score: Storm 86 Sky 73 (W) (4-3)
5741 (ouch — I know it's a weeknight and against an
expansion team, but come on people).
Watch | Another kids' choir group —
not so "avant garde" as the last one.
Psyche | This doesn't look much like an expansion
team, at least not what we were used to.
Highlight | B-Money getting back in the saddle.
| Halfcourt shoot out.
Keyword of the Game | 2 out of 4 is better.
Photos | Rick
23 | Scott
E | Scott
the game against the Silver Stars, the Storm put together
one really solid defensive quarter — the first —
and then had things slide the rest of the way. Tonight, they
brought two solid defensive quarters — the first and
fourth — and walked away with a win. Hopefully, this
trend will continue on their upcoming road trip and we'll
see (or hear anyway) a full four quarter defensive game very
soon. More about this later.
The Chicago Sky is not the same kind of expansion team that
we all experienced seven long years ago. The only thing they
are lacking compared to other current teams is time together
as a unit. From top to bottom, the Sky are stacked with talent,
especially compared to the 6-26 year one Storm. Take the Sky
back to the 2000 season and they would definitely do better
than 6-26. No doubt about it. Unfortunately for them, not only
are they better than the expansion teams of 2000, all the other
teams are that much better as well. At their current pace, the
Sky may only be able to eke out a single digit win season, but
they will still be much better than we were at the start.
with all the other teams we've seen so far this season, the
most impressive players on the Sky may have been their rookie
and 2-year vets (rookies who are still a little wet behind
the ears). Candice Dupree, Jia Perkins and Bernadette Ngoyisa
led the way for the Sky — on a team filled with league
vets known for their scoring and defense. Each of these three
held their own against their Storm counterparts, LJ, JB and
Sue. It was the Sky vets who were stinking up the place on
offense. The Sky veterans were 10-35 while Dupree, Perkins
and Ngoyisa went 20-35. I'm thinking the nucleus for the Sky's
future isn't Dales, McCray or Powell (who didn't play, BTW).
For the Storm, the big news on offense was that LJ fairly easily
scored her 3000th point (plus a few for good measure) —
the youngest to reach that number and the fastest to do so —
and that Betty seems to be coming out of her scoring slump.
The visible tipping point came in the first half when Betty
got fouled and went to the line for two free throws. After each
one went in, she held up her fists. Normally, a player wouldn't
be that relieved that free throws went in. She was and it was
like someone hit the Betty Ball Switch — she was driving,
challenging the defense and hitting her shots. She didn't shoot
the lights out or anything, but you could tell she felt much
more comfortable with the ball in her hands.
is honestly getting better with each game. She was hitting
from just about any distance again, and usually with at least
2 defenders mugging her. She looks stronger than ever, painful
shins notwithstanding, and her shot looks effortless even
though she's expending a ton of effort with the amount of
attention she gets any time the ball comes near her.
in right behind her is Janell. This season compared to last
is amazing in terms of how she is playing. After one particularly
violent rebound scuffle in which JB tore the ball out of the
air and refused to give up on it even with Sky players grabbing
and slapping at the ball, I turned to Angie and said "She's
got some mean in her this year." Maybe she's finally
playing (mostly) pain free and this is what we've been missing
the last couple seasons. Maybe she's pushing herself harder
because there is greater competition for her spot on the roster.
Maybe she's tired of getting pushed around and isn't going
to take it any more. Who knows? All I know is that I like
it. A lot.
is great and all, but we're here to talk defense.
Actually, one other offensive note to make — Barb Turner.
If you're going to try and foul BT when she's powering up for
a layup, you better bring it hard because you're just going
to be facing an "and one" if you don't. She got a
little more playing time tonight (Tiffani Johnson was out — in
uniform, but not moving very well at all) and showed us all
why Coach Donovan was gushing about her during the preseason.
