Monday, August 27, 2007

It's over, but is it really over?

The Storm took too long to find their hunger to win. I can't say why, and it doesn't really matter in the end either way. Three years, three first round exits. It seems like the player pieces are there. Outside of a true backup point guard, one who plays aggressive, full court defense, penetrates and can hit the open three, the core roster is pretty darn good. Talent wise and ability wise this looks like a roster that should win more than it does. Yet, again and again it simply doesn't.

Do they tweak again? Do they overhaul the roster around Bird and Jackson? Do they look at changes to the coach and/or GM? Phoenix added a strong GM and went from bubble team to dominant force. It is something to think about. Do the players need a new voice in the locker room or does the coach need some new players?

Does any of this matter?

Will the Storm be here next year?

I told ESPN.com on Friday night that my hope is that the NBA steps in and solves the problem here like the NFL did for Cleveland in the 90's. The NBA makes sure that the people of Oklahoma City (a fine city with noble people whose triumph after the tragedy of the Federal Building terrorist bombing is all but lost in the shadow of NYC and the twin towers), Clay Bennett, Aubrey McClendon and their partners receive the greatly desired and deserved NBA team. David Stern and his organization keep the Sonics and Storm in Seattle. Sell our teams to local owners and grant Oklahoma City an expansion franchise. Let them take Presti and Carlismo if they so desire. Just keep our teams here. I even told the reporter that I would take just one team if that was all I could have. I told him I would take the Storm.

I love basketball. I have been a Sonics fan since before I moved to Seattle. The Sonics are just a basketball team, though. The Storm are my family. The fans of the Storm in this city, those I know by face and those I know by internet handle only, they are my family, too. My three year old son knew Lauren Jackson's name before he knew Ray Allen. He has never asked to play let's pretend and be a Sonic player. When he plays basketball, he is ALWAYS LJ. Your first love never leaves your mind, and the Storm will always be the first team he loved. I want to hold on to them for him as long as I can.

My hopes for the Seattle Storm now lie in the hands of local politicians, local wealth, the legal system as well as with David Stern and the NBA.

I wrote Seattle City council member Richard McIver last week about this issue and his response is the best I have heard in over a year...

I think all of us would be saddened if the team leaves Seattle, as appears to be
the intent of team ownership. It is my hope that enacting this legislation would
help to keep them in Seattle, if through no other way than by letting the NBA
know that we both want to keep the team and that we’ll use the legal tools we
have available to do that and to protect our own financial interests.

It will be tough. Oklahoma City is apparently ready to cover all the costs for Bennett's group to relocate and fight a legal battle to escape their lease. I hope that Orlando and Sacramento watch these events closely to see whether they should think twice about signing long term leases with NBA franchises. If we can be robbed of our teams despite a long term lease than they will forever be held ransom by the NBA as well.

There are people here that care. I have met some of them, I am meeting some more of them tonight. None of these people really have the power or the money to make a significant difference. Our best hope is to rally enough to get the people with money and power to act publicly.

If you or someone you know has the power or the money, please step forward. Take action. Be a local hero.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Just Not Ready Yet.

I can't do it yet.

Last night was too hard.

It was not hard because the Storm lost, they still have two more games in this series.

It was the possibility of it being the last Storm game in the Key, the last game I get to see a Bird/Jackson pick and roll, the last time I get to see an Lauren Jackson turnaround fadeaway on the baseline, the last time I see Izi turn on the turbos and beat everyone to the hoop on the break, the last time I see Betty drive to the hole, score and draw the foul (or several at the same time), the last time I see A-Rob soar wrists above the rim for a rebound or a block.

I'm just not ready.

I start to think I am ready and I read that LJ almost lost it when we gave our standing ovation at the end of the game. I'm still not ready. I'm not used to this. I was MAD when Gary Payton was traded. I was ticked that we let Tully go to Indiana. It was not so visceral, so emotional. I've asked it before. What is it that these women do to me that I feel something closer than just a sports fan relationship with them.

Why does it feel personal?

Why does it feel like I am in a custody battle with some distant, wealthy relative from Oklahoma City who thinks I am not raising my child right?

Phoenix Mercury player Kelly Schumacher said it right on the flight from JFK to SEA when I sat with her after the 2006 All-Star Game. "Not with your girls, huh?" She was right. They are my girls. Even though Wendy, Astou and Betty are just a couple of years younger than me, they are still my girls. I feel like I have been there while LJ has blossomed from this shy, young phenom into one hell of a bad ass on the court and that makes me a part of it. My youngest son has grown up with this team. LJ is the first basketball player whose name he knew. He was saying "LJ for 3!" by the end of last season at the age of 2 1/2. He has been to NBA games, he has seen them on TV, but if you ask him who the best basketball player in the world is, he doesn't even blink before saying, LJ. The Storm are a big part of the relationship I have with him. Going to Storm games is our special thing. We go to them, just the two of us. Mom and his big brother come to some, but really, it is our thing.

I am sure Clay Bennett and Aubrey McClendon don't care about that. Why should they? I only spend a few hundred dollars a year on Storm tickets and a thousand or so on Sonics tickets...why should that matter to them? I didn't make around $2.5 million in salary last year like Aubrey did...and my stock options were measured in thousands, not hundreds of millions. People like my son and I don't show up on their radar. We are like those annoying No-See-Um bugs I grew up with in New England, invisible pests you wish you could just get rid of.

