The official box score says 6,891. I am not a good judge of these things (except at reading sold out after seeing hundreds of empty seats) but I was definitely taken aback by the unexpectedly large number of people at a preseason game. There were a lot of empty seats, but it was a normal regular season sized crowd for a midweek game. Last season I felt like the energy of key arena was slipping. Opening night was spectacular and then things just died down. Maybe the poor home game record contributed to the energy levels, we have gotten used to winning in the Key. However, the energy was there last night. The crowd was pumped up and it got the players pumped up. By the end of the fourth quarter both were in midseason form. It felt fantastic to be back in Key Arena.
My three year old almost didn't come to the game. I made the mistake of telling him that LJ wasn't going to play because she was still on the plane and his lower lip rolled out into his pout and he crossed his arms, stomped his foot and said "enh!" He has a thing for our favorite Aussie. In the end he came and as we walked up the hill to the Key he started chanting "Bas-ket-ball! Bas-ket-ball!"
Jenny Boucek got some well deserved love from the crowd. She looked great and certainly didn't look like someone who was sick at the start of camp. Kevin Pelton asked her about her health which she said is fine.
Yo also got a lot of love, but was a step slow all night, however as a seasoned vet she may have been in preseason mode.
Polite applause for Shyra and Tye'sha, good cheers for the returnees and huge cheers for Wendy and Betty. It only took five games for Seattle to love Wendy Palmer.
The game started slow and sloppy with the Storm failing to find a good shot against the Sacramento defense, but they were probing and patient, which I do like. The patience worked because when they got things figured out they started attacking with passion.
JB got hurt in the first defensive possession, 39 seconds into the game. She was in pain and Betty was frantically waving to AD to take her out as she rubbed that left shoulder and grimaced. She was rotating it herself which told me it wasn't dislocated, but panic set in. She looked fine on the sidelines later in the game but it took reading Live From Press Row to relax me once I got home.
Ashley Robinson. What can I say. She may have played even better than she looked last night, and if you have seen her before, you know that meant she was pretty darn good. The box score credits her with seven points, 6 blocks, 2 steals and 10 rebounds. That looks like an Andrei Kirilenko line from an NBA's Utah Jazz box score. It doesn't even tell the whole story. Ashley was everywhere, jumping up to alter shots, help defense on the perimeter preventing penetration, slapping the ball away from guards going to the basket, boxing out, here defense was fantastic. She slowed down a bit near the end of the night, but the Storm won't need 35 minutes from her many nights. If she comes off the bench with that kind of energy every night? She looked like JB in 2004 with more defense and less offense. Her offseason work has paid off and her confidence is high. AD sure recognizes and nurtures potential in her posts. This may be the strongest post rotation Seattle has ever had. The way she played last night she could start on most WNBA teams.
Katie Gearlds took a while to warm up, but she never stopped shooting and by the end of the game they were going in. She is much longer than I expected, from her height to her wingspan. She played better defense than I expected, guiding her assignment to the right spots, staying in front of them and being scrappy with her hands. She is going to fit in nicely and will have a much easier time when LJ and Sue are back.
T did not make a lot of mistakes. If she plays like she did last night she will be a solid backup for Sue, as long as she has shooter on the floor. She won't be hitting that many open threes this season either, but she penetrates and she plays scrappy defense. She didn't have Ticha to contend with last night, but as a backup, she won't likely face the opposing starters much and she had Haynie under control at both ends.
Izi is gambling a lot on defense, but with that post lineup she may be able to do it this season. Her gambles only hurt the Storm a couple of times. She was confident, aggressive defensively and took the ball to the basket drawing fouls.
Seattle took to breaking Sacramento's pressure by getting the ball up the floor fast and looking for a quick lane to the basket. If they didn't see one then they worked the ball around looking for a good post 0ption or penetrated and looked for shooters. I would have like to see more pick and roll, but they may be saving that for Sue and LJ. I like the options available with this bench.
Betty was money. Pure and simple. She was biding her time and took over the end of the game in vintage fashion. She said she worked on her three point shooting this winter, and it showed. I saw she was 6-6 from deep on StormVision in the 4th and I yelled down to her that 6-6 was just sick. She ended up 7-8 and Kevin Pelton points out that would have been a team and league record were this a regular season game. Nothing beats the smile she had shooting (and hitting) two free throws near the end of the game after she was knocked to the floor penetrating to the basket. She seemed to be indicating all the places she was hurting, her ankle her shoulder, her head, but all with a smile.
Wendy looked good, but her minutes were limited and she doesn't seem to have as much lift on the offensive board putbacks as she did last season. I hope that returns as the season progresses.
We didn't get to see much of Ely or Fluker. Fluker started off strong and will be a good 5th post of the bench or 4th in injury situations. She could get better as the season moves on and she settles into her role and understands the system better. Ely looked awkward and would have been a complete wash for the night except for the nifty move she got off a risky interior pass from Katie that Shyra got her hands on, spun, went up and under, scored and drew the foul. She is clearly longer than Barb, but looks nowhere near as strong. She didn't look very fast (did I mention awkward) and had NONE of the passion and energy that BT brings whenever she steps on the floor. Either she looks different in practice or Anne is messing with our heads (and Barb's). Let's wish for a win in their next game and get her back to show AD what she's got.
I missed seeing David and Elise. They have moved Alan and Adia way up top rather than down courtside. I wonder how Locke feels being in Key Arena at a Storm game and NOT being behind the microphone. It must be a little awkward, though I am sure the NBA season wore him out. 82 games is a lot of games for someone used to 34.
My son had a blast. Doppler gave him a high five (afer he almost fell down the riser stairs trying to get to Doppler.) He is still too small for the train, which was insane last night. It was definitely a preseason train...not in terms of size (it was huge) but it took much longer to clear the floor than in previous seasons. I noticed the trains getting sloppy last season, they need to clear things up this year. In past years those kids were off the floor in instants, last season it started to drag out and last night it took WAY too long.
I really don't like the "Get Struck!" campaign. It seems really weak after "Seeing is Believing," and even the logo is kind of lame. The "pump the crowd up" opening video was a little weak as well. The music was not that exciting and the video seemed sloppy, but perhaps that was just me.
The dance team looked good. It also looked much bigger than in the past.
I can't believe we have to wait a whole week for the next game. What a let down after experiencing that charged atmosphere last night. Ah, well.