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6/23/06 vs San Antonio

Final score: Storm 87 – San Antonio 57 (W) (7-7)

Attendance | 8555

Anthem Watch | Seattle Gay and Lesbian Chorus

Fan Psyche | This is more like it.

Game Highlight | The entire third quarter.

Halftime | Kids playing basketball.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Re-Venge

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L

Two things.

First, the Cinderella story of the unbeatable Silver Stars road team is finally and completely over. The Monarchs pushed them down the ballroom stairs the other night and the Storm knocked them back down, spit on their glass slippers and kicked Prince Charming's ass for good measure tonight.

Second, if this kind of game is what the Storm is capable of, then do we get to be righteously unsatisfied when we see any effort from them that is in anyway less than this? I don't mean that I expect the Storm to win every game from here on out by 30 points, but I think it is reasonable to expect to see the same kind of teamwork, determination and overall effort on both ends of the court from here on out. If that happens, the wins will work out on their own.

Before I get into all the chewy goodness from this game, there were a couple bitter, nagging nasty bits that we need to cover.

The Silver Stars had a horrible shooting night. Much of that should be credited to the Storm's defense. However, the Silver Stars were still able to get their three point shooters very, very open and were able to get easy drives to the basket. Fortunately for Seattle, those shots just weren't going in, but a missed open jump shot is not something that a defense can take credit for when they were 10 feet away from the shooter. If even a few more of those shots went down for San Antonio and they were able to steal a little momentum, the game would not have been so easy for the Storm.

The Storm bench, while instrumental in that amazing third quarter performance (how many times have we had a good third quarter this season?), were still unable to produce anything significant at the end of the game. Yes, the game was out of reach for the Stars in the last 6+ minutes (heck, it was over at the end of the third quarter), but to only be able to score a couple of baskets over several minutes against the other team's bench is again something that the Storm desperately need to fix. This was the same kind of stagnation that happened at the end of that Phoenix game when the Storm got stuck at 94 and had several minutes of game left. This situation wasn't as bad, so I guess there has been some improvement, but more improvement is needed.

Okay, here are the things that I saw that I think are definitely in the "good sign" category:

Betty played an incredibly smart game. She was in complete control of herself and on several occasions drove hard to the basket and when she found herself cut off dished the ball to an open teammate who was then able to easily score. Seeing her do this over and over was like seeing a ray of divine light break through the dark clouds and illuminate the KeyArena court with heavenly light. Betty is a scoring threat — of that there is no doubt. If she keeps doing what she did tonight, she becomes a major threat and ultimately much more effective on offense. She was only credited with 1 assist in the box score. I would have given her at least 4.

Sue did not take many shots, but she picked her spots and hit the big momentum-propelling baskets that she needed to hit. I understand Coach Donovan's insistence that Sue look to score more often, but I think that Sue is sometimes more effective when she not looking to score first. Sue seems to have a perfect sense for when it's time for her to take a shot — when her team is floundering and needs a boost or when her team is starting to make a move and needs that big shot to really get the momentum rolling. You look at LJ or Betty and when they score it's great, but not necessarily a momentum builder. When Sue scores, it's always at the right moment and it always seems to have a bigger effect than just another 2 or 3 points. Anyway, she had 3 of these big shots tonight for sure.

LJ was brilliant and didn't look slowed down by her shins at all. What can you say about 27 points and 7 rebounds in 24 minutes? The only knock against her tonight was that her side-to-side movement was slow and she allowed Sophia Young to drive in for easy layups too many times.

Janell and Izi both seemed to get their grooves back. I was especially glad to see them both play with much more energy than we've seen in the last few games. They refused to give up on rebounds or loose balls and really fought for it. Likewise, all of the Storm seemed to have gotten the memo about protecting the ball better after rebounds. How many times in the past few games have the opponents been able to steal back rebounds because the Storm player who got the ball was too casual with it? Tiffani, Janell, Betty and Shaun all were ripping down rebounds and aggressively protecting the ball until they could pass it out to a guard. Gortman had one rebound that she fought for against 3 Silver Stars. It looked like she was trapped against the baseline and was sure to lose the ball or step out of bounds. She kept moving, bobbing and weaving until she got an open spot and passed the ball out of traffic. It was a small play, but it was a telling play and a good sign that the Storm are addressing their turnover and rebounding problems.

Okay, so here we are smack dab in the thick of things again in the Western Conference — not that we were really out of it. The Storm need to bring this kind of effort plus a little extra for their next three killer games — at Houston on Sunday, here against Sac on Tuesday and then at LA on Wednesday. These three games are golden opportunities for the Storm to even out the West, retake their rightful place as an elite team in the conference and set themselves up for a strong stretch in July.

Other Notes:

Tonight's game felt... right. The crowd was into it big time. The people running the big screen seemed to back off a bit and let the crowd do their thing. It felt like the good old days of the last couple seasons.

Tonight was Breast Health Awareness night — pink was everywhere. Edna Campbell was at the game and looked absolutely faboo. She and all the breast cancer survivors at the game were recognized. It was both awesome to see these women who have faced such a terrifying disease stand and be counted and distressing to see how many women were standing, how many women this disease has touched. Great work has been done to fight this disease but there's a long way to go.

Being Pride weekend, or at least the couple of days before the Pride parade on Sunday, there were all sorts of booths set up on the concourse for gay and lesbian organizations handing out info.

I don't know if the Storm front office has been reading our Forum or not, but the pregame music was different. No, they still played Survivor during the video before the intros, but they did some sort of techno remix of Thunderstruck for the introductions. It was faster and easier to clap to, but I don't know if ACDC and techno remixes, well, mix. I'm sure this will be a point of discussion on the Forum.