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.