Thursday, May 31, 2007

5-25 Storm vs. Silver Stars

Individual Plus/Minus



Most Effective Lineups

Wright-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Burse +8
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse +3
Wright-Castro-Ely-Robinson-Fluker +2

Top Shooters

PlayereFG%Floor %
Janel Burse56%64%
Sue Bird56%41%
Wendy Palmer50%60%
Izi Castro Marques50%39%

Top Individual Rating

Shyra Ely175.54
Janel Burse108.20
Sue Bird94.92

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Je visite à Cannes, France pour mon travaille. Cannes, Nice et Monaco sont très jolies.

I got here at the tail end of the film festival (if you are jealous, check out SIFF which is running its festival in Seattle right now!) and while I did not get to see any films I did stumble on a few celebrities. I was out for a run early on Monday and passed the fantastic Bill Murray, and while eating dinner on Tuesday evening was passed by Armand Assante and Orlando Bloom. I typically don't notice famous people, but given the large number of celebs in such a small town it was rather hard to fail to notice a few.

I have had little time to work on the stats from the Silver Stars game last Friday, my "real" job has kept me busy day and night. Top that off with jet lag from a 9 hour time difference (I write this at 2 pm here though it is barely 5 am back home) and I am pretty punchy. Saturday will be an adventure, I leave Nice at 11am, then leave Amsterdam at 3pm arriving in Seattle at 3pm and heading to the game that very night. I am sure the Storm will wake me up.

I will post as soon as I am able to finish running the lineup numbers.

Friday, May 25, 2007

5-23 Mercury @ Storm

Corrected 6/1


Player On Off Net
Bird +25 -12 +37
Lennox +22 -9 +31
Castro +14 -1 +15
Jackson +26 -13 +39
Burse +21 -8 +29
Gearlds -1 +14 -15
Palmer -2 +15 -17
Robinson -13 +26 -39
Wright -15 +28 -25
Ely -6 +19 -25
Fluker -6 +19 -25

Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse +16
Bird-Lennox-Gearlds-Jackson-Palmer +8
Bird-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Burse +5

Best Shooters
EFG%: 95%
Floor%: 68%
IR: 161.89

EFG%: 67%
Floor%: 81%
IR: 142.91

EFG%: 56%
Floor%: 61%
IR: 128.63

EFG%: 50%
Floor%: 46%
IR: 97.64

Janel Burse shot horribly which offset her outstanding rebounding and defense for overall IR.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Before I forget...

You HAVE to read the new "Bird and Dee" blog at the W site. It is a HOOT.


But you know what people overlook? My assists. I was top five in assists, too, last season, which is pretty good.


I know you always like to bring up how you were top five in assists last year, but the truth is that you're able to get all of those assists because you
draw so much attention as a scorer.

Bird again

That said, stop carrying the ball. You carry the ball all the time and I hope the refs start calling you for it as they have been instructed to do in their "points of emphasis" training video. I love that you and Katie Douglas are the examples for people who carry the ball every time.

The Storm dance troupe are looking good again this year...they have merged back to one group with the older and younger kids in one group. I like this format better.

It was another great game.

Betty played with serious heart and gave her brother Clarence a long, emotional hug at the end of the game. Our hearts are with you and your family Betty, whatever the issue, you are in our thoughts.

JB returned to form and pulls down a career high 19 rebounds. I am greedy, I wanted 20.

Katie Gearlds hit her first WNBA three pointer.

The Storm, particularly Izi, simply put the brakes on Taurasi tonight. Cappie had Sue's number, but Izi stopped Diana.

LJ was, well...LJ. I have noticed that her little runner in the lane has made a return for the first time in a few years. I still remember when she was a rookie and that was ALL she had given the coverage she faced in the pre-Sue days. I like it as an additional option to her baseline fadeaway and step-back three.

Penny Taylor got stuck on JB a lot and paid the price with serious foul trouble. They simply could not guard JB down low, and NO ONE on the Mercury was strong enough to box her out.

The bench is still struggling. Katie Gearlds did all right with the starters, as did Wendy Palmer but the bench as a whole seems lost when they are on the floor in force.

The offense still goes stagnant when Sue sits. Tanisha is looking good defensively, but the slower offense has led to 24 second shot clock violations, bad last second shots and turnovers.

The whole family came to the game but the little guy missed his nap today and they left me solo at the end of the third quarter. Connor was VERY happy that the red car run the race and even happier that Doppler gave him a high five and tickled him. "Doppler, he's so silly."

What happened to the Kids at the Key $1.00 food stand? It was closed at 5 minutes before game time...I rely on the 6 Oreos for a buck to make it through 4 quarters with the kids!!! What are they doing to me?

Jayda Evans gave a TV interview at the half to FSNW. She looked REALLY nervous until she went live and then she was all business. Go Jayda.

Mike called from the Sonics this morning to tell me that they got the second pick in the draft, like I hadn't read the newspaper, heard it on the radio, read it on the internet and saw it on StormVision. What a surprise. He wanted me to know that he was saving my seat for me but not for much longer. Unfortunately Mike forgot to check the system before he called me or he would have seen that I ALREADY RENEWED! The last time I didn't renew after they tanked a season and didn't re-sign Brent Barry and I regretted it when they went on to win 52 games and I had to buy a stack of game packs to get the end of the season. Sigh.


Busy, Busy, Busy


The Sonics landed the number 2 pick in the draft.

If the Storm win the championship combined with a potentially better Sonics team, does the city get behind the teams and keep them here?

My wife took one more year of work here in Seattle so no move to LA as I feared. I renewed my Sonics season ticket (a thing I swore that I would not do).

This is a very busy week for me and I will likely be late posting the +/- data...then I leave for France for a week and insomnia may have me posting very quick results for those games, we'll just have to see. The whole family joins me for the Mercury game in a little over an hour...I better get ready.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

5-20 Seattle vs. Houston

Wow. What can I say. The whole game was just a blast. The crowd was huge and loud. The players made a record comeback. LJ hits a halfcourt shot at the buzzer. Even Connor left cheering for the Storm even though they beat his Red Grills. He played shy again when LJ shot her fourth quarter free throws in front of us he turned and hid his face in my shoulder.

Here are the stats...
Floor %Eff FG%Ast RatioTov RatioStop%Off RtgNet PointsPts ProdPelton IR+/-

OK, that html paste was a mess we'll keep it ugly but simple from now on.


Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse -12
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Robinson +30
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Robinson-Burse +1
Bird-Gearlds-Castro-Robinson-Burse -1
Wright-Gearlds-Castro-Robinson-Burse -1
Wright-Lennox-Gearlds-Jackson-Burse 0
Wright-Lennox-Gearlds-Jackson-Palmer -3
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Palmer +5
Wright-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Palmer 0
Wright-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Fluker -5
Wright-Gearlds-Ely-Jackson-Fluker -3
Wright-Gearlds-Ely-Robinson-Fluker -2

Bird-Castro-Ely-Jackson-Robinson +4

Obviously the starters with A-Rob simply rocked. A-Rob was +31!!!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Opening Night

It's opening night and all we get from the Times is an article on former assistant coach Jessie Kenlaw who is now with Houston. Sigh. Remind me why I subscribed to these three papers, silly me.

