Sunday, April 30, 2006

Will We Lose Simone?

Over at rebkel, pilight points to an article in a Jamaican paper that hints that backup center, and local fan favorite, Simone Edwards might be done with the WNBA and the Seattle Storm. In the article she talks about retiring to focus on the higher pay of International Basketball and helping her country to win a championship.

"I was able to stick with it until I won a championship and I'm ready to retire from the WNBA now. I need to think about being able to play longer professionally overseas," she said.

Recently, Edwards shocked the local media with the announcement that, despite what is bound to be disapproval from the Seattle Storm franchise, she will take part in this year's Caribbean Basketball Championships in Jamaica. In fact, the player went as far as to state that she would be willing to walk away from the league to take part in the event."

Simone says that winning the WNBA championship in 2004 was a career height and she feels that dedicating herself to helping Jamaica win the Caribbean Basketball Championships this year will help inspire local children. Simone's Seattle fans are well aware of her commitment to helping the children of Jamaica and how lucky she feels she was to be noticed and offered a scholarship in America because of basketball. Whatever she chooses, she will always be a Storm Original and hold a special place in the heart of Storm fans, for the way she plays on the court and even more for the way she shares so her heart so openly off the court.

On a side note, now that everyone on the media has raved about first round draft pick Barbara Turner, it was time to load accolades on another newcomer. David Locke has been keeping a daily blog, including podcasts of his notes during practice. Yesterday he raved about the veteran leadership and practice value of Wendy Palmer. On other fronts...the local news has gone silent on the Storm.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

New Arrivals

The last Storm original, Simone Edwards, arrived in camp yesterday and is expected to practice today. Joining Simone was free agent Toccara Williams. According to Jayda Evans, Williams was waved early this week when she decided to skip camp and the season to spend time with an ailing grandparent. When her grandmother's health improved and the Storm came calling again, she agreed to play.

Based on what Jayda said yesterday, it looks like Erin Grant may not be in a Storm uniform much longer. As many have said, she appears to lack the strength or the bulk to play the point in the WNBA. Concerns over this may have led to the Storm checking back in with Williams. I am sure that the Storm are also closely watching the waiver wire to see if any other desired players become available. The same article hints that LJ may play less than 30 minutes per game this year to manage her pain and her injuries better than in previous years. With Wendy Palmer available, that should be possible. It will give Palmer some extra minutes and help save LJ for the post season.

Voting is online for the All-Decade team over at vote for your faves and give LJ and Sue a boost (I only voted for one of them...just wasn't room for both on my ballot.)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Today's News

LJ and Sue make the nominee list for the WNBA's All-Decade get a vote eventually...there are only 7 spots available, because we ALL know that Swoopes, Thompson and Cooper are locks after their domination of the league in the early years. Staley, Penicheiro, Griffith, Weatherspoon and Leslie likely are shoe-ins for five of the spots...wait now we are down to two. My guess is that a couple of spots have to go to the "new" generation, which puts Bird, Jackson, Taurasi, Cash, Catchings and Sayles in the running for the last two spots. I think everyone on the list is worthy, though there was one name I did not recognize...

Wendy Carpenter at the Tacoma Tribune fills in a gap in camp coverage today with her article on the All-Decade Team. She chips in her pitch for the quality of first round pick Barbara Turner and drops us this gem from Coach D:

“She’s going to be a very good player,” Donovan said of the 6-foot forward out of Connecticut. “She’ll be the best defensive player on our team eventually. Barbara Turner has something that is really special and she’s going to have an impact on every play on the court.”

She also tells us that fan favorite Simone Edwards could be returning to camp today! Welcome home!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Camp Coverage

Local Storm coverage has been great this week. With the Sonics out of the playoffs we have seen a number of articles from all of the "big three."

Seattle Times
Jayda Evans, always a leader in Storm coverage, has offered stories every day this week except Monday and Thursday. There was the Izi signing on Saturday, Donovan's search for glitter on Sunday, LJ's injury and the backup PG search on Tuesday and the defensive focus article on Wednesday.

Seattle PI
The PI picked up on Tuesday with an article on the start of camp, Wednesday following Jayda with a discussion of the backup point situation, and rounding out today with pieces on LJ's injuries and Barbara Turner's success in camp.

