score: Storm 74 Shock 71 (W) (12-10)
Watch | A singer from Canada - good form until
she hit the last couple of notes and went all minor key on
us. I kept expecting her to break into "Oh, Canada."
Also, at the "home of the brave" line, Swin Cash
ran behind the line of Shock players from one end of the line
to the other. I guess it's okay for Diva-wannabes to disrespect
Psyche | Just gut it out a little longer...
and oh yeah, someone put a #&$*# body on Nolan!
Highlight | LJ going off, ankle or not. The
bench coming through. Everyone contributing.
| Uh, don't remember.
Keyword of the Game | Rebounds.
That was a tough game. The Storm were pushed non-stop by a
very physical Shock team and found ways to overcome a terrible
rebounding deficit, the Devil's Rejects ref trio, and Deanna
Nolan being able to hit every shot... except the three-pointer
for the win.
was one of those nerve-wracking games in which neither team
really established a solid flow or was able to dictate the
pace. Partially due to the 66 fouls called - that's one foul
every 36 seconds of game play — and partially due to
the national broadcast timing (jump balls were a little delayed,
TV timeouts seemed longer) — the pace of the game was
choppy and neither team could get off a run. There were few
fastbreaks — maybe 3 for each team.
Storm did run out to a great start and actually built a 15-point
lead, but the Shock — mostly behind Cheryl Ford's
relentless rebounding and Deanna Nolan's unconscious shooting
— clawed their way back into the game and tied
it at the half. Of course, the other thing keeping the Shock
in the game in the first half was foul shooting. I could be
wrong, but it seemed like most of the fouls called against
Seattle were shooting fouls that put Detroit at the line while
on the other end Seattle didn't start shooting until Detroit
got to the penalty limit.
kind of hard to blast away at the refs since they were consistently
bad on both ends. We had the Triumvirate of Darkness, the
Refs from the Ninth Circle of Hell — Roy, Darla and
June. The mere fact that the Storm were able to keep their
heads during this game to me showed that they are finally
accepting that being the defending Champs, having a league
and a finals MVP, or having multiple Olympians on the team
means squat when it comes to getting a fair shake from the
refs. It really means that the refs will call more on you
than not. Back to complaining about the Axis of Evil —
one thing that I will go on about are the missed out of bounds
calls. Why do we even have a ref on the baseline if that ref
will defer to the sidelines ref, who is 30 feet away from
the play, on an out-of-bounds call? Roy was standing 6 feet
away from the action when the ball went out off of Cheryl
Ford and he defers the call out to Darla who we know had such
a clear view of the play since she was behind it and had other
players between her and the ball. She of course calls it off
the Storm player.
refs were booed out of the half... and just for good measure
were booed as they came back in for the second half.
best news of the game was that LJ's ankle injury didn't seem
to slow her down one bit. She wore a brace (picture to follow),
but I didn't see her favoring it or limping at all. Her shots
looked good (well, if you call her flat arcs and crazy ball-spin
"good" — it works) and she didn't look like
she was in pain. She even came down on it pretty solidly once
when I was focusing on her and I didn't see a hint of grimace.
Detroit wasn't banking on her being slowed down because they
were throwing everything at her to no avail. She still shot
in the 40% range — would have been higher if she hadn't
pulled the trigger on a couple of those quick threes — and
then burned the Shock from the free throw line going 11 for
thing I haven't written much about this season that was again
evident in the huddles and on the floor is that LJ has taken
on the leadership role more than ever. She's the one who is
talking to / yelling at her teammates, urging them on or reminding
them of what they need to be doing. She's the one who is pulling
other players aside and giving them instruction or encouragement.
She does this most with Suzy, which makes the most sense given
their long relationship and Suzy's need to get up to WNBA
speed in a hurry, but LJ also does it a lot with the other
new players too. She doesn't do it much with Betty, but then
neither does anyone else. I don't get the impression that
anyone short of Coach Donovan tells Betty what to do. Sue
gets a free pass from LJ as well. Since Sue's injury, she
has stepped back from the vocal leadership role. She focuses
more on Tanisha and Zara, which makes sense, and has allowed
LJ to be the vocal one. LJ got fairly emphatic a couple of
times today, but seemed to take the lead-by-example route
in the face reffing situation and slap-happy Detroit defense
and kept her head on the court and encouraged her teammates
to do the same on the sideline.
second half was tight with every possession important. The
game was within a 5 point range most of the way with both
teams trading the lead. The Storm took and held the lead from
about the 7 or 6 minute mark — I'm not sure (without
referring to the play-by-play) because it seemed like the
end of the game took forever. The Storm gutted it out and
maintained a 2-3 point lead. Nolan went for the win with a
three-point shot on their last real possession, but missed
and the Betty got the rebound. She was fouled with 4 seconds
left, hit one of two free throws (Betty — make
your game icing free throws!) and Detroit could only launch
a 1/2 court shot to try and tie. It missed and we all got
to wipe our brows in relief.
the Storm defense has picked up considerable compared to earlier
games — they forced a 24-second violation late in the
second half, had 5 steals and held some of Detroit's big guns
to single digits — the defense had no answer for Deanna
Nolan. She lit up Betty and Sue. The only thing slowing her
down was the fact that the Shock didn't get the ball to her
more often. You have to appreciate her speed and ability to
hit shots on the run, but it was frustrating to watch the
Storm allow her to run wild.
other Shock player that requires some commentary is Swin Cash.
