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5/7/06 vs New York

Final score: Storm 71 – Liberty 43 (W) (1-0 preseason)

Attendance | 7645

Anthem Watch | Solid, traditional with no extras thrown in

Fan Psyche | Excited, relaxed, not reading too much into this overly one-sided blowout

Game Highlight | Janell finishing on a fast break, Wendy Palmer kicking some can under the basket, Barb Turner playing against Ashley Battle

Halftime | Kids basketball skill drill

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Chippie

Game Photos

It'd be a mistake to put much in the fact that the Storm blew out the Liberty. It was a preseason game, after all, and perhaps not a great test to see how the new Storm will look starting May 21st. As someone commented after the game, it wasn't that the Storm were that good so much as it was the Liberty were that bad, or more probable that it was the Liberty coaching staff not worrying about the win.

You need to approach these kinds of games like the armchair coach/player scout that we all like to be and really just focus on evaluating the new players to the team.

Wendy Palmer — The only knock on her is her speed up and down the court... as in there isn't a whole lot of it. She more than makes up for that with her offensive abilities/scoring and defensive presence. She's not going to be a huge shot blocker, but she was actively altering shots and aggressively rebounding. She's wide and strong and the puny point guards who try to drive on her will get a rude welcome. Not that there was any real doubt as to Wendy's spot on the Storm roster, but she's a keeper and may finally be the answer to Coach Donovan's post prayers.

Barb Turner — She lived up to the training camp hype we've been reading in the papers and blogs. She had a ton of energy, didn't seem afraid to drive into traffic or scramble for rebounds, kept her head up and was able to anticipate her teammates' moves and shots. I think the Storm coaches did an excellent job in drafting her — she's a nice complement to Izi's fast and slashing style and will allow Coach D a different look against the opponent's small forward.

Shaun Gortman — I'm not sure about Gortman. She didn't seem very comfortable in the point guard position. On several occasions, once she brought the ball up the court it seemed she would slide into the 2 or 3 spot and end up in the post rather than playing on the perimeter or directing the play. This may be by design and Coach Donovan is playing both sides of the fench with Gortman — point guard for the first 10 seconds of the play clock and small forward for the last 14 seconds. It may also be Gortman falling back to her natural tendancy and position.

Lindsay Taylor — She didn't do a whole lot in her limited minutes. I would say that she looked the most uncomfortable of all the new Storm players. Height or not, she got beat for rebounds and had a hard time with loose balls. She only got 10 minutes in the game, so it's hard to really comment on her game. At this point, I would put her on the bubble ahead of the other post players, including Simone. Once Tiffani Johnson starts working with the team, I wouldn't be surprised to see Taylor being waived.

For the returning players, they all looked good. Izi was the only one who was a little out of sorts, which might be attributed to her recent arrival in camp. Sue looked to be in great shape and was very relaxed on the court. Lauren looked like she was playing at about 75% of normal speed — maybe because of her shins or maybe because she didn't really need to push things in this game. Betty, on the other hand, was pushing things and playing very aggressively on both offense and defense. Her shot was a little off, but she wasn't letting that bother her. Tanisha looked comfortable as well, although her shooting wasn't that hot either. She did a much better job on defense and was very active against the Liberty guards. Janell had a solid game and was easily on her way to a double double if she had gotten her normal minutes.

Simone, who is supposedly on the bubble, had some problems with chip shots and unfortunately came out of the game in the second half with what looked like a hamstring pull or cramp. She was in obvious pain, but got some stretching and heating pad treatment that got her back in the game in the 4th quarter. It would be wrong for her to go down with an injury and perhaps not make the team since it's apparent that she's working hard and wants to be here. But, with Tiffani Johnson looming and if Simone is injured, this may have been the last Shimmy Shake we'll see in Seattle. I'm not counting her out until I see the transaction report that she's been cut, but it's looking more and more like the odds are against her this time.

It's too bad that this is the only home preseason game we've got. It'd be nice to see the Storm against a better opponent to get a clearer view of what kind of team this group is going to be. The Minnesota preseason road game might be that test, but we won't be seeing it.

One last thought — in 2004 when the Storm won the title, I think it was clear that Coach Donovan put together a team designed to beat the Sparks (even if we didn't play them in the playoffs). This time around, the Monarchs are the team to beat and I think the team is almost there. I hate to say it, but add Tully Bevilaqua to this team and we're back in the WNBA Finals for sure. As it is, I put us in the Western Conference Finals against the Monarchs and I don't know what might happen. There's a lot of time between now and then, but I'm feeling good about our chances. To be honest, I'm feeling a lot better this year than I was at the same time last year. Last season, I was unsettled by the loss of Tully, Sheri and Kamila and wasn't confident about the season at all. This season, I like the additions Coach Donovan has made and am feeling pretty good about where the team is headed. We're a back-up point guard away from where we need to be.

Other Notes:

The new seats will take some getting used to. I could use another preseason game to get my timing and settings figured out on my camera. The vantage point (111, 11, 1) gives a decent view, but it will take a little time to get things dialed in.

The crowd size was impressive for a preseason game, even if a lot of it was free tickets given to STH to give out to friends. Hopefully, the easy win and relaxed team will translate into return fans. It would be nice to get the average attendance up to that mythic 10,000 this season.

On the Matt Pittman "NBA miscall" count: 1. He slipped in a "Lakers" when announcing the May 21st game against the Sparks. Overall, he did a fair job. He was a little too monotone with the Liberty intro, but did a nice job with the Storm intro. Still, when Steven Kilbreathe does that July game, we need to let him know how much we've appreciated his work as the Storm announcer.