Tacoma Tribune
My big complaint with the Trib is a the lack of a link on the Sports front page to Storm articles, they are the only one of the three without one. If you go to the Sonics link and then manually change the word sonics in the url to storm, then you can get there. Tuesday they covered Betty Lennox and Wednesday they covered Tanisha Wright.

Outside the locals, continues to provide solid coverage of the WNBA, particularly in cities where they have writers available to cover the teams. They have asked for writers in cities not yet covered to apply in posts to all the major WNBA forums. provides coverage by merging NCAA women's coverage and WNBA coverage into a single section, but they have no Storm articles yet this season.

Kevin Pelton provides you the most information at the main Storm site, and David Locke will cover the Storm at his blog on occasion.

I am thrilled to read articles from three writers, Mr. Pelton, Jayda Evans and Mark Bergin, extolling the virtues of 1st round draft pick Barbara Turner on display in camp this week. She is showing the sought after post presence at the three and hitting open shots from long range which may create competition for that starting spot at some point this season. The future is looking bright for the Storm.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Family Ties

I just got back from spending some time with my Father and my sister, and as often happens during times like these we shared a lot of stories. One piece of history which I had forgotten came up in discussions with my sister, who read the blog for the first time last week. Both she and my brother, Ned were ODU alums. My sister graduated before ODU took over the women's basketball world, but she talked about attending games. My brother had always talked about the women's team during his tenure, which was 1978-1982. He had mentioned the names of the "best players in the world," but it didn't really sink in until this weekend that he was actually lucky enough to see both Nancy Lieberman and Anne Donovan play at ODU since he was a regular at all their games. My sister even told me a story about a time when my brother was home in Rhode Island and he dragged her and one of his friends to Providence to see ODU take on Providence College. They were the only three ODU fans in the crowd and screamed themselves into losing their voices trying to out-cheer the home fans. She said they drew a lot of stares and, of course, some ire when ODU easily won the game. I realized then how I wish that I had been as avid a fan of the sport at the age of eight or nine as I am now, I could have forced my brother to drag me along to a few games. I was an NBA fan, and a devoted Celtics/Larry Bird nut, but there was not the recognition at the time of the women's game then as there is now. We bemoan the lack of coverage for the WNBA and the NCAA women's game now, but as a pre-teen I would never have known that there WAS a women's game if it hadn't been for my brother and his adoration of the Monarchs. Thanks Anne, and thanks Nancy for inspiring that love in my brother so that he could pass it on to me, it was a great gift.

Radio Pelton Hits the Air

David Locke and Kevin Pelton launched their new Storm Radio podcast series with interviews of Anne and JB. They plan to run this as a regular offering at the Storm home page as part of their increased coverage at the web site, and it will include nice "insider" information from Anne Donovan's coaching corner and player interviews. In the first installment AD talks about the new 24 second shot clock, her intent to increase on-the-ball pressure to take advantage of the shorter possessions and disrupt teams' offensive flow. She also talks about her camp prospects, and singles out a particular player after the first day. I won't spoil Kevin's scoop, so you will just have to go listen for yourselves. JB talks about Prague, getting to know Izi, her injury and her goals for the season. Overall it is a nice start to a great idea and I look forward to more throughout the season. Be sure to check it out.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Izi signs.

It is amazing how easily the way we see things can change so quickly and so completely.

About three hours ago contract negotiations broke down between my mother's fighting spirit and the tired body that was transporting it. Apparently the body refused to accept her terms which included waiving the cancer in her bladder and signing a replacement for her retiring kidneys. True to her stubborn, Irish roots, my mother would not back down from her demands and I am sure she is already engaged in negotiations with those in charge of the league on the other side. Fortunately she has my brother with her now and he is has 18 years of experience dealing with them, so between the two of them I am confident she'll walk away with a much better contract than she had over here the past few years.

Of course, for those of us still playing here, she will be sorely missed. Sure, she couldn't shoot worth spit, but she was a solid defender, was fantastic at finding her team mates in the right spot with an assist, and she always knew the right place to be regardless of the play, at both ends of the floor. Her lack of playing time was a real sore spot for her, and I know that she will be thrilled to be able to run the floor and get out on the break again. I know she missed throwing those alley-oop passes to my 6'9" brother, too, I know she has been looking forward to that.

