|Name||Floor %||eFG %||TS %||Points||+/-|
|Name||Floor %||eFG %||TS %||Points||+/-|
So, these were the keys to the game I indicated yesterday morning...
- Transition Defense: Don't let Atlanta get out on the break for layups. Sue Bird excels at transition defense, but all 5 players on the court will need to focus on getting back. Their half court offense is decent, but can be controlled by Seattle's post players and and the trio of Cash, Wright and Abrosimova.
- Rebounding: Fight for position, box out and make sure that Atlanta does not get a huge edge on the boards. If they rebound they will get their running game going, and their posts are too strong to allow second and third chances on offense.
- Perimeter Play: Seattle struggled against Chicago because their perimeter shooting dried up and Chicago has excellent post defenders. They will need Bird, Wright and Abrosimova on target with Cash, Little and Jackson ready to hit open threes
I think the Storm did pretty well on all three. Atlanta was limited to 6 fast break points. The Storm out rebounded the Dream 35 to 27 grabbing 36% of their available offensive rebounds while holding Atlanta to only 33%. Seattle got 7 three pointers on the evening (including FIVE from LJ) and saw decent scoring from Bird and Abrosimova to free up Cash, Little and LJ down low.
The game started off pretty sloppy by both teams with nine turnover in the first five minutes of play. Both teams were very aggressive defensively and neither seemed to be able to keep their hands on the ball. Eventually, however the Storm settled down somewhat and were able to execute their offense.
Essentially what I saw was a demonstration of what the key differences between Seattle and Atlanta are for the season.
Atlanta is a scrappy, opportunistic defensive team which will score most of its points off the other team's mistakes. This will serve them well at the start of the season when the majority of other teams are still getting things together offensively and adjusting to new personnel. The Storm are a veteran team with a solid core that knows exactly what they want to do and excel when they are patient enough to wait for that opportunity. I expect to see Atlanta struggle later in the season while Seattle will continue to fare about the same. They will lose more of the close games than they have so far, but in general they while they will get better as the season progresses, other teams will make bigger leaps forward. Seattle can tighten up offensively and defensively, but their greatest area for improvement will be strengthening the play of the bench. Already Willingham and Abrosimova are settling in, but to be successful, Robinson, Vesela, Bishop and Lacey will need to work themselves into the rotation and grow comfortable in their assigned roles.
Lauren Jackson is playing the game in top form. She is playing some of the best defense I have seen from her. Her hands are active, her positioning is solid and her rotations are near perfect. Offensively she will have nights where she shoots so well she barely has to work...other nights she will have to fight tooth and nail to score in the paint. I never worry about LJ offensively...she finds a way to make it happen. Seeing her play defense like this, however, is just thrilling. The Storm is virtually unstoppable when LJ anchors their defense the way she has been this season. When the rest of the defensive rotations tighten up, more teams will shoot like Atlanta did last night. One of my favorite moments of the game came when LJ was on the perimeter and a defender jumped out at her. LJ used her off arm to protect the ball but the defender just sort of flew by her with it looking like LJ flung her off. LJ looked to the referee to see if they were going to call a foul...paused, thought about tying her shoe, then decided to shoot the open three seeing as no help defense came to cover her while her defender tried to get back on her feet. She did retie her shoe at the other end of the floor after acknowledging her team's laughter at the sheer absurdity of the situation.
Svetlana Abrosimova really looks like the best acquisition of the season by Coach Agler. She is settling in at both ends with regards to the system, and still bringing the extra oomph she has always had as a player. She seems to have a natural instinct for knowing when something needs to happen and then making it happen. It can't be taught, but it is precisely the kind of edge the Storm have needed in the past but just not had. Sheri Sam filled that role back in 2004, but I think Abrosimova is more well rounded as a player and has been more effective in that role than Sam was that year.
On a side note, Scott from Stormfans.org swung by and dropped off bullhorns in our section last night. We had a nice little core of six or so people yelling "BRICK!" during Dream free throws in the second half. We struggled a bit with the timing, but actually might have had impact of some small sort on 1 or 2 misses. They felt perfectly timed, the shot was missed and the shooter looked rather annoyed.
I decided that it was just too complicated to travel to LA this weekend. Saturday is my wife's busiest day of SIFF after opening night, she is working a 14+ hour shift. I will have to make do with watching NBATV in HD.
I am so glad that I decided to return to my seats and not cover the team "officially" this season. I am truly enjoying the fan experience this year, and I have been able to not only get caught up on last season's numbers but also to make some advancement in my spreadsheets to make my analysis less time consuming. If I am able to capture some of that and use it for my NCAA analysis I might be able to keep up my column next year.