Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I just finished the "Vodo Stretch" part of the season where Chelle was out with injury and Vodo played her most minutes of the season. This puts me 75% of the way through the season with 24 games played. The Storm are now 14-10. Here are the latest results:

Best Lineups (based on Per40 +/-, at least 10 minutes played)

















































Worst Lineups (based on Per40 +/-, at least 10 minutes played)






















Notice that Vodo now shows up in two of the top five lineups and none of the worst. Not surprisingly, Jackson is in all but 2 of the best lineups, Bird is in 11 of them, Betty 12 of them, JB 8, Izzy 7 and Suzy 6.

I should have the rest of the season complete by the end of this week.
For a more detailed, first hand experience on the WNBL, check out the Insane Platypus blog. LJ and Tully fans will have to suffer through a Sydney "homer's" view of the games, but it is great to get some actual insight into the games from a local. Additionally there is a nice list of 2006 WNBA draft prospects posted as well.

Tanisha Wright posted her second installment of her "back to school" blog. She gives us a little more personal flair in this entry and expresses her relief at the results of the expansion draft and her return to Seattle.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Halfway through the WNBA season here are the best and worst lineups with at least 10 minutes of floor time for the Storm (+/- per 40 minutes of game time)...


Zara-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Burse +21.84
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Edwards +18.80
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse +16.69
Zara-Lennox-Thompson-Jackson-Edwards +16.69
Bird-Lennox-Thompson-Jackson-Burse +14.23
Bird-Lennox-Jackson-Stevenson-Burse +10.75
Bird-Lennox-Thompson-Batkovic-Burse +7.82
Zara-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse +3.74
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic +1.80
Bird-Lennox-Thompson-Jackson-Batkovic +0.00

Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse -5.34
Zara-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic -7.49
Bird-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Burse -11.65
Zara-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic -16.07
Zara-Lennox-Thompson-Jackson-Burse -31.76
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic -35.79

Top Ten Most Used Lineups

Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse 139 minutes +16.69
Zara-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse 42 minutes +3.74
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic 40 minutes -35.79
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Edwards 23 minutes +18.80
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse 22 minutes -5.34
Zara-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic 19 minutes -16.07
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic 17 minutes +1.80
Bird-Lennox-Thompson-Jackson-Burse 16 minutes +14.23
Bird-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Burse 13 minutes -11.65
Zara-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Burse 12 minutes +21.84

The season was stalling at this point...they were under .500 at 8-9 and were due one more loss before they went on a major winning streak. Coach Donovan utilized 109 different lineups throughout these first 17 games. The 12-5 run for the second half ensured them a playoff berth and likely will shift the numbers above significantly. Vodo has yet to log many minutes, however all her lineups are positive at this point, with two of them at +50 points per 40 minutes.
I said that I would track down the Lady Vols on ESPN2....if you want to check out red shirt phenom Candace Parker in action here it is:

12/1/2005 ESPN2 7:00 EST vs. Texas
1/23/2006 ESPN2 7:30 EST vs. Duke
2/9/2006 ESPN2 7:00 EST vs. LSU
2/12/2006 ESPN2 5:00 EST vs. Vanderbilt
2/16/2006 ESPN2 7:30 EST vs. Georgia

Their SEC tournament games will also be aired on ESPN2 with the schedule TBA.

I have to rant a bit here about the "Lady" tag in front of school team names. I find it a ridiculous and virtually infuriating practice. My own school dubbed its women's teams the "Lady" Tritons. This is beyond foolish since a Triton is essentially a male mermaid. This means that our women's teams were really the Lady Male Mermaids. Give them their own names or stick to one name for all your teams. The tag addition carries subtle insinuations of status that are not favorable...we don't see any teams named the Gentlemen anything, so drop the tags.
The Capitals got a welcome break in week 9 of the WNBL in Australia. They got to face the students from AIS that they so soundly trounced in week 1, and decide to repeat the performance, this time without LJ.

They routed AIS 95-37 led by Alana Beard's 28 point, 5 rebound, 4 assist a 7 steal, performance. She was helped by Jenny Whittle's 19 points and 3 rebound performance and rounded out by the 11 points of Kelly Hannett.

As a team they controlled every aspect of the game, gathering 60.5% of the total available rebounds, with 88.6% on the defensive end and a 39.1% on the offensive end. Their defense was brutal, with 19 steals and forcing 36 turnovers.