Jayda Evans appears to have rightfully shamed Storm owner Clay Bennett into attending tonight's near lower bowl sellout game after Jayda critisized him for not planning to attend per Lenny Wilkens comments.

PI rookie Fessenden gives us a look at the players.

The News Tribune breaks a story of a local owner trying to buy the Sonics and Storm and being rejected by Bennett and his ownership team. They also say that the ever fantastic Karen Bryant tried to buy the Storm from Bennett and was rebuffed. Sabey the real estate mogul appears quite serious and has already bought 55 acres of land to build a new arena. What is going on in Bennett's head?

And Wendy Carpenter (the only person to respond to my letters to the editor) covers the Houston coaching story.

I am too pumped to write or even think about the game. I am going to take a long walk at Greenlake and try and clear my head.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Another Letter to the Editor

Todays waste of space article at the PI ticked me off to write a second email to their sports editors.

With regard to "Other Voices: Women don't watch WNBA, either" in the 17 May
edition of the Seattle PI...

Mr. Dahlberg is entitled to his opinion. He is entitled to write about whatever he pleases. I do not understand, however, why the editors of the PI felt it necessary to print the article as part of the 2007 WNBA preview. I have never seen an "other voice" article in the NBA preview that says that the NBA is a bunch of overpaid, under educated thugs or any "Why Major League Baseball bores the pants off me?" at the start of the Mariners season. Certainly we don't have anything negative to print about the NFL or our Seahawks.

The fact that the editorial staff felt it necessary to pick up an AP article to add to the season preview of the WNBA as an "Other Voice" contribution says to me that the editors are wasting their time and effort. Why would WNBA fans want to hear what someone, who freely admits has never seen a WNBA game, has to say about the league or women's sports in general?

It is lazy journalism to poke fun at a topic like this particularly when you have no
knowledge about the subject which you are criticising. It has been done for 11 years, and frankly you would think sports writers would have something more interesting to write about and editors would look for something with more worth to fill their space with.

Take a look at what Matt Wurst has to say on about this very topic.

Ranking the League

I am taking a stab at a consensus ranking of the two conferences. I will use published information from the following sources:

Nancy Lieberman
Mechelle Voepel
Kevin (pilight) WNBA fan blogger and stat man

I am awarding points as follows...

Improved Roster Comments: 1 point
Playoff Choice: 2 points
Regular Season Winners: 3 points
WNBA Finals: 4 points
WNBA Champs: 5 points
Fail to make playoffs: -2
Negative Roster Comments: -1

Here is how it came out...

Indiana Fever: 29 points
Seattle Storm: 20 points
Detroit Shock: 16 points
LA Sparks: 10 points
Sacramento Monarchs: 7 points
Washington Mystics: 7 points
Phoenix Mercury: 5 points
Connecticut Sun: 4 points
San Antonio Silver Stars: 0 points
Chicago Sky: -5 points
Minnesota Lynx: -6 points
Houston Comets: -12 points
New York Liberty: -12 points

You can tell who got any votes for WNBA champ, but only four of us made a prediction in that category. It looks like all of us were pretty high on the Fever this year, though they weren't my champs. I am surprised at how beat up Houston got, lots of negatives from all of us about their backcourt with no one having them make the post season. We all think Diana and Cappie take the Mercury to their first playoff series this year. San Antonio has been in the dumps forever, but if Sacramento fails to achieve under rookie head coach Boucek, they could slip in as well, though Lieberman was the only to put them in the post season (at LA's expense.)

One more day!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Here is a copy of an email I sent to the editors at the Times, PI and News Tribune. The WNBA has asked fans to contact their local papers to encourage more coverage. I have now subscribed to all three with delivery of the Times (Jayda Evans' work earns that) and donation of the PI and News Tribune subscriptions to the Newspapers in Education program. If they keep up the coverage I will run the subscriptions through the WNBA finals.

First, I want to thank the sports editors of the Times, the News Tribune and the PI for providing some of the best WNBA coverage in the country. The Times in particular has shined with the (there from the start) work of the excellent Jayda Evans. Darren Fessenden at the PI is new this year but he is showing promise this week with his latest pieces and Wendy Carpenter has done a nice job the past couple of years (though we don't see quite enough of her work.)

As the WNBA prepares to kick off its 2007 season and the WNBA's Seattle Storm are ready to challenge the league and bring home their second professional sports championship to this city. All three championships earned by this city are Basketball championships. While the city and state politicians (with rare exceptions) don't seem to have any interest in the teams or their role in the community, we sports fans do.

I challenge both the editorial and reporting staffs at your three papers to raise the bar on coverage of the WNBA this summer. Storm fans in Seattle are hungry for news and eager to support the team in what has to be a special season for the Storm. I will do my part. I don't subscribe to any of your papers (reading them online to avoid the massive recycling), but I will subscribe to all three this summer to show my support for your current efforts in covering basketball in general and the WNBA in particular. I will encourage other fans to do the same or to donate subscriptions to charity for those that already subscribe.

You are doing a good job...I challenge you to do a GREAT job. I look forward to your season previews in the next few days.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Goodbye, Barb! Welcome, Shyra!

Barbara Turner was unable to prove her worth to the team in three days of practice and was waived by the Storm this evening awarding the final roster spot to Shyra Ely.

I loved Barb's energy and her personality last season, I will miss her as will many Storm fans.

I have added Barb's Fast Break clip from last year to the site to wish her well. I can't see any teams picking her up before Friday and I am not sure how long they have to wait to sign her once the season kicks off. We will see her somewhere before the end of the season, perhaps here in Seattle again.


I may not have seen Ray Allen with his daughter at any Storm games, but Jayda Evans got the real scoop and I feel justifiedly shamefaced. Of course Jayda is a JOURNALIST and has to do research while a blogger like me is free (so far) to just run off at the mouth uninformed and opinionated without consequence. So Ray's commercial for the WNBA is genuine and from the heart and he hopes his daughter makes it to the WNBA someday. I know you are recovering from surgery Ray, but you better bring Tierra to the finals if the Storm make it back this year. It may be your last chance.

Opening night is in three days. I will have a real problem. The Comets will most likely be wearing their road reds. Connor is obsessed with LJ as I described earlier this week, yes, but LJ is second tier to the color red. Red always wins. The answer to which anything is always, "The Red one." The red women are going to try to beat LJ on Saturday, Connor, who is going to win, the red guys or LJ? "The Red grills will win." (He has a little trouble with the word 'girl.') I imagine there will be lots of "why isn't LJ Red" questions this weekend.

Jayda and Alan say the Shyra vs. Barb camp battle is no clearer with Barb here in town. It may prove good that she returned early since she has not yet proven herself in her first two days of practice and she would only have had one had she stayed in Turkey. All other things equal, I have to say height beats experience, you can't teach height as AD well knows. Come on Barb, step it up a notch, I want to see you on opening night in the wonky new tribal uni putting Sheryl Swoopes in her place.