Barb was very impressive tonight and a huge lift off the bench.
first quarter was solid, solid, solid... until there was about
a minute and change left on the clock. The score was 19-8
and the Storm had the ball and looked to be headed to at least
a 21-8 quarter finish. Up to that point, they were rebounding
the ball — they learned that lesson — disrupting
passes, forcing turnovers and generally keeping the Sky from
getting any kind of rhythm on offense. Then, the Storm had
90 seconds of mental breakdown. With successive turnovers
on in-bounds passes or trying to get the ball up the court,
the Sky scored 4 quick points to end the quarter. Then with
the new quarter-beginning possession rules, they started the
second quarter with the ball and immediately scored. Instead
of 21-8 or better, it was now 19-14 with an energized Sky
defense. The second and third quarters really belonged to
the Sky. They started getting the rebounds, steals and defensive
stops that the Storm had gotten in the first quarter. The
Sky were able to keep the game within a 6 to 3 point spread
through that stretch and managed to claw their way up to within
one at the end of the third quarter — 62 Storm, 61 Sky.
the game, Jezzie and I were talking and agreed that we'd much
rather see the Storm hold the Sky to 70 or less (65 would
have been great) than run up the score and have another 100ish
game. At the beginning of the fourth, I thought to myself,
"Okay, keep them to another 8 or 10 point quarter. Right
here, right now. Shut them down."
Storm managed to hold the Sky to 12 while scoring 24 on their
way to the win.
Storm got back on the rebounds, got back to forcing turnovers
and challenging shots. They switched on defense and closed
out on the open shooters. Everyone who was in the game was
a lot more active against their defensive assignments — up
in their faces, arms waving and reaching for passes. Being
up and aggressive got Izi popped in the mouth as she was guarding
Lassiter. It pissed her off because she went down to the other
side and hit a three and then came back and got a steal to
start a fastbreak. A little anger seems to help.
bottom line is that instead of reacting and being forced to
back up, the Storm were the ones dictating the pace and were
the aggressive ones — making the Sky react and backpedal.
know the Storm can score. If they can start putting together
more consistent defense, the hand wringing will cease and
the wins will start rolling in.
looks like she may have hurt her back or something. StormFan9
came up and pointed out to me and Angie that TJ sat out the
shootaround — she leaned next to the basket support
the whole time. Once we started keeping an eye on her, it
was pretty clear to Angie and I (and the other fans around
us) that Tiffani was moving very gingerly. She wasn't obviously
wearing any braces, so until the news reports come out there
is only speculation. I was thinking it looked like her back.
Whatever it is, it's not good for the Storm.
Johnson out, Cisti Greenwald got a few minutes in the game.
She didn't do much, but she did only get four minutes or so
on the court. She moved pretty well and was active. It's too
bad that the Storm are heading out on the road and we won't
get to see more of her. Hopefully she takes the game time
opportunity and really goes after it. We need her.
was also a little surprised to look up from my camera at some
point in the second quarter and see Edwige playing point guard.
She wasn't out there very long — about 9 minutes total
— but looked more at ease with her role than our other
potential back-up point guards. I like Tanisha's game (well,
not so much tonight what with all the turnovers), but she's
not really a point guard. Edwige looked like a point guard.
Again, I would like to see more of her, but we'll have to
wait a couple weeks.
to the Storm front office: I may have already said this once
before, but who ever came up with the idea for the StormVision
spots needs a promotion. I like them. They are entertaining
and informative and give more of a structure to the sometimes
odd bits of video that get played on the big screen.
also like that you've got a photographer roaming the arena
taking shots of fans and posting them on the Storm website.
It's a great back-door marketing tool — getting people
at the game to go to your website to see themselves and getting
people who visit the website to see how much fun people at
the games are having. I'm thinking the same genius who came
up with StormVision also came up with this. Double that raise.
one thing that is tripping the annoying meter is the overt
product/sponsor lines in the player profile bits. I think
we all get why the players are giving their pizza and soda
preferences, but it's coming off like a lead balloon. The
Mini remote control car is a nice touch and a cool way to
get Mini in the spotlight, usually literally, during the game.
What the players' favorite frozen pizza flavor is — not
Lauren's mom was sitting at center court with Karen Bryant and
Margaret Stender, the President of the Sky. Maree got to "help"
LJ with her postgame David Locke interview. It was an "ahhhhhh"
moment to be sure.