I am going to take a break from writing for a couple of days while the rest of the team throws a few farewell parties. I will miss the start of camp next week, but I will be back for opening day, and I bet my Mom will join me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Arena Issue

I haven't spoken much about this issue here. I am not certain whether my avoidance of the topic is due my entering a state of denial that Seattle could lose the Storm (not to mention the Sonics) or simply that I believe that all the interactions between the city and The Basketball Club of Seattle (the group that owns both the Seattle Storm and the Seattle Sonics) have been pure politics and that everything will work out in the end. It was reported in all the local papers today that we are reaching a decision point by the end of April, 2006.

On April 17th, the Storm/Sonics organization sent a letter to Mayor Nickels and City Council member David Della (he heads the Parks, Education, Libraries and Labor committee) with copies to the full Seattle City Council. The letter outlines the Storm/Sonics position on the arena renovation, their desire to stay in Seattle and outlines their intended contribution and desired terms. It also states that the content of the letter is not an opening to expected negotiations but closer to a Best And Final Offer. It leaves open room for some negotiation but clearly states that if the city does not intend to come somewhere close to their terms they would like a clear "No" from the council now.

On the same day Mayor Nickels sent a letter to Governor Gregoire that outlines the principles the city intends to use in discussions with the Storm/Sonics organization. It indicates a required vote by the public for approval, use of "visitor" taxes throughout all of King County, "significant" investment by the Storm/Sonics, inclusion of provisions for other arts and "heritage" programs, and states that the new lease must match the length of the intended debt. It also positions that the State should NOT fund any arena options outside Seattle that would compete with Key Arena should the Storm/Sonics choose to leave.

The only sticking point I see between the two letters is the "significant" investment indicated in the Mayor's letter. An amount is not indicated in the Mayor's letter but it is already the biggest point of contention. The Storm/Sonics want $220 million in renovations and intend to contribute $18.3 million in initial costs and cover all cost overruns. While this 8% contribution is clearly small given the Storm/Sonics intent to claim full ownership of all operating profits from basketball and non-basketball events, the Storm/Sonics claim that they have already contributed $21 million towards previous improvements and generated $77.6 million in revenue to pay off the existing debt. They also point out that while the city charges admission taxes on basketball tickets, those tax revenues were diverted to other projects and not utilized by the city to cover existing arena debt. Council President Nick Licata, who has been the most vocal opponent of the Storm/Sonics' plans, was quoted in the Seattle PI today saying, "I don't see how we can work out a compromise." He wants a less costly renovation and a higher Storm/Sonics contribution. Licata is "working" on his own lease proposal and David Della is preparing his committee to vote on a resolution for the Mayor to start negotiations with the Storm/Sonics. Since neither of these proposals have been made public it is difficult to compare them or even comment on them.

I don't buy into the Storm/Sonics claims that the previous $21 million in capital investment and $77.6 million in generated revenue should exempt them from paying more than their proposed 8% of costs. I think they should contribute more, and if they need to do so by raising ticket prices than I, as a season ticket holder to both the Storm and the Sonics, am ready to pay the higher price.

I don't have enough data, nor frankly, enough interest to understand all of the issues at stake for both the City and the Storm/Sonics. I can't comprehend that these two professional organizations would truly be unable to find a satisfactory solution that keeps the Storm and the Sonics here in Seattle. I don't want Seattle to be the next Charlotte. The city and the NBA ownership could not work together. The Hornets moved to New Orleans where they were already unhappy prior to the destruction of 2006's hurricanes. New owners kept the Sting in Charlotte. However, within a few years of the Hornet's exit the city built the new arena the Hornet's had requested and new ownership brought in the expansion Bobcats to play in that new arena. That shouldn't happen here in Seattle, not because we are better or smarter than Charlotte, but because we should be able to learn from their example.

Seattle is a basketball town. The NBA has a number of players from the state of Washington playing on its rosters. Gonzaga and the University of Washington have two of the top men's basketball programs in the NCAA. This past season both the men's and women's teams from UW made it to the NCAA tournament. The Sonics are Seattle's oldest professional sports franchise. The Sonics and the Storm are the only professional teams to bring championships to this city. Basketball is part of the tradition and culture of this city. The season ticket holder that sits behind me for Sonics games has been a season ticket holder since 1967. I think all of these points support the idea that the city should be working to keep the Sonics and the Storm here in Seattle.

I don't think the city should just bow down to the demands of the Storm/Sonics, but I think they need to start actively working together with the Storm/Sonics to find that solution which I know in my heart must be there. I am biased. I love the sport. I love the teams. Seattle made my list of possible new homes ten years ago SOLELY on the fact that the Sonics played here. Visiting the city and experience the beauty of the region, the vibrance of the culture and the diversity of the population made it the top choice for me, but basketball made me look at the city in the first place.

