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July 3, 2005 vs. Sacramento Monarchs

Final score: Storm 74 – Monarchs 67 (W) (8-8)

Attendance | 8371

Anthem Watch | Trio of Seattle Police Officers. At the risk of appearing to be coddling up to The Man, this was one of the best anthem performances this year. They had me getting all goosebumpy.

Fan Psyche | So apparently the road Storm team is made up of the real Storm team's non-basketball playing twin sisters?

Game Highlight | Suzy hitting a 1st half ending buzzer beater, and then whacking Sue in the face. What is it with Aussie elbows and Long Island noses?

Halftime | Chinese Drill Team.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | LJ for THREE!!

Game Photos

So this is why I'm not too worried about the Storm if they make the playoffs this season. When they can convince themselves that a game is an actual "big" game, they perform like the defending champions. Now if we could only play Connecticut and Sacramento 5 times each between now and the end of August...

Just to get this out of the way, say that the Storm beats Phoenix and ends up 9-8 before the All-Star break. Repeating that record in the second half of the season and ending up at 18-16 might, might be enough to get into the playoffs this season, but we'll be at the mercy of tiebreakers for certain. If you've noticed, hoping for good tiebreak situations isn't going to be any avenue for us this season, at least so far. In other words, if we're battling for 4th place at the end of the season, we're going to be in trouble. The Storm need to be shooting for 3rd place, at least. I'm thinking the Storm are going to have to at least match last season's record of 20-14 to be sure about a playoff spot. Anything less and it is going be very dicey. This means they have to go 11-6 in the second half of the season. 12-5 would be better.

What is this an important thing to bring up now? We'll be facing Sacramento in the playoffs - count on it. The driving question for the Storm needs to be do they want to face the Monarchs with home court advantage or not? Every game from here on out is for playoff position.

From that kind of perspective, this was one of the Storm's biggest games this year so far, if not THE biggest. Just like the Sun, the Monarchs are playing like they think they were robbed by the Storm in last years' playoffs (even though the Monarchs have been perennial playoff chokers - now it's all our fault).

The Storm dominated the first half and survived the second. The Great Barrier Reef shut down DeCrya and The Flopettes (when was the last time any of us saw Yo flopping around so much? It was like she was playing the game standing on a balance beam — even the slightest touch sent her arms flailing around like she was about to fall to her doom. It's the Flounder Effect in action). Izzy put the breaks on Powell and kept her from going crazy from the three-point line while getting her own shot enough to compliment the Aussie scoring machine.

Speaking of the great and true Flounder, DeCrya, since when did she warrant such kid glove treatment from the refs? Did she achieve some secret flopping quota or, I don't know, ever get close to being an MVP of anything that gives her a free pass to throw temper tantrums on the court — complete with jumping up and down and throwing her arms around — or following Roy and June around yapping at them non-stop? In a game that featured multiple league MVPs, Olympic team members and league veterans who have actually earned some respect from the refs, how is it that DeCrya is the sole player on the court that gets to do and say what she wants? And man she was working that free pass every minute she was out there. She was in the refs' faces CONSTANTLY. She whined, complained and threw her tantrums non-stop. How she avoided a technical when she acted like a 2-year-old whose mother told her that she can't have a cookie makes no sense to me. Since The Diva has been fading away lately, I think we have a new Queen for the Diva throne.

Enough about her, except to note that the refs didn't bite when she flopped in the second half... and she was flopping often. Cue Nelson Muntz.

Meanwhile, LJ was having a MONSTER game. She was unstoppable inside, outside and on defense. It didn't matter which Monarch post was guarding her. She led the team to this win on and off the court. She was the one in the huddles and during timeouts who was pushing and challenging her teammates to play with more intensity. She was the one who got the offense started and the one who set the tone on defense. This was Lauren's game from start to finish.

Suzy and Izzy gave the Monarchs enough problems to help keep LJ only facing double teams. They both continued to hit big time jumpers through the end of the second half as the Storm held off the Monarchs for the win.

