Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Congrats to Jenny Boucek!!!

The Sacramento Monarchs, their front office and ownership have bucked WNBA trends time and again. They hired John Whisenant for reasons no one could discern at the time and the man led them to several Western Conference finals, a pair of Western Conference Championships and a WNBA championship. They have focused on defense as a team under Whisenant when the rest of the league was trying to increase scoring, pace and improve the offense. Whisenant and his defense are gone now, and the team needs a new coach.

These days it seems vogue to hire mediocre, former NBA players to come in and embarass themselves, like Dave Cowens did in Chicago, or perhaps how Mugsy Bogues is doing in Charlotte.

The Monarchs have bucked the trend again and are apparently ready to announce a former WNBA player and WNBA assistant coach as their new Head Coach. We know her and love her as the assistant coach Jenny Boucek, who was part of the 2004 Storm's championship coaching staff. Jenny we wish you the best of luck this coming season, and look forward to defeating your new team in the Western Conference finals this year!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fumbling Towards Cognizance

I am not quite sure what happened. Perhaps it was the depressing start to the Sonics 2005-2006 season. Perhaps the death of my mother or the sale of my teams to an out of town ownership group. Possibly it was influenced by a really boring WNBA ASG and the second first round playoff collapse by the Storm. Perhaps it was the news that I had skin cancer. Likely it was some bizarre chemical/intellectual/spiritual combination of all these things. Somehow I fell into a mental funk from which I could not dig myself out. I simply could not find the motivation or the interest in crunching numbers or researching and writing about basketball.

I may be working myself out of the funk now, however. I am writing for a Sonics blogging site, and have rediscovered a little of the passion I have for writing about basketball. I will pick up working on my individual and lineup +/- numbers for the 2006 Storm season. It will take a while since there are some big discrepancies between my numbers and those provided by the Lynx organization, so I am double checking discrepancies game by game. Some were typos on my part in my spreadsheet, others were different ways of crediting free throws to lineups. I always credit the player on the floor when the foul occurs not when the free throw is taken.

In the mean time, Storm season ticket renewals went out and I plan to double my ticket purchase this year from two seats to four seats as part of my commitment to showing the ownership that I want these teams to stay here in Seattle. Sign up for season tickets now if you haven't already done so, you will get to pick your seats in January (I believe) if you order your tickets now, so get on it and show your support for the WNBA, for the Storm and for keeping YOUR teams in YOUR region.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Gone and Forgotten

Sigh. Been gone a while. May not be consistent for a while.

A little basal cell carcinoma will do that to you.

I'm fine...a few stitches, a little blood, some annoying pain and a cancelled dive out at Edmonds later, and I am currently cancer free. However, I am still 2 weeks behind at work...and have yet to finish the Storms 2006 +/-, but I am still watching.

Game 1 of the finals stunk. Game 2 was good stuff. Loved to see Detroit find itself and play some ball. Now I am ready for the finals to begin.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Back in Business, but Out of the Office

I finally got my data back. In fact I got all of it back, to the tune of costing $3,600. Sigh. It is even loaded on my new hard drive.

Unfortunately, I am heading out to the mountains of Colorado tomorrow for my brother-in-law's wedding (fortunately he is getting married and it will be an awesome party) and have no idea if I will have access to the net or the TV. I won't be back until next Tuesday, so I will likely miss posting during the entire first round of the playoffs. I will be working on the season wrap up from a numbers stand point and if I can post will try and get some Sparks v. Storm analysis up before Friday. Otherwise I will just have to post the round 2 matchup analysis for whoever the Storm face after they humiliate LA this weekend.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Letter to the Editor

It is not like I am blowing my cover here. Internet screen names range the gamut, but mine is pretty simple...I go by first initial last name pretty much everywhere. I started on message boards when I was in middle school (ok I'm a geek, but hey geeks are kinda cool now) and I have had that handle since then...why go all MI6 and all?

I wrote a letter to the editor of the Seattle Times. It was way too long, about 3x the 200 word maximum, and I neglected to include the required information like home address to prove that I wasn't just a spammer of LOE's.

Fortunately, someone decided that what I had to say was worth the time to do a little editing, and, frankly, they did a dang fine job. While they may have cut the "heart" out by eliminating the story about the young girl, they got right to the point in the allotted number of words by cutting the extraneous. You have to love a good editor. I might actually be able to be a writer (a long gurgitating dream of mine) if I had a good editor roaming around in my mind. I can edit others work just fine, but I am too tied to my own brain to touch my own work. My brain just does rewrites, which is simply not the same as a good edit.

Since I have digressed once more...I will get back to the point and drop the full text of my letter to the times for your perusal, with the polite but urgent request that more people take the opportunity to express yourself to the publication of choice in your locality regarding this issue. It is important for all our voices to be heard...take advantage of the open invitation from these respected publications. I guess I should subscribe to the Times again...I keep killing my subscription because of the massive amount of paper production...which part of my ethos do I listen to on this issue?