I want both sides to work things out. I don't actually care how they get there as long as they do so and do so soon. I want to raise my children in this city, and I want to share my love of basketball at all levels with them, here, in this city. I urge all fans of basketball in King County to contact the Mayor, the City Council, and the Governor and voice your support for keeping the Storm and the Sonics here in Seattle.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

LJ Interview

The Storm site has a transcript of an interview session with Lauren Jackson after the announcement of her contract signing. She reveals that it is a three year contract and that as 2008 approaches she will have to sit down with the Storm to discuss a break in the season for Opal preparation and the Olympics. Considering USA basketball does not want the US players to only meet for a week before facing the rest of the world, a large portion of the W with all international players and the best of the US players will be needing time off. The WNBA will likely have to decide what to do that year around the Olympics.

OK, not as if the Storm would ever trade her, but what team takes her now that she said she might not return if she were traded? LJ becomes a master politician as she continues to dominate the basketball world.

LJ declares her three point shot is back, too bad she decided to share that news with Coach Donovan by using it to beat Team USA at the Opals games this summer. LJ shot the long ball fairly poorly last season. She took ten less shots, but shot a sad 29% compared to her blistering 45% in 2004. Despite her poor outside shooting LJ was still dominant and led the league again in efficiency rating and likely SHOULD have won her second MVP award last season. If her 3 ball starts falling again the rest of the league will be in a lot of trouble.

Monday, April 17, 2006

LJ, LJ, LJ....LJ, LJ, LJ!

Lauren Jackson signed her contract (FINALLY) with the Seattle Storm. The surprising item for me in the press release was the word multi-year. LJ has traditionally signed single year contracts allowing her to decide from year to year what she wants to do, so having her decide to sign a multi-year contract is a great "insurance" for the Storm and Storm fans.

Welcome back LJ...we in Seattle are proud to be your home in the Northern Hemisphere. Sue is up for renewal shortly, but the core is currently in place and that gives Coach Donovan a lot more room to tinker with the complementary pieces and bring some more championships to the fans.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Not Much To Say

LJ and the Opals beat the US Senior Women's team. I realize it was America's B-Team, but it may be a sign of things to come if the Senior Women don't tighten things up. I would hate to see them embarass themselves like the men did in Athens. On a side note, Candace Parker has been playing quite well for the US. Keegan has some nice write ups of the games.

I just returned from Beijing. Pollution was horrible though admittedly made worse by dust storms from the desert. I hope it is cleaner by the time the Olympics roll around in 2008. The air looked, smelled and tasted rather unpleasant. It was as bad as I used to imagine LA was back in the 1980's. I would hate to be an athlete trying to train in that.

Alicia Thompson was at the Sonics game last night to award something but I didn't catch what it was. A small child's Bird, Lennox or Jackson jersey is more than $40 at the Team Shop. I can't conceive of paying that much money for something my child will only fit in for a I just cheap? I buy all of my kid's Sonics gear at Value Village, but I have yet to find any Storm gear. Perhaps I need to find a new thrift store.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Technical Difficulties

I have been unable to access the blog while I was in China. I will begin posting again on 4/13.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Draft Day Steal

Erin Grant in the back end of the third round is a definite steal. Way to go AD. I have no clue about Eshe or whether she even has a chance in the Storm front line in camp with Burse, Jackson and Palmer owning their rotational slots and Simone and Johnson in camp as well as Yamasaki already on the camp rosters...we'll have to see.
Welcome Barbara Turner!

With Atkinson gone I knew AD was going UCONN, and based on the buzz and the defensive numbers I wanted her to go Turner over Strother. I got my wish! I saw how she tried to play through cramps in the elimination game and she hit the game winner the game before. She has the kind of fire and championship experience that the Storm needs at the SF position. She will complement the posts well and if her 3 point range is as good as she displayed in the predraft camp she could be the perfect replacement for Chelle. I am still hoping Boeglin is available in the second round...we'll just have to wait and see.
Big Upset

I had a lot to do yesterday...I am not a Duke fan and so I was not overly eager to watch them trounce poor little Maryland...and forgot to set up the DVR to record the game while I was out. Of course the Sportscenter highlights showed me I missed exactly the kind of game I watch basketball to enjoy. Sigh.

