Monday, June 25, 2007

6-20 Seattle vs. Detroit

The quick and the dirty since I am three games behind with another one tomorrow. I go on vacation tomorrow and may or may not get caught up.

A couple firsts for this game...Connor picked a night with Mom over a night with LJ and when asked who his favorite basketball player was earlier in the day he said, Betty. He appears to miffed at LJ for some reason. Also, Shyra Ely showed up and played quite well (a trend that continued in the next two games as well) as she seems to be finding her place in the mix. Sue looked a step the knee bothering her more than she lets on?

Bill Lambier got huge boos at the game but took it in stride. Good for him. I think he is fantastic for the league. He is a character that brings even more entertainment to the experience.

Detroit looks like a championship team and it is only June. Wow. They are crisp, deep and have clutch players all over the floor. They are a better team without Riley which suprises me.

On to the numbers...

Most Effective Shooters

PlayerFloor %eFG%
Janell Burse57%60%
Tanisha Wright51%50%
Shyra Ely55%100%
Betty Lennox46%150%
Lauren Jackson44%45%

Best Individual Ratings

Shyra Ely159.37
Tanisha Wright107.08
Janell Burse104.74
Wendy Palmer75.72

Best Plus/Minus

Tanisha Wright+5
Katie Gearlds+4
Shyra Ely+3

Most Effective Lineups

Bird-Lennox-Gearlds-Jackson-Burse: +5
Wright-Gearlds-Ely-Jackson-Burse: +2
Wright-Gearlds-Ely-Palmer-Robinson: +2
Wright-Castro-Jackson-Palmer-Burse: +2

Friday, June 22, 2007

Close Encounters

I haven't had time to look at the numbers for the last game since I had to fly to Vegas for a meeting all day yesterday and then back home last night. The benefit of that trip was that I was in Seatac terminal A at the same time as the Storm. I was strolling back to my gate from buying a bottle of water and I look up to see a very tall woman (height is the one thing that makes me notice strangers, simply because of my basketball obsession) and it takes a few moments for me to realize that it is Lauren Jackson with Sue strolling alongside her. It brought a huge smile to my face, and while they noticed that I had recognized them, it was clear they were in deep conversation so I refrained from saying "Good luck!" to them as they passed. Seconds later Izi and Tye strolled by in the same direction and then LJ and Sue came back (probably from buying a water where I had just done so). I smiled again, but, boy did LJ look cranky (I doubt it was about my smile, they were having an intense chat).

My wife (and a couple of others) asked me why I didn't say hi to them. I am not sure that I would have said hi even if they weren't chatting. It is strange to feel a connection with people that you don't know, and I realize that their side of the connection is, primarily, to a generic, faceless crowd of fans, while our connection is more specific to these particular women as they play a game that we love. I believe that everyone deserves their personal space and their privacy, just because they do amazing things with a ball and are entertainers I pay to see does not mean that they are obligated to have that space be invaded or that privacy broken just because they are out in public living their everday life. The team organizes events for fans to meet and greet the players and the personal space and privacy aspect is temporarily waived in those moments. Had they returned my smile I might have wished them luck on the road trip and thanked them for brightening our summers, but I would have felt rude or at least inconsiderate to insert myself into their day (even for a moment) without that casual invitation. I don't critisize others for choosing differently (my wife walked up to Sue and LJ at an Indigo Girls concert a couple of years ago and thanked them for bringing a family sport to Seattle), but it is something I struggle with myself.

As a side note, I am so used to being amazed by the beauty of their game on the court, and used to the "glam" shots done for photo shoots and promos, that I was taken aback entirely by how stunning both Sue and LJ are as young women. In an everyday moment, in their personal space, they simply stood out from the crowd (yes by their height) but their natural charisma is simply palpable. Beautiful, yes, but more than that, they just radiate confidence, comfort with themselves in their surroundings and that special something. From my days as an actor, you know that there are just certain people who radiate charisma, you want to watch them, they are compelling simply by their presence. Sue and LJ both have that natural presence.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Quarter Season Review

Since we are now a little over 25% through the 2007 WNBA season, I thought it was worth a look at the team to see where they are in terms of statistics.

Most Effective Offense

PlayerOff. RtgFloor%Eff FG%Pts Produced
Lauren Jackson130.8558%57%20.42
Janell Burse116.9058%54%11.58
Katie Gearlds113.1246%49%5.43
Iziane Castro Marques105.2647%49%11.39
Sue Bird102.8144%49%11.80
Betty Lennox100.1145%42%11.20

Palmer and Ely are the next two on the list but neither even close to Betty. Of interest is that the offensive numbers are higher than last season, with Betty posting her highest offensive rating as a Storm player (up 7 points per 100 possessions) and Katie Gearlds exceeding the best bench player (Barb Turner) of 2006 by 9 points per 100 possessions. Janell is up about 12 points, Sue is up a point and surprisingly, LJ is down three points. Up to this point in the season the offense is looking much better than last year. Five players are over 10 points produced per game as opposed to only four last season. LJ and JB are up in that category with the perimeter players down from last season. As far as shooting goes, Sue and Betty are doing better than last year and the rest are down, particularly Tanisha who is off quite a bit from last season, almost 10%. Gearlds is around equal overall to Barb's contribution on offense, though her rating is 9 points higher due to slightly better eFG%, though Barb got to the line more meaning more points and higher Floor%. Ely is an offensive improvement over Shaun Gortman, but we may be missing that bench defense.