I am disappointed in the earlier comments on the cultural value of basketball in Seattle made by Seattle City Council president Nick Licata. His follow-up "apology" and subsequent interviews on radio have only led to further disappointment. It is a shame that a person who has "maybe" been to one basketball game believes that he has enough information to make informed decisions regarding the value that professional basketball brings to our community.

I am a season ticket holder to the Seattle Sonics and to the Seattle Storm. I have seen first hand how energized the community is when the teams are winning. I was at the playoffs when the Sonics took the Spurs to a game six two years ago. I was at the WNBA finals when the Storm won the first professional sports championship this city has seen since the Sonics won the NBA title in the 1970's. Basketball is the only sport to bring a title to this city, and it has done it twice, once with each team.

The real impact was crystalized for me at a recent home loss the Storm suffered at the hands of the LA Sparks. An eleven or twelve year old girl was sitting next to me at this particular game. She didn't seem to know much about basketball, as she asked me a number of questions. Despite this lack of information, she was completely enthralled by the spectacle in front of her. She cheered and screamed in joy when the Storm were making a push, she was dejected when the Sparks pushed back. As the Storm brought the game to the final seconds with a chance to tie, she was so excited that she could barely contain herself. She was jumping up and down in place, hands clenched to her chest and teeth clenched…finally screaming, "This is the BEST!" This girl may never play basketball at any level. The game, however, gave her the opportunity to see grown women, professionals, doing something they love and being adored for it. The joy the moment gave her was sweet, but realizing the spark of an idea, of a dream for her future that was likely spawned as she watched these women fight for a victory, that was immeasurable. Excitement, hope and unforseen opportunities appear in the minds and hearts of our youth as they see others achieving what some said would never be possible. This is something we as a community can never put a price tag on.

I agree with Mr. Licata on one point only. Basketball alone does not make Seattle a world class city. The amazing diversity of our region and the opportunities it offers all of us to experience is what makes it a world class city. Professional basketball is one of those elements. There are only 14 cities in this country that offer young women a chance to see professional women's basketball. Seattle offers among the top five of those in terms of revenue and attendance. Our high schools and Universities are starting to produce some of the best basketball players in the country. This is the result of the opportunities shown to children in our region by having professional teams in our city.

Mr. Licata and every public or private individual responsible for deciding whether there is cultural value brought to our region is failing in their civic duty if they do not attend a game of the Seattle Storm this year to see what it means to the children who attend these games. Studies of economic impacts on paper mean far less than seeing the spark of an idea in the eyes of one 12 year old girl.

I am still waiting for word for the mystical sages of Drive Savers Data Recovery, Inc. who have my dead hard drive. They restored every bit of my last failure, so I am hoping for good news tomorrow. Someday my lack of backup discipline won't require me to fork out the funds required to recover lost data every couple of years.

One Away

Who gave us the magic numbers of 3 and 4 for Phoenix and San Antonio. I did the math myself last night when David Locke declined to comment on the clinching of the playoff spot. Indeed, Phoenix has 14 wins and 4 remaining games meaning they could win out with Seattle losing its 3 remaining games to have a mere 17 wins. That would give Phoenix the 4th and final spot. Even if Houston lost all three of its remaining games and moved Phoenix into third, Houston owns the tiebreaker with Seattle and would get the #4 spot. Of course that could never happen since Seattle and Houston can't BOTH lose the last game of the season since they play each other. We need one more win or one Phoenix loss to make the last game of the season not be a MUST win. If Phoenix were to win out and Seattle lose to Detroit and San Antonio, they would have to win next Saturday's game to get the fourth slot, have 18 wins and use their season series lead over the Mercury to edge them out of the playoffs. The Mercury face Minnesota, Houston, San Antonio and Sacramento. At least two of those teams SHOULD beat them, but the Mercury choked last year and let LA beat them out for a spot. We will see if they push back this year. The Storm, however, CANNOT let someone else determine their post season fate.

Anne Donovan passed Michael Cooper on the all time WNBA coaching wins list last night to secure sole ownership of the number 3 slot with 120 wins.

pd_swanson from Rebkell dropped the coaching win information for me over at Rebkell.

Including Saturday's games:
Van Chancellor -- 210-108 (.660)
Richie Adubato -- 132-111 (.543)
Anne Donovan -- 120-109 (.524)
Michael Cooper -- 119-31 (.793)
Dan Hughes -- 95-119 (.444)
Bill Laimbeer -- 87-66 (.569)
Mike Thibault -- 85-46 (.649)
John Whisenant -- 75-40 (.652)
Cheryl Miller -- 70-52 (.574)
Suzie McConnell Serio -- 58-67 (.464)

The game was a little sloppy last night with 23 Storm turnovers, but the energy in the building was perhaps at its best of the season. Fortunately the Storm rebounded very well at 59%, getting 13 points on the fast break, 19 off second chance opportunities and hitting all but 4 of their 34 free throws doubling up the 15 from Charlotte.

