score: Storm 81 Mercury 93 (L) (6-4)
that sucked." -ohcuatro
We met Scowl at Cooperstown (Alice Cooper's restaurant) for
dinner before the game. The Big Sexy mushroom burger is off
the menu, replaced by the Magic Shroomer burger. The parking
meters in Phoenix aren't free until 8:00 pm (!) so I ended
up moving the car and dumping $6 in quarters into 2 different
meters instead of paying $5 once at a lot. Live and learn.
Suzy was sitting on the scorer's table during warmups. Not
expecting to play much? We had decent seats a few rows behind
the bench. Lisa Brummell was there and gave me thumbs up for
my LJ jersey.
Anthem: Laura Millet. Nice, traditional delivery.
We stood and cheered our team intros. Sue got a big cheer
from the Phoenix fans. Phoenix intros are done to Britney
Spears' "Circus." "Classy," said Mini.
DT is looking leaner than in years past. The starting 5 huddled
up before taking the floor. Read Sue's lips: "Focus."
Mercury fans are commanded by video of DT to stand up until
the Mercury's first basket. It felt good that everyone was
still standing when LJ hit a 3 and we sat down.
Some pretty good basketball in the first quarter. Swin played
really well. She has some fabulous moves now that she is not
in pain. I love watching her twist and turn on her way to
the basket for two. She was pounded by Le'Coe Willingham and
made her FTs. During a timeout they played a game where beach
balls fall from the ceiling and a contestant has to collect
them into a kiddie pool. Fun.
1st Q: 25-22 Storm
Mini noticed Dee had zero points. I said, that's because she
hasn't been shooting. Watch out. Sure enough, she started
shooting, and scoring. During a timeout, they played a player
spotlight video called, "A Minute with the Mercury."
This one featured Nicole Ohlde wherein she revealed a crush
on Andy Roddick. Ooh. A'mare Stoudemire was in the house and
was introduced to wild cheers. No word on how thoroughly he
was searched on his way in. PeeWee Johnson is our best acquisition
this year. Not only do we finally have a true backup point
guard to spell Sue, but she has some wily veteran moves that
are a joy to watch. Near the end of the half with the score
tied at 47 each, she took the ball right to Pondexter at the
3 pt line while shooting. Cappie got called for the foul (and
promptly sat down on the court in disbelief) and PeeWee made
all three FTs.
Halftime: 50-47 Storm
Entertainment: Giant hoops and basketballs.
Lisa B. came by to thank us for our support. I told her we
do at least one road trip every year because 17 home games
just isn't enough. She promised a few playoff games to extend
the season. We talked for a while about how the team was doing
and she shared a bit about how they looked in practice. I
feel good about having a knowledgeable owner-fan like her
overseeing the team. Also, she shared her stat sheets with
The Mercury came out guns blazing to start the third quarter.
After 11 unanswered points, Coach called a timeout and he
was PISSED. We scored after that, but the damage was done.
Good thing we decided not to stand for the first Storm basket
of the second half or we would have gotten yelled at for almost
5 minutes. Geez. Then T Wright nearly decapitated Bonner on
a fast break. Back-to-back LA games seem to have taught her
a different kind of game than she learned playing for Seattle
all these years. I covered my face in shame. This would have
been a good time to sub her out with KG for her scoring ability
or ARob for her defense. But no. She stayed in. I think a
big part of our problems in this game was the lack of subbing.
Coach knows by now what each player's strengths are. A few
minutes of Suzy creating space in the middle or a KG 3 or
the like would have mixed it up and not made it so easy for
the Merc to predict what we were going to do. LJ tripped over
DT's foot while stepping backward making room under the basket.
She went down and stayed down. She limped off and the trainer
worked on her for a while. She came back on later, but was
slightly slowed by it. The Mercury still have a Hip Hop Squad
who came out and did a Michael Jackson tribute in which they
all lay down on the court at the end. I did not know what
to make of that. Swin got hit in the face and apparently said
some bad words to Kurt. He T'ed her up for them.
3rd Q: 72-61 Mercury
The announcer yelled, "All aboard the Mercury Train!"
and all these kids ran down to the court. Sound familiar?
But they don't dance or hold on to the person in from of them.
They just walk around the court. There was music and everything,
but they just walked. Hmm. The Storm really started to play
well in the 4th. LJ chilled after the drama of the 3rd and
started hitting her shots. We even pulled within 2 at one
point. But the wheels fell off and Phoenix went on ANOTHER
11 point run to put it out of reach. Sigh.
Final: 93-81 Mercury
Flying home today. See you in the Key for the nooner on Tuesday.
*Clicks heels three times* There's no place like home. There's
no place like home. There's no....