Jayda also quotes Anne as saying that she wouldn't use Barb at the four this year but might use Shyra there if she sticks, purely because of height. Barb played 132 minutes at power forward in pairings with six centers last season and came out +3 overall at that position (she was -33 overall) so she actually played well at the four. Her best pairings were with Jackson (+13) and Robinson (+13) though she played poorly with Burse (-7) and Johnson (-14). I believe Anne COULD play her at the four against teams like Phoenix, but what do I know?

I was hard on the newbie at the PI (at least they have someone covering the team regularly, unlike the Trib who seems to only publish a Wendy Carpenter piece when the stars are properly aligned) Darren Fessenden but he had two articles this week that I enjoyed.

The ESPN piece on the owner of the Russian Spartak team that Sue, LJ and Diana Taurasi played on this spring is fantastic. I stumbled on it yesterday while looking to see what Lieberman and Voepel had to say. It is among the best sports articles I have read and may be the best WNBA piece I have ever seen. Kudos to ESPN and who the heck is this Jim Caple guy? It is a must read, this guy is fascinating. He says something about pampering the players comparing Taurasi to Madonna or Streisand saying attracting fans by singing or scoring, who cares they deserve cars, drivers and security. It is a different business model over there, but I still feel that there has to be a better way to accelerate the model here in the States, I just don't have that answer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Anne vs. Barb

I am a little ticked at some fans attacking Anne Donovan for telling Barbara Turner that her spot was not guaranteed and that she needed to report to camp to be evaluated. In the end, some fans are making harsh judgements that Coach Donovan has ruined Barb's overseas career by "forcing" her to choose between her commitments to her Turkish contract and her commitments to the Storm.

First of all, Barb made her commitment to the Storm well before any commitments to her teams in Israel and Turkey. She walked away from a contract in Israel to play in Turkey, and according to Alan Horton, who has access to both Anne and Barb, she talked to Anne before signing her contract in Turkey. Anne made clear at the time what was expected of Barb to make the team and let her make her own decision. Barb knew the risks and understood that it might come to this.

Secondly, Anne Donovan is the Head Coach and General manager of one of the best franchises in the world's premier, professional, women's basketball league, the WNBA. They aren't the highest paying because business models are different in every league and the W just doesn't have the corporate sponsorship support in the US as other leagues do in other countries particularly in Europe (remember that Turkey is EU now.) We may think that they should, but they don't. However, from caliber of the players to quality of the teams, this is the league women players around the globe look at if they want to make their mark. Players that play well in the US are likely to have enough press to get a chance at a better contract in Europe or Asia, unless they are local to the country in which they are playing. I don't have the facts to back this up, but it appears to be commonly accepted to be the truth by the players. She has a responsibilty to her employers, her coaching staff and the players on the team to make the best hiring decisions she can to make this a strong team and compete to win another championship. This year, moreso than any other, a basketball championship could be of tremendous value to the franchise in terms of getting them attention around the arena pitch.

Barb was a good player for this team last year. She brought energy off the bench and earned a spot in the starting lineup when regular starter Iziane Castro-Marques was struggling. She had good stats for her minutes and was in a number of strong plus/minus lineups and player pairs. She is a tweener, however, she is too short to play big minutes at the PF spot in the W and did not shoot well enough last season to be a true SF in the W. She left the W postseason after a frustrating first round playoff loss where she failed to contribute anything of value. She left with assignments. I don't know what they were, but I can guess. Shoot better from midrange and long range. Improve perimeter defense. She guarded the post through four years in Connecticut and was used to more physical defense. The Storm have a glaring hole in terms of their halfcourt perimeter defense. Sue is a great defender in transition but not so much in the half court with regards to individual defense. Betty is too short to ever be totally effective on the perimeter against the big shooting guards in the league. Tanisha does not add much when it comes to height. Izi is the best perimeter defender on the team now that Tully is gone, and when Izi sits someone has to play perimeter D or every perimeter on the other team just attacks the basket and passes out to an open player. The post can only help one other player effectively. If Barb wants to play she has to be that perimeter defender. They can still use her down low against smaller lineups, and she will have a strength advantage against SF's on offense, but someone has to fill the gap on defense for the Storm to win more games. This was a key focus for coaching Katie Gearlds coming in to camp. They knew she could shoot, but they wanted her to learn to use her length to become a better perimeter defender.

So what happened?

Barb did a good job for the Storm last year and the coaches know her strengths, her weaknesses and how she fits their system. They know what they need from her this year, but they need to see her to see if she has come along. The box scores from Israel and Turkey don't tell too much, quality of opponents and what system she is playing in are still mysteries. What if she has a minor injury that they aren't aware of? There is no room for a mistake. Injured players count against the cap. The Storm only have room for one more player with less than three years of experience on the roster. They lose that player they have to hope for an injury exception or some other bail out, but I believe they have to wait until later in the season to sign those 10 day contracts.

Barb's team did really well and made it to the championship round in their league, just not well enough to close things out early, allowing the series to stretch out to 7 games and leave Barb one practice before the W's 12pm noon roster deadline on Friday.

To top all that off, a similar player with league experience came into camp and showed improvements to her game which made her a potential asset to the team. She was shooting well, picking up the system, playing defense and rebounding. She also had the gift of genetics in an extra two inches of height.

Put yourself in Anne's shoes for a moment. From Anne's POV, Shyra Ely who is there everyday in camp was looking better than Barb did the last time Anne saw her. We are not talking a big advantage, but Shyra today would beat Barb from last year's playoffs. If Barb worked on her game and improved in the areas the coaching staff assigned in the exit interviews last season then you FEEL Barb will again have the edge. What do you do now? You need to see where Barb is with her progress. You think she could do it, but you haven't seen her play for far too long. Shyra is getting better every day in practice.

In the end Anne let it ride and let Barb make the decision. Her friends and team mates told her that she needed to come back. They were playing with Shyra and could see where things were headed. They believed in Barb, but they knew she needed to show Anne what she has accomplished. Barb came back. She walked away from her last paycheck and perhaps hurt her chances at a contract next year in Europe. It was still her choice and she decided playing with the Storm this season was the option that was most important to her.

I don't blame either Anne or Barb and frankly I don't think this should be Anne vs. Barb. I think that this should be a major issue on Donna Oreander's plate. This issue comes up every year. Camps don't have their best players until late in camp. Perhaps potential talent is lost to the league because they can't get international players invited to camps. The hard salary cap is very restrictive and as the league gets older and more talent fills roster spots the pressure on that hard cap will just get harder. The CBA is up for negotiation next year and negotiations continue with FIBA regarding schedules. Donna and her staff need to put every ounce of energy into addressing these issues.

They aren't likely to solve issues this complex in one year, but they have a chance to make some steps towards addressing them. I hope they do. The league is still fighting uphill battles to grow in every way, they don't need this issue to grow out of control. Can you imagine the 2008 olympics if all the best players miss a huge chunk of the season? What if next generation stars decide that the money is more important than playing in the W and don't come back? I realize the issues are complicated. I don't offer any answers. I just offer my plea that they find some compromises soon and eliminate the Us vs. Them fingerpointing that arises every year around this topic.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I have a little story to share.