Individual Rating and WNBA Efficiency

PlayerIndiv. RatingEff. Rating
Lauren Jackson113.0827.5
Janell Burse98.7117.00
Iziane Castro Marques91.5512.11
Sue Bird90.5311.22
Katie Gearlds90.456.11
Betty Lennox84.9610.00

Here LJ and Sue are down and Katie is just below Barb Turners numbers from last year, but everyone else on the list is up. Those off the list, Tanisha has dropped her ratings significantly, and the others are under the ratings from last year. The bench looks worse than last year overall, while the starters are looking better.


PlayerNet +/-Net40Net per Game
Iziane Castro Marques+127+19.24+14
Lauren Jackson+124+19.76+16
Betty Lennox+71+12.85+8
Sue Bird+69+9.75+8

Janell Burse was the only other positive Plus/Minus player and she was not even close to these four. Izi had the second best Plus/Minus value last season, but she was not this close to LJ.

Most Effective Lineups


Most Used Lineups


Coach Donovan may not listen to me, but she obviously saw the same thing I did, she has been playing my favorite lineup more of late (Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Robinson) and reaping the benefits. Katie clearly plays better at the two guard spot paired with Izi than at the three paired with Betty, but I think that is the improved defense on the perimeter that results. Wendy seems best paired with Ashley and the starters, but I think that is because she can focus on offense and rebounding knowing that Ashley is such a solid help defender and isn't looking for her shot.

Player Pairs

Player PairNetMinutesNet40

Izi, Izi, Izi! She may be the single most important player on the team so far this season. I think her perimeter defense is the number 1 reason she tops this list. Other teams are free to score from the perimeter when she is resting. It might be interesting to see Ely get more minutes when Izi sits over Gearlds who seems more suited to the two guard spot.

Well that is all the analysis that I have for the moment. We'll see how the rest of the season progresses. The toughest challenge of the season thus far is in front of the Storm as the league leading and reigning champion Detroit Shock invade the Key on Wednesday. Unless things change in the east, Detroit is the team to beat to earn a championship.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

6/15 Seattle vs. Houston

This was an odd game. I didn't walk away feeling charged up emotionally like I do after most wins. Perhaps it is the shock at seeing Houston playing so poorly compared to what I am used to from them. Perhaps it was time for their era to end. It may also be frustration at the way Seattle almost let a team playing so poorly steal a game from them. If not for LJ in the second half, this game would have been uncomfortably close.

First Quarter
The Storm started off strong, but once Betty Lennox sat at 2:47 mark they went on a slide until the final 44 seconds of the quarter and manged to eke out a 2 point advantage. The Storm slide coincided with the substitution of Crystal Smith into the game for the Comets as the Comets went on a +5 run while she was in the game.

Second Quarter
The Storm bench started off this quarter nicely with a +3 run in the first 2:11 of the quarter with LJ at the three surrounded by the core bench players of Wright, Gearlds, Palmer and Robinson. They had a slide over the next two minutes but the starters recovered it all and the Storm went the half with a five point advantage.

Third Quarter
The Storm struggled through this whole quarter, finally taking command in the final 2:49 with a +5 run. The Comets had a bizarre lineup on the floor at that point with Smith, Turner, Thompson, Lyttle and Snow all on the floor. The Storm were able to increase their lead to 11 points, but emotionally the whole crowd knew the game was already over.

Fourth Quarter
The Storm dominated from start to finish with a strong +5 run to start the quarter by the starters and a solid +3 run before they turned things over to the bench which managed to allow a -4 run in the final two minutes.

Most Effective Shooters

PlayerFloor %eFG%
Lauren Jackson70%72%
Iziane Castro Marques59%50%
Wendy Palmer55%100%
Betty Lennox52%45%
Janell Burse49%50%

Best Individual Ratings

Lauren Jackson148.20
Iziane Castro Marques111.18
Betty Lennox105.15
Wendy Palmer101.40

Best Plus/Minus

Lauren Jackson+18
Iziane Castro Marques+14
Betty Lennox+13
Janell Burse+11

Most Effective Lineups

Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +13
Wright-Lennox-Gearlds-Jackson-Palmer: +5
Wright-Gearlds-Jackson-Palmer-Robinson: +4
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Palmer-Burse: +1

Random Thoughts
It was nice to see Barb Turners' smile light up and her body relax once she realized that Storm fans were happy to see her and eager to give her a huge welcome back. Kudos to Matt Pitman for giving us a beat before announcing her to realize that she was the last reserve left standing on the court unannounced. The Comets look a lot like the Storm when Tanisha is running the offense with Jackson in the lineup. The ball moves around, fails to penetrate and then someone jacks up a shot late in the clock with a hand in their face. The Storm defense was able to sag back on the post and leave someone on the ball. If the ball made it to the post they could double quickly on the pass. Without Swoopes in the lineup NO ONE moves when the ball goes into the post leaving them covered on the pass out and out of position for the rebound. The young players need to learn to move to the open spot created by the double. They also need to get some shooters to leave some room for post entry passes. Michelle Snow is getting better every year, but she can't get the ball. She was 6-7 in this game. She should have had twice the number of attempts but outside of Shields, Turner and Maiga-Ba, the perimeter went 2-18. That just won't cut it.

Since we have a break in Storm action I am going to post some numbers for the team for the first quarter of the season with 9 games under their belts. I should have them up Monday or Tuesday this week.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Can I have a Do-Over please?

I knew it was going to be a tough evening for me. I had scheduled my change from Comcast (see my rants from last season on their HD DVR technology) to DirecTV for 8-12 in the morning. The installer finally showed up at 3:15. He promptly drilled four holes in my guest room wall after I told him that his bit was too short. We gave up on that for the moment and I told him where to put the satellite dish. I turned the game on the radio since I had already disconnected my cable and started cooking dinner. He comes back to ask me if I have any screