score: Storm 78 Liberty 70 (W) (16-2)
Score | Jayda's
Game Blog | Live
from Press Row
E | Rick
L | Toni
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
decisions, bad decisions.
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.
wasn't until the last half of the fourth quarter that the
Storm started to put it all together and take command of the
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
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
nothing like a good old-fashioned Storm comeback for a first
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
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
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)
got to meet Mr. and Mrs. Admin before the game. Hope to see
other sf.org members in future games.
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.