Izi and BT managed to hold Sheri Sam below her 10.2 ppg season average, allowing only 8 rather than the 23 she scored on them in Charlotte.

Tangela Smith and rookie Monique Currie were the only scores in the starting lineup, but the Sting got excellent production from their bench with Kelly Mazzante doubling up her season average and just missing her career high 18 by dropping 16 points, 12 of which came from behind the arc where she only missed one shot all night. Janel McCarville did her damage down low, putting up a new career high of 17 points (former high was 11) and blowing past her season average of 3.9 ppg.

The Storm dominated from the inside out, with both LJ (2o pt, 11 rb, 2 bs) and JB (23 pt, 13 rb, 1 bs) posting double doubles. Betty Lennox provided the perimeter scoring and penetration, at times looking like her basketball hero Allen Iverson. Sue Bird played a solid game which does NOT show up in her box score. Izi was solid as well, with her defense being key, again, not a box score item. Edwige Lawson Wade may become the Tully replacement we have needed. Her full court defense is putting pressure on the opposing points while Sue rests, she is VERY aggressive on the ball in the half court, and she has a sweet jumper when she takes the shot. She was 2 for 2 from the field last night, had 2 assists a rebound and a steal, but her defense was just solid. She is only shooting 40% from the field for the season but, subjectively, I believe that has been climbing of late. She is not missing much and I credit that to good shot selection.

Friday, August 04, 2006

8/3 Storm vs. Monarchs

I don't have my handy dandy spreadsheets to run stats, but I should have my recovered data in time to recap the season and look ahead to the playoffs.

Last nights game was a return to the Storm of old, at least for a little while. The Storm tried to lower their magic number from 4 last night as they took on the Mystics who have a lock on a playoff spot in the East. The Mystics are a much stronger team with Nikki Teasley coming over from the Sparks, adding some ball handling and passing skills (not to mention penetration and 3 point shooting) to the scoring of Delisha Milton-Jones and Alana Beard. Adding the veteran leadership of Crystal Robinson from the Liberty off the bench can't have hurt either. The Mystics surged to a one point lead at the half despite starting the game down by 10 through a balanced attack from Beard, Milton-Jones, and Nakia Sanford.

The Storm found their way in the second half, however as Lauren Jackson finally got some help from Janell Burse in the third quarter and Iziane Castro Marques in the fourth. Izi also played some stellar defense in the second half holding DMJ to 3 points. This all would have been moot, however, if Sue Bird hadn't continued her outstanding transition defense. She stopped Mystics star Alana Beard (who filled in for LJ on the Canberra Capitals this offseason) on a 1 on 1 fast break in the fourth quarter with 3:07 left in the game and the Storm up by 3. Lennox had missed a jumper and Beard rebounded taking the length of the floor. Sue ran backwards in front of Beard, forcing the left hander to her right, and anticipated her spin to the left, leaping in front of Beard and stripping the ball. The steal didn't lead to any Storm points on that possession as Izi missed a jumper, but it energized the crowd and turned the emotions of the game back into the Storm's favor. The Storm hit two jumpers and Sue Bird locked up the win at the free line from that point forward as the Mystics struggled to find a good shot in limited time. I commented earlier in the year at Sue's excellent transition defense but it was nice to hear Elise Woodward agree with me on the post game show heard from my car on the way home last night. Sue may have defensive weaknesses (ok, of course she does) but the fast break is not one of them. She has stopped guaranteed scoring on the break a number of times over the past two years that I have been watching closely.

Random Notes
Richie Adubato gets a different set of rules. The man was on the court all night long...often two or three steps onto the court and never got called for it. He came out to mid court after Sue got whacked in the nose to complain about who knows what and the refs looked the other way.

Bryan Enterline STINKS. The game was completely lopsided with the fouls favoring one team or the other based on where Enterline was on the play. The Mystics got the benefit in the first half with him on the Storm end of the floor ignoring fouls while the Storm got the benefit in the second half when the teams switched baskets. He mad grossly erroneous out of bounds calls, phantom fouls and then blatantly ignored actual fouls for both teams. The man needs a new job.

Lauren Jackson played through considerable pain in the second half. Every free throw showed her focus, her agony and her refusal to stop playing. The Storm better lock up the playoffs so the woman can take a break.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Governor is a Storm Fan

Governor Christine Gregoire shows her Storm colors in an interview on 950 KJR AM with Dave Mahler. She has two teenage daughters with athletic leanings, and goes to Storm games. She cites a Storm game she attended filled with local youth athletes wearing their school or club colors as hard evidence that Nick Licata is wrong about the cultural impacts professional basketball has on the community. She "loves going to Storm games" though admits to enjoyin the Sonics, she says they are a bit too pricey for her. Hey, I had $12 season ticket seats, half court upper bowl that were great...she must only want to sit courtside.

