Monday, May 08, 2006

May 7, 2006 Preseason Storm vs. Liberty

I went to this game with my wife, and since she was hungry, we didn't actually make it to our seats until after the national anthem. The crowd was not at all bad for a preseason crowd in terms of numbers, and proved to just fine in terms of enthusiasm. My first thought during the Liberty introductions was that I only knew four of the Liberty players by name or sight. Hammon, Kraayveld, Farris and Battle were the only players I could recognize. Storm introductions followed, including the introduction of Tiffany Johnson who just arrived and was dressed in street clothes for the game.

Anne started Tanisha Wright (sporting a new 'do) in place of Izi who had only a practice or two under her belt after resolving Visa issues with the Brazilian government. The game started off like most preseason games, quite sloppy. We stood for that first basket for quite a while. The first few possessions were quite swift and resulted in poor shots. The game was over by the end of the first quarter, with the Liberty unable to execute and the Storm able to get rolling with every lineup by the end of the game.

I don't know how much the Liberty's performance was an indication of their season play...Hammon only took 11 shots, and I think most of those were in the second half. I hope, for their sake that this was just an example of preseason experimentation. The Storm defense abused the Liberty, seemingly stopping them whenever they wanted to. Individual and team defense as a whole looked great, but we will need to see how this carries forward.

Ashley Battle spent quite a bit of time as a floor leader for the Liberty, and was running the offense even with Hammon on the floor at times. I think she has made this roster. She was one of the Liberty's only bright spots, she and Hammon led the Liberty with 7 points apiece. She added two rebounds, a steal and an assist and only one turnover in 19 minutes. Barbara Farris was the most efficient player for the Liberty, though Erin Thorn looked good a times as well. The rookies were not noticeable.

Barbara Turner and Wendy Palmer are going to be HUGE for the Storm. They both looked so good out there last night and combined clear talent with clear effort. Gortman was not overly impressive on offense, but offered nice height on defense and her speed is really promising. The offense, much like last year, fell apart as soon as Bird checked out at the 1:58 mark of the first quarter, however looked better at the end of the game while Bird was sitting. This was the only glaring error. Lindsay Taylor looked like a deer caught in the headlights in the first half, but closed the game nicely, using her height to get rebounds and put some points on the board.

Again, the defense looked fabulous last night, but I will hold my opinion for another month on that topic.

I believe Simone will make the roster again this season, though we'll have to see if AD keeps all three posts for now. In the first half Taylor was lost and Simone had to tell her who to pick up on defense. A little while later she had Tanisha yelling at her as she was in the wrong spot on offense and Simone had to point her to where she belonged. Simone wasn't "special" last night, but I could easily see why AD keeps her around. Even if Johnson comes in offering something special, I think AD needs Simi to teach Taylor, who showed some promise.

The game was fairly slow and offensively challenged despite the shorter shot clock, but that had a lot to do with how poorly New York played.

By the Numbers

Possessions: 76 (Storm average 73 per game in 2005)
Team Off Rtg: 95.16 (Storm averaged 101.82 in 2005)
Team Def Rtg: 57.63 (Storm averaged 98.12 in 2005)

Most efficient players (offensive ratings):
Sue Bird: 164.09
Barbara Turner: 144.51
Lauren Jackson: 136.46
Lindsay Taylor: 110.06
Janell Burse: 101.94

Best +/- Players:
Janell Burse: +26
Sue Bird: +22
Betty Lennox: +22
Tanisha Wright: +21

Best +/- Lineups:
Bird-Lennox-Wright-Jackson-Burse: +16
Bird-Lennox-Wright-Palmer-Burse: +7

Worst +/- Lineups:
Wright-Castro-Turner-Edwards-Taylor: -5
Bird-Lennox-Gortman-Palmer-Burse: -4

Lindsay Taylor was the only player with a - value on the +/- calculations coming in at -1 due to the extremely poor team performance at the end of the first half (-5).

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