Draft in 20 minutes.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jayda Gets to the Bottom of it...

Times reporter Jayda Evans confirms that Anne is looking for a small forward to replace Chelle Thompson who retired and Natalia Vodopyanova who has decided not to return this season. Suzy Batkovic will also not be returning to focus on training with the Opals. Jayda also agrees that both Strother and Atkinson are likely choices saying that Turner is too small. I suppose that it will all depend on how the draft goes. Atkinson was not mentioned in any of the pre-draft camp interviews but both Strother and Turner were noted as standouts by teams picking before the Storm in the draft. One more day...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Small Forward Draft Options

If Candace Dupree is still available Anne will take her. If not, she is taking either Anne Strother Barbara Turner La'Tangela Atkinson. I have no inside information, just based on her print and radio interviews and the likely available players, this is my bet.

Anne Strother
Floor %: 44%
Stop %: 66%
Off Rtg: 105.41
Def Rtg: 76.60

Barbara Turner
Floor %: 57%
Stop %: 74%
Off Rtg: 119.05
Def Rtg: 73.99

La'Tangela Atkinson
Floor %: 50%
Stop %: 66%
Off Rtg: 103.87
Def Rtg: 72.37

I disagree with Kevin Pelton and think Turner is the pick if all are still available with her stronger defense and solid shooting percentage. If Turner is gone I say Atkinson gets the nod. Trudi Lacey likes Turner's long range shooting in the pre-draft camp. Becky Hammon indicates some buzz around Turner in the camp in general. Penny Toler cites Strother and Zolman as standing out. Pat Coyle likes Turner and Strother. Richie Adubato wants a SF, so he may go for one of Kevin's three and leave Candace available.

Nancy Lieberman has Atkinson going at #8 and Strother at #10 but the rest of the "experts" have Atkinson available though Graham Hays and John Schuhmann have the Storm picking Strother over Atkinson. Matt Wurst and Nancy are behind the times thinking AD will pick Erin Grant or Sherill Baker when she already has said she will NOT pick a point guard with the #11 pick.

None of the experts are picking Turner, which is surprising because she put up similar numbers to Strother with less minutes. She doesn't take as many threes as Strother but gets to the free throw line significantly more often and is a much better rebounder, though undersized at the three.
Tocarra Williams

It was suggested to me that I take a look at Tocarra Williams college numbers rather than her WNBA numbers to see if Boeglin's defense is as important to the Storm as I seem to feel. I got a chance to do so in Logan airport in Boston this here is what I came up with...

Tocarra Williams 03/04 Texas A&M
Floor %: 45%
Stop %: 77%
Off. Rtg: 91.95
Def. Rtg: 85.25

Boeglin still looks better to me, but I have to admit that a 77% stop percentage is still darn good and likely makes the need for Boeglin less pressing, if Williams is still able to play that level of defense at the WNBA level.

There is an interview with AD at the WNBA site where she makes it clear that she intends to pick best player available in the draft since bringing in veteran leadership via the Wendy Palmer signing. Where does that leave the Storm in this week's draft? Who will be the best pick at the 11th spot? The first six picks are probably a lock, but the next five will vary based on team needs and desires. With youth and strength in the post, I still expect AD to go for a perimeter player, likely a shooting guard or a small forward. She could look for a young center, but I doubt that she seeks a young point guard early. I will have to look more closely at the other players in that tier and see what my guesses are.

KJR has posted a podcast interview (I sent David Locke an email begging for it, glad to see it up there) with Anne Dononvan in Boston that was aired during the Sonics pregame show last night. My take on the interview is that AD is shooting for a SF at the 11th pick but will take a specific post player if she slips that far. She said she will NOT take a point guard at the 11th pick, that she feels she has solved that with their free agent signings. She never mentions a two guard which says that she is satisfied with the Betty/Tanisha rotation at that slot. She also indicates satisfaction that their 11th pick will play for them this season and help "down the stretch" along the lines of Tanisha Wright last year. She indicates the draft depth is strong enough to have players make rosters this year all the way into the early second round.

On a side is my resounding vote that Locke and Woodward get the nod to do both the Storm and the Sonics radio broadcasts on their new station next season. Kevin Calabro is going to do TV only (or radio when there is no TV) which means someone new is needed for the radio play by play. David will have to save the numbers talk for pregame/postgame and halftime, but I think he is a great choice to call the games.