Airways Arena (is that what it's called?) is a good but not
especially great arena. It's not really all that large and
the arena is kind of cluttered with advertisements, lots of
displays and mini-Jumbotrons, and stuff like that. It has
a steep "opera house" grade which I like. The concourse
is huge -- you won't have people cutting through your concession
lines, but the big lobby is practically empty. Dammit, Phoenix,
fill it full of basketball stuff like the Conseco Fieldhouse!
The attendance was spotty. The lower seats were at least half
empty. They don't curtain off the upper tier so thousands
of empty seats by the ceiling made it seem even more empty.
The crowd was plenty loud however and we found no obnoxious
fans at all. People around us applauded Storm shots so maybe
there's an underground Storm following there.
First quarter was wonderful. Man, just watching our offense
spin around the court like clockwork made me sure that we
were going to win this one or at least it was going to be
one really high scoring game. The Mercury offense was stop
and start, pausing, then usually kicking it out to an outside
shooter which the Storm had left open. This is the first game
I can remember that Swin just came out and dominated everything:
shooting, defense, drawing fouls, and somehow being everywhere
all the time.
I figured the Mercury would make some adjustments in the second
half, they'd get a little bit of a lead, and we'd come back
and the Merc would give up. They were relying on getting an
outside shooter open and getting them the ball so if you make
one of those things not happen, the Merc gets no points.
I have to mention Cappie Pondexter doing one of the dumbest
things you can do in basketball -- fouling a player who's
taking a hopeless shot before the half runs out. In fact it
looked like Pee Wee was deliberately going after Cappie and
shooting the ball as soon as she was fouled. There was only
seven tenths of a second left on the clock and that gave us
a lead going into the locker room.
The beginning of the second half took me back to the game
in Indianapolis when we only scored four points during the
entire third quarter. In several games we've gone forever
before we get our first point. What I saw was our "Easter
Island" offense (who was the genius who coined that phrase
here?). Instead of attacking the defense, the Storm looked
happy enough to dribble the ball around the perimeter and
wait for the Mercs to mess up. They didn't. They had made
adjustments that the Storm clearly didn't know how to get
The Mercs figured the best way to beat the Storm was to run
all the time. They threw fast break after fast break with
great team ball movement and the Storm couldn't do anything.
We were down over ten points and it could have been worse.
At first the lowest point was LJ getting hit in the back by
a pass as she was running along the sideline. At least that's
not as dumb as fouling with seven tenths of a second left
in the half.
But then Tanisha had to redefine dumb with her utterly ridiculous
face mask flagrant foul on Bonner. Bonner was having a great
streak with two great fast layups right past Tanisha and I
guess Tanisha didn't like that. It actually looked worse live
because of the shocked reaction of the fans. Amazingly no
fans around us expressed anger about what happened. They were
just as baffled about it as we were. Well I was mad because
Tanisha just made my team look like thugs in front of a friendly
away crowd. If a visiting team did this in the Key to one
of our players, there would have been boos for five minutes.
But forgetting all that, the fourth quarter started and if
we had started the third quarter like this, maybe the Mercury
would have given up. Swin was back, Sue was making wide open
shots and suddenly the Storm was back. LJ's foot/shin/knee
seemed fine (I was hoping she'd limp around and pretend it
was worse than it was!) and she was playing great.
For some reason LJ shot her mouth off (as if the Storm didn't
look bad enough already) and got a technical. It didn't seem
like a big deal at the time but suddenly the Storm stopped
scoring. We went back into our static dribbling offense and
the Mercury continued to go nuts. The lead got bigger and
bigger and it didn't look like anyone on the Storm cared.
Even Agler went from passionate yelling to restrained concern.
It was just a matter of how much we would lose by.
So, two road games, two flagrant fouls. You do the math. Is
the Storm going to be the gang of thugs that WNBA fans will
come to hate when they play on the road? Will the league require
Storm players to take anger management classes?
Phoenix has a new light rail system. It doesn't go to the
airport since that would make sense. Instead it goes by the
airport. You have to get off the train and take a shuttle
bus. Good planning there. But it's only $1.75 which makes
this little inconvenience worth it.
There was some sort of volleyball event taking place and my
entire floor at the Hyatt was full of high school volleyball
players. Everywhere I looked there were girls wearing elbow
and knee pads and making lots of noise. They turned it down
a notch around midnight. Oddly if this had been boys making
noise, it would have bothered me.
As I mentioned before, the days of airlines trying to get
you home ASAP is gone. I got bumped from my flight and Alaska
thought having me sit around for ten hours for another flight
to Portland was the best they could do. All they really had
to do was book me on a flight to Seattle and a shuttle to
Portland. Apparently I'm some sort of travel genius for having
thought of this. Don't let airlines screw you like this because
they don't care about you.