It is great to hear what a strong supporter she is, however, and she makes me feel even more confident that we have the ability to make something happen here in Washington, though Bellevue sounds stronger every day.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Death of a Hard Drive

My hard drive died this weekend. Lost all of my data for the season...and all of my current working formulas...sigh. Have to wait for the data recovery process to complete.

Storm have a 2.5 game lead for the last playoff spot in the west. They can clinch with any combination of wins by the Storm and losses by the Silver Stars that totals 4 which is their current magic number.

Come early to the game tomorrow to help recruit petition signatures and hand out new (much nicer) posters. You get a free T-Shirt, and a chance to win autographed pictures and shirts from Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson. Register with the Save Our Sonics & Storm representative and the West side of the Arena. If you can't help...sign the petition.

Storm and Sonic representation at the King County Council meeting this afternoon allowed voices FOR professional basketball to be heard. Those voices were apparently well received. Nick Licata apparently got ripped to shreds on KJR tonight and came off as uninformed.


Saturday, July 29, 2006


Someday I will find time to catch up on +/- for the games.

I told my wife today that I have a crush on Ashley Robinson. Of course it is her 13 rebounds and lockdown defense on Cheryl Ford that I am crushing on, so my forgiving wife is ok with it. She has a crush on LJ so we are even there, but her motives are less about the basketball, or so I suspect. Just in case, please keep your copies of Black & White in the drawer if we ever come to visit. A little idle star worship never hurt anyone, right?

Of course, my two year old appears to have latched onto LJ as well. He knows names for other players, but he only has eyes for LJ. I have always had a soft spot for the unexpected performer, though.

I stood next to Karen Bryant tonight, but with my kids faces and hands covered with ice cream I didn't say what I wanted to say to her. The words on the tip of my tongue...

"Thanks for bringing this great game to our city. I'm sorry I took two years to discover the Storm and missed the Reign entirely." I will try to catch her next time. She deserves the thanks.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Help Save Our Teams

There is an urgent need to have as many people as possible assist handing out Bumper Stickers, Window Clings, T-Shirts and flyers to people attending the Storm games tonight (Friday) and Sunday, we would like to have around 100 people or more. Around 24 people are needed to march in the Seafair parade on Saturday after the Storm season ticket holder party.

If you can help hand things out at the game (you will get a free Save the Sonics and Storm t-shirt) show up 2 hours before the game at the fountain (not the international fountain) on the north side of the arena. That would be 5:00 tonight and 4:00 on Sunday.

If you can march in the parade, contact the SOS&S volunteer coordinator at

If you can't volunteer time, you can donate to the cause online at

Ticket sales are going strong for the last four home games of the season, but we want the BUILDING sold out...not just the lower bowl. See my earlier post if you want to donate tickets to girls for those last games. Aussies have donated more than a 100 tickets so far.

Signs supporting the Storm remaining in Seattle are showing up in WNBA arenas around the league...even in games where the Storm are not playing. WNBA solidarity is mighty impressive.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Donate Tickets to Upcoming Storm Games

The Storm are accepting donations for all the remaining Storm games which will be used to provide tickets to young girls from:

Camp Ten Trees- Girls on the Run- NW Girls Coalition

For more information please contact Michelle Flanigan of the Storm at 206-272-2742.

This is a great way to introduce our next generation of players and fans to the great product the WNBA has to offer and introduce them to the women who are living the dream now.

It is also a great way to help sell out the games to show the new owners, the league and local politicians what the community feels about the WNBA, the Storm and professional women's basketball in the Pacific NW.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Actions Not Words

I like Ed Evans. I have a much better "feeling" about Mr. Evans after hearing him on KJR than I did listening to Clay Bennett. I will take you up on your challenge to judge you and your partners by your actions rather than your words.

What I need from you is guidance about what fans of the Sonics and Storm here in Seattle need to do to help you succeed at keeping the team here in the area. We want that result, even more than you do, tell us what we can do to help.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Trapped in the Wilderness

OK, not quite. I have been technology impaired while at my sister's cabin in southern Massachusetts which has no internet access, and I couldn't even get my dial up to work since my software was so out of date...sigh. In a hotel room with wireless internet before I catch an early flight home tomorrow.

Register here to get tied in to the movement to save the Storm and the Sonics. The Storm are key to the effort and these people know it. I know them...they are fans and ticket holders to both teams. Get involved...get active...they have even convinced me NOT to request a refund on my season tickets...despite my need to do something. I will try to channel it to something useful to keep the sport I love and the teams I feel are MINE here in MY city.

I will get game data up for the last two fiascos as soon as I can.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Not so Angry...just sad

Getting over my initial anger.

Returning to my original sadness.

Heard the news as I was bringing my eldest son to his first Storm game of the season. He decided he wanted to go since it was his brother's nap time and they were having a mascot party for Doppler.

I just couldn't get excited once I got in. I was depressed and I depressed the season ticket holders around me with the news. The Storm tried to lift my spirits with some raucous play for about two minutes, and then they gave in to the depression themselves. The energy in the arena was already odd with camp day and a lack of STH's in their seats in the middle of a weekday, but I still sensed that I was not alone in my knowledge of the end of professional basketball in Seattle. This city and this state cannot and will not match what the city of Oklahoma City and its state of Oklahoma will be willing to do to attract an NBA team.