She's gunning to be the new league Diva, even before the Dainty
T-Rex retires and turns over the crown. Apparently, Swin is
under the impression that she is due something more than anyone
else on the court because Detroit won the championship 2 years
ago. Honey, if the reigning champs aren't getting squat from
the refs, you certainly haven't earned anything yet either
so shut yer yap. She was yammering at the refs constantly,
even when she did get the calls. She also is the first player
who seems to have scouted Izzy — she immediately went
at Izzy with arms flailing and acting like every bump was
a skeleton-rattling body blow. As soon as Izzy went to the
bench with 2 quick fouls, the flailing stopped. Next time
Izzy was defending her, Swin went back to the "I'm drowning
here!" method of posting up. Luckily, and I can't believe
I'm saying this about him, but Roy has a low tolerance for
the floppers and quit calling Swin's crap. As a fan of the
game, it is frustrating to see good players resort to Diva-level
theatrics instead of just playing the game (one of the main
reasons I'm the leader of the Anti-DeMya League (ADL for short)).
Swin — play the game and leave the attitude for the
Sparks. That or just go ahead and ask for a trade so we can
keep the Diva BS localized in one spot.
the Vodo Watch, she continues to impress and is now getting
the second most playing time off the bench (Suzy gets a couple
minutes more). She has been a key part of our 4 Bottle Blonde
line-up (LJ, Suzy, Fran, Vodo + a brunette to be named later),
a combination that opponents seem to have a lot of trouble
with. Having Vodo at the 3 spot has allowed Coach to play
her much maligned 3 post offense without moving LJ outside
of her natural position. I fully expect that we will see this
line-up as the playoff race tightens and as Vodo improves.
I don't think it is a coincidence that the Storm are on a
4-game win streak at the same time that Vodo is getting more
playing time. With respect to our other bench players, Natalia
is giving us that punch off the bench that we've been lacking
and that was one of the major reasons the Storm went all the
way last season. With respect to a couple of players who were
cut in training camp, I can see now what Coach saw in her
offseason scouting — Vodo is the real deal. She's
young, has speed, a great shot, quick hands (she had 2 steals
in this game), can rebound and presents an unknown for opponents.
Coach is starting to look like a genius again (not that I
ever doubted her. Those that did — you know who you
appears to have adjusted to the mask and is back to quietly
racking up the points and assists. Her stop and pop is working
again to great affect and she shot 50% today. She isn't forcing
anything and better yet she isn't hanging her head in frustration
on every miss. I think what may have gotten her over the hump
was getting whacked in the face a couple of times in LA. She
took one elbow from Mabika full in the face, right across
the bridge of her nose, and after a little bleariness walked
it off and went back to playing. She knows that the mask is
doing its job. She can play with confidence that she isn't
going to hospital every time someone pulls a judo chop across
her face. Since then, her shot is back, she is driving more
and we're back to winning. Note to Storm coaches — if
Sue gets into another slump, have someone elbow her in the
face to build up her confidence.
has been a long one, but this was an important game. We're
on a 4-game win streak and right back in the thick of things
for the playoffs. We're only 2 games out of first and virtually
tied with 4 other teams for the remaining 3 playoff spots.
I keep saying it, but it only gets tougher from here on out.
We've got 3 more games against the East (Charlotte next, LA,
and then a 2-game East trip) and then all the rest are against
the West. It's going to be a wild August. If the Storm can
keep playing the way they are, and keep improving on defense
like they are, we are in great shape.
Diva move courtesy of Swin Cash: the high-five kid line for
the Storm's entrance before the game was a little longer than
normal and was apparently offending her Righteousness. She
came over and moved the end of the line.
were a group of Brazilians in the crowd waving flags every
time Izzy did something good.
head coach Bob Weiss was here sitting with Howard Schultz
and a couple of guys who I didn't recognize but must have
been new Sonics' players.
Foam Finger Guy again.
Socks and Dirty Socks made a surprise appearance and quickly
made their impact yelling at the refs. They also schooled
those sitting around them on the correct usage of foam fingers.
talked to the guy who won the LJ All-Star jersey bidding on
the WNBA Breast Health auction recently. He and his family
are the ones who sit behind the north basket wearing the green
and yellow afro wigs. While I was disappointed at losing that
auction, it's good to see that it went to a local Storm fan
and season ticket holder.
Dunking Ushers made another appearance and added a girl to
got Rebecca Lobo in our laps as she made her way behind the
Storm bench a couple times.