score: Storm 76 Monarchs 63 (W) (19-14)
Watch | An acapella group. I normally like
the acapella stuff when it comes to the anthem, and I'm not
saying I didn't like this group, but their rendition was a
little odd. And scary.
Psyche | Nervous, then elated, then nervous,
Highlight | Betty back on the floor. Izzy
going crazy in the first half.
Keyword of the Game | LJ for MVP! (too bad
she isn't going to actually get it)
was a much bigger game for the Storm than it was for the Monarchs
and I'm sure Monarchs fans and apologists out there are writing
this one off as "it didn't matter."
that to your team, because it mattered to them.
the Storm, this was about as big a game as they've had this
season and they came out in the first half like their season
depended on it. But even with the aggressive attack mentality
that the Storm were playing with, they still seemed at times
as atonal as the anthem group. There were a lot of odd sounding
notes that made me want to cringe, but they brought it all
together and ended strongly.
the off key stuff.
times in this game than any I've seen since the beginning
of the season, the Storm were openly confused as to where
they were supposed to go on offense and who they were supposed
to guard on defense. I can remember at least 3 instances where
one or more of the Storm players were actually standing and
doing the "I don't know" gesture during offensive
sets. Izzy, Tanisha and Suzy all did it. Suzy and LJ both
were out of position several times and forced the point guards
into tough passes to try and get the ball into the post. There
was one turnover right in front of the Storm bench when Sue
got trapped at the three-point line when LJ didn't come out
and go where she was supposed to go. Sue tried a difficult
pass that got tapped and then went off of Sue out of bounds.
Coach D didn't say anything to Sue, she went right after LJ
for that one. Likewise, Sue tried to get the ball into Suzy
and because Suzy was out of position the ball got loose and
there was a turnover. Sue was in Suzy's face all the way down
the court telling her about it. Suzy was right back at her.
I'm sure other people can come up with additional examples
of the Storm players yapping at each other on the court. It
was unfortunately going on the whole game.
good thing about most of those instances was that usually
immediately afterwards, the two players involved would do
something that to me said that things were all good and all
of this wasn't necessarily a sign that the team isn't getting
along. The best one was after the Sue/Suzy court-long discussion.
On the next play back, Sue went right to Suzy for an open
jump shot. Suzy wasn't the only person open and it looked
like the play was one in which Janell was the first option.
For Sue to go right to Suzy with the ball after upbraiding
her for so long seemed to me to be a clear, "It's all
good and I still have complete confidence in you" veteran
point guard move.
other major off key element to the Storm's play last night
was really stupid turnovers. There's no other way to describe
them but just plain dumb. For example, fastbreak opportunities
lost because the ball slipped out of their hands. Bobbling
and losing the ball during a normal dribble with minimal pressure
from the Monarchs' guards. Long, cross court passes against
a team like the Monarchs whose game is jumping the passing
lanes and looking for easy steals. This game would have been
an embarrassing blowout for the Monarchs if the Storm hadn't
turned the ball over so often. I know the Monarchs people
will be thinking their vaunted defense forced those TOs. They
didn't. It was the Storm's inability to handle the ball. After
several such unforced turnovers, I commented that someone
should rethink giving the players buttered popcorn in the
locker room during the half. The Storm were lucky that the
Monarchs didn't produce more off of the 20 Storm turnovers.
other off key item I have to comment on — LJ. This will
sound harsh, but we saw LJ from 2 or 3 years ago tonight.
Not in terms of scoring or rebounding — she had an okay
night on both, not bad but not that good either — but
in terms of allowing the other team and the refs to get under
her skin. Brunson, Scott-Richardson and Yo were committing
assault on LJ just about every time she got the ball. Heck,
they were pounding on her when she didn't have the ball. She
played in a state of intense pissed-off from a few seconds
after the opening tip to her walk to the bench after she fouled
out. I'm not saying she should just take their elbows, pushes,
slaps, scratches, and other body blows, but in other games
this season when she got this kind of treatment she responded
by kicking up her scoring, her drives to the basket and her
rebounding. Tonight, she retaliated by pushing and elbowing
right back and she got called on it. She was also flirting
with getting a technical way too often. I wasn't the only
one who saw her tell one of the refs to "Truck Off"
(or something similar) right to his face. How she didn't get
a T while Maiga did for doing who knows what is amazing.
don't think any of these off key things are really things
we need to worry about too much, well except for the turnovers
because let's face it that is an on-going issue, because I
think all of these things were indicators of how much importance
the Storm put on this game. I think they were more anxious
about this game than they would have let on and it came out
as them sniping at each other and LJ getting overly frustrated.