Thanks to Katie Dahl from the Storm, by the way, for providing an extra ticket for my older (and basketball hating) son to come to today's Meet Your Team event. He did like the muffins (sorry to whoever has to clean up the mess, muffins don't mix well with my boys, more on the floor than in their bellies.)

I said earlier today that Connor almost did not make the game last night once he learned that LJ was not yet in town. All we heard today was, "Where's LJ? Oh, there she is. She has yellow hair and a gray shirt. LJ has a black shirt on. Where is LJ now?" LJ, LJ, LJ. OK, I like LJ, too, but this was ridiculous.

They sit through practice, starting out asking questions, ending up wrestling and making noise. I drag them up to the tunnels so they can run around and I can listen to the Q&A. Things wrap up and I am ready to go. Connor, however, has other ideas. Somehow, while he was running around screeching, he heard that the players were going to walk around to different sections. "I want to shake LJ's hand!" I try to explain to him that LJ is tired, she has to talk to all these fans when I am sure that she wants a nap, it will be boring blah, blah, blah as they answer questions from fans, etc, etc, etc. He will have none of it.

After reminding his older brother that this trip was for Connor, we head down to try and find the basketball picture section. I don't know where it was because we quit after the 5th section we hit has lots of empty seats and Alan Horton is saying to spread out evenly. JB is talking. It turns out that we sat in the third station from the end of the day for LJ. He looks at every player and coach that comes by and says..."Where's LJ. I want to see her. Lift me up. Show me where LJ is." Over, and over and over.

Don't get me wrong, I love the boy. He is my basketball child. His brother told me three years ago that basketball was dumb and boring and he didn't want to go to another game, ever. I am very thankful for his unbridled enthusiasm for the only sport I love. This LJ thing is getting out of control.

Finally, it is time for LJ to come. I warn him that she is just here to talk and likely doesn't feel like coming into physical contact with the fans. I know she has a rep for being shy, and now she is bound to be exhausted between jetlag and practice. He doesn't hear any of it. I tell him that he can walk the four steps to stand behind the front row as close to LJ as possible and maybe she will see him and give him a smile. He takes one step and freezes. There is LJ. She walks up to our group and his smile breaks out huge. He starts to giggle and suddenly turns around and runs away to hide. The entire time LJ is in our section the little guy pretends to completely ignore her, not returning until the buzzer sounds and Sue strolls over. After Betty wraps up the day for our section, I try to round the boys up and ask Connor what happened. He won't answer and tells me not to talk to him. Then he sees LJ in the tunnel and says..."That's LJ! I want to go see her." I tell him I'm sorry but she's all done for the day and we have to go.

As we are walking back to our car outside (with Connor on my shoulders) he starts to cry and tells me he's sorry. I ask him why he is sorry and he says that he is sorry that he hid from LJ. I tell him it is OK, he doesn't need to be sorry but he is very upset. Finally I get it out of him that he was too shy (he didn't even have a word for it, I had to figure it out) to say anything to LJ when she was that close. It was just too much for him. Faced with LJ only a few feet away he just didn't know what to do. I told him that it was perfectly normal. I was inches from Betty today and could barely mumble a return "Hi," as I tried to keep the boys from ramming into her. I think about how hard it must be to come face to face with a hero when you are just three years old. I think LJ has to be his first hero (besides Mom or Dad, that is). I think LJ is great (how could you not), but I have always been one to root for the underdog, not the best player on the court. I don't know why he became so focused on her, but he has.

He was still talking about it this evening after his nap. "Next time I will say hi to LJ. I will tell her it is OK for her to come to our house. We can have a play date." I just shake my head and smile. "OK, Connor. Sure. Next time I bet you will say hi to her."

Oh my. He is three. What happens when he turns five? Someone please tell me he grows out of this.


The official box score says 6,891. I am not a good judge of these things (except at reading sold out after seeing hundreds of empty seats) but I was definitely taken aback by the unexpectedly large number of people at a preseason game. There were a lot of empty seats, but it was a normal regular season sized crowd for a midweek game. Last season I felt like the energy of key arena was slipping. Opening night was spectacular and then things just died down. Maybe the poor home game record contributed to the energy levels, we have gotten used to winning in the Key. However, the energy was there last night. The crowd was pumped up and it got the players pumped up. By the end of the fourth quarter both were in midseason form. It felt fantastic to be back in Key Arena.

My three year old almost didn't come to the game. I made the mistake of telling him that LJ wasn't going to play because she was still on the plane and his lower lip rolled out into his pout and he crossed his arms, stomped his foot and said "enh!" He has a thing for our favorite Aussie. In the end he came and as we walked up the hill to the Key he started chanting "Bas-ket-ball! Bas-ket-ball!"

Jenny Boucek got some well deserved love from the crowd. She looked great and certainly didn't look like someone who was sick at the start of camp. Kevin Pelton asked her about her health which she said is fine.

Yo also got a lot of love, but was a step slow all night, however as a seasoned vet she may have been in preseason mode.

Polite applause for Shyra and Tye'sha, good cheers for the returnees and huge cheers for Wendy and Betty. It only took five games for Seattle to love Wendy Palmer.

The game started slow and sloppy with the Storm failing to find a good shot against the Sacramento defense, but they were probing and patient, which I do like. The patience worked because when they got things figured out they started attacking with passion.

JB got hurt in the first defensive possession, 39 seconds into the game. She was in pain and Betty was frantically waving to AD to take her out as she rubbed that left shoulder and grimaced. She was rotating it herself which told me it wasn't dislocated, but panic set in. She looked fine on the sidelines later in the game but it took reading Live From Press Row to relax me once I got home.

Ashley Robinson. What can I say. She may have played even better than she looked last night, and if you have seen her before, you know that meant she was pretty darn good. The box score credits her with seven points, 6 blocks, 2 steals and 10 rebounds. That looks like an Andrei Kirilenko line from an NBA's Utah Jazz box score. It doesn't even tell the whole story. Ashley was everywhere, jumping up to alter shots, help defense on the perimeter preventing penetration, slapping the ball away from guards going to the basket, boxing out, here defense was fantastic. She slowed down a bit near the end of the night, but the Storm won't need 35 minutes from her many nights. If she comes off the bench with that kind of energy every night? She looked like JB in 2004 with more defense and less offense. Her offseason work has paid off and her confidence is high. AD sure recognizes and nurtures potential in her posts. This may be the strongest post rotation Seattle has ever had. The way she played last night she could start on most WNBA teams.

Katie Gearlds took a while to warm up, but she never stopped shooting and by the end of the game they were going in. She is much longer than I expected, from her height to her wingspan. She played better defense than I expected, guiding her assignment to the right spots, staying in front of them and being scrappy with her hands. She is going to fit in nicely and will have a much easier time when LJ and Sue are back.

T did not make a lot of mistakes. If she plays like she did last night she will be a solid backup for Sue, as long as she has shooter on the floor. She won't be hitting that many open threes this season either, but she penetrates and she plays scrappy defense. She didn't have Ticha to contend with last night, but as a backup, she won't likely face the opposing starters much and she had Haynie under control at both ends.

Izi is gambling a lot on defense, but with that post lineup she may be able to do it this season. Her gambles only hurt the Storm a couple of times. She was confident, aggressive defensively and took the ball to the basket drawing fouls.

Seattle took to breaking Sacramento's pressure by getting the ball up the floor fast and looking for a quick lane to the basket. If they didn't see one then they worked the ball around looking for a good post 0ption or penetrated and looked for shooters. I would have like to see more pick and roll, but they may be saving that for Sue and LJ. I like the options available with this bench.

Betty was money. Pure and simple. She was biding her time and took over the end of the game in vintage fashion. She said she worked on her three point shooting this winter, and it showed. I saw she was 6-6 from deep on StormVision in the 4th and I yelled down to her that 6-6 was just sick. She ended up 7-8 and Kevin Pelton points out that would have been a team and league record were this a regular season game. Nothing beats the smile she had shooting (and hitting) two free throws near the end of the game after she was knocked to the floor penetrating to the basket. She seemed to be indicating all the places she was hurting, her ankle her shoulder, her head, but all with a smile.

Wendy looked good, but her minutes were limited and she doesn't seem to have as much lift on the offensive board putbacks as she did last season. I hope that returns as the season progresses.

We didn't get to see much of Ely or Fluker. Fluker started off strong and will be a good 5th post of the bench or 4th in injury situations. She could get better as the season moves on and she settles into her role and understands the system better. Ely looked awkward and would have been a complete wash for the night except for the nifty move she got off a risky interior pass from Katie that Shyra got her hands on, spun, went up and under, scored and drew the foul. She is clearly longer than Barb, but looks nowhere near as strong. She didn't look very fast (did I mention awkward) and had NONE of the passion and energy that BT brings whenever she steps on the floor. Either she looks different in practice or Anne is messing with our heads (and Barb's). Let's wish for a win in their next game and get her back to show AD what she's got.

I missed seeing David and Elise. They have moved Alan and Adia way up top rather than down courtside. I wonder how Locke feels being in Key Arena at a Storm game and NOT being behind the microphone. It must be a little awkward, though I am sure the NBA season wore him out. 82 games is a lot of games for someone used to 34.

My son had a blast. Doppler gave him a high five (afer he almost fell down the riser stairs trying to get to Doppler.) He is still too small for the train, which was insane last night. It was definitely a preseason train...not in terms of size (it was huge) but it took much longer to clear the floor than in previous seasons. I noticed the trains getting sloppy last season, they need to clear things up this year. In past years those kids were off the floor in instants, last season it started to drag out and last night it took WAY too long.

I really don't like the "Get Struck!" campaign. It seems really weak after "Seeing is Believing," and even the logo is kind of lame. The "pump the crowd up" opening video was a little weak as well. The music was not that exciting and the video seemed sloppy, but perhaps that was just me.

The dance team looked good. It also looked much bigger than in the past.

I can't believe we have to wait a whole week for the next game. What a let down after experiencing that charged atmosphere last night. Ah, well.

Friday, May 11, 2007

2006 Storm Player Pairs

Before I head into the player pair numbers, I thought it worthwhile to look back at 2005. Ever wonder about what the injury impacts last season had on Anne Donovan's lineups? Coach Donovan used 140 different lineup combinations in the 2005 season, the first year she had two starting posts play all 34 games. Last year LJ, JB and Wendy all had injuries throughout the season. Coach Donovan deployed 212 different lineups in 2006. That is a 51% increase in the number of lineups from 2005 to 2006.

Of the top ten most used lineups in 2005, two of them repeated in 2006's top ten.

2005 - +71 in 258 minutes
2006 - +57 in 166 minutes

2005 - -1 in 132 minutes
2006 - -2 in 25 minutes

2006 Top 10 Player Pairs

Net Plus/Minus
Bird and Jackson: +185
Jackson and Burse: +151
Lennox and Jackson: +127
Castro and Jackson: +95
Bird and Burse: +89
Turner and Jackson: +86
Bird and Lennox: +68
Gortman and Jackson: +65
Lennox and Burse: +56
Bird and Castro: +48

Net40 (>10 minutes played)
Gortman and Castro: +20
Gortman and Jackson: +18
Palmer and Johnson: +16
Jackson and Burse: +15
Castro and Turner: +13
Wright and Palmer: +12
Lawson and Castro: +12
Gortman and Burse: +12
Castro and Robinson: +11
Turner and Jackson: +11

Minutes Played
Bird and Lennox (+68): 722 minutes
Bird and Jackson (+185): 711 minutes
Lennox and Jackson (+127): 629 minutes
Bird and Burse (+89): 581 minutes
Bird and Castro (+48): 539 minutes
Bird and Johnson (-73): 485 minutes
Lennox and Burse (+56): 475 minutes
Bird and Turner (+30): 450 minutes
Castro and Jackson (+95): 449 minutes
Lennox and Castro (+9): 437 minutes

Quite a few of these pairs could be seen again this season.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Izi, Izi, Izi!

Fans on some of the most popular fan forums like and Rebkell have complained in the past about Iziane Castro-Marques. There was a lot of talk last year that Barb Turner would replace her in the starting lineup (which did happen for a number of games in the middle of the season) and this year there was a lot of talk that she wouldn't be signed again this offseason. Once Gearlds was drafted some have suggested that Izi would be replaced in the starting lineup by this year's rookie.

I have loved Izi since she first came to Seattle. Watching her recklessly run the floor with such speed was exhilirating, even when she was a still a little out of control and not quite able to finish early on. I think mostly it is that amazing, infectious smile. She has such serious intensity on the floor, but when the whistle blows for a timeout or the buzzer ends the game and she just radiates joy and fun. David Locke got a lot of criticism by fans of opposing teams last year for his homerism in his broadcasts, but David has always let his emotion and passion come through in his game calling and Izi got him as well with his "Izi, Izi, Izi!" call when she gets out on the break for a layup or hits the open three. I remember the first time David dragged Izi out in front of the crowd after a game where she first came up big. She was half shy, tentative with her English and obviously overwhelmed by the adoration being showered on her. This year she said (I wish I could remember where...) that when she was slumping last season it was the fan support that helped bring her out of the slump and back into the starting lineup. (While that was a generous statement, Izi earned that on the road with back to back solid performances including her career high 26 points against the Liberty in Madison Square Garden.) She is more confident, and comfortable now, and that smile just lights up the arena when she turns it on.

I mentioned yesterday that the lineup +/- for the starters seemed less dependant on who played the three than any other position. That even made me question where Iziane will fit in this year. Then I went back to look at the other numbers and was reminded that it is not just her speed and defense that earns her the start. She is not flashy, and she doesn't look to score, but when she tries to score, she is the fifth best Floor % option. Barb Turner is slightly ahead of Izi in that category. When it comes to Effective FG %, however, Barb doesn't make the cut and Izi is only beat by Lauren Jackson. Izi was fourth (again a hair behind BT) for best individual rating which essentially subtracts negative stats like TOV's, missed FG's and FT's from the positve stats like Points, FGM, FTM, steals, rebounds, assists and blocks. She is second on the team (behind LJ again) for net +/-, and third on the team for Net per 40 and Net per game.