I realize I will get over it should they rip our teams from our embrace. After all, there are certainly more important things in life. My dreams this week have been filled with ghosts of miners, storms, burning planes and collapsing bridges. Wars are being waged and innocents are dying around the globe. I do have perspective in all this. They are still my girls. Whether they win or lose tomorrow, they will still be my girls. I will watch the game and share in their joy or their frustration just like I do each game. Then I will compartmentalize my feelings, do what I can, and edge slowly towards the looming month of December.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Round 1, Game 1

One of the problems with being a fan blogger is that it is virtually impossible to separate my emotions about the game from my thoughts on the game.

As a result, I am simply hitting my head on my desk whenever I try to write about the game.

Since I am convinced that my thoughts about basketball will be utterly useless until tomorrow I will redirect your attentions to others more impartial than I who have put out things worth reading today.

Steve Kelley @ the Seattle Times
I know people who despise Kelley's work. I am not one of them, though I am not quite a fan either. He has written a fantastic piece on Lauren Jackson that made me happy and sad all at once. Happy that LJ is being recognized. Sad that my son may not have the chance to grow up watching his favorite basketball player in the world play live in his hometown at least 17 times each summer. I've always imagined that someday he would be old enough to actually face his hero and tell her what a fan he is of her game. She is the first basketball player whose name he knew and she is such a factor in his rich imagination that she shares superhero status with the likes of Spiderman, Superman, Knuckles and McQueen. (Note that she is the only one of those heroes that does NOT wear red.) He talks about how he wants to say hi to her but that he is too shy. Twice now he has hidden when he got too close to her. When people observe his gregarious nature and say, "My he certainly isn't shy." he instantly replies, "I am shy of LJ." I love the game of basketball and I am thrilled that Lauren Jackson was the person who introduced my son to the game, what better tour guide/role model could you ask for? It will really be a shame if the current stalemate between ownership and the region robs him of the chance to grow up with that same role model. I have had to wipe more than one tear out from under my glasses while writing this, so it is time to move on.

Darren Fessenden @ the Seattle PI
I picked on Darren for mistakes in his first few articles at the start of the season, and noted his improvement part way through. Here I commend him for his choice of topic and quality reporting on Ashley Robinson and her impact on the starting lineup. Good eye, Darren, you have come a long way this season and I am thrilled that you made me feel guilty for my first comments. In some ways talking about LJ, Sue or the links between the two teams is probably the easy way out. You took the hard road and navigated it admirably. For anyone who reads this blog regularly, I have been raving about Ashley in the starting lineup since the beginning of the season. I believe that she is key to the end of season resurgance. Darren agrees as well wins the most innovative playoff story of the week award. Wish I had a trophy to give you...maybe a Sue Bird bobblehead will do?

Jim McGrath @ the Tacoma News Tribune
Jim McGrath calls out David Stern and the NBA for fining a man for telling the truth instead of fining his partner for lying. I am glad that the NBA responded in some way to this idiocy, but Jim is right, it is Bennett who should be slapped, not McClendon.

Now I can get pumped for this game. I will be there, solo since my little one is still on vacation, and I will be loud. I will also be there early because there is not a chance that I will be missing our own BAMFX when she gets her first Defensive Player of the Year award.

Enemy of the People

I met with the "expanded" team from Save Our Sonics and Storm last night and it was a good meeting. Storm and Sonic fans getting together to talk about where things are at the moment. It is sad to see that the movement has had to take an antagonistic stance against the team, but the ownership team has backed SOS&S into a corner.

Recently comments were made by minority Owner Aubrey McClendon in the press stating that the owners bought the teams to bring them to Oklahoma City and never intended to be in Seattle. This week the NBA fined McClendon $250,000 for the comments. Clay Bennett keeps telling everyone that Seattle isn't interested and hasn't made any "reasonable" offers, but the Governor, the Mayor, the City Council and representatives of the State Legislature have all made public statements and private gestures that have been rebuffed. On his part he has done NOTHING since his demand for $300M in public money was denied last winter. He did offer to meet with the Mayor but then bailed when he learned that buying a way out of the lease so he could relocate was not on the table.

When past behaviour by Bennett and his team are viewed in light of McClendon's comments, my perception leans toward a strategy of bait and switch, subversion, lies and underhanded dealings. SOS&S was very open and tried to work together with Bennett from the start. He was taken at his word and there was, on the surface, a spirit of cooperation between the ownership and SOS&S. That turned out to be honest spirit on the part of former ownership and pretense on the part of current ownership. SOS&S was told to hold off repeatedly on fan events and anything that might draw attention or press to the local fans and away from the arena proposal. In hindsight that is EXACTLY what you want if you intend to propose something ridiculous to an elected body. If you don't want it to pass, make it ridiculous and make sure there is NO VISIBLE FAN SUPPORT! Then you can make sure to use words like "apathy" when discussing local support. You can complain about lack of letters to the editor and radio talk show callers. Of course you don't have that if you tell your fan organizers NOT TO ORGANIZE! Give people "access" to make them overlook the fact that what you are asking them to do makes no sense and lull them into a sense of complacency. Then when the gig is up and you have been called out, be sure to cut them off immediately.

I no longer believe that Bennett is genuine. I think the man is a savvy business owner that is willing to walk on both sides of the ethical line to get what he wants. As a corporate person myself, I know the type. They seem genuine and honest and ethical until the final trap is sprung. I have seen the tactic played to make a sales opportunity look realistic enough to get me to compete only to find in the end that I was just a tool to leverage the incumbant to lower their pricing. The excuse is always realistic when the sale is lost, but it is never aligned with the guidance or coaching provided during the sale. Bennett is the kind of businessman that I would work with, but I would never feel fully comfortable with. I would be looking for coaching from his board of directors, his administrative assistant or disgruntled staff whenever I was dealing directly with him.

I would love to be proven wrong. I don't know the man. I have never dealt with either the man himself or his staff (other than my ticket reps who are GREAT.) These OPINIONS are formed purely on external observation of behaviour. Frankly, if Bennett cared what anyone in Seattle thought he could take steps to improve his public image. I suppose it is hard to ensure a positive image without action in a town where your wife's family doesn't own all the media outlets. Perhaps he is new at this from that perspective.

Here are five steps I think Bennett could take to improve his image in Seattle.

1) MEET with local officials, in person and actually TALK to them.

2) Publicly provide a list of requirements to quantify the term "reasonable" with regard to a new or modified arena.

3) Hold a "town meeting" with fans where he takes responsibility for mistakes made by the ownership team and presents a plan to move forward.

4) Add a prominant local owner to the ownership group.

5) Come to a Storm playoff game and address the crowd. Thank them for standing by the team all season and congratulate Karen Bryant, the players and the coaches for consistently putting top quality professional basketball in this city year after year. Acknowledge Lauren Jackson for the OUTSTANDING performance she has given this year. Finally, promise to bring the same level of passion the player and fans bring to each game to finding a solution that keeps the Storm in Seattle. This of course requires the Storm to WIN Round 1.

I had to spew my thoughts on this, but I promise, I will be back to basketball now that I have that off my chest.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Playoff Passion

video

All of the photos in the above movie are the exclusive property of Getty Images and have been used without permission. The music in the video is the song "Victory" by Lourds Lane which has also been used without permission. Should the owners of the content object to my usage of this material to demonstrate my personal passion about the 2007 WNBA playoffs, I will immediately pull it from the blog.

Monday, August 20, 2007

2007 Storm Season

Season Summary
This was a very difficult season. Things looked good early. Lauren Jackson was healthy and having fun with the game again. Janell Burse was ready to play and had little injury to her shoulder in the off season. Betty and Izi were shooting the ball incredibly well. Wendy Palmer was back to bolster the bench and with rookie shooter Katie Gearlds and dispersal draft pickup Tye'sha Fluker were ready to join veterans Tanisha Wright, Ashley Robinson, Francesca Zara and Barb Turner to offer one of the deepest rotations the Storm had had since 2004.

Problem Number 1: STILL NO BACKUP POINT GUARD. Zara didn't return from Russia with Sue and Lauren leaving Tanisha Wright as the backup point. Word was that T was having a great camp, but she ended up injured before camp was over.

Problem Number 2: A mysterious rift opened between Barb Turner and Coach Donovan when BT did not return from overseas play until the last possible moment, actually skipping her team's championship game to get back before it was too late. Unfortunately, it was already too late and BT was cut after failing to demonstrate that she was an improvement over free agent Shyra Ely who had a strong camp and offered a few inches of height over Turner.

Problem Number 3: Janell Burse developed multiple personality disorder on the court. She started off the season like this

Game 1: 3 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block in 13 minutes
Game 2: 13 points, 19 rebounds, 1 block in 26 minutes
Game 3: 19 points, 11 rebounds in 34 minutes.
Game 4: 8 points, 7 rebounds in 23 minutes.
Game 5: 10 points, 0 rebounds in 29 minutes.
Game 6: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block in 25 minutes.
Game 7: 11 points, 9 rebounds, in 25 minutes.
Game 8: 18 Points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks in 26 minutes.

Her inconsistency really hurt the Storm until she finally decided to sit out the end of the season to have surgery on her injured wrist.

Problem Number 4: Chemistry. Something happened to this team and it was not good. They seemed to be unable to execute on the game plans developed by their coaches, and they were turning the ball over and allowing their already porous perimeter defense to become even more of a problem. Anne Donovan took a lot of heat in the press and on fan sites with people calling for her to quit her GM role or be fired altogether. These feelings degenerated even worse as calls for her removal as Team USA head coach began to emerge as well. The bench seemed incapable of contributing. Coach Donovan relied heavily on Palmer, Wright and Robinson, but the fourth person shifted repeated throughout the season between Katie Gearlds and Shyra Ely.

Problem Number 5: Injuries. Sue Bird had knee surgery right before the All Star break. JB had wrist surgery at the tail end of the season and still has a lingering issue with her shoulder that she declines to address. LJ developed swelling behind one knee and needed to wear a compression sleeve to manage the pain and also suffered a death in the family which took her away from the team for two games. Betty Lennox has struggled through physical pain and emotional turmoil for most of the season. Turner and Fluker were cut, as was ShonaThorburn. Veterans Doneeka Lewis and Astou Ndiaye-Diatta were picked up to close out the season as insurance against injury.

All in all, the season was a major disappointment with the Storm barely making it to .500 and their worst record since Lauren Jackson's 2001 rookie season. They were abused by the best teams in the league, swept by San Antonio, Sacramento, Detroit and Connecticut. Their only wins against the top of the league were two solid wins at home over Western Conference leading Phoenix and one home win against Indiana in a game where their star, Tamika Catchings was out with injury.