In a $350 million dollar deal the $10-15 million dollar Storm don't really matter all that much, they will just be dragged along and perhaps be an afterthought in the minds of the owners and the fans in Oklahoma. 12 months, 2 years, 3 years...I don't know when, but this team is gone. The new owners have flat out stated that Key Arena with renovations won't cut it. They want a NEW facility. That will cost considerably more than the $200 million that the BCOS requested to modify the Key and that the City refused to provide. Oklahoma City has fans begging for a franchise, and Seattle has people signing a petition to ban the government from providing funding for an arena. The apathetic "haves" cannot compete with the starving "have nots" in this case. The almost pathetic attempt by the former owners to say that they tried to keep the teams local and that these owners would try to keep the teams local was revealed as either wishful thinking or outright lying when Clayton Bennett began answering questions and said that he was "contractually bound" to make "good faith" efforts with the city and state for 12 months. Right. I will go to the rest of this year's Storm games. I am not sure that I will buy playoff tickets. I will try and get a refund for my Sonics season ticket, if I can't, perhaps I will donate it to charity. I am not angry, right now, but I am still bitter.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Oklahoma City Tornado loses to the Sacramento Monarchs

The WNBA Oklahoma City Tornado suffered a royal beating at the hands of the Sacramento Monarchs in their temporary home at Licata Center in the city of Seattle. The players appear to be struggling to remain motivated while playing so far from their home court and their fan base and it clearly showed in their play...averaging a meager 11 points per quarter over the first three quarters of play, able to score only when three Monarchs players began playing cribbage on their end of the court leaving two defenders to guard the Storm.

I am in a foul mood, and don't buy the rhetoric of the former and new ownership with regard to keeping the teams in Seattle. It did not ring true coming out of the mouth of Clayton Bennett. Perhaps they will prove me wrong, but I am not holding my breath. At least we know what happened to Home Court advantage for the Storm this season...they don't have any since they don't play any home games.

Tuesday Game Preview

This game is critical for the Storm.

They are fourth in the west, 1 game ahead of San Antonio and 1 1/2 games in front of Phoenix. It is too close to lose games now. To top it off Houston is only a game ahead of Seattle. LA has a nice lead, but, essentially the west offers a margin of 3.5 games between 2nd place and 5th place. The Storm need to make their move now.

Here is a look at the schedules for Houston, Seattle, San Antonio and Phoenix for the rest of July. Whoever makes a push here will get the seat.

6th Place: Phoenix Mercury
They are as up and down as the Storm at the moment. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games. They have wins over New York (2), Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago, of which only the Detroit win looks at all important. They have losses to LA, Connecticut, Washington and Indiana. Of those only Washington is indicative since I expect them to lose the others. They have 7 games remaining in July. I expect them to beat Washington (though they lost to them at home, and their 3-8 road record against the Mystics 8-2 home record makes that a weak prediction), Charlotte and San Antonio (their home record is terrible). Indiana should easily shut them down in Conseco. They have to play Houston twice, once in Phoenix and once on the road. This should be a split...Houston is very strong at home. Seattle MUST win their game in Phoenix on the 25th. Should this pattern play out...Phoenix would be 13-13 at the end of the month.

5th Place: San Antonio
San Antonio is a little odd this year. They are the only team in the leage with a winning road record (7-6) and a losing home record (3-5). The have had a streaky last 10 games...they lost games to Seattle, LA and Detroit (all make sense). They followed this with wins over New York, Chicago, LA and Houston (2 big surprises), then lost to Minnesota, Charlotte and Detroit (2 big surprises again). They have six games remaining in July. I am not sure why, but they have beat Houston twice already this year, home and away. I don't think Sheryl Swoopes will let the Silver Stars beat them again even in San Antonio, so they should lose that game even with Thompson still out. They haven't played Washington since preseason, but I predict a win in that home game. Both Connecticut games, LA and Phoenix should be losses. That leaves them at 11-16 at the end of the month.

4th Place: Seattle Storm
Who are these ladies? They are 5-5 over the last ten. They lost to Sacramento, Phoenix and Houston in games they should have won, only defeating San Antonio, whom they routed. They seemed to be out of their up and down period and prepared to close out games with wins over Sacramento, LA and Minnesota but their momentum was interrupted by a week off, a loss to Indiana, and the All Star break. They handily beat New York and then lost to Connecticut by deciding to only play one half of basketball against the 2 time Eastern Conference champions. They need to find the momentum of early July and carry it through to close the month. They have 7 games to close the month, with no more than 2 days off between games (oh LJ and her shins) and actually that only happens once...they have a tortuous road trip ahead with games every other day. They play the WNBA champions at noon today...they should win, they have played the Monarchs well the past few years in the key, and they always seem to step up against them. They then head out on the road to play Charlotte, New York, Washington and Phoenix. I predict a loss to Washington with the rest wins. They close out the month at home with games agains Detroit and LA. I think that they lose both. This would put them at 15-13 at the end of the month. They need to prove me wrong and take a game from someone here. August is not so tough for them if they can stay healthy, so now is the time for the push.

