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Final score: Storm 81 – Sparks 67 (W) (1-0)

Attendance | 9686

Box Score | Jayda's Game Blog | psheehy's Game Blog | Live from Press Row

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L | Annie | Toni

Well that was fun. The Storm won their first game of the season against one of their biggest rivals (who, by the way the Storm play a total of 5 times during the regular season) in front of a lower-bowl sellout.

It was a solid game for a first game of the season — meaning there were some obvious areas for improvement, but nothing that wouldn't be expected for a team that has really only been together for a couple weeks at most. The things that I saw happening throughout the game that I think could mean great times ahead for us Storm faithful was the team didn't give up on a play whether they were on offense or defense.

This is something we've not always seen in the past. The Storm didn't always play with consistent aggressiveness when it came to rebounding or following shots. They also had a tendency to drop the ball off the LJ and let her get mobbed. All of the Storm were moving without the ball, crashing the boards and finding ways to get their hands on the ball, even if it was only to tap it to a teammate.

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There were several occasions tonight when a Storm player successfully tapped the ball to an open teammate. The thing I really liked about it was that the tappee was not just popping the ball up to keep it live, she was actively tapping it to a teammate. I got a real sense that Camille, Tanisha, Sue and LJ were already anticipating where each other was on the court. This shows the value of Coach Agler being able to retain the Storm's core, beyond just Sue and LJ. We all could see, I think, that by the end of the game the Storm were already smoothing out the rough edges and getting back into sync.

That's not to say there weren't some glaring rough edges.

The defense, which was good most of the game, did have a few lapses. The most difficult one to watch was during the third quarter when Ticha, broken down and injured Ticha who was visibly grimacing at times, drove the baseline unguarded and made a layup. It was almost like watching a Yugo pull out of turn 4 at the Indianapolis Speedway and pass the Corvette pace car. Painful, kind of unacceptable and certainly something Coach Agler will be covering during practice.

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The beginning of the third quarter was really the low point of the game, both on offense and defense. The Storm allowed Tina to get a couple easy ones on blown coverages. They also stalled horribly on offense and couldn't get anything to drop. The Sparks' really tried to clamp down and force everything to the outside and the Storm obliged.

It wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Storm started to assert themselves. Again, they were consistently being aggressive going after the ball and not giving up on plays. I think the back-to-back games for the Sparks started to have an effect on their energy because they just couldn't match the Storm's determination. I distinctly remember the Storm being up by 8 with a few minutes to go and thinking, as Tanisha took the ball up the court and to the basket, "Just get it to 10. Then it will open up." Sure enough, Tanisha and then Swin and then everyone started diving to the basket and either getting baskets or fouls called. Throw in a couple offensive rebounds and steals and the Storm were in complete control.

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What had been a tight game for the first 30+ minutes became a near Storm blowout.

Coach Agler played a 9-person rotation. Only Vesela and Bishop stayed on the bench. Lacey, Willingham, Robinson and Abrosimova all got playing time. Lacey was only in for a couple minutes and really didn't have a chance to do much. Willingham got more time, but again didn't get into much a rhythm and got more fouls than anything. Svet hit a fourth quarter jumper during the Storm's run off of one of those tip backs from Tanisha. ARob got the most minutes off the bench.

Ah, Ashley. I'll admit to being someone who expected her to not make the cut this season. I can understand the reasons Coach Agler kept her, but her performance tonight, for me, showed why she's still got a long way to go. The best example was one of the offensive rebounds she got. She was two feet from the basket, unguarded, and the ball popped right into her hands. She froze for a split second not sure what to do. It looked like she was about to kick it back out to the perimeter when she realized she was two feet from the basket and still unguarded. She turned and got a lay up.

I know confidence is a huge factor for any athlete and it looks like hers is lacking. I hope the coaches are telling her to just shoot the ball. Shoot first, think later. I hope they are telling her to play with some aggression. Look at LJ. She knows exactly what she's going to do with the ball, most of the time before she even gets it in her hands. ARob could use some of that mental toughness. At least that what it looks like from the cheap seats.

But, all that aside, this game really makes me hopeful for the season. All our starters looked great. I'm eager to see what Willingham and Abrosimova will bring as the first players off the bench. I also really want ARob to reach the level we need her to reach and become a viable option off the bench to replace LJ. But most of all, I really like what I saw from the whole team when it came to determination and not giving up on the play. That alone, I think, will carry them through the rough patches to come, just as it did through the third quarter of this game.

Other notes:

I think Kurt Walker has lost a little weight. That, or the new orange and oatmeal ref uniform is hiding the pot belly he had last season.

Bill Russell and Senator Patty Murray were at the game.

The Brick Project got off to a rocky start. Tina Thomspon shot all but a couple free throws on the north end and she's not going to miss because of some noise. The one miss that happened on our end was from D-Nasty, but I don't think we can take credit. We got a start and this is a season long project.

The intro music and video kind of caught me off guard at first. It was difficult to hear the lyrics, but I liked the energy and the video was tight with the music. This one might take a couple games to sink in.

The bobblehead baby video was odd, but funny-ish. Doppler and some of the Dance Troupe kids are in the locker room grouped around something in a blanket in Doppler's arms. Camille comes in and wants to see, and it's the Sue bobblehead wrapped up like a baby. It's odd, but funny-ish.

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