This is why Izi starts for Anne Donovan. Anne may not know the numbers, but she knows the game and I think Izi's value is clearer to her than to any of those doubters mentioned above. Barb and Katie have different strengths than Izi, and they will give depth to the lineup and options for the coaches to exploit in various situations, but I now feel officially silly for doubting Izi or why Anne Donovan has such confidence in her.

Besides, what would a Storm game be like without that beautiful smile there to light it up.

Seattle ama-o, Izi. Repouso bem-vindo.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

2006 Storm Lineup Plus/Minus


Kevin Pelton pointed out that the Phoenix Mercury statistics for 2006 published on the the team site are inaccurate. Just like the Mecury team that failed to show up in Seattle for the final game of the season (which if won could have secured a playoff spot for them) with their poor play, the Mecury web team (or perhaps it is the WNBA web team) failed to record the 34th game of the season in their season stats. Thus I have a reworked list of differential leaders for 2006...

Connecticut Sun: +10.20
Detroit Shock: +5.56
Sacramento Monarchs: +5.22
Indiana Fever: +4.70
LA Sparks: +3.79
Washington Mystics: +3.38
Phoenix Mercury: +2.94
Seattle Storm: +2.66
Houston Comets: +2.44
San Antonio Silver Stars: -3.10
Charlotte Sting: -4.33
NY Liberty: -7.67
Minnesota Lynx: -8.13

On a separate issue, Paul Swanson has clarified that he does do the +/- manually (the man must have superhuman patience and really sore fingers) not with a scanner as I suggested. He believes the discrepancies are from changes to the data over time. He calculates off initial output, and I do it much later. Sometimes I do it the next day or so after a game, but then I double check the data at the end of the season or before the next season.

Lineup Data

Top 10 Performing Lineups

Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse (166 minutes): +57
Bird-Lennox-Turner-Jackson-Burse (69 minutes): +54
Bird-Lennox-Turner-Jackson-Johnson (72 minutes): +32
Bird-Wright-Gortman-Jackson-Burse (9 minutes): +15
Lawson-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Robinson (7 minutes): +14
Bird-Lennox-Gortman-Jackson-Burse (26 minutes): +13
Bird-Gortman-Castro-Jackson-Burse (10 minutes): +13
Bird-Lennox-Wright-Turner-Jackson (9 minutes): +9
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Turner-Burse (10 minutes): +8
Lawson-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Johnson (8 minutes): +8

Top 10 Net40 Lineups (>10 minutes played)
Bird-Lennox-Turner-Jackson-Burse: +31.59
Bird-Lennox-Gortman-Jackson-Burse: +20.25
Lawson-Wright-Castro-Robinson-Johnson: +17.83
Bird-Lennox-Turner-Jackson-Johnson: +17.72
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +13.72
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +13.11
Bird-Wright-Gortman-Jackson-Johnson: +12.99
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Palmer: +6.72
Bird-Wright-Turner-Johnson-Burse: +5.01
Bird-Lennox-Turner-Johnson-Burse: +0.00 (4 way tie)
Bird-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Johnson: +0.00
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Turner-Jackson: +0.00
Bird-Gortman-Turner-Johnson-Burse: +0.00

Top 10 Most Used Lineups
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse (166 minutes): +57
Bird-Lennox-Turner-Jackson-Johnson (72 minutes): +32
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Johnson (72 minutes): -4
Bird-Lennox-Turner-Jackson-Burse (69 minutes): +54
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Johnson-Burse (36 minutes): -28
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Palmer (36 minutes): +6
Bird-Lennox-Turner-Johnson-Burse (34 minutes): +0
Bird-Lennox-Gortman-Jackson-Burse (26 minutes): +13
Bird-Wright-Castro-Jackson-Burse (25 minutes): -2
Bird-Wright-Turner-Johnson-Burse (24 minutes): +3


It should be no surpise that Bird and Jackson are featured in eight out of the ten lineups. They were the most effective player pair in 2005 and no doubt in every year that they have played together. They ARE the stars. Bird and Jackson are in eight out of the ten lineups as individuals with Lennox and Burse in six out of the ten lineups. These are the team's best players.

I find it interesting however that the three spot has every player slotted for the position in at least one of the best lineups. Castro had the most, with Turner and Gortman equal and Wright in the "small ball" lineup. With Gearlds available this year at the two or the three it will be interesting to see how things turn out. Overall, I think Barb Turner's numbers from last year have to give her an edge over Shyra Ely. I hope that she comes back ready and that Coach Donovan isn't too far away from the numbers. She was clearly a positive player in terms of lineup performance based on her +/- stats for 2006. Ely will need to do better in the next exhibition game than she did in Connecticut where she failed to follow her strong showing in Chicago if she wants to sway me.

I am also very excited about Wendy Palmer. She made the top 10 in a couple of categories despite only playing in 5 games last season. Two of the most used lineups that had negative values had Johnson paired with the starters and either Jackson or Burse. Insert Wendy into those slots and they could have been among strongest performing of the top 10 lineups. Wendy never played with JB, but here is the other lineup...

Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Johnson: -4.00
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Palmer: +6.72

Here is one fan looking for a healthy Wendy ALL season long. I would love to see her play with JB as well. JB can post up and Wendy can offensive rebound for the put-back when the other team is forced to double. It can be a reverse of what happens with the LJ/JB pairing.

I am going to run player/pair numbers, but the more complicated data crunching may take a few days.

By the way, the first home game is only TWO DAYS AWAY!!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Storm 2006 Plus/Minus

I will start right off saying that my numbers differ from those compiled by Paul Swanson of the Minnesota Lynx and shared at the Lynx Lane fan site. I finished double checking each and every game of the season against the individual game stats posted and archived by Paul on the Official Lynx Blog. Paul performs a HUGE service for statistics fans and posts the +/- data for every WNBA game all season long. He started last season and they are all archived by day on the blog site.

Why do I still bother doing my own tedious plus/minus calculations with Paul making it easy? Well, Paul only gives us the individual player value and I am also interested in effective lineups and player pairs. With so many players returning this year, it is interesting to me to see which lineups have worked well in the past.

Why are the numbers different? Well, after going through all 34 games again checking each one individually against Paul's numbers, I determined that Paul had only one anomaly where he had a wrong value for a single player (probably scanned off a faulty play by play). All the remaining discrepancies were due to a difference in approach. I credit free throws to the players on the floor when the foul occurs in all instances, regardless of when they are subbed out of the game. Paul's numbers attribute fouls to players in the game when the play by play data posts a point. I believe that Paul is using an automated scanner (boy I wish I had one!!!). Since the play by play data sometimes subs the player before the free throws, or in between the free throws and or after the free throws, his stats are occasionally off mine by 1-4 points per game. The differences will mean that at least two players will be different in any game where this occurs, though in some games it was as many as six players (three substitutions during free throw attempts throughout the game). I am very confident with my numbers having tracked down every discrepency to this with the single player exception where again, I am certain of my accuracy (I ran that game manually five times.)

