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7/20/06 at Charlotte

Final score: Storm 72 – Sting 86 (L) (11-12)

Submitted by | Bbfan1960

Attendance | Thousands of screaming kids and about maybe 500 people who looked like they actually paid for tickets.

Anthem | Some soloist. I didn’t pay much attention.

Fan Psyche | Me and Jimmy K cautiously optimistic. The kids cheered at the right time and seemed to enjoy the game.

Halftime | dogs catching frisbees

Keyword of the Game | “Not again!! also "so you're Jimmy K"

I arrived as soon as the doors opened and went to what I thought was my first row seat. It was actually the third row. In the Bobcats new arena row A is the third row A5 is the second row and A4 is the first row. Jimmy K actually had the front row seat. Go figure. I saw LJ and Sue warming up and in uniform. It was great knowing they would play. Before going back to the locker room Sue saw a girl sitting in front of me wearing her jersey and asked her if she wanted her to sign it. She came up to the end of the row, signed her shirt and she got a picture with Sue. It was a nice moment.

The team looked relaxed and in very good spirits during the shoot around and warm ups. Sue and LJ were moving well and showing no signs of injury. I didn’t notice any grimaces of pain at all from LJ, she had no wraps on her knees or ankles. She looked strong and ready to play. The team was even getting into the pre-game music. I was looking forward to a great game.

We started off great, LJ scored on lay up off the opening tip a few seconds in. After a Sting miss we scored again. Everyone was focused and prepared to play hard. I could feel a blowout. BUT 2:18 into the quarter Darling fouled JB out front as she was lifting the ball to pass. She grabbed her shoulder in pain it looked like it popped out of joint for a second. From my vantage point it appeared to be a hyper-extended shoulder. I thought she would probably be through for the game. Johnson replaced JB and I had a feeling of dread.

In my opinion Johnson takes the term “uninspired play” to a different level. On defense she basically stands in one spot almost to the point she looked as if she were setting picks for the other team and getting in LJ’s way. She also just has look on her face that she just doesn’t care about winning. Her line in the box score didn’t look that bad, but she got most of her numbers because the ball just happen to fall at he spot she chose to stand. She doesn’t move on offense, doesn’t go after loose balls, and doesn’t guard anyone at all. McCarville looked like an all star against her. That aside, our guards went turnover happy. The main reason for that is that we are running the same offensive sets we ran in 2004. The high 1-4 pick and roll play, and the "everyone find their favorite spot don’t move and wave your arms play." Sheri Sam knows these plays backwards and forwards and apparently shared that info with the rest of the Sting. The Sting played our passing lanes great and Sam was a monster all game long. LJ sat out the last couple of minutes of the first and the bench actually got us to within 1. Our free throw shooting was horrible. LJ sat out the second until about the 4:30 mark. When she got up to check in we were within five, but before she could get in I believe Feaster hit a three. I think AD waited about a minute to late to put LJ back in. The rest of the quarter we couldn’t get the ball to LJ, and she was starting to get frustrated. To her credit it was general frustration and not directed at any of her teammates. LJ missed a three and yelled her favorite word on the way back down the court. I had to chuckle a little at that. Sue hit a shot at the buzzer to bring us back to eight. We missed at least four free throws in the first half and Sheri Sam was lighting us up. It wasn’t bad defense either, she was on fire and stayed that way. Anyway 45-37 at the half.

