Saturday, May 24, 2008

Storm @ Silver Stars Preview

Today is a bigger game for Seattle than in should be. It is the second game of the first road trip of the year. Normally, a loss here is not such a big deal. This year and this trip are different. The Storm are 3-0 for the first time in franchise history. They have a chance to push for a long win streak and set a difficult to beat new franchise record. The Storm are hard to beat at home, and they could go as far as 6-0 to start the season. They can also build up some early season insurance given that they will miss their MVP for five games in July. Every game they steal now while teams are warming up provides a more solid cushion for the difficult stretch before the Olympics. Everyone in the league is watching the Storm right now. LA is the favored team in the west, but while they have been sitting idle the Storm have quietly won game after game.

Confidence is an intangible that should not be underestimated. I think back to a few years ago when a rag tag group of Sonics players and coaches in contract years stunned the NBA by getting off to such a blistering start that even when they crumbled at the end of the season with injuries, they still won 52 games. The Storm have never won more than 20 games in a season, and have only hit that 20 mark twice, 2004 and 2005. Winning creates a mental environment where players start to believe that they can win, to expect that they should win, and then they play to win. This team has come back three times now from games they should have lost. They are focused on winning the next games earlier. That is the type of attitude this team has lacked for a few years.

Winning their first road trip and defeating three of the big names in the Western Conference to start the season on top of setting a new franchise record can really set a tone for these players in this season.


  • Get LJ going early with post ups and Yo in position to rebound.
  • Move LJ to the high block to clear the paint and let Swin and Sheryl post up VJ and Helen Darling. It is not really Sue's game, but she can post up Becky as well. There won't be a lot of double teams if San Antonio is forced to respect the Storm's starters.
  • People say the Storm are old, but San Antonio's starters are no spring chickens either. Run VJ and Darling off screens and hit them with midrange jumpers from Swin and Swoopes.
  • Let Sue show Becky that Coach Agler wants to push her game to the next level, too.
  • San Antonio is only playing eight players right now, so the Storm can't be afraid to continue the fresh substitutions with Gearlds, Wright, Beck and Ely to keep pressing the offense for 48 minutes.
I am not sure whether Coach Hughes is still implementing Agler's offense in San Antonio, but if he is, the Storm should be able to read it fairly well, though the reverse could also be true.
  • Sophia Young is starting off the season well, likely benefitting from the extra attention teams are playing to 2007 MVP runner up Becky Hammon. Young did well against both the Monarchs and the Mercury who offer very different post defenses. Of the three, I think the Storm has the strongest post defense with Yo, LJ, A-Rob and Ely or Cash. I don't think the Storm should focus on Young, but rather make her work for her points.
  • The difference between the Silver Stars win versus Phoenix and their loss in Sacramento was containment of Hammon, Darling, Buescher and Riley. As the Storm know from previous years, Young can't win every game on her own. In Sacramento, Darling was 0-8, Riley was 2-6 and Hammon was 4-19, with very few trips to the free throw line for any of them. Buescher was 5-5 from the line but 3-9 from the field. In the Phoenix game, Riley was 5-7, Darling was 2-4 from three point range, Buescher was 5-10 and Hammon got to the line 10 times. Keep Hammon out of the paint, and force tough shots on the rest from the start of the game.
  • The Storm should match up well and switch easily against the Silver Stars perimeter players, the key is to prevent them from gaining early confidence in their shots. Riley likes to shoot from the high post, so Yo will need to be ready to step out, which will weaken her ability to rebound.
  • Erin Buescher had 6 offensive boards in Sacramento, but they are not a great offensive rebounding team, so the Storm need to rebound on defense and move the ball up the court.

I am hoping that Tanisha will be able to build off a strong showing in Phoenix and her great play in San Antonio last year to have another solid game. I also hope to see a little more Kimberly Beck today. Outside of Buescher, San Antonio has no bench and the Storm can blow the game wide open with solid play from their bench today.

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