With that aside, here is what I have for the year using formulas or approaches borrowed from many people smarter about this stuff than I am.

Floor% : How often did the player score when TRYING to score.
Eff FG%: Balanced shooting percentage weighted for 3 point shooting.
Stop%: Weak team oriented view of individual defense.
Off Rtg: Points per 100 possessions
Def Rtg: Weak team oriented view of individual points allowed per 100 possessions
W-L%: Dean Oliver value for percentage of wins attributable to the player
Net Avg: Dean Oliver value for points per game using partial values for shots and assists
Pts Prod/G: Dean Oliver value for points produced per game
IR: Individual Rating from a formula I stole from Kevin Pelton
Net: Combines team performance vs. opponent for a player on the court and off
Net40: Roland Rating or Net per 40 minutes
NetG: Net per game

2006 Storm Player Results

Best Floor%
Lauren Jackson: 61%
Janel Burse: 52%
Wendy Palmer: 51%
Barbara Turner: 49%
Iziane Castro-Marques: 46%

Best EFG%
Lauren Jackson: 57%
Iziane Castro-Marques: 53%
Janel Burse: 51%
Wendy Palmer: 50%
Sue Bird: 50%

Best Stop %
Cisti Greenwalt: 50%
Wendy Palmer: 44%
Lauren Jackson: 42%
Janel Burse: 39%
Shaun Gortman: 38%

Best Def Rtg (Lower is better)
Lauren Jackson: 103.18
Cisti Greenwalt: 120.36
Wendy Palmer: 122.69
Janel Burse: 124.73
Shaun Gortman: 125.07

Best Off Rtg
Lauren Jackson: 133.42
Wendy Palmer: 104.82
Barbara Turner: 104.27
Janel Burse: 104.05
Sue Bird: 103.70

Best W/L%- Only one player here.
Lauren Jackson: 93%

Best Net Avg- Only one player here.
Lauren Jackson: 5.47

Best Pts Prod/G
Lauren Jackson: 18.01
Betty Lennox: 12.85
Sue Bird: 12.42
Janel Burse: 10.85
Wendy Palmer: 9.57

Best IR
Lauren Jackson: 119.00
Sue Bird: 93.53
Barbara Turner: 91.06
Iziane Castro-Marques: 90.71
Janel Burse: 88.39

Best Net +/-
Lauren Jackson: +343
Iziane Castro-Marques: +122
Janel Burse: +91
Sue Bird: +84
Wendy Palmer: +57

Best Net40
Wendy Palmer: +19.00
Lauren Jackson: +16.18
Iziane Castro Marques: +7.45
Janel Burse: +4.94
Sue Bird: +3.15

Best Net/G
Lauren Jackson: +11.43
Wendy Palmer: +11.40
Iziane Castro-Marques: +3.59
Janel Burse: +3/37
Sue Bird: +2.47

So the first thing I take away from this is that this would really have been a different team if they had not lost Wendy Palmer early in the season. She was strong in all the key statistical areas. How good can they be with her back in the lineup this year?

Tomorrow I will take a look at the most effective lineups.

Monday, May 07, 2007

2006 Season Stats

I have finally caught up and pulled all of the 2006 data together. I will post it over the next few days.

The first point of interest is one more first for the 2006 season. It was a first for the 24 second shot clock, it was a first in having two rookies average more than 20 points per game and it was the first time the team with season's best Offensive/Defensive Rating differential did not win the WNBA Finals. In fact, the number two team didn't even make the playoffs.

Best Offensive Teams (Points per 100 Possessions)

Phoenix Mercury: 109.23
Washington Mystics: 103.22
Connecticut Sun: 102.92
Seattle Storm: 101.96
Sacramento Monarchs: 99.63

Best Defensive Teams (Points per 100 Possessions)

Indiana Fever: 91.38
Connecticut Sun: 92.72
Detroit Shock: 92.77
Sacramento Monarchs: 94.40
LA Sparks: 94.69

Best Overall Teams (Offensive - Defensive)

Connecticut Sun: +10.20
Phoenix Mercury: +6.24
Detroit Shock: +5.56
Sacramento Monarchs: +5.22
Indiana Fever: +4.70


Every year since the league was founded, the team with the best differential won the championship. This year the # 3 team eliminated the #1 team in the Eastern Conference finals. The #2 team failed to record enough wins (they were a game short) to make the playoffs in the West. I suppose this indicates the impact of pace on this way of predicting the post season. When Phoenix was on, they were putting up a LOT of points. Their margin of victory in wins was fairly high, but that didn't translate to wins in a game by game situation over the course of the season. The worst teams of the year were just bad. The New York Liberty and Minnesota Lynx were in rough shape and were at the bottom of all categories.

The ever talked about parity factor is likely coming in to play. The best teams are very close in capability. A few injuries over the season may make the season numbers not look so grand, but the players return to make a playoff run. Perhaps that great team during the regular season has reached a point of injury to key players by the time the post season kicks into gear. The key is going to become doing well enough to make the playoffs (do you hear me Phoenix?) and then the playoffs will truly be a new season.

Tomorrow I will look at some of the Storm numbers including my +/- statistics.

Friday, May 04, 2007

He Must Be New


I jumped on Darren Fessenden at the Seattle PI about the misuse of the term "true point guard" earlier this week. Check out his comment in today's article regarding veteran Storm center Janell Burse.

normal starter Janell Burse moving from her customary power forward position to center.
It is clear to me now that Darren is just new to writing about women's basketball. Perhaps he knows basketball, but is just new to covering the women's game, the WNBA or maybe just new to covering the Storm. It was unfair of me to be so quick to judge.

I thought it might be of help to give a little Storm Primer to Darren, to help him through the season. Here goes...

2007 Seattle Storm Player/Coach Primer

Tanisha Wright (T) is a third year guard for the Storm. She was picked by the Storm in 2005 draft to shore up the backup shooting guard behind Betty Lennox. With the loss of Tully Bevilaqua and Sheri Sam to free agency in the 2005 offseason, Wright was asked to play some point guard and some small forward with mixed results. The Storm brought Francesca Zara over from Italy to shore up the point behind Sue Bird when it was clear that Wright was not ready for big minutes running the offense. She was quite strong starting in place of the injured Betty Lennox at the shooting guard slot to close out that season. She lost her confidence early last season and struggled for most of the year. Confusion for a newbie is understandable, she was one of two guards left in camp and Coach Donovan had her running the offense, besides, the WNBA only lists players as Guard, Forward or Center.

Janell Burse (JB) is the starting center for the Storm. She was received as part of a trade package including Sheri Sam from the Minnesota Lynx for Amanda Lassiter and the Storm's first round draft pick (which became F/C Nicole Ohlde). She backed up starting center Kamila Vodichkova in the 2004 championship season and took over the starting slot when Kamila was lost to the Phoenix Mercury in free agency during the 2005 offseason. She has played that spot without fail given that Seattle plays Lauren Jackson, perhaps the best power forward in the women's basketball world, at the four spot. In fact, with a little research at the Storm site or the player file, her status as a center would be quite clear. She hurt her shoulder last year, and it seems to be good journalism to mention that frequently.

