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July 15, 2005 vs. San Antonio Silver Stars

Final score: Storm 92 – Mystics 70 (W) (9-10)

Attendance | 7447

Anthem Watch | An excellent rendition from a trio of soldiers who are heading back to Iraq in October. Stay safe ladies.

Fan Psyche | You better be able to beat San Antonio (followed up by) So you beat San Antonio - don't get cocky.

Game Highlight | Sue and LJ shooting the lights out in the second half.

Halftime | Kids scrimmage.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | No Foam Finger Guy?

Game Photos

As if to prove Betty's recent quote in the press about not worrying about scoring and focusing on defense, the Storm run away in the final minutes of the second half to blow out the Silver Stars yet still allow 70 points and 44% shooting. The Storm can score, but their defense still has some question marks.

The one thing that I've been noticing more and more lately is that the Storm are allowing their opponents to create mismatches on offense which they then successfully exploit either because the defender switch puts the Storm player way out of position and or one of the switching defenders completely misses their assignment and the opposing offensive player gets an uncontested jump shot. This happened a few times in the last game against the Mystics and it happened several times tonight against the Silver Stars.

Ferdinand and Johnson used this to their advantage throughout the entire game. In one of the most glaring breakdowns in the first half, Marie screened off of one her forwards and swung around to a spot right in front of the Storm bench. Betty, who was guarding Marie, switched off and took on the post player. Izzy, who had been on the San Antonio forward, did one of those throw out my arm moves at Marie, but stayed with the forward and Betty. Marie gets the ball and an open jumper which she of course hits.The whole time after the switch, Betty was angrily gesturing for Izzy to go back to Marie. I don't know if Betty was supposed to stay on Marie and not switch or if Izzy was supposed to switch and didn't. Either way, someone blew it and Marie did her thing. This kind of thing happens enough — maybe 10 or 15 times a game, maybe more — that it's not just one player making a bad decision on one play.

The other thing that has been very apparent and was rearing its ugly head again in this game is that the Storm as a team seem to be playing one step slower than their opponents. This is on display just about any time there is a scramble for a loose ball on the floor or a contested rebound. More often than not, the ball seems to end up in the opponent's hands. How many times tonight did we see a rebounding opportunity go tap, tap, tap, San Antonio? LJ is the only one who is really going in there with authority and ripping down rebounds with two hands. Our other bigs seem to be thinking tap it back before grab it myself. Janell has her moments, especially on the offensive boards, when she gets in there with some aggression and takes over but she also gets pushed out of position much of the time.

You're thinking at this point that we won the game, so why am I still going on about the areas in which the Storm are getting beat? Because this was the "easiest" game on the Storm's remaining schedule. They only get tougher from here on out. Getting the defense together and playing with more energy than the other team are two things that have to happen in every game between now and the end of August or the end of August will be the end of the Storm's summer.

Enough of that. The Storm did get a much needed win after all and we finally got to see the team having some fun out there.

LJ hit a couple threes and then shot a few more just to make sure the first one or two weren't flukes. Sue went score crazy for a few minutes again and started nailing shots. She too seemed to then shoot a few more just to affirm that she was indeed making baskets. Betty finally had a good game (although she has apparently lost the ability to keep the ball under control when she is dribbling it). In fact, everyone who played scored. Even Natalia got decent playing time and got a couple points.

We all miss the good old days of last season when the starters would sit out the last few minutes of each game since the win was in the bag cheering on the bench. I don't know that we've really seen that but maybe one time this season. We got to see it a bit tonight. Watching LJ and Sue make fun of Suzy trying to lead a fastbreak up the court kind of makes all the pain of being a .500 team fade away a bit. Well, not really, but it's a good sign nonetheless.

The refs still sucked, but at least they were making nutty calls on both sides and weren't just sticking it to the Storm. The female ref tonight, Barb Smith, was kind of freaking me out a little. She was laughing and smiling at everything, especially when the players were giving her crap for the calls she made. What was up with that? Another trend that I've been noticing about the refs that I've commented on a little previously is that they seem to be letting the other teams get away with yapping at them much more than the Storm players. We see the other players "conferencing" with the refs easily twice as much as the Storm do and then have the refs turn around and give those players a call on their next possession. It's almost like clockwork. Tell the refs what they are doing wrong, get a call next time down the court. Maybe Coach Donovan needs to tell Sue and Lauren to complain more to the refs. It works for the other teams.

The crowd was MIA through the first 30 minutes of the game. Foam Finger Guy was missing and we see the results — a flat crowd with no energy. The people who sit around him may not like him, but tonight's game showed to me how much we need him to lead the crowd. People didn't really get going until the Storm started to pull away in the last half of the second half. It was the deadest crowd we've had this season. Maybe the team's malaise is wearing off on the fans. If so, it's too bad because they need us to be lifting them up more now than ever.

My final thought for this game — it was great to win and hopefully the Storm have learned their lessons about carrying the momentum from one good game into another. We also had really good games against Connecticut and Sacramento... only to get spanked in the next game (or games). Saturday at LA is as big a game and opportunity as the Storm have had this season to really start to turn the corner and to start clawing their way back into the playoff race. I'm confident that they can win. Are they?

Other Notes:

An amusing ticket misunderstanding took place in the seats right behind us. Two women were sitting there and were challenged by 3 young girls who claimed to have tickets for the same seats. Ushers were involved. At one point, the two women made the assertion that these seats were their season ticket seats and they had been sitting there all the time. Angie and I looked at each other with a "Whaaaa?" look since we'd never seen these two before. They then leaned forward and asked us if we were in the right place. Riiiiight. The girls won and the women disappeared. The girls then started trying to talk to the players and didn't get that the players weren't going to respond. Newbies.

We didn't have our normal announcer, Steven Kilbreathe. The new guy didn't do a bad job, but we want Kilbreathe. It's just not right with anyone else.

I did Brick with the Meganator during the SASS free throws, but let's face it — not effective. I mocked Wendy Palmer Daniels once in the quiet space between her free throws and she missed. Maybe I need to do more of that. Besides, I think I am making Suzy deaf in one ear.

Yes, I got a pregame high-five from Coach Boucek (and we won, coinkydink? I think not).

David Locke's computer took one for the team on an errant pass from the Silver Stars. He also was giving Elise a noogie early on in the game. I saw it out of the corner of my eye and didn't get my camera up in time to get a shot. It was funny.

We almost had our game on blood incident with Betty this time, but the blood wasn't hers. She had some blood on her left forearm and the refs made her come off to get it attended to. When she got to the bench and the trainer went to check her out, they just wiped it off and Betty said, "I told him it wasn't mine." Ick.