The good news is that the team seems to be playing the best basketball of its season as they prepare to face the only playoff team they have proven they can beat in the Phoenix Mercury. Can they finally break back out of the first round after two years of disappointing game three losses?

By the Numbers

Shooting
There is no real surprise that the post players have the best percentages on the team, with the amazing Lauren Jackson leading the pack. Izi and Betty had great seasons, though Izi's numbers were down a bit from last season. It was Betty Lennox and Tanisha who improved over last season adding 2-6% points to their shooting numbers. Sue Bird had her worst year ever, dropping of 10-15 percentage points on her 2006 numbers. Katie Gearlds shot about the same as Barb Turner did last year, but got to the line less lowering her Floor %.

As a team, the Storm took more three point shots than last year...up 7% to 29% of their shots were threes, but they shot about the same. They defended the three worse this year, allowing 37% shooting from beyond the arc to last season's 34%.

PlayerFloor %Eff FG%
Lauren Jackson57%57%
Janell Burse48%44%
Iziane Castro Marques47%51%
Betty Lennox47%48%
Wendy Palmer47%43%
Sue Bird45%51%
Katie Gearlds44%48%
Tanisha Wright42%42%
Shyra Ely39%36%
Doneeka Lewis33%31%
Astou Ndiaye-Diatta32%36%
Shona Thorburn22%50%
Tye'sha Fluker10%0%



Ratings
Here we see bigger differences in player performances from 2006. Lauren Jackson had fantastic numbers this year, leading the league in rebounds, scoring, efficiency and missing the top blocking spot by 2 blocks. She was less efficent than last year however, with her ratings dropping seven points per 100 possessions. Betty Lennox more than made up for that by increasing her ratings by 11 points per 100 possessions. Janell Burse dropped by almost eight points and Izi was up eight points. Katie Gearlds offered a slight boost of 2 points per 100 possessions over Barb Turner from last season. Wendy was an improvement of 7 points per 100 possessions over Tiffany Johnson and Shyra Ely was an offensive improvement over Shaun Gortman.

As a team the Storm averaged almost one more possession per game and were up two and a half points per 100 possessions over last season.

PlayerOffensive RatingIndividual RatingEfficiency Rating
Lauren Jackson126.69111.7629.58
Iziane Castro Marques109.2096.6912.00
Sue Bird103.6493.2011.31
Betty Lennox104.2591.0414.03
Katie Gearlds106.3389.774.36
Janell Burse96.8578.6811.76
Wendy Palmer97.6678.458.09
Tanisha Wright89.7877.825.09
Shyra Ely83.0367.52.48
Doneeka Lewis71.0661.951.00
Ashley Robinson72.4749.815.03
Astou Ndiaye-Diatta64.4044.932.50
Shona Thorburn44.7342.050.00
Tye'sha Fluker18.497.20-0.11


Plus/Minus

No surprise that LJ is the top of the pack, she happens to head the league as well in this area based on pd_swanson's season numbers. Right behind her is Izi who made such a huge leap forward offensively without giving up her defensive strengths. She took more shots than last year but didn't lose a step on her efficiency. The starters were fantastic this year as Sue and Betty posted greater than 100 net plus/minus as well. All five of the starters for the playoffs post a positve Net plus/minus for the season.

PlayerNetNet40Net per Game
Lauren Jackson+322+12.63+10.39
Iziane Castro Marques+281+11.67+8.26
Sue Bird+234+10.18+8.07
Betty Lennox+117+4.99+3.44
Ashley Robinson+3+0.29+0.09
Doneeka Lewis-19-23.03-3.17
Shona Thorburn-24-120.00-12.00
Tye'sha Fluker-56-72.26-6.22
Astou Ndiaye-Diatta-81-55.86-20.25
Wendy Palmer-107-9.03-3.15
Janell Burse-108-6.09-3.72
Shyra Ely-152-21.56-5.24
Tanisha Wright-167-12.21-4.91
Katie Gearlds-197-18.03-5.97

Top 10 Most Effective Lineups

I said at the start of the season that Ashley Robinson in the starting lineup was my favorite lineup and it proves out to be the most effective one as well. All of this bodes well for the playoffs.

LineupPlus/Minus
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Robinson+91
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse+64
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Palmer+35
Wright-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Palmer+15
Wright-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Robinson+11
Bird-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Robinson+11
Bird-Lennox-Gearlds-Jackson-Robinson+11
Bird-Wright-Gearlds-Jackson-Palmer+10
Bird-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Burse+10
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Palmer+9

Top 10 Most Used Lineups

LineupPlus/Minus
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse+64
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse-10
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Robinson+91
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Palmer+35
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Palmer-Burse-7
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Robinson-11
Bird-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Burse+10
Bird-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Palmer+8
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Palmer-Robinson+4
Bird-Lennox-Ely-Jackson-Burse+6

Most Effective Player Pairs

Castro/Jackson: +260
Bird/Jackson: +216
Lennox/Jackson: +198
Bird/Castro: +196
Lennox/Castro: +168
Bird/Lennox: +160
Jackson/Robinson: +120
Bird/Robinson: +80
Castro/Robinson: +77
Jackson/Palmer: +73

Saturday, August 18, 2007

8-17 Storm vs. Sparks

That was the most fun I have had at a game in a long time. It was like the OLD Key Arena crowd from two years ago and beyond was in attendance. It was also like the Storm of OLD were back on the court.

