Sunday, June 04, 2006

San Antonio...Before the Game

One month ago this would have been considered an automatic W on the Storm's June schedule. San Antonio was at the bottom of the league offensively (11th) and defensively (13th) in 2005 and they lost their best perimeter player, Marie Ferdinand to maternity leave. The Storm were tops in the league offensively (3rd) which should allow them to hide their defensive deficiencies against a weak offense. Besides this game was scheduled in Key Arena where the Storm seldom lose. San Antonio, however, has come out of the gates at a fierce pace. They have beat the Comets the Mercury and the Monarchs. Both the wins against last years Western Conference finalists were achieved on the road. They have found scoring in newcomers, the veteran Vickie Johnson (acquired via free agency from New York) and rookie Sophia Young (1st round draft pick). Second year player Kendra Wecker is also stepping up, leading the team in scoring twice this season. The perimeter starting trio of Shannon ("Pee-Wee") Johnson, Vickie Johnson and Kendra Wecker is proving a defensive force, averaging 5.4 steals per game between them. Rookie Shanna Zolman brings her improved game from Pat Summit's Volunteers right into action and is providing some fire power off the bench. The recent move to place veteran Chantelle Anderson into the starting lineup at Center and moving sophmore Katie Feenstra to the bench has aided the Silverstars in their past two wins. Teams that control Pee Wee seem to fare better than those that allow her to be effective. Indiana, LA and Sacramento controlled Shannon, and San Antonio was only able to overcome Sacramento through Vickie Johnson's sheer force of will and her season high 22 points.

Sue Bird will need to keep Pee Wee in front of her to keep her out of the lane and also try to use her height to keep her jumper out of action. Tanisha Wright will be called upon early to slow down Vickie Johnson, as will Shaun Gortman. Seattle's size and experience in the post should take care of itself.

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