They hold on to third place and are creeping up on Bulleen, though Adelaide is not too far behind them. With the impact of Beard clear, however, they better hope LJ returns to fill the gap before Beard reports to her team in Europe. Though she was rumoured to return in December by Jayda Evans, recent reports have indicated the original January/Februrary are more likely if she returns to the WNBL at all. Her desire to remain injury free for the National team in the spring may dictate her return.

Friday, November 25, 2005

10 Games into the season and AD has deployed 77 different lineups. Admittedly the last dozen or so were driven by Sue Bird's injury, but some of the lineups are downright odd. Here are the lineups with at least 10 minutes of floor time and their PER40 minute +/-....

Bird-Lennox-Jackson-Stevenson-Burse +10.75
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse +24.49
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Edwards +27.61
Zara-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse +4.94
Zara-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Burse +6.32
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Batkovic +1.80
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse -1.81

Lineups are growing more steady...and should continue to solidify until the injuries to Thompson and then Lennox disrupt the depth later in the season.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I am a couple of weeks behind on the WNBL...

The Capitals played two games in Round 7.

The first was a 101-93 loss to Adelaide. Despite a stunning 41 points, 12 rebounds and 6 steals from Alana Beard and a solid 23 point 10 rebound performance from Jenny Whittle the stronger depth of Adelaide allowed them to hold on for victory. The Fellas were led by the 31 points of Erin Phillips and 23 points of Laura Summerton. They had more help than the Capitals with Tami Willey, Cherie Smith and Jennifer Screen also chipping in double figure points. Tracey Beatty was the only other scorer for the Capitals. Beard did achieve a triple double, unfortunately the third double digit category was for 10 turnovers.

The second was 72-75 victory over the Perth Lynx. Beard led the team again with 24 points, 10 rebounds but only turned the ball over 3 times. Whittle took over the loose hands with 7 turnovers, though her 20 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 assist performance made up for her gaffes. Eleanor Sharp added 15 points for the Capitals. The 21 points from Deanna Smith, 18 points from Kaye Tucker and Kelli Hayward were not enough to overcome the Capitals this time.

Round 8 offered another victory for the Capitals bringing them to 6-3 and third place on the season. Beard offered up another solid game with 31 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Whittle continued her streak with 24 points, but they had little help from anyone else. Fortunately, that was enough as only Rohanee Cox (15) and Claudia Brassard (15) were able to muster double digits for the Townesville Fire.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sue Bird is parodied in the Forbidden Xmas which opens at the Empty Space Theatre Nov. 30th. You can catch previews this week starting Friday, Nov. 25th. Tickets are available online or via email.

The Sue character sings about a recently hot Seattle political issue. Other local celebrities such as Kenny G, and more notorious local characters get spoofed as well. I haven't seen it yet but word is that the show is a hoot.

I have run through the first four games of the season, and so far Anne Donnovan has deployed 42 different lineups. Only three have been on the floor for at least ten minutes.

Bird-Lennox-Jackson-Stevenson-Burse +10.75 per 40 minutes
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse +39.36 per 40 minutes
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Edwards +27.53 per 40 minutes

Anne's rotations are starting to solidify, with a few experiments here and there, but only a few of the lineups we saw later in the season are getting solid time now. I will keep working, and I am starting to get some better structure in my spreadsheet with some better use of formulas and DB functions to make this go faster. I hope to get as much done as possible over the holiday weekend.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Since I mentioned Tennessee's Candace Parker yesterday, it is only right to note that she started off well in her first game as a Volunteer. She scored 19 points on 6-10 shooting, went 7-10 from the line, had 10 rebounds (6 at the offensive end) with 2 assists, 0 turnovers, 2 blocked shots and 3 steals to back it all up. She did not dunk, but according to ESPN was playing above the rim and certainly could have. She appears to be focused on winning, not showboating. Her team won 83-33, so a dunk may have been too much anyway. Perhaps she will get more aggressive when they play a better team. Did I mention that this is her first season or that she beat NBA Slam Dunk Champion Josh Howard in a dunk contest 2 years ago? She could be the vanguard of the next generation of woman's basketball. Now I need to find an ESPN2 schedule and find out when I can watch her play!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I am going through my +/- data and determining the +/- numbers for various lineups. This has uncovered a few errors in my early games, so I will be reposting the original numbers as a new post once I get through the season.

I have not found a good way to store the data to make analysis more flexible yet. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. As it is, I have to recompile all the original data manually to look at lineups and clutch values. I may look at adding in court locations for shots for next season, it depends on how well the official stats record this. It is well recorded for the NBA, but I am not so sure about the WNBA.