Have I mentioned that I LOVE Ashley in the starting lineup? Wait until you see the year's numbers tomorrow...

Tanisha had a very nice game as well.

Most Effective Shooters

PlayerFloor %Eff FG%
Wendy Palmer100%100%
Astou Ndiaye-Diatta100%100%
Lauren Jackson69%61%

Best Ratings
PlayerOffensive RatingIndividual Rating
Wendy Palmer215.43202.88
Astou Ndiaye-Diatta200.00181.08
Lauren Jackson163.11144.36




Best Plus/Minus
Iziane Castro Marques: +28
Ashley Robinson: +26
Lauren Jackson: +21
Sue Bird: +18
Tanisha Wright: +14

Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Robinson: +12
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Robinson: +11

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Best Rookies Ever?

After the 2006 Rookie of the Year race and the simply phoenomal performance by the top two candidates, this year has been rather ho hum. Sure Lindsey Harding had a chance to nab the Lynx its third ROY and the second in a row, but frankly, she just wasn't that exciting. I know Marta Fernandez was playing fine basketball down in LA, but the woman is 25 years old, with a bevy of international experience under her belt. At least when Lauren Jackson was competing for the award with international experience under her belt she was younger than all the other rookies in contention.

All this pontification led me to think about how good those two rookie women were last year, and to wonder if they might have been the best ever. I learned quite a few things in running the numbers, including a couple of surprises. Unfortunately I was unable to run the numbers for the inaugural winner of the ROY, Tracy Reid who won while playing with the Charlotte Sting. When the franchise folded this year the league pulled all of the team statistics prior to 2006 off the web.

NOTE: THANKS TO pd_swanson THE DATA BELOW HAS BEEN UPDATED TO INCLUDE TRACY REID'S 1998 ROOKIE DATA.

Surprise Number 1

Cappie Pondexter was ROBBED!

No offense meant to Seimone Augustus, she is the second best player to ever be awarded the Rookie of the Year honor, she just wasn't the best rookie last season, not even close.
AugustusPondexter
Floor %50%53%
Eff FG%48%49%
Off. Rtg.107.27117.24
Indiv. Rating93.14100.88

She scored more points (120 more), had more rebounds (21 more) and had more blocks (14 more) than Cappie, but Cappie led in assists (48 more), steals (16 more) and had less turnovers (26 less). To top it off, Augustus was the number one option for the Lynx, but Cappie shared the spotlight with scoring leader Taurasi and Penny Taylor.

Surpise Number 2

The only other tightly contested race I could remember was the 2001 race between Jackie Stiles and Lauren Jackson. Stiles won and my numbers back up that decision. I had always believed that LJ was robbed, but Stiles led Lauren in eFG%, offensive rating and individual rating. In fact, LJ isn't even the best Storm player to ever be in the ROY race. Betty Lennox was a better overall rookie in 2000 than LJ was in 2001. Of course, LJ won the league MVP in 2003 when most players her age would have been juniors in college, but that is a different argument entirely.

So Who Were The Best Rookies Ever?

Tamika Catchings was the best all around rookie when she won the award in 2002. She was actually drafted in 2001, but an injury held her out for the full 2001 season and she dominated the 2002 race.

PlayerFloor %Eff FG%Off. RtgIndiv. Rtg.
Tamika Catchings51%51%116.99101.23
Cappie Pondexter53%49%117.24100.88
Seimone Augustus50%48%107.2793.14
Temeka Johnson47%48%100.1291.40
Diana Taurasi46%48%103.0091.22
Jackie Stiles45%47%101.6689.36
Betty Lennox45%49%99.7587.24
Tracy Reid51%49%100.6485.69
Lauren Jackson46%42%100.8582.06
Chamique Holdsclaw46%44%94.8681.38
Cheryl Ford49%47%97.8280.36

From an individual perspective, Cheryl Ford is by far the best rebounder the league has ever seen, and she was the best rebounding rookie ever as well. Lauren Jackson is the best shot blocker of the rookies while no one comes close to Tamika Catchings when it comes to steals. Temeka Johnson was the best passer and Seimone Augustus was far and away the best scorer of the bunch. The recent retiree, Chamique Holdsclaw holds the dubious honor of the most turnovers among ROY winners.

One interesting point, is that with the exception of Tamika Catchings, a truly rare all around player, the ROY's have been getting steadily better over the years. This year, like 2003, is likely to show a drop due to the shocking leap forward by players in the year that preceded it. Only time will tell if the climb continues in future years.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

8-14 Storm vs. Lynx

Note to Ashley Robinson:
If you are going to try and show up your internet naysayers (myself included with those at stormfans.org and Rebkell) by coming out with an offensive barrage in every game, then we will keep picking on your one area of "development." Wow. You had the Lynx in a panic to start the game. You looked like you might set a career high in the first half. Keep up the rebounding and defense and we'll take those points, too.

It is a win and one game closer to .500 basketball. I should just leave it at that. I simply can't. There was too much wrong about last night to just let it sit around unsaid. The Lynx are not a bad team, but they aren't that good either, not without their starting point guard and despite how amazing Seimone Augustus may be (more on that later). I realize that the Storm are already in the playoffs and these last games are meaningless. I realize that LJ is emotionally and physically exhausted. None of that excuses 20 turnovers. You can't blame the bench, ladies...they had just 2 (of course they barely played, but that is a different gripe). Betty and LJ had some seriously sloppy play and accounted for half the miscues. That is unacceptable. Sue and Izi were the other half, but most of those (subjectively) were under intense defensive pressure. It is also about WHEN the turnovers occurred. Leads were surrendered in seconds and potential momentum to break the game open was lost in single broken plays. It seemed to me that half of Betty and LJ's TOV's were just due to lack of focus and sloppy play. Phoenix, San Antonio and Sacramento will EAT YOU ALIVE with play like that in the post season.