Third Quarter

Two minutes in Betty gets a good look at a three and hits it. The next trip down she hits a short runner and we are within two. Charlotte hits a couple of free throws to take it back to four and I could see what was coming next. Betty has the ball takes it in the middle goes up against a double team and misses. The first two she hit were good looks. This was a terribly forced shot. There was no attempt to get into the offense it was a “I’m going to shoot no matter what” play. It was one of many momentum killers we experienced today. After a Sting turnover Johnson hit a shot to get us back within two. Then comes the first of what would be several killer plays. Turner is all over Sam beyond the arc with the shot clock winding down. Sheri launches this bomb with Turner right in her face. The defense could not have been better. Nothing but net, and we’re back down by five, after two Turner free throws we are within three. The next sequence was another killer. The next trip down, Betty forces another shot and misses. The rebound falls into Johnson’s hands, after working the ball around Johnson misses and Lawson gets the board. LJ misses and we don’t score. The rest of the quarter we are fighting for every point and every Sting score is a layup. Mazzante hits a three to put them back up by seven. Betty closes the quarter by challenging three Sting post players and gets smoked. Down by seven 62-55.

Fourth Quarter

After ANOTHER Sting layup by McCarville, LJ scores four straight on a post move layup and two free throws. The play she got the free throws on should have been an and one play but shot went half way down and rattled out. We are still within five and I was hoping we could “ride the L train to victory.” The next sequence pretty much did us in.
LJ had the ball on the block, made a great turnaround move for a short jumper. The ball went three fourths the way down and popped out. That pretty much summed up the day. We would have been down only three. LJ then gets her fourth foul on the defensive end and has sit, not only to rest, but to calm down, but only for about a minute or so. Frustrated is just not an adequate word for how she looked. Betty then goes on another forced shot and turnover binge. LJ gets no touches. Mezzante hits two three pointers, two Sutton-Brown free throws and after ANOTHER McCarville layup we are down by 15 with less than five minutes to go. Sue takes over on offense and is unstoppable. She scores our next eleven points. But it's a little late. Charlotte continues the layup drill. The parade to the free throw line starts with two minutes to go. LJ leaves wth a minute left getting no shots since the 7:40 mark. Final Sting 86 Storm 72. Every Sting score in the fourth quarter was a layup, three pointer, or free throw. The team seemed more frustrated than down. Hopefully we can get past the Liberty. Almost and I mean almost without exception the Storm played hard until the end. Without one person’s uninspired defensive performance, and if Betty had not tried to do to much by herself, and if LJ had gotten the ball in the fourth quarter we could have won.

Additional Notes | I got to meet Jimmy K we had a good talk during half time and after the game. I’m also going to the Mystics game on Sunday so I hope some luck will come our way by then.

Submitted by | JimmyK

Here's the official report. Upon second look at the 81 pics I took, probably half of them suck. I'll post them all somewhere when I get a chance, so at least you can see what I was intending. Also, I don't remember times or scores at particular moments of the game, so forgive me. I took my notes after I'd gotten back to where I was staying in a suburb of Winston Salem that afternoon.

Our game was Camp Day game...which, naturally, meant loudness. I think I have a knack for picking that day, because the Sun game I went to last year was it as well. So the kids were there and were Loud. I felt bad for the Sting staffer behind the Storm bench, because the noise was really bothering her. She had one of those headaches that you can actually see.

I intended to get to the stadium early, but hit exit 10B instead of 10C. So, after driving a while and not seeing any signs, I flip-flopped back to I-77 and went north, hit exit 12, came back south, and got Exit 10C. That gets you there just fine. After scanning for parking, I went to level 9 of the 6th street parking garage, which took forever. I got in with 20 minutes to go before tip, so I didn't miss any of the game, thankfully.

The Bobcats Arena is nicer than the CC, by far. The seats are awesome. Big people actually fit in these. Oh, and the seats I got were awesome. I think 1960 mentioned that, it goes backwards alphabetically the closer to the floor you get, then goes A, A5, A4, with A4 being the front row. So I was right behind the bench, surprisingly enough. Much coolness.

Due to my lateness, I missed Sue being in the general area. That was a bummer, because I really wanted to say something to the team through her, and didn't get a chance to do it at all, unfortunately. But I did clap and holler and admire things like normal. I did see the girl's signed jersey, which was cool. She had a digital camera, too, taking pictures mostly of Sue when she got close.