Sue and Betty were mostly no-shows, again. Sue's only point was off of a technical free throw. Betty's points came off of jumps shots instead of drives to the basket. Betty unfortunately has the same mindset as DeCrya except she isn't getting anything from the refs. She throws herself into the paint looking for fouls and gets nothing except more frustration. To me it looks like she is driving with idea to draw fouls first and score second. I hope she figures out soon that she's not going to get the calls and needs to forget about the refs. Get the scoring back and the calls will follow.

The mask. Unfortunately, I don't think Sue will be able to get away from the mask this season. She gets at least one major love tap to the face every game (and not necessarily from the other team), so even if her cheek and nose heal fully I doubt she would or should take off the mask. Her vision is off, her aggressiveness is off and her shot is off, but it's something she's going to have to work through because we need her and LJ can't have a season-topping nights every game.

Our bench players may not have lit up the box score, but that is only because they are still getting limited playing time. Francesca, Chelle and Simone all had good production in the few minutes they got. Zara looks more and more comfortable every game and hit every shot she took tonight. Chelle is slowly getting back to what we saw last season. At the beginning of this season, she was wearing knee and ankle braces that looked a lot like the hardware Simone wears. I wondered at the time if she was injured or if her knees are just wearing out. She's not wearing them any more and her game is picking up, so maybe she had something wrong that we never heard about. Whatever it was, it's good that she's finally warming up since we'll need her down the stretch. Tanisha is still an unknown for me. She seems to be high on Coach's list, but I still don't see it. Eleven minutes, three turnovers and no points. When Sue is as off as she is, our back-up needs to be stepping up and so far she isn't.

Janell was also a bit of a no-show tonight. She got into foul trouble and got pushed around by Yo and DeCrya. Janell has the capacity to average a 10 and 10 each night and when she goes four points and two rebounds we're going to be in trouble, unless LJ goes off like she did.

So how do we look at this game? We beat the Monarchs when three of our starters had arguably horrible games. The Storm took the 2nd place team in the league down a notch and showed that they can play like the defending champs that they are in the games that "count." Well, as I wrote earlier, all the games count so the defending champs need to start showing up on a more consistent basis — and it needs to be all of them.

Other Notes:

LJ had another "game on" bloody incident, although it was her lip instead of her knee. I did notice after the game that she had a nasty scrape on her right shin. She didn't need it to bleed though since getting popped in the mouth did the trick.

The Queen of Hitting the Floor, our beloved Tully, was at the game wearing an LJ jersey. Indiana gave their players a 4-day break, so Tully flew out to Seattle to visit with her mates.

The Storm recognized a couple local "All-Stars" in the stands. Kayla Burt and a young woman (I forget her name, sorry) who recently scaled Mt. Everest got the spotlight treatment.

Chelle was received a pregame award for her community work.

Betty had a short video about her foundation on the big screen. The url for her web page is www.lennoxfoundation.org.

Coach Donovan got the 20-question action on the big screen during a timeout. She had good answers to everything, except her favorite CD/musical artist. There was a palpable cringe in the crowd when they showed the guy she likes. I didn't recognize who he was, so someone else will have to explain... other than it sounded like some very white-bread adult contemporary easy listening (shudder) music.

Someone pulled a fast one on us. The ref list that was taped up before the game was NOT the actual list. I always make sure to check it out early so I can prepare for the ref suck factor appropriately. The pregame list had Nakasone and two names I didn't recognize. Okay, bad but not evil bad. Later, after the anthem, I looked out on the floor and saw Roy and June talking to each other. WHAT? How did we go from bad incompetent to 2 of the ref Sith Lords? Sure enough, there was a new list on the scorers' table. That's how evil works — it catches you off-guard.

Last thing — anyone who doubts that Storm fans are the loudest needed to be here tonight. The sound was so loud at the end of the game that it started to break up like a recording in which the levels were off and the sound was exceeding the max capabilities of the equipment. That my friends is loud.