Both of these things, in my opinion, aren't something that
is normal for the team. Now that the Storm are in the playoffs
and have secured that all-important second spot, I think the
stress will be off of them. I fully expect to see a different
performance from the Storm against Phoenix.
the good stuff.
had a great game on offense (let's not speak of her not-so-great
game of defense against Powell). She got the Storm off to
a running start and then helped them withstand the Monarchs'
push in the second half. I'm kind of trying not to get too
attached to Izzy. I love her game and her enthusiasm and I
think she really likes playing here. I'm also worried that
since the World Championships are being held in Brazil next
year that she (and Vodo and Zara and Suzy) might get the national
team ultimatums that always seem to trump the players' commitments
to the WNBA — Kamila and Tully aside. My message to
you all is enjoy Izzy while she is here this season. I guess
that point of "good stuff" kind of turned into a
"bad stuff" pretty quick. I'm cynical, what can
back on the floor was another definite "good stuff"
portion for this game. Betty is the poster child for "the
will says yes, the body says no." She was as fearless
as ever, but her wrist injury got in the way a couple times.
Undaunted, she found ways to correct those mistakes very quickly.
For example, she missed her first jump shot fairly badly but
followed the shot knowing it was off, got the rebound and
took it straight back up for the score. Later, she was taking
the ball down the court and switched her dribble to the injured
hand. She couldn't control the ball and nearly had a turnover.
Instead she was able to fight off the Monarchs' defender and
jab the ball back to Sue. It's obvious she's in pain and it's
obvious that she desperately wants to contribute to this team.
The challenge for her and for Coach Donovan is to balance
that drive against the physical limitations of a wrist that
is so heavily taped that it can't really bend at all. Betty
knows her importance to this team and I know she'll find a
way to make it work.
had another big night, despite being a magnet for fouls. Actually,
"magnet" isn't the right word. I think "100
gigawatt super-conducting quantum electromagnet" is more
accurately descriptive of Janell's relationship with fouls.
There were times last night when Janell was gang tackled by
the Monarchs’ posts with no fouls called and then on
the other end of the court she taps someone on the arm going
for a block and hits them after the shot is off, which isn’t
a foul (they changed that rule a couple years ago), and gets
called. She rolls her eyes or stares down the refs and goes
right back at it though. She quietly had a great game overall
and scored her 500th rebound near the first part of the second
half or so. She’s one of the first Storm players, in
my opinion, who consistently has the “I’m getting
this bucket no matter what” mentality. Once she gets
in the paint and has a chance at getting a layup, she is relentless.
I love that about Janell. I got a pair of her shoes at the
auction last weekend at TOJ for Adia’s foundation and
I will be proudly displaying them in the Storm shrine (as
soon as I figure out what gets bumped – the shrine isn’t
Not as much good stuff as I thought. Okay, how about this:
here’s a good final thought for everyone as we head
into the playoffs with the real possibility, if we are fortunate
enough to get past the first round, that we will be facing
Sacramento in the Western Conference Championship —
the Storm are 7-3 against the Monarchs including the 2004
regular season, the 2004 playoffs and the 2005 regular season.
Playing them without home court is going to be the toughest
thing the Storm have ever done, but they can do it. And they
"Aussie, Aussie, Aussie" chant saga has taken a
new turn. Now, Steven Kilbreath, our excellent arena announcer,
has started doing "Oi, Oi, Oi" after LJ or Suzy
does something good. It sounded like him anyway. It might
have been a recording that they are playing like the "Olé"
song for Izzy. Either way, now we have a third "Oi, Oi,
Battle was in the friends and family section, here to "hang
out" as someone who talked to her reported.
Wilkins, newly re-signed to the Sonics, was also on hand for
the game. I know most of you could care less about the Sonics,
but I'm really glad they signed him. He's got the look and
moves of someone who could turn out to be a big time impact
again had several pro-visiting team fans at the game. At least
the Sac fans could spell, unlike the LA fans who couldn't
get "Go Sparks" right. It might not be accurate
to say they were Sac fans since one group of them were wearing
Portland Fire gear and had a sign for the Flopping Queen.
Poor, misguided youth.