3rd Place: Houston Comets
Houson is having a weird season as Seattle and Phoenix, they are 5-5 over the last ten games. They had wins over Charlotte, Seattle, Washington, Sacramento, and Chicago, all of which they should have won. They had losses to Connecticut, LA, San Antonio, Detroit and Indiana. They should not have lost to San Antonio or their home game to Detroit. They have 5 games left in July. They have a chance to get revenge over San Antonio, with games against Minnesota, LA and a home and away against Phoenix. They handily beat the Lynx in Houston last time, so I give them a win there. LA has owned the Comets this year. I already predicted a split with Phoenix. That leave Houston at 16-14 by the end of the month. If the loss of Thompson hurts them more...they could fall to 4th in July. Their August is brutal with only two games against sub 500 teams. They will need to fight tooth and nail to maintain a playoff berth this season with both Phoenix and San Antonio hungry to displace them. Change those two wins to losses and Houston could find themselves out of the post season.

Monday, July 17, 2006

7-16 Storm vs. Sun

How do the Storm lose a game against a team with one of its top 2 scores is out, after it lost the first game of a back to back, they lead in rebounding, have the same shooting percentages (mostly), an equal number of turnovers and dominate the first four minutes of play?

Two words.

Asjha Jones.

Jones was a +22 in individual +/- for this game. After starting the game -11, Coach T inserted Asjha and they immediately went on a +8 run in the next 3+ minutes. If they hadn't benched the rest of the starters for the last 3 minutes they may have regained the lead.

After a rough -5 over three minutes to start to the second quarter, Coach T put the starters back on the floor with Jones and they went on a +8 run.

In the third quarter Coach T dumped rotation and put Jones in with the starters again. The only starter to rest in the third was Whalen for the final 6 minutes. The Sun were +18 in that stretch. Shouldn't these ladies have been tired?

In the fourth quarter, the Storm made their push with little success, unable to stop the Connecticut offense...and managing to only force a -3 on the Sun in that interval.

Curious to me is why Izi did not play more. She was +11 for the game with a +34 Net40 and only played limited minutes in the second half in a bizarre lineup with Bird, Lawson and Johnson. Her offense was not as strong as Barb's but she seemed to slow the Sun down. Jackson (+9/+34) and Wright (+4/+17) were the only other individuals with a positve +/-.

Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +8
Bird-Lennox-Turner-Jackson-Burse: +5
Lawson-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Johnson: +4

Least Effective Lineups
Bird-Lennox-Turner-Robinson-Johnson: -8
Bird-Lawson-Turner-Johnson-Burse: -4

7-14 Storm vs. Liberty

I know. I am late. Having trouble fitting travel, work, family, sleep and basketball all into one 24 hour day with the insane schedule of last week and this week.

This was an important game for the Storm. They could not afford to lose against a struggling team like the Liberty, they need to take advantage of the Comets being without Canty and Thompson for the moment, and they know they have the Eastern Conference champs on Sunday followed by the WNBA champs on Tuesday.

On a side note, I sat next to Kelly Schumacher of the New York Liberty on my flight from JFK to Seattle on Thursday night. She was stuck in the middle seat, so I gave up my aisle seat to give her some leg room, then the guy on the window gave her his seat since there was no seat in front of him due to the door location at row 9 on the American style of Boeing 757. She looked much more comfortable there. She seemed surprised that I knew who she was (pleasantly surprised, not oh, no, freaky stalker guy surprised) and when she thanked us for moving for her I told her she didn't need stiff legs because I wanted to see a good game on Friday. I wished her luck at the end of the flight for their road trip, but rescinded any luck for Friday.

She said, "Not against your girls, huh?"

"No way, we need a win," I replied.

"Believe me, so do we," was her final answer.

The game was a blowout from the 4:31 mark of the 1st quarter onward. The Liberty reserves made a push in the final 4:49 of the fourth against the Storm bench, but it was over long before that point. I applaud them for fighting through each of the 40 minutes of game time, those ladies have some serious heart. The only Liberty players in the positive as far as +/- were Erin Thorn (+3), Christelle N'Garsanet (+3) and Ashley Battle (+5).

