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6/20/07 vs Minnesota

Final score: Storm 84 – Liberty 53 (W) (8-7)

Attendance | 6938

Anthem Watch | Soprano sax guy. No one giggled, which is an improvement over the last game.

Fan Psyche | Isn't NY supposed to be, you know, good? Or something.

Game Highlight | Sue getting her 1000th assist, followed mere seconds later with assist 1001 to Izi for three.

Halftime | More kids playing basketball.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Tenacity.

Game Photos | Rick | Scott L | Scott E

I don't know about the rest of you, but I was worried going into this game. The Liberty, against expectations, have done pretty well this season and have played the kind of we-have-nothing-to-lose basketball that is both exciting to watch and scary to face. They've beaten some good teams. They've overcome the loss of a lot of talent by finding new talent in players who hadn't gotten the spotlight before. They are a scary team.

Well, they can be a scary team.

Tonight was all about the Storm, and more specifically the Storm guards. Sue, Betty and Izi (yes, I know she's technically a small forward but stay with me) ruled this game and basically let LJ have her one — and only one — bad shooting night with no real consequences.

Sue was hitting shots in the first quarter and actively looking to score. Betty was knocking on the triple-double door and probably would have gotten it if she had played at all in the fourth quarter. And Izi. Where did that come from? She went crazy tonight, hitting 4 threes, running the fastbreak and shredding the Liberty defense.

The Storm put on a great show tonight. This is the kind of game you want televised. They were executing the offense. They were tenacious on defense in a way we've not really seen this season. They were scrapping for rebounds and loose balls. Wendy dove for a ball in the last couple of minutes of the fourth quarter when the Storm were up by 30ish. She could have left it. We didn't need the possession, but no, she threw herself on the floor to save the ball and get it back in play to a teammate.

I don't know what Coach Donovan might have said or what else might have triggered the focus and determination we saw tonight, but thanks to whatever it was and, hey, let's have it again.

The great thing was that it wasn't one or two players who were leading the charge and hoping the others would follow their example. All of the Storm were playing high energy, aggressive defense. The Liberty only had 40 points at the end of three quarters. The Storm really blew the game open in the third quarter, holding the Liberty to 12 while scoring 23. The lead was hovering around 30 for the last 12-13 minutes of the game. This was one of those cliché games where they Storm's strong defense lead to easy offense.

The one dark cloud was that LJ was as much a non-factor as she can be and still get a double-double. She was the Liberty's early target. They read the Detroit scouting report and played Lauren very physically with hard double- and triple-teams. Unlike against the Sky when it didn't matter what kind of defense she faced, tonight the bumps and hacks worked to slow LJ down. Fortunately, she got some help and was able to weather the bad shooting.

She and McCarville were really hammering away at each other. LJ ended up getting popped in the mouth and had to come out during the first quarter to get her front teeth checked out. Later, she popped McCarville in the eye (it looked like, hard to tell from across the court) and Crazy Hair had to go to the locker room for awhile. After the game, McCarville showed a lot of class and found LJ after the final team huddles for a little, "Hey, no hard feelings" thing. LJ said something like "No problem mate" and was all smiles.

I, and others sitting around me, were getting a little concerned during the fourth quarter while Coach Donovan left LJ in even though we were up by 30. She didn't come out until about the 6:00 mark. I'm not sure why we had any starters in during the last quarter. Why not give the bench the whole 10:00? They could use it.

One other potential negative — Betty left the game in the third with an obvious limp. She went down on the Liberty end of the court and was slow to get up. She hobbled up and down the court a couple times until Coach Donovan finally pulled her. Maybe it was the tendonitis she's been battling this season — maybe not. It was hard to tell what it was. It was too bad she came off the floor. It would have been so sweet for her to get that triple-double. As it was, she finished with 9 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Not a bad stat line at all.

It would have been nice to save a little of this game for LA or San Antonio, or just about any other West team. Hopefully, the same kind of intense defense we saw tonight will spill over into those other games and the Storm can put together a little run.

Oh, and hey Katie. Take. The. Shot.

Other notes:

Fluker has the Dance Troupe's intro routine down cold. She's good, too. Apparently, she's been waived by the team. I'm not sure what to say except for good luck.

The Mini race around the video screen thing was not tied to any section tonight. We were just supposed to cheer for our favorite color. Or something. Odd, and a little sad.

One of the former ball kids did the Discover Card free throw shoot out... and got destroyed 8-2. I do give her major props though, she was a complete professional when she was in charge of the Storm bench the two years Angie and I sat down there. She just doesn't have a very good free throw shot apparently.

The Dance Troupe's moves are getting a little... uncomfortable again.

The refs sucked. But that's like saying the Sun is bright or frozen Nitrogen is cold. It is was it is.

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