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7/14/06 vs New York

Final score: Storm 86 – Liberty 66 (W) (11-9)

Attendance | 8755

Anthem Watch | Very slooooow, and twangy. Not in a good way.

Fan Psyche | This is fun-ish.

Game Highlight | The Storm guards finally figuring out that, hey, we have one of the best post players in the league and even when she's double-teamed she can still get her shot — let's try getting her the damn ball for a change.

Halftime | Rollergirls!

SF.O Keyword of the Game | You win some, you bruise some (or blowout your knee some).

Game Photos

Mainly because it was the last stretch that stuck with me from last night's game, I'm going to start this off with the negatives rather than the positives. The Storm can get away with this kind of stuff against a team like the Liberty, but would get blown out of the building against a good team... like the ones who have blown us out of the building already this season.

Before anyone can say, "We won by 20 and were up by 30, how can you possibly complain about this game?" Here's how:

LJ was the last starter to come out of the game and sat down with 8:26 left in the fourth quarter. From that point on, the bench managed only 3 points with one of those points being a technical free throw. One basket — a jump shot from Ashley Robinson — in 8 and a half freakin' minutes. The only other points came from Barbara Turner in the last thirty seconds, which don't count since she's no longer a bench player.

Why should this be such a big issue? Look at it this way: the Liberty bench was better than our bench. If that doesn't send cold chills down your spine then you're not paying enough attention to what's happening on the court.

We all thought it was bad after that game against the Mercury when the bench went 4 minutes without scoring and the team missed a chance to break their record high score. That game was on May 25th. Apparently, the bench has not improved since then. Tonight, they were given almost a whole quarter to play as a unit and only managed one field goal and a technical foul shot. I don't care that the game was basically over before the beginning of the final quarter. I don't care if it was 8:26 of garbage time. They were out there to execute the offense, protect the ball and maintain the defensive strategy against the Liberty. They failed on all three counts. The Liberty scored 14 points, held the Storm to 3 and forced 10 Storm turnovers, including 7 steals. 7 STEALS. Up to that 8:26 stretch, the Storm had 8 turnovers total and the Liberty had 4 steals. At the end of the game, the Storm had 18 turnovers and the Liberty had 11 steals. Unbelievable.

The other major blow to the Storm came during the same 8:26 debacle period was when Shaun Gortman went down with an injury that looked like a dislocated knee. One person who had a clear view as Shaun was helped off the court said that her knee cap looked like it was on the side of her knee. If it is that bad, this could be a season-ending injury. Gortman hasn't been getting a lot of minutes, but she was one of Coach Donovan's defensive specialists. This will put a lot more pressure on Barbara and Izi to handle the opponent's small forwards and 2-guards. Hopefully, it isn't serious and Shaun will be back.

On the positive side of things, our starters totally dominated the game.

Janell had a huge game including a career-high 14 rebounds (which is a bit of a surprise — I would have thought her career-high for rebounds would have been higher) and almost hitting a double double in the first quarter. LJ actually got the ball on a consistent basis and took the most shots of any Storm player — 15 — and racked up one of her better scoring nights of the season. Betty was huge in the first and second quarters with her scoring and was very strong with her rebounding. Sue had an average statistical night but again seemed to hit the big shots to really drive the nails in the coffin for the Liberty. All 4 of these players did all of this in well under their normal minutes of playing time. Barbara was the only starter who didn't do much tonight and hit her only shot at the end of the game.

The good news is that during the first three quarters, the team looked like they were having fun. I'm hoping that they've worked out the cobwebs from being off for so long and will come back on Sunday for a full 40 minutes of focused basketball. They're going to need it against the East All-Star team... I mean the Connecticut Sun.

Other Notes:

First off, the Betty / Loree Moore double technicals. It was during a N'Garsanet free throw right at the end of the second quarter. Betty was out at the three-point line guarded by Moore. Moore was bodying Betty even before the free throw went up. As the N'Garsanet started her shot, Betty started running in for a possible rebound. Moore was on her the whole way. The two of them looked like they were attached as they fought down the lane and towards the basket — they were pushing, elbowing and maybe more importantly jawing at each other the whole way. The got tangled up and I think Betty ended up on the floor (I could be wrong about that). As she and Moore headed back up the court, Betty looked like she was really challenging Moore verbally — the "Bring it on, b****" type of friendly comment. Moore responded and they both got T'd up. It was kind of fun.

Rat City Rollergirls in the House! The RCRG made their KeyArena debut and I'm sure found some new fans. Pregame, the Rollergirls were up on the concourse promoting their bout Saturday night and their upcoming tournament (Saturday, 9/2 at KeyArena — tickets on sale now!) during Bumbershoot. During halftime, they showed part of their intro video (which after going to 6 or 7 bouts so far was the first time me and Angie got to clearly see and hear the video) and then acted out the legal and illegal hits they do during a bout. They had to do it sans skates unfortunately, but they looked like they were having fun and the crowd seemed to enjoy seeing them.

Celebrity look-alike sightings: Coach Judge Judy and Howard Stern. Judge Judy was sitting in the first row right behind David and Elise. I'm not sure it actually was her — someone from that section will have to confirm it. Someone dressed like Howard Stern was out during the Ride-the-Train timeout. I don't think anyone was fooled by that one — not even a little bit.

Definite celebrity sightings — Jenny Boucek was sitting in section 107, about row 9 on the aisle. She didn't look very pleased. SFiCL, aka Houston, aka Peg, was also at the game and will be here through the day game next week. Yee haw.