Individual +/- and Net40

Lennox +12 +4
Bird +19 +18
Turner +16 +12
Jackson +24 +28
Burse +19 +18
Johnson +6 -8
Wright +12 +4
Castro +12 +4
Gortman -8 -36
Lawson -3 -26
Robinson -9 -38

Most Effective Lineups
Almost all of them...the best of the best, though was:

Bird-Lennox-Turner-Jackson-Burse: +6
Lawson-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Johnson: +6

Least Effective Lineups
Lawson-Wright-Gortman-Robinson-Johnson: -8
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Johnson-Burse: -6

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Live from the ASG (or at least nearby)

So here I am in Times Square in New York City. I am sitting overlooking the Hudsun river from the 43rd floor of the Westin. Actually I was sitting here last night as well...not knowing that around the corner from me there was a WNBA All Star photo shoot going on. I am entirely oblivious since I came in from Jersey and didn't approach the hotel from that side of town. So while I am up trying to recuperate from a full day of meetings in Manhattan and Mahwah, NJ, Sue Bird, Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie are doing the pose thing right outside. Sigh.

So, was that Cynthia Cooper I passed walking earlier in the day at the NBA store on my way to a meeting on 52nd street? I swear it was. The people I was with were talking about having seen Kobe Bryant once at the store and I interrupt to what, I just saw Cynthia Cooper talking on her cell phone.

I am very excited about the game. I have nice seats (a gift from some associates who know I love the game) in Section 124. My three teenage nephews are takeing the train into the city with their Dad tomorrow, and I get to take the boys to the game while he strolls the city. I feared that they would not make it, but Nathaniel (the 16 year old) made sure his Mom and Dad understood just how disappointed he would be if they didn't figure out a way to make it work. So they are driving to Greenich and hopping a train. Somehow my brother-in-law convinced the 18 year old and 14 year old to come as well. I have wanted to take them to a game for years and am excited that they get the treat of an All Star Game as their first exposure to the WNBA. I only wish the Sun weren't their closest team (how about a Boston franchise already?).

I am not sure when my ASG report will be ready...I will have all four of them in my hotel room tomorrow, so I doubt I will get any writing done. Especially since I will need to pack for my flight home Thursday evening...can't miss the Liberty game on Friday. The Storm need a win.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Is Sue Bird REALLY Being More Aggressive?

The word out of the Storm coaching staff this season has been that Sue Bird needs to be more aggressive. Jayda Evans reported this summer that when Sue Bird contacted Anne Donovan this past winter to ask what she needed to do this season to prevent a repeat of the Comets playoff win in Key Arena, she was told to "be more aggressive."

We have heard this all season long, and have heard that Sue went back and watch game tape of her rookie year and saw the difference in her play. We have heard that she is trying to get back to that style. We have heard that she has struggled to do so but is making progress.

Well, here is her report card for the first half of the season.

The problems with Sue's game last season that I pointed out in this blog back in September, 2005 were around the drop in the number of 3 point shots she took, and how often she got to the free throw line. Let's take a look at where she stands now.

Percentage of shots from 3 point range
2006: 42.94%
2005: 35.03%
2004: 44.79%
2003: 38.04%
2002: 37.87%

Sue is approaching the championship year numbers in terms of how many of her shots are three pointers. The only problem is she is shooting her worst percentage from three since her sophmore year. She is about 4 points below her career average.

2006: 35.71%
2005: 43.69%
2004: 43.84%
2003: 35.00%
2002: 40.14%

It isn't going to help the team much if she is shooting them, but missing them. In 2004 she mad 2.25 three pointers per 40 minutes, she is down to 1.76 this year, which is the same number she was hitting last year. She needs to get that percentage up to make the aggression more effective. The defense won't respect your three point shot if you don't hit it, look at Ticha Penicheiro.

The good news is that her 2 point shooting at 46.24% is above her average of 45.18%, but still a little below her 2004 championship season mark of 48.33%.

She is being more aggressive with her shooting overall, she just needs to increase her percentage to be where the team needs her to be. Keep shooting Sue!

My next complaint was Sue's lack of free throw attempts last season. Sue is a fantastic free throw shooter and she can penetrate on the break or off the pick and roll any time she wants, yet her attempts dropped off in 2005. Her percentage here is much better, she is shooting 100% for the season which is 10 points above her career average, but sadly, she is shooting less free throws this year than she ever has.

2006: 1.76
2005: 2.71
2004: 2.99
2003: 2.43
2002: 4.00

Sue got to the line the most in her rookie season, but since she broke her nose in the 2004 playoffs, Sue has seemed reluctant to take the ball right in at those bigs like she used to. This is the part of the game Sue still needs to find. This will get her close to the basket for high percentage shots, it will open up passing lanes and her team mates as it forces the defense to collapse on her, and most importantly, it will get this FANTASTIC free throw shooter to the line.

It is a simple rule of basketball. Take the ball to the basket, attack, attack, attack and you leave the defense off guard and disrupted. This is what the team needs from Sue. This is the part of her game that we are all missing.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Halfway Point Stats

I know that I am late...I have three games I still need to post...

I ran some numbers for the 1st half of the season and thought I should share them...

