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8/25/09 vs Washington

Final score: Storm 78 – Mystics 68 (W) (16-11)

Attendance | 6791

Box Score | Jayda's Game Blog | Pelton's Game Blog

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick

Okay, so during the huddle between the first and second quarters, I imagine this is what Coach Agler said to his team:

"We played a great first quarter. Except for a few butterfinger turnovers, you executed the offense better and more consistently than you have in maybe the last 8 games. You attacked early in the shot clock before the Mystics were able to set up their defense. Everyone was moving without the ball and when you got into mismatches, you smartly took advantage and scored at will. Oh, and you had great rhythm with your three-point shooting. Your defense was really good and you have ended the quarter with the Mystics wondering what the heck just happened."

Then, he takes a deep breath, and continues...

"Since that all worked so well, I want you to now do the exact opposite. I want the offense to stall and I don't want any looks at the basket until you are well into single digits on the shot clock. I want a lot of standing around and I really want a lot of perimeter passing and dribbling. Look, we have a 14-point lead. There's no reason to push ourselves unless we really have to."

I'm being facetious, of course, but the difference between how the Storm played during the first and second quarters was a little jaw dropping. Coach Agler got his bench into the game more than we've seen since the beginning of the season, which contributed to the team's slow down. I also don't think the Storm honestly play that well with a lead. Unless they are being pushed, they tend to lose their urgency.

The bench did get significant playing time, which is something I think we've all been wanting. The upside is that the starters get some rest and the benchies get to work themselves into the system. The downside is that the benchies are still working themselves into the system. A-Rob, Suzy and Ashley W all got time and each looked rusty and out of sync. Again, to be expected given their lack of playing time, but it's something that has to be fixed soon.

The Storm maintained about a 20-point lead through most of the game. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Storm's desire to coast took over. The starters were on the bench, LJ had a heating pad on her lower back and the bench players were running out the clock.

The Mystics had other ideas. You have to give Washington their props. They never gave up. Their stars were ineffective and the Storm seemed to be taking it easy while continuing to maintain that lead. With a flurry of threes and several cuts through the Storm defense that led to easy-looking layups, the Mystics fought back to within 14 points. There was enough time left on the clock that Coach Agler was forced to take a timeout and bring in the starters.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I was starting to sweat about the score as well. The Mystics were playing with more confidence and the Storm offense had almost complete stalled out. With our starters in, the Mystics were driven back and the lead was extended back to that 20-point level quickly. The starters were in for maybe 3 minutes, did their work and came back out. The Mystics kept pushing, but the clock was against them and they just didn't have enough time. The 10-point spread at the end was as close as they got.

It was a mixed-bag kind of game. We saw some high octane Storm play in the first quarter and in some short bursts in the second and fourth quarters. We saw consistent defense throughout the whole game, except for a few plays here and there (mostly on Storm defensive switches when one of the defenders didn't stay with the Mystics player she was supposed to switch to) and for that stretch in the fourth when the Mystics made their run.

Janell and Pee Wee both had strong performances off the bench. Without going over all the box scores from the season so far, I'd bet that the 26 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks with only 4 turnovers and 8 fouls we got from the bench was their best production so far. Everybody got a chance to get out there and play through some mistakes — meaning Coach Agler resisted the urge to sit players as soon as they did something off the game plan.

This was a good win against a decent team. Let's face it, the Mystics just beat the Mercury and did so relatively handily. The best thing about this game was that we could finally see that they are moving in the right direction. They are getting better, are getting back to the style they played with at the beginning of the season.

The only real nagging issue is LJ's health. She was visibly uncomfortable, but refused to take it easy when she was on the court. It's great that Coach Agler is using more of the roster, but he also couldn't leave her out of the game. The Storm have been on the edge of greatness all season. No LJ means we slip off that edge for sure. With her, the Storm are at their best. We need their best every game the rest of the way.

Other notes:

We were invaded by women's sports figures tonight. It was billed as Women's Sports Night, but it just as easily could have been Role Modelpalooza. There were area college athletes, other professional athletes like the Seattle Majestics (Angie and I vow to go to one of their games next season), the Rat City Rollergirls, a NASCAR driver and a hydroplane driver. There were also Olympians a plenty, including Force 10 Hoops' own Ginny Gilder, an Olympic Silver Medallist in Rowing. All of them were introduced at halftime in the "first annual" parade of sports stars. I hope the Storm do continue this. It was very cool and one of their best theme nights.

Katrina Hibbert was at the game. She walked in front of us during the game and I though she might have been Hibby, but I was like, "Nah, that wasn't her." I should have said something, because I it was indeed her. When she was introduced, LJ and Suzy were giving her some guff from the bench. It was cute.

I had the new Meganator working pretty well. I think I can accurately count one missed Mystics' free throw for sure as a Meganator casualty. Langhorne took the first 2 foul shots for the Mystics and it was quiet enough that my 19" megaphone-enhanced "Brick!" was loud and abrupt enough to make her flinch. The Mystics were only 19-31 on their free throws. I'd like to think some of those were misses due to the bricking, but I'm only going to count that first one.




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