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Final score: Storm 78 – Liberty 70 (W) (16-2)

Attendance | 11012

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

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

The Storm survived this game in spite of themselves. There were flashes of intensity and solid play on both ends of the court, but for me the theme of this game was more about the Storm not playing smart basketball.

With Lauren sitting on the bench in street clothes due to the concussion she received at the point of Delisha Milton-Jones' elbow, the Storm had to find a way to make up her missing 20 points and 10 rebounds. Le'coe started in LJ's place and it was clear that the bench was going to have to come in and produce.

The Liberty set the tone very early and it was soon clear that without LJ in the middle, the Liberty were determined to own the paint. They weren't double teaming anyone and they were boxing out more aggressively. At the beginning of the game (and really, most of the way through to the late third/early fourth quarter), the Liberty were faster to the ball and controlled the rebounding. They were also not needing to double team on defense which allowed them to contest and disrupt the Storm offense much more effectively.

Storm vs Liberty  17

A look at the post game box score illustrates the way the Liberty were manhandling the Storm in the paint. The Liberty were outrebounded overall (mostly because the Storm started to fight for the ball late in the game, and when I say "Storm" I really mean Swin), but got a jaw-dropping 15 offensive rebounds. During one possession, McCarville and Powell were running a rebound drill with them on either side of the basket and passing it back and forth to each other over the rim. The Storm players standing around them weren't able to get a hand on the ball.

For most of the game, the Storm just didn't seem to be on the same page. Sue was constantly directing traffic and was getting visibly frustrated with her team as the game wore on. She and Swin had a difference of opinion on something that lasted a couple of plays. Swin was inbounding the ball on one play and was yelling something to Sue, who apparently didn't understand or disagreed. They were talking at each other through that play and through a set of Storm free throws.

Storm vs Liberty  40

I mentioned this in an earlier Gameday — I think Coach Agler has introduced some new plays and some of the Storm players are taking longer to catch on than others (although no one seems to be in the right spot if you watched Sue during this game). The Storm were standing around and taking a lot of time in the shot clock to get their offense in place, and then they were facing a Liberty defense that looked ready to fight for everything. This translated into several Storm shot clock violations, a lot of sloppy turnovers (muffing inbounds passes?) and missed rebounds.

Though the first half, the game was firmly in the Liberty's control and I don't think I was the only one who was starting to get nervous about getting loss number three.

The Storm started to show some life, but every time they got the score down to 4 or 5, the Liberty would come right back and shoot it back up to 10. The Storm just weren't able to get any consistency going, except in the bad decision category.

At the end of the half and the third quarter, Tanisha had the ball in her hands for the last shot. At the end of the half, she drove part way to the basket and had an open 8 foot shot. Instead of taking it, she passed the ball to Swin under the basket. Unfortunately, Swin was thoroughly covered and ended up traveling as she tried to clear space to get off a shot. At the end of the third, Tanisha again had the ball. This time, she was out on the perimeter and had McCarville guarding her. She dribbled, dribbled, dribbled and ended up jacking up a bad shot after the horn had sounded. She had shooters on either side who could have taken the shot and should have passed. Instead, she kept it in the face of some pretty good defense by McCarville and got a bad shot. When she should have kept it, she didn't. When she should have passed, she kept it.

Storm vs Liberty  53

Bad decisions, bad decisions.

After playing hard for a couple minutes and getting the score down to a couple baskets yet again (this time in the third quarter), the Storm got sloppy and let the Liberty run off a bunch of points. Swin successfully fought off two Liberty players for a rebound, but got the ball tipped out when she tried to pass it and it went right back to the Liberty. They swing it around to Mitchell for an open three. On the other end, ARob was setting a screen on Mitchell, a player half her size, and kept moving the whole time. I almost had to get up and whistle her for a foul, it was so obvious.

It wasn't until the last half of the fourth quarter that the Storm started to put it all together and take command of the game.

Led by Swin, who to be honest was playing hard and with some great intensity the whole game, the Storm put the brakes on the Liberty offense and started hitting shot after shot. They were attacking the paint and either getting layups or driving, pulling the defense and then finding the open player for an easy shot, or hitting threes. In other words, they finally started looking like the team that has been blowing the doors off the arena against most of the other teams they've faced so far.

The Liberty started fouling as the clock wound down and with the Storm up by 10. The Storm missed a few free throws, but the Liberty weren't hitting on their end either, so the misses didn't hurt that much. With the ball in Sue's hands and the clock down to a few seconds, the arena DJ started up "Another One Bites the Dust" and that was that.

Storm vs Liberty  70

The Storm survived a game without LJ. I wouldn't have necessarily predicted this, but the Storm adjusted better to Sue being out than they did to LJ being out. If there was any doubt as to LJ's importance to this team, this game should have dispelled it.