Over the first 17 games of the season the Storm are only averaging 75.46 possessions per game which is only 3 more possessions per game than they had in 2005. It is also one possession less than the league average. The rest of the league has passed Seattle in terms of speed. Fortunately Seattle is still doing well as far as points per possession. Some interesting data from the Minnesota Lynx (I know their numbers vary from mine...we use slightly different formulas and I don't think they are counting free throws by the same rules that I do for plus/minus.) shows Seattle is leading the league in defending against the break. Seattle only allows 6.7 fast break points per game, while the league averages 8.6. Seattle is also tied with Connecticut for second in the league in Defensive Rebounding %. This is pretty darn important, since when teams do get their offensive rebound they are scoring. The Storm allow 11.1 second chance points per game while the league averages 11.9. Detroit on the other hand is #1 in DR% and #1 in second chance points allowed, giving up only 9 per game.

Wendy Palmer has the best Per40 Roland Rating on the team. She is +18 per 40 minutes. Lauren Jackson is next at +12. Sue is +8, Betty +5, JB and Shaun are +4, and BT is +1. Izi is -1 followed by Tanisha with -4. Lawson is at -34 . We can't be hard on them, though, since all three of those negative RR players have positive on-court numbers. The team is just REALLY good without them in the lineup.

There is a fun video at which accompanies a great article that shares a little of what it is like to be a practice player for the Storm.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

6/23 Storm vs. Silver Stars Part II

Possessions: 69.91
Off Rtg: 124.17
Off Reb %: 21%

Floor %Eff FG%Ast RatioTov RatioStop%Off RtgNet PointsPts ProdPelton IR+/-

Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Johnson: +8
Wright-Gortman-Turner-Jackson-Burse: +7
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +5
Bird-Wright-Gortman-Johnson-Burse: +5
Bird-Gortman-Turner-Jackson-Burse: +5

Least Effective Lineups
Bird-Wright-Turner-Jackson-Johnson: -2
Lawson-Lennox-Turner-Greenwalt-Burse: -2
Lawson-Gortman-Turner-Greenwalt-Burse: -2

Saturday, June 24, 2006

6/23 Storm vs. Silver Stars littlest guy made it to the game last night. Early in the game Lauren got fouled and hit her shot...she stepped away from the altercation facing us as the rest of the players moved to position for her to shoot the free throw. Suddenly I hear...

"That's LJ. LJ shoots the ball." from my two year old.

This is the first time he actually recognized a player. I was bouncing off the ceiling the rest of the game.

I am becoming more and more impressed by Shaun's defense. At times her positioning and reach are just stunning. She is EXCELLENT at denying a player the ball. She did it to Taurasi on Wed and did it to VJ on Fri.

For those who think Bird is a poor defender. Give it up. The woman plays excellent defense. She has broken up at least three 2 or 3 on 1 breaks with her fast break D this year alone. She showed her defensive intelligence continues to improve. She has the ability, but has, at times, made the wrong choice on defense. In the past that happened more often than not. She is slowly sliding the pendulum the other way. She still makes mistakes, and they are glaring when she make them, but it is because she commits to what she thinks the other player is doing. As she becomes better at reading her assignment she will continue to play better.

Izi started to remember what it is like to play at home.

Tanisha finally had some brilliant plays, both scoring and passing that may bring her confidence back and get her out of her funk.

Sheri was a seasoned vet. She knew when she got beat or embarassed on one play or one game, she was too good to let that mean anything. Our young players haven't figured that out yet. Games like this will help them realize it.

I love Barb Turner. I can't explain it yet. I just love her.

Betty got really ticked early. She wasn't getting calls on her end that the refs were giving at the other. At one point in the first half, she walked toward the Storm basket after getting called for a foul after a series of no calls on her play and she was ready to blow. I yelled out, "Don't worry Betty, you've got her!" I am not saying she heard me. But she must have realized the same thing. She calmed down and just showed VJ up. This was after the technical. And it was vintage Betty. Get her fired up and she turns it into a focused attack on your team. I am seeing the Betty I fell in love with in 2004. I still love her, always have, but last night I started to remember WHY I love her. It was like one of those moments when nothing special is happening and you catch your partner out of the corner or your eye and you are like..."Whoa! Who is that? Wait a minute, I know her." Then all the reasons you bonded in the first place flood into your mind. When we are mad we see all the bad stuff lined up with all the good stuff edited out. Happens every time. The times when that happens for the good stuff, with all the bad stuff edited out...that doesn't happen quite as often. For me it happened with Betty last night. I remembered her fire, her passion, the spark that made the championship possible. Last night I saw that hint again and I remembered.

JB continues to impress.

LJ. Sigh. Why aren't there more LJ's in the world?

TJ stepped up last night, but to be honest...I still miss Wendy. Can somebody find some magic juju that will instantly heal her achilles? Please?

I promise to post the numbers, but it will be tomorrow. I have limited time today, and while they have been run...the html to publish them in a tabular form is lame. Takes way too much time.

Bird, Jackson, Burse and Gortman were AWESOME.
Lennox, Castro, TJ and Wright were GREAT.
Cisti and Lawson, well ladies, I like the potential, but you got nothing but garbage time to show it to us.