I read a good article in this week's ESPN The Magazine on Tennessee's Candace Parker. They were hyping her return from knee surgery and calling her the "female Lebron James." She is 6'3" and plays the two guard. She has a 27 1/2" vertical which proves that the floor is NOT the limit for the woman's game. The young players are tuning their athleticism and we will be seeing more and more above the rim play as the game continues to evolve. I hope the fundamentals don't drift as much as they have in the men's game, but it will be exciting to be able to watch the evolution over the next few years.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Mystics are complaining in the press about the return from retirement by Stacey Dales-Schuman. I think they need to stop whining and move on. Dave Cowens saw her name on the unprotected list and did the smart thing, HE CALLED HER AND ASKED HER if she wanted to play again. If the Mystics were so hot to keep her, then Lynda Hargrove should have tried the same thing. A player can go in and out of "retirement" whenever they like, and if you don't keep tabs on them, then you let something like this happen. From what Stacey has had to say so far, it seems that her retirement may have had more to do with being stuck on the Mystics roster than anything else previously speculated. Ethics in this are not relevent. The Mystics should have been keeping their own house in order and running their business. Cowens has shown that he is already a savvy planner, opposing coaches better watch out!

With the upcoming draft and free agency possibilities, the Sky may not be mired at the bottom next season, though Charlotte and San Antonio might like the company. They have some solid starters and some solid bench players...we'll see what they do next.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Storm's need for improvement at the backup point guard position just escalated.

Francesca Zara was selected by the Chicago Sky in today's expansion draft.
Storm Defensive Ratings

I finally decided to utilize the estimation formulas from Dean Oliver's book to look at individual defensive ratings. Unfortunately these formulas are truly estimates, and assumes that every player contributes equally to defense when they are on the floor. Without tracking of additional statistics in the defensive area it is impossible to accurately rate defense for individuals today. With that said, the numbers actually support my initial subjective thoughts on the difference in defense between the 2004 Championship team and the 2005 team that was eliminated in the first round.

Player in Rotation
2004 Off. Rtg2005 Off. Rtg.Change
Sam/Castro Marques87.36100.62+13.27



As you can see, defense as a whole dropped for the team, totaling +68.49 points allowed per 100 possessions. The only improvements appear at the starting center position and the last spot on the bench (Vodo once again shows up positive for the team...hmmm). The defensive strength for both teams was in the post, and that improved in 2005. Unfortunately the perimeter has clearly suffered. The largest impacts are at the starting small forward position and the backup point guard position. I am very surprised at how well Suzy shows in the defensive statistics, since her defense was really suspect to those of us who followed the team closely last season. She is most likely benefitting from her pairings with either JB or LJ who are clearly the best defenders on the team. This is where the actual statistics would be most useful.

Looking towards next season, the best defenders should all be returning (with Vodo the only question.) LJ, Suzy and Janelle are likely cored or protected. Sue and Betty need to tighten up, and Tanisha will be back. I believe that Anne Donnovan needs to focus on shoring up the starting small forward and backup point positions this off-season, and this data just further confirms my assertion.

I think we will see a veteran in both spots with another guard and post drafted for the long term. Barring a trade, they have a solid young players in Sue, Tanisha, LJ, JB and Suzy. They need to fill their current gaps with veteran leadership and look for the eventual backup 2 guard and post to replace Betty and Simone down the road. Izzy and Vodo would be good bench players with Vodo serving a larger role than last year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Storm's official site follows the Zara year in review with a look at Natalia Vodopyanova. Despite limited play and some less than favorable post season comments from Coach Donovan regarding Natalia's athleticism on the defensive side of the floor, Vodo presents a strong case with her +/- numbers for the season. She posted particularly strong numbers in a handful of games after the all-star break, but still posted a solid year with those games excluded. There is still doubt that the Storm included her on their protected list for the upcoming expansion draft, though she exists far enough under the radar that she is less likely than other players to be targeted by the Sky. We will see soon enough what action the Sun take, and which direction Coach Donovan heads in the upcoming 2006 draft and free agent market.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Storm home page gives us two articles this week of interest to fans.