As for my picture taking, I mentioned before that they stunk. Apparently I have to pose perfectly still with the camera to get a good picture. Ugh. I tried to keep the flash off, but once in a while the flash would go off anyway. The security guy in front of me (there's one every 10 feet there) didn't seem to care all that much.

Anyway, the national anthem was nice. They had a color guard with the flags and everything. I liked it. The person singing just sang the song, which is how I like it sung.

Our girls showed lots of love to Sheri Sam before the game started, and I saw Sue cutting up a little with Tammy Sutton-Brown, too. When I saw that, I thought we'd be okay, and I was encouraged that it seemed that we were pretty loose before the game.

Early in the game, Sue looked like she had a cold. She wasn't limping or anything, but she either had head stoppage or maybe jet lag or something for a little while at the beginning.

LJ looked just fine, from what I could tell. She got a bit annoyed late in the game, but I'll explain that when I get there.

Anne saw some of her friends in our section and walked over to say hello to them. There weren't many people with Storm stuff there, but I could see some.

As for JB getting hurt, I'll defer to 1960's analysis because I completely missed it. All I saw was her holding her arm and Anne walking out on the court.

The Sting played good defense the whole game. Since we had that early wakeup call, I guess that killed us in the end more than anything. They were very solid defensively, with just a few lapses in the D at times. The Storm's defense wasn't all that bad, but the Sting was definitely better defensively.

After the first quarter, while the coaches were talking during the break, I looked up and saw LJ singing with the fan singing karaoke of Achy Breaky Heart. That was so cute. Sue, however, wasn't doing much of anything. She looked deep in thought or spaced out, one or the other, because I'm sure she'd have had a large chuckle at LJ singing that song. Anyway, LJ noticed that no one else was singing, and turned red. I've got a pic of her smiling in the huddle that I got just after she realized that no one else was singing. Not as red as I remember, but she was a bit embarrassed there. So funny.

So, the second quarter started with Sue and LJ on the bench. The backups did a really good job keeping the game as close as it was at the time. I was definitely impressed.

Speaking of backups, McCarville and Mazzante should be starters. Now. If you don't know why the Sting have sucked all year, now you know. Put in #4 and #13 as starters, and things will go better. Guh, Muggsy, guh.

As for the pictures, I took free throw pictures. You know, where they pose right after shooting the ball. I got some of Sue, a couple fuzzy ones of LJ, and a couple of Betty, too. I'd have gotten more players had I thought about it sooner than I did.

The refs weren't all that bad. June Corteau didn't arrive in Charlotte until Saturday. I'll report on that game elsewhere.

Sue tried to take over the game at the end, and was a scoring machine for a while, and even played good defense, too. Unfortunately, the Storm couldn't get a stop to save their necks late in the game, and that's what got them beat.

Despite losing this game, I was (and still am) encouraged about the Storm. Our girls aren't giving up despite all the crap that's happened to them in the last 7 days.

Other arena notes: Buggsy looks like a Doppler wannabe. Except that he looks goofier than Doppler, which is possible. Ugh.

Also, there's a cold wind blowing through the stadium the whole game. It went from my left to right the whole game. Teaches me to wear shorts to games there. I made up for that when I went to Saturday's Sting/Mercury game.

It was good to meet Bbfan1960 and chat with him before, during breaks, and after the game. I enjoyed having another Stormfan around. Also, before I forget, someone came up to me during the game and asked me if I was Jimmy K. Whoever you are, let me know, because I couldn't hear a darn thing you were telling me after you asked me who I was. I just kinda nodded to be polite, more than anything...but having someone else there who is on Stormfans is really cool, too.

Special thanks to DJ Shorty and flipper for putting up with me re-learning how to chat on a cell phone. Especially Shorty, because I was chatting with her while driving up I-77 back to the Winston-Salem area. It made the drive feel shorter, that's for sure!

I guess I'm lucky I didn't end up at the bottom of Lake Norman, now that I think about it.