Lauren Jackson (LJ) is Australian. She plays power forward. She has cool tattoos. She is really good at this game. She always gets picked first on the playground. She and LA Center Lisa Leslie don't get along after Leslie lost her fake hair in the Olympics fighting for post position against LJ. Lisa is having a baby this year, so you won't have to know this but can make comments about the missed rivalry when LA comes to town. You will figure out the rest once you see her play.

Sue Bird (Sue or Birdy) is from New York, but she played for Connecticut and won some NCAA championships. She plays point guard but shoots very well, and is occasionally asked to play the two guard when other teams are pressuring the point heavily. She has broken her nose twice and sometimes wears a mask. Bird's "beak" jokes are generally taboo. Making negative or constructive comments about her defense are generally acceptable, though you will seem more knowledgeable if you note that she is excellent in transition defense, with her half court defense being the suspect skill.

Iziane Castro-Marques (Izi) is from Brazil. She is really fast but is NOT related to the NBA's fastest player, Brazillian Leandro Barbosa. Izi lost her confidence and struggled through the middle of last season but was buoyed by fan support and regained her spot as a starter. Izi is very funny and she will make you laugh.

Betty Lennox (B-Money) is the starting shooting guard for the Storm picked up in the expansion draft of 2004 after the folding of the Cleveland Rockers. She was the WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2000 playing for the Minnesota Lynx. She got an unfavorable reputation in the league, however and bounced around with mixed press from Minnesota to Miami to Cleveland before finding a home in Seattle with fans who simply adore her. She won the 2004 WNBA Finals MVP award after back to back scintilating scoring displays in shoot outs with Connecticut Sun player Nykesha Sayles. She truly earned the title almost single handedly over coming the struggles of LJ and Sue where the Sun focused their defense. She is tough as nails, a streaky shooter who sometimes makes questionable decisions, but no one questions her heart. She often refers to herself in the third person which most people find somewhat endearing and other find diva-esque. You can pick your side. Chants of "Bet-ty! Bet-ty! Bet-ty!" are not uncommon in Key Arena when B-Money gets going.

Wendy Palmer is new to the Storm but has been with the WNBA since its inception. She plays the Power Forward position for Seattle but has played Center in the past against smaller lineups. She may play some small forward this year against bigger lineups. She played for Connecticut against the Storm in the 2004 championship. She had an amazing start to the year last year, then hurt her achilles and was gone. The fans love her even though they barely got to see her play.

Coach Anne Donovan (Big Sexy) played for Old Dominion and the US Olympic Team and was a winner at both. She played college ball with Nancy Lieberman, but Anne has continued her success at the professional level while Nancy is now known for making some of the most foolish comments possible on national television with regards to basketball on a regular basis. Anne is the only WNBA coach to make the finals in both the east (with the Charlotte Sting) and the west (with the Seattle Storm). She is the only female coach to win the WNBA Championship. Yes, she is taller than most of her players. Many journalists like to comment on her wardrobe. Fans adore her, as the coach who brought the city its first championship since 1979. She was a bruiser in the post, so critisize her at your own risk. She can likely kick your hiney, though when she actually lets a smile out (maybe once a season), you can see she is really a softie at heart.

I'll hold off on the rest for now as we wait to see who makes the final lineup. Don't worry, though, Darren, I'll be sure to keep you informed. Oh, and by the way, it may be a litle uncomfortable to talk to the "competition," but try sitting near Jayda Evans and asking lots of questions. Jayda has proven to be one of the best in the industry at covering the women's game and she really knows her stuff. I have never met her, but have heard that she is super sweet, so you might find a potential mentor on your hands, that is, if you are really serious about this assignment. Good luck.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Not much to add.

With Alan Horton and Kevin Pelton blogging, I have been busy reading and haven't had anything to add. It is good to hear from everyone (did we all ask the same question in the media session folks?) that JB's shoulder is stronger from rehab and that her injury periods were on the order of days vs. weeks from last year.

With Brooke Queenan being cut (a day after AD said she was the only one rebounding) I haven't even tried to talk about the bubble post players as of yet, but Mr. Pelton says Shyra Ely is only under consideration as perimeter option now competing with Barb Turner. My guess all along has been that Anne's intention to distribute her 11 player (salary cap restricted) lineup as follows:

5 true perimeter players (Bird, Lennox, Gearlds, Castro-Marques, ?)
5 true post players (Burse, Jackson, Palmer, Robinson, Fluker)
1 swing/combo players (?)

The question marks for me are Zara or Wright as the 5th perimeter player (both can play the 1 and the 2) and Turner or Ely as the swing/combo player (both can play the 3 and a little at the 4 against smaller lineups). T was having a great camp according to all who have had a chance to see and comment, we'll see if Zara gains any ground once she arrives is T is slowed by the injury. Ely is having a fantastic camp as well according to those same people, and Barb Turner's Euro play may really hurt her chances of making the roster if she doesn't get back soon. Of course, there is always the quandry that one pair of competitors greatly outshines the other pair and forces Coach Donovan to choose two pure perimeters or two swing/combo players. With Gearlds length, ball handling (she is getting some practice at the point with T out) and shooting, it gives AD a little more flexbility at the perimeter than she has had in the past. Thompson, Sam and Turner were really only options at the three not the two, and Izi can't handle well enough to play the point. That meant a desperate need for a 6th perimeter as a guard who could play the 1 or the 2, Bevilaqua, Zara and Lawson-Wade being critical to the roster should Bird go down for a few games. With a backcourt of Lennox and Gearlds the ball handling is safe and you could play Izi, Turner or Ely at the three. Things could get interesting in the next couple of weeks.

The phrase "true point guard" is starting to tick me off. It was Darren Fessenden of the Seattle PI saying

Tanisha Wright, the only true point guard among the eight players in camp, hasn't recovered from a pulled groin suffered in Saturday's practice.

I am not one to jump on somebody, but T is a natural shooting guard with enough ball handling skills to play some minutes at the point and not close to a "true point guard."

A true point guard is generally a pure ball handler with strong court vision and great passing skills. They are a leader who knows their team, where they like to get the ball and how best to get the ball to them. They can read a defense in an instant and call a play to dissect that defense and attack the mismatch or the available path to the basket. Maybe they can hit an open jumper in addition to scoring layups in transition. Hopefully they play strong defense with good lateral foot speed. Theresa Weatherspoon formerly of the NY Liberty was a true point guard. Andre Miller is a true point guard. Sue Bird is a modern point guard who adds the skill of shooting and finding her own shot to the "true point guard" list of skills. Steve Nash would be a similar type of modern point guard. Then you have ball handling scorers who can pass like Becky Hammon and Stephon Marbury.

I digress. It is a blog, so I guess that I am allowed.

Welcome back, JB. How's that shoulder doing?