The first points to an article in Tacoma News Tribune from last Saturday (this road trip has me WAY behind) that says LJ's injury status has improved and that she may play in December based on her discussions with Anne Donnovan. That conflicts somewhat with previously published reports including the article on the Australian Olympic site I pointed to yesterday. Perhaps LJ isn't ready to make an announcement in Australia. I will cling desperately to this Anne Donnonvan leak in the hopes that perhaps this is a sign of LJ feeling better about her playing in the W next summer. Unlike the October 5th Canberra times article, an article at the Australian sports injury site postulates that it is the lower paying Australian league that might suffer from Lauren's need to cut back on year round play in favor of the higher paying WNBA and Euroupe. The Storm site article also continues the trend of hinting the WNBA season will be contracted by two weeks at each end next season to adjust for international schedules. It would be nice if the WNBA which just formally make the announcement...Kevin Pelton also gives more international updates. Where is Sue Bird, by the way...wasn't she going to play for Dynamo this winter?

The second article is the year in review for backup point Francesca Zara. Zara has continued to put up solid numbers in Euroleague play, but struggled most of last season with the Storm. Zara offered the worst +/- ratings of the Storm players completing a full season last year. She had a Roland Rating of -5.03 meaning that the Storm scored 5 points less their opponents per 40 minutes of playing time with Zara in the lineup. This may be attributed to the pairings Zara faced given that most of her floor time was earned while Sue Bird rested. She had most of her best +/- outings towards the end of the season as she meshed better with the team, and 7 of her 12 positive games were on the road. All but four of her best games were against playoff teams. She had 4 double digit games: at Indiana (+22), at New York (+18) in the early season when Sue went down with her broken nose also at Los Angeles (+19) and at Connecticut (+12) at the end of the season when Betty was out of the lineup. Looking over these numbers briefly, has now made me curious as to whether I can spot any trends and opened a whole new door of exploration that I will have to make time dig deeper into.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

LJ Out Next Season?

I grow more and more worried about Lauren Jackson's thoughts on a return to Seattle next summer. Jan Stirling, is the coach for the Australian Olympic team, the Opals, and her comments to the AOC regarding the need for LJ to "manage her body" combined with LJ's clearly stated #1 priority of bringing an Olympic Gold to her homeland for the 2008 Olympics is making me sweat. She gave up WNBL play for a second straight year, and she is 100% committed to the Commonwealth Games. Will she risk a WNBA season injury interfering with her commitments to the Australian National team? I had hoped her early comments were just a result of depression from facing more injury based time off. Now I see my hopes start to fray. Anne Donnovan better be looking at tickets to Australia, perhaps with LJ's buddy, Sue Bird, in tow.
If I hadn't been on the road, I would have completely missed the fact that USA Today put class Act Violet Palmer on the front page today. Ms. Palmer is the only active woman officiating NBA games and has been doing so for the past eight years. She is one of the more consistent officials covering the league and though she makes mistakes, like everyone in that difficult job does, I am never worried when I see her on the sidelines.

On a side note, the horrific quality of WNBA officiating became much clearer to me after reading in that article that Dee Kantner (who was the second woman official for the NBA) is the supervisor of officials for the W. Dee was the antithesis of Violet and probably made it more difficult for other women to succeed as NBA officials. Unlike most outsider rants about the quality of officials, the NBA agreed and fired Dee for her substandard performance on the court. She of course immediately cried foul, but like many a players plea, her unjustified complaints were ignored.

The USA Today ariticle is a nice piece, and one I was pleasantly surprised to see get such a prominent placing as the centerpiece front page story. Way to go USA Today.
I am on the road this week having my most whirlwind tour ever, spending the night in six different cities in six days. I am on my third day, third city and already feeling the effects.

You know the off-season is going to seem even longer than it actually is when you find yourself reading articles on the pets of WNBA players. For those that haven't already checked it out, Sue Bird doesn't have a pet, though she had a dog growing up while LJ is mourning the passing of her 18 year old cat and talks of her new dog's fear of her remaining 16 year old cat. Oh, and Katie Douglas' dog is quite cute, and I swear they have the same smile. Perhaps next week we can enjoy articles on their favorite school lunches from elementary school.

Sue Bird and Betty Lennox are the only two Storm players to earn nods for Strong Plays from last season.

How long before the draft perks up our interest?

Friday, November 04, 2005

The offseason is just so slow....Tanisha Wright is blogging over at about her return to school.

I loved Danny Fortson's off-court "nice guy" image and on-court enforcer mentality for the Sonics last season. His blatantly ignorant homophobia has changed my perspective, however, and now I am going to root for the goofy rookie Johan Petro to get more minutes this season. I know Danny's religious beliefs may color his opinion, but his commentary to the Seattle PI was quite frankly moronic. Perhaps it will endear him further to any gay members of the NBA officials squad, an organization that already showers him with whistles whenever he is on the floor.

