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5/20/08 vs Sacramento

Final score: Storm 74 – Monarchs 62 (W) (2-0)

Attendance | 6871

Anthem Watch | Military brass band, just the way it was meant to be played.

Fan Psyche | Wondering what it look like when all those chippies start falling and we get an actual 1st half lead of some sort.

Game Highlight | Katie for THREEEE x 3!

Halftime | Dogs!

SF.O Keyword of the Game | Poise

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L

What's the deal with this playing like poo and letting the other team control the game for 25 minutes and then deciding that, hey, let's kick it up a notch and start playing for real?

While it makes for an exciting game, if not nerve-wracking, it's a dangerous pattern to fall into. It will interesting to see how the team responds when the game is tight the whole way and they don't get to a point where they are forced to play with more intensity or get blown out. It will also be interesting to see how the team responds when they build a big first half lead and then has to protect it through most of the game. As soon as all those point-blank chippies and put backs actually start to drop, the Storm are going to start blowing out teams early. Will we see the same kind of defensive clamp down in that kind of game that we saw tonight?

Ultimately, defense is what allowed the Storm to take this game. The stats are scary: 12 steals, 7 blocks and 23 Monarch turnovers overall. Even though the Monarchs utterly ruled the boards early in the game, to an embarrassing level, the Storm's defense allowed them to wait out their offensive problems and keep the Monarchs from running away.

And then, when the offense started to rock, the Monarchs had no answer and folded under the Storm's pressure.

I love the fact that the Storm's offensive barrage started not with LJ, Sue, Swoopes or Cash, but with Katie Gearlds. Hitting those three 3s in a row had everybody in the building not wearing purple going nuts. I especially liked it that Swoopes, who was at the scorer's table waiting to come in, was pounding her hands on the floor and yelling right along with the rest of us.

In the fourth quarter, we got to see why this team should have the rest of the league shaking in their Adidas.

The Storm doubled up the Monarchs 35-17 and nearly doubled their own score through the first three quarters, 35-39. At the end of the third, I was a little more than dismayed to see that 39 on the scoreboard. I flipped through the photos on my camera to check the other quarter scores because I couldn't quite believe it. A coworker of mine who had not been to a Storm game before was sitting with us and asked what they normally score. I told her that they usually hit the mid-70s or 80s, but it didn't look that way tonight. It was nice to say later that I had spoken too soon.

What I like about how this team is coming together and how they won tonight is that they aren't getting intimidated or panicky when they get down. They keep working and pushing. There is frustration — anyone within earshot of LJ when she got a foul in the third quarter and started dropping f-bombs like she was George Bush dreaming about what he wants to do to Iran knows that the team was getting frustrated. They aren't letting that stop them from continuing to play.

The other thing I really like is that the bench players aren't coming in to just hold a space for a starter. They are coming in to make an impact on the game. This is one of the things that I think helped us win the championship in 2004. Any time Chelle or Adia came into the game, you knew that they were going to make a play on defense that would not only keep the game at status quo but give the Storm a jolt. This new bench is looking to do the same kinds of things — a jolt of energy that will change up the game instead of just being placeholders.

Our best example of that so far is Katie. She's been impressive on both sides of the court and is showing a ton of improvement over last year. Beck too is coming in and playing with a lot of energy. She looks comfortable with the ball and, to me at least, looks like the best shot at a real back-up point guard we've had for a long time.

This was a fun game. I hope we get to see a Storm lead earlier than the fourth quarter at the next home game.

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