though it looked like it hurt to turn her head to the right, Adia who also worked her defensive magic to frustrate the Lynx forwards especially Svet, Janell who got dinged repeatedly for offensive fouls but keeping her head in the game and making the paint a no-fly-zone for the Lynx in the second half, Kamila who worked harder than anyone trying to keep Ohlde and Williams out of the paint (and who had to come out more than once to wipe blood off her hands), and finally LJ who once she got back in the game took it straight at the Lynx forwards and made them pay.

This was just about the best way the Storm could have won this game and it was heartening to see the Lynx fans, what few there were, filing out of the stands with a couple minutes left on the clock. After seeing how Sacramento played against LA yesterday, I was getting a little worried about potentially facing them in the second round, if the Storm are fortunate enough to advance. I'm not anymore. The Storm have a fire in their eyes and confidence in their hearts and they are playing great ball.

Our first playoff win ever and it was one of the most satisfying wins as well. See you Monday for game 2.

Other notes:

When we got into the arena, it was amazingly empty. We did what we always do — go in when they open the doors so we can watch the shoot around. I was a little shocked that even with 20 minutes left until game time, there were fewer people in the stands than there are 5 minutes after the KeyArena doors open. This is the playoffs people.

We were also a little dismayed to find out that our seats were next to the Lynx bench. We did get to be there while the Storm warmed up, so they got to see that they had some support in the stands (and most of them came over to say hello and thank us for being there). I also got to play the part of the high-five kid tunnel as the Storm came back out of the locker room immediately before the game (I was sitting right next to the basket) and got high fives from the whole team — cool. We decided though to see if the people on the other end might not trade with us so we could be on the Storm bench side. They did, so we go to move and be right next to the Storm. Thanks a ton to the fans who traded with us.

I made it my goal to be as loud as possible for all the Lynx free throws and I think I may have actually succeeded in getting them to flinch at first. In the first half, they were on offense on our side of the court, so I was able to stand up and yell "Brick!" with my little yellow megaphone for every free throw. I was 3 for 4 for the first 4 shots - meaning they missed 3 times. Later, I think I had less effect and then when the second half rolled around I was sure that I wouldn't have any effect at all. Well, that place was so quiet I think I was able to get Helen Darling to flinch and miss her first free throw. After that, Shed, Scowl, Leighway and the Lurker joined in and we yelled as a group the rest of the way. The Lynx got used to us, I think, because they started hitting their shots. We, or I, were pissing off the fans behind us. One total jerk came up behind me in the second half and screamed right in my ear. He wasn't trying to yell and get the Storm player to miss, he only wanted to scream as loud as he could in my ear. Loser. If you don't like us coming into your arena and making noise, try returning the favor by coming to Seattle instead of trying to burst my eardrum. Nice example for your little girl that was sitting with you. Anyway, we never stopped and hopefully had an impact. The Storm bench was cracking up and giving us thumbs-up signs.

We also got high fives before the game from Coach Donovan once she noticed us, Coach Boucek, Karen Bryant and got to say hello to Michelle Marciniak. They all seemed surprised to see Seattle fans. They better get used to it because we're going to be at every road playoff game. Period.

The Target Center is a nice arena, much nicer than Arco, America West or Staples even.

Kevin Garnett and Wally Szerbiak (sp?) were both in the stands. Kevin was courtside across from the Storm bench and Wally was behind the Storm bench a few rows with his wife and baby. It was kind of humorous to see him lugging a baby bag around.

Prowl, the Lynx mascot, was paying a lot of attention to us and trying to have some fun. He tried scaring the Lurker and Shed with a big rubber spider on a fishing rod, but the Lurker grabbed it and accidentally broke the rod. Poor mascot...

Except for the jerk who screamed in my ear, the Lynx fans were decent and seemed to be willing to have fun with us, yelling back and forth. We'll see if any of them make the trek for game 2.

Finally, LJ had a piece of black tape on her upper arm in honor of her grandmother's recent passing. I think it might be an appropriate sign of support for us to all wear black armbands on Monday night.

Additional: A couple of Simone notes. While we were waiting to go in to the seating area, a man walked up and started talking to us because we were wearing Seattle gear. It turns out he was one of Simone's professors in college at Iowa and has kept up with her career since, including being there for her surgeries early on. He said that one of his best memories was the first time he saw her play at Madison Square Garden. It was packed and there were little boys wearing jerseys with women's names on the back, including black women's names. He said that as someone who worked hard for change (he looked to be in his 50s or so), it was an amazing sight to see how far things had come. We pressed him for Simone college day stories. He joked that saying anything would be breaking NCAA rules. Nice dodge.

A second Simone note. After LJ was benched with 3 early fouls, Coach Donovan had to go to the bench early — maybe a little too early for Simone who apparently didn't expect to see any action today. She forgot to put on her jersey top and couldn't go in when AD called her up. She rushed back into the locker room and put it on. The other benchies were really busting her chops over it, although I didn't see Coach Donovan get after her about it — that will come later I'm sure.