An otherwise solid first half fell apart in the final 2:48 with a -9 run including two turnovers by Lauren Jackson (creating 5 points by Augustus) which left a solid 12 point lead at only 3. In the third quarter the Storm repeatedly turned the ball over...mostly LJ who bookended a Betty layup with her other two turnovers. The Storm were saved in the fourth quarter by solid defense and solid free throw shooting, as well as Wendy Palmer's play off the bench.

It was still a win, but we need better next week.

On the personal side of things, my ticket rep, Katie Dahl, stopped by to say hi and share birthday greetings for my older son (who was not in attendance). She told me she got my email to her (and to Karen Bryant) about my disappointment in the recent quotes by Aubrey McClendon, but had little to say on the topic. I renewed by season tickets because of the guarantee (as pointed out by a reader of this blog) but I am still feeling abused by the ownership of these teams. I won't likely even make most of the games next summer (if they happen here) since I will be out of town while my house is under construction. Ah, well, I am sucker for the Storm.

Most Effective Shooters

PlayerFloor %Eff FG%
Wendy Palmer61%69%
Iziane Castro Marques51%63%
Betty Lennox47%71%



Best Ratings

PlayerOff RatingIndiv. Rating
Wendy Palmer130.77119.36
Iziane Castro Marques119.85111.56
Betty Lennox102.7698.63



Best Plus/Minus
I whined about the all negative numbers in the Shock game, so I will praise the all positive numbers from last night. Every player who played in the game was at least a +7 for the night.


Ashley Robinson: +11
Iziane Castro Marques: +11
Lauren Jackson: +9
Katie Gearlds: +9
Betty Lennox: +8
Wendy Palmer: +8
Sue Bird: +7
Tanisha Wright: +7

Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Palmer: +6
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Robinson: +6
Bird-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Robinson: +4

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

8-11 Storm vs. Mystics

Ah.

This was a welcome relief after the previous road trip. LJ comes back and the whole team picks itself up. Let's just hope it is a sign of things to come.

Poor LJ, she looked like she was going to vomit everytime she stood at the free throw line in the first half. Betty was VINTAGE B-Money. Sue played like she did her first year with the team, fearless.

I really like the look of Ashley in the starting lineup. For the season Jackson/Robinson is +87 and Jackson/Burse is only +41. Bird/Robinson is +55 while Bird/Burse is only +11. Lennox/Robinson is +53 while Lennox/Burse is only +13. Only Izi has solid numbers with both (Burse: +45, Robinson: +43). The whole starting lineup with Ashley is +83 while it is only +64 with Burse, and that is ALL defense folks. 19 points better defensively matters a lot to a team that lost a slew of close games this year.

When JB is healthy she is a good defender/rebounder and a far superior scorer than Ashley. Unfortunately I don't think JB has been healthy for the past two seasons.

Most Effective Shooters

PlayerFloor %Eff FG%
Tanisha Wright100%0%
Betty Lennox73%67%
Katie Gearlds58%71%
Sue Bird55%77%
Lauren Jackson50%45%

Best Ratings

PlayerOff RatingIndiv. Rating
Tanisha Wright225.0200.0
Betty Lennox151.54139.51
Katie Gearlds145.32133.77
Doneeka Lewis139.40128.15
Sue Bird131.40128.04
Lauren Jackson117.48101.95

Best Plus/Minus
Sue Bird: +34
Lauren Jackson: +33
Ashley Robinson: +27
Iziane Castro Marques: +27
Betty Lennox: +20


Most Effective Lineup
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Robinson: +34

How important is the bench? Well the starters dominated this game, but notice that Wright and Lewis show up in the ratings area...Tanisha played 17 minutes without taking a shot but had two rebounds, two assists and NO turnovers, while Doneeka played 5 minutes with 1-2 shooting, 2 assists, 2 points and NO turnovers. The Storm did not lose ground when the backcourt was resting and I absolutely LOVED that AD ran every play at the end of the game for Katie Gearlds. She was the only scorer out there and they ran the offense off of her.

Tonight is another chance to push towards .500 and repay a team that beat the Storm when they were down.

8-9 Storm vs. Shock

I had this one marked as a loss with or without LJ and JB, but I think they could have won this won with them if Detroit played as poorly and Seattle played as well as they did. They looked horrible but I started to have hope that LJ's return and the extra minutes the bench saw in these two blowouts would make a difference. It also proves Izi's value and the reason she is my POW for last week. Without LJ Izi continued to lead the team offensively.

Most Effective Shooters


PlayerFloor %Eff FG%
Iziane Castro Marques63%70%
Shyra Ely55%0%
Katie Gearlds45%36%

Best Ratings

PlayerOff RatingIndiv. Rating
Iziane Castro Marques148.43132.19
Shyra Ely138.69106.38
Katie Gearlds112.9784.26


Best Plus/Minus
Not one player had a positive +/- value. The best of the worst was...

Doneeka Lewis: -2 in her less than 3 minutes of PT.

Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Lennox-Gearlds-Ndiaye-Palmer: +3
Wright-Gearlds-Castro-Ely-Ndiaye: +3

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Web Catches a Lie

My son's birthday party was yesterday and I haven't done any basketball stuff for a few days.

Today I get back on line to discover the following from Storm minority owner, Aubrey McClendon in the Oklahoma newspaper The Journal Record ...

“But we didn’t buy the team to keep it in Seattle; we hoped to come here,” he said. “We know it’s a little more difficult financially here in Oklahoma City, but we think it’s great for the community and if we could break even we’d be thrilled.”

Shortly afterword the story was on the front page of ESPN and all of our local papers. Then I find the following response from Clay Bennett and McClendon over at The Tacoma News Tribune in their Sonics blog...

Clay Bennett
“As the controlling owner, I admire my fellow owners and appreciate their support. While they are excited about the basketball operations and the future of the team on the court, they, like me, have been disheartened by the lack of progress we have made to secure a new arena for the Sonics and Storm.


"Aubrey expressed his personal thoughts and, in context of the story, was not speaking on behalf of the ownership group. It is my hope we will see a breakthrough in the next 60 days that will result in securing a new arena for the Sonics and Storm in the Greater Seattle area.”


Aubrey McClendon
“I support our efforts to secure a new arena for the Sonics and Storm in the Greater Seattle area. Clay is the one who speaks for the ownership group. Today's interview in the Oklahoma City-based business newspaper, Journal Record, simply reflects what has been my personal desire concerning NBA basketball in Oklahoma City. It has always been my hope that Oklahoma City would have an NBA team someday.


"That said, I was always aware and understood our number one goal was to work with officials to build a new arena in the Seattle area. I have supported Clay and the ownership group to use our good faith best efforts to secure a new arena and keep the teams in Seattle. I admire Clay's tireless efforts and his persistence to get an arena and keep the teams in Seattle. "I support him completely. The comment about my personal hopes cannot in any way be interpreted to mean the organization has not exhaustively pursued every reasonable avenue to get an arena deal done and keep the Sonics and Storm in Seattle. However, as Clay has consistently stated, a solution to the arena issue must be found by October 31.”

I am really ticked over the whole thing. Frankly I feel lied to and cheated by the whole organization. They are making a big season ticket renewal push right now and it is all leaving a big nasty taste in my mouth.

I renewed my Sonics season tickets (after planning not to do so) when they drafted Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, but felt like a fool when Bennett came out and said he didn't think anything new or worthwhile had come up worth talking about in terms of the teams staying in Seattle.

I feel like an idiot being played by an ownership group who thinks Seattle fans are easy targets...as PT Barnum is perhaps incorrectly quoted, "There's a sucker born every minute...and two to take 'em."

I don't like being made a fool of. I remember the Seattle Reign folding. I don't think the organization legally is required to refund Seat Licenses for events moved to Oklahoma City. Why should I subsidize someone else's seat in Oklahoma? If they get my money and move the team they can sell the first season's seats at 1/2 price and walk away with a profitable season of WNBA basketball in season one!

I want to support the players and coaches, but I am becoming a seriously disillusioned and disatisfied supporter of the ownership and their management team.

Friday, August 10, 2007

8-7 Storm vs. Lynx

This game was ripe for a loss. With the starting frontcourt decimated due to the missing Jackson and Burse from the rotation, there was a gaping hole ready to be exploited.

I must say that the complete blowout by one of the league's worst statistical teams was, however, unexpected.

Most Effective Shooters


PlayerFloor %Eff FG%
Iziane Castro Marques68%58%
Doneeka Lewis67%50%
Tanisha Wright58%40%



Best Ratings

PlayerOff RatingIndiv. Rating
Iziane Castro Marques163.97134.97
Doneeka Lewis142.66122.29
Tanisha Wright124.1394.38
Betty Lennox119.5396.93


Best Plus/Minus
Doneeka Lewis: +2
Katie Gearlds: +1


Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Lewis-Gearlds-Ndiaye-Robinson: +5
Bird-Wright-Castro-Ndiaye-Robinson: +4
Bird-Lennox--Lewis-Gearlds-Robinson: +3

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Storm Sign New Post Player

With the starting frontcourt out for the week and Janell Burse gone for the season as of August 14th, the Storm GM has brought on another post after waving dispersal draft pick, Tye'sha Fluker (now playing with the Sparks), earlier this year.

Astou Ndiaye-Diatta was a solid player for the Detroit Shock, but that was six years ago. She averaged 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in 2000 as well as 11.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in 2001. While she continued to start in 2002, her production decreased to 8.6 points and 5.1 rebounds. Since that time she has played no more than 11 games a season, being cut by Detroit in 2003, Indiana in 2004, going unsigned in 2005 and being cut by Houston in 2006. In 11 minutes per game in 2006 she averaged 3.2 points and 2.7 rebounds.

She will likely see minutes due to the lack of post depth in the next two games, being asked only to rebound, defend and set screens on a couple of offensive sets. If she can do that, it should be enough to get Wendy, Ashley and Shyra some rest until LJ returns on Saturday.

Monday, August 06, 2007

8-4 Storm vs. Mercury

BOY, did we all need this game. Stormfans were having the biggest mass whining forum I have witnessed in the past four years, the players need some momentum heading into the playoffs, and the team needs some more wins to guarantee a playoff spot.

Fast, furious and fantastic action all night long. I could watch these two teams play every night.