JB put up solid numbers in FIBA play. She had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocked shots against Nicole Ohlde's (of the Minnesota Lynx) Dexia Namur team following up her 10 point 6 rebound game against USO last week. Sheri Sam did not play this week. Sacramento reserve forward Rebekkah Brunson plays for Dexia as well.

Vodo is displaying some diversity for Moscow Dynamo. She had 6 points and 13 rebounds against Lietuvos featuring Connecticut Sun players Katie Douglas and Jennifer Derevjanik and 12 points with 6 assists vs. USVO featuring the Indiana Fever's Kelly Miller. Tammy Sutton Brown of Charlotte Sting plays with Kamila and Vodo on Dynamo. Sue Bird has not yet joined the team.

Suzy is playing well for her team also. She followed up her 9 point, 9 rebound performance against Famila with a 16 point, 7 rebound, 3 block performance against MKB featuring Nikki Teasley of the LA Sparks.

LJ's Capitals broke their losing streak earning their second victory since LJ went down with injury. They were led by the 24 points of Alana Beard, along with Jenny Whittle's 10 points, 15 rebounds and 5 block shots. Between the two of them they are trying to make up for LJ, but that is a tough role to fill. Tully was a defensive force, adding 6 steals to her 6 point, 4 rebound, 2 assist performance. The Rangers were led by Jacinta Hamilton (15) and Carly Wilson (13). The Capitals will need to find some additional scoring if they want to survive against the high scoring Dandenong, Townesville and Bulleen teams.

Finally, Francesca Zara is charging forward for Napoli with 10 points and 8 assists against Phoenix Mercury player, Anna DeForge and Wisla Can-Pack and 13 points, 5 assists and 2 steals against Kelly Miller and USVO. She had 7 turnovers in her first game but only 3 in her second. Alicia Thompson had 3 points and 3 rebounds in the win over Wisla and chipped in 2 points in the loss to USVO.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


The Canberra Capitals continue to struggle with Lauren Jackson injured, falling 69-60 to the Bulleen Boomers in Round 5 of WNBL play. Tully contributed a nice floor game with 3 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, a blocked shot and 4 steals. They really need someone to pick up the scoring however. The Boomers outscored them in 3 out of 4 quarters of play. The Capitals were led by WNBA Washington Mystics guard Alana Beard who chipped in 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 2 steals. She had very little scoring support with only Eleanor Sharp and Kellie Abrams adding double digits at 11 points apiece. Jenny Whittle ended her double digit scoring run with a 6 point 9 rebound performance. The Boomers were led by Katrina Hibbert (22) with scoring support from Hollie Grima (15) and Desiree Glaubitz (10). The Capitals really surrendered the game with poor control of the basketball, they committed 25 turnovers for the game. Kellie Abrams and Eleanor Sharp were the worst culprits, with almost half of those turnovers shared between them. Newcomer Alana Beard added 4 turnovers herself as she acclimates to her new team's offense.


The WNBA shares player's memories of Halloween on their site. Our own Seattle masked lady, Sue Bird was once Oscar the Grouch (now that MUST have been quite the costume) and the now injured Lauren Jackson could use a little magic to heal her tired bones, alas her stint as "the best witch in the world" was merely for one night. Swin Cash as Tina Turner, hmm, I bet she could have taken DeMya Walker's pink haired Gem anyday.


Want to know how hard the end of the season was for Lauren? interviewed players, LJ's first comment is the team's inconsistency and they way they "bombed out in the first round." Her highlight finally comes off the court in the time she spent hanging out with Sue and her other mates. Her buddy Sheryl Swoopes rubs it in by citing the comeback against Seattle in the first round as her team highlight of the season. Sue Bird points to the All-Star weekend, and calls Ticha Penicheiro dribbling through 7'2" Margo Dydek's legs in the finals the best play of the season.


If you are a US citizen and you follow women's sports of any kind, please contact your local congressional representatives to let them know that the recent "clarification" added to Title IX needs immediate repeal. The new policy allows schools to meet the interest gauging metrics by sending a mass-email to their female students asking if they are interested in participating in sports. Students who do not reply are counted as NOT being interested lowering the requirements for the institution to fund and provide athletic opportunities for women. With the prevelance of SPAM and traditionally low responses to email surveys, this could seriously impact the current investment in women's athletics that Title IX has created. Since the majority of money in sports comes from the male athletics, there will be no business reason for schools to continue to invest in women's athletics. These are institutions of LEARNING and should not be driven by business, but by the needs of our children. You can learn more about the issue and email your congressional representatives here.