The troubling thing is injury is not the only way that LJ might be confined to the bench. She could get into foul trouble. She could get goaded into a couple technicals and get suspended for a game. She could get the stomach flu. There are lots of ways LJ could miss a game that have nothing to do with injury and the Storm need to have the confidence that they can adjust and still win. No, they aren't going to be able to completely replace her scoring or defense, but they have to expect that other teams will come at them even harder than normal thinking that no LJ means the Storm are vulnerable.

This was a chance for our bench to step up and we got a mixed result. Le'coe did really well, especially since she was playing against bigger players. Veselá scored more than normal and hit all of her shots, but she (and others) seemed lost at times in the offense which contributed to the Storm playing slow and sloppy early on. Ashley got more minutes than she usually does, but was, in my opinion, more negative than positive. She hit a basket, but no rebounds and no blocks. If anything, her rebounding style of slapping at the ball to try and tip it back was worse than not getting in there at all. And Svet may have had her worst game as a Storm player.

When Sue went out, we saw career records from Tanisha and big scoring from Svet. With LJ out, we saw a good game from Le'coe and lots of standing around from the rest. I think Coach Agler will have a few things to work on during the All-Star break.

Other notes:

Today was Doppler's birthday and we had some other mascots in to help out. The mascots played a pick-up game against some kids during halftime. I think the Storm might be getting to the bottom of the jersey drawer — all the kids were wearing Yolanda Griffith jerseys.

Coach Agler got a technical foul during the second quarter. Mitchell jammed up Jana and stole the ball away right in front of the Storm bench. Coach Agler went off on the ref standing there because there was no foul call (and because there were a string of opportunities on the Storm side for fouls to be called that weren't while the same thing on the other end was getting called). I think as Coach was talking to the ref he may have mentioned his brother, the trucker. The ref doesn't like brother truckers and t'd up Agler.

During the fourth quarter Doppler Train, some fool took a beer out on the floor and ended up dribbling beer everywhere. I'm not sure why they even let adults out there unless they are carrying a kid.

 

Submitted by | amgd

Wow, nothing like a good old-fashioned Storm comeback for a first live game.

I was kinda anticipating lots of high-pitched shrieks due to Kids' Day. Good thing it wasn't as bad as I thought. Lots of really cute kids. I didn't anticipate them being this young though, like kids in 1st to 3rd grade. But starting them young will help the league later on. Imagine all the young boys growing up out there who'll think that Lauren Jackson is as good as Lebron James. That would be great marketing for the league.

Some things about the game: I dunno if the clap prompts were really meant for kids and families at this game just because it was Kids' Day, or if it's like that for every game. It was fun though. Sometimes on defensive possessions, all I would do was scream and hoot and pray that the other team would miss (and we would rebound). LOL.

Sue and Swin seemed extra frustrated at the start, and they weren't the only ones. Sue seemed visibly annoyed at how some players seemed out of place, motioning them to where they were supposed to be. There was one play when she called the team together, and when they were slow to do so, she jogged in place to make them hurry up. (I've never seen her do that before, lol.) I told my seatmate that Sue had to do more (she only had 3 points at that time) and the very next play, she scored! My seatmate told me, "You called it." And Sue was clutch the whole 4th quarter. Yeah!

I have to say Sue is really a very smart basketball player (haven't we been saying that forever? ). She always knows when to put the ball in her hands and score to spark the momentum, or to distribute. She knows when to foul (like when we were up two and she fouled Cappie to stop a possible tie. We got the stop and added the Le'Coe three a few minutes later.) These little things really add up. Her court awareness is simply amazing! I believe.

As for Swin, you could tell she wanted this win, and sometimes she tried to do too much, like dribbling down the court (which wasn't her strength.) But there was one play that really impressed me. She got the ball, and just made up her mind to take it to the basket, and she made the shot. I think we never had a player like her before, someone who keeps attacking and is very aggressive. Swin's a slasher. She was also very vocal with her instructions during the game. If I'm not mistaken, wasn't she the team captain of Detroit when she first came in the league? It really says a lot about her that she's okay with not being the number one option anymore, but is still able to step up when needed. And boy did we need her 20 points this game.

I have to say that I didn't relax until the final minute, even if we were up 10. We had a game early this season when we allowed 12 points in 2 minutes against Phoenix. And NY did had some 3 point shooters. Fortunately they kept bricking their 4th quarter shots (and didn't even attempt any 3s when they were down 10). Way to go, Storm defense! When NY finally stopped fouling at the 11 second mark, I breathed a sigh of relief. 10-0 at home! Woohoo!

Other notes

I was disappointed in LJ not playing, but hopefully things will be back to normal by the end of the month. Hope she gets some rest even during the ASG. (Sue and Swin too)

I got to meet Mr. and Mrs. Admin before the game. Hope to see other sf.org members in future games.

I got to have Sue's autograph before the game too. Was very lucky. However, she seemed very intense and businesslike. Guess that's what we mean by having your game face on.