LJ and Diana Taurasi are fierce competitors. They are good friends but they play like mortal enemies on the court. At one point Taurasi hit LJ to stop her from getting a layup in transition and threw LJ to the floor. Diana then said something and LJ got up, turned around and was in hysterics. She turned around gave Diana a foul just as hard in the second half. Great to see, good, hard fouls that are taken in context of the game.

The Storm were shooting like every shot was an uncontested layup. Records were being tied or broken every few minutes (or so it felt.) The players looked like they were having a blast.

Coach Donovan FINALLY listened to my advice and played Katie Gearlds at the two but the team went -2 overall with Katie as the two guard. Katie, however was fantastic.

The team could not stop Phoenix from making a push, but the early cushion allowed them to hold on as shots continued to fall and just enough defense was played. This was how the 2004 season went as a whole, solid offense with just enough defense. This year they have had just enough offense and not very much defense.

Let's hope they can pick up some momentum. They have five games left, four of them are against teams the Storm SHOULD beat. They have Minnesota twice, LA, Washington and Detroit ahead of them.

Most Effective Shooters

PlayerFloor %Eff FG%
Katie Gearlds79%108%
Lauren Jackson69%72%
Tanisha Wright61%50%
Betty Lennox59%56%
Sue Bird56%58%
Shyra Ely53%0%

Best Ratings

PlayerOff RatingIndiv. Rating
Katie Gearlds201.04212.93
Lauren Jackson155.32142.06
Sue Bird132.61120.61
Betty Lennox130.99120.99
Iziane Castro Marques119.01113.68
Shyra Ely106.0284.03

Best Plus/Minus
Betty Lennox: +20
Lauren Jackson: +16
Iziane Castro Marques: +15

Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +9
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Palmer: +8
Bird-Lennox-Gearlds-Jackson-Robinson: +5

8-3 Storm vs. Monarchs

This was NOT a repeat of the previous game though the end result was the same. Two turnovers in the last 2 and a half minutes of the game killed the Storm. They built a big league in the first 15 minutes and managed to hold on to most of it the remainder of the game despite losing Lauren Jackson for the rest of the game. They gave up small runs to the Monarchs but always got some back with small runs of their own to maintain a lead of 5 points when they finally sat Sue Bird for a rest at the 7:55 mark of the fourth quarter. Back to back turnovers (Lennox and then Castro Marques) gave the Monarchs a 4 point run over the next two minutes, tying the game. It remained tied until three consecutive turnovers (Lennox, Bird and then Castro Marques) turned into six Monarch points.

Turnovers at the wrong moments cost the Storm this game, though their solid offensive performance with LJ in the lineup hints that the result might have been different had she been available for the whole game.

We saw more minutes from Katie Gearlds than we have for a while, (Donovan is using Ely or Gearlds based on matchups and game time needs) but all at the three not at the two where I think she will help.

Turnover Story...

Lennox: 6
Wright: 6
Castro Marques: 3

Most Effective Shooters

PlayerFloor %Eff FG%
Wendy Palmer83%75%
Iziane Castro Marques55%69%
Katie Gearlds55%50%
Sue Bird50%50%

Best Ratings

PlayerOff RatingIndiv. Rating
Wendy Palmer177.84154.33
Katie Gearlds152.43123.09
Lauren Jackson120.88110.81
Iziane Castro Marques120.79113.41

Best Plus/Minus
Lauren Jackson: +9
Katie Gearlds: +3

Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +5
Bird-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +4

Thursday, August 02, 2007

7/31 Storm vs. Monarchs

Another strong start that simply fell apart. The Storm fell apart at 2:46 mark of the first quarter giving up their 7 point lead in a matter of seconds. Nicole Powell hit a three and a layup and Lawson and Haynie hit threes in that span. The Monarchs run came immediately after Jenny Boucek went to her bench bringing in Lawson, Haynie and Robinson for Penicheiro, Newton and Brunson. The Monarchs took control in the third quarter preventing Seattle from scoring for the first three and a half minutes leaving the Key Arena crowd standing for around 10 minutes waiting for the first basket of the half. The Storm made a big push in the fourth quarter and surged back, but could not pull it together, they simply ran out of time after wasting half of the third quarter. They seem unable to lock down defense while they have a lead and take FAR too long to recover their offense when they are aggressively disrupted as they were in the start of the third quarter.

Lauren Jackson continues to play at a superhuman level despite being over played and injured. Sue Bird appears to be returning to form on the offensive end of the floor. Ashley Robinson is underused with her length, size and athleticism. She is the best post defender and rebounder outside of Lauren Jackson. With Janell Burse sidelined for wrist surgery Ashley should have more time on the floor to prove her value.

I also think we need to see more of Katie Gearlds at the 2 guard spot to make use of her length. Instead of leaving Tanisha in the lineup when Bird comes back we need to see Katie move to the shooting guard even if that means Izi has to return or bring Ely into the lineup.

Most Effective Shooters

PlayerFloor %Eff FG%
Lauren Jackson67%59%
Janell Burse64%71%
Sue Bird41%40%



Best Ratings

PlayerOff RatingIndiv. Rating
Lauren Jackson138.01128.06
Janell Burse132.73122.46
Sue Bird101.0196.28

Best Plus/Minus
Sue Bird: +5
Lauren Jackson: +2

Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +9
Bird-Lennox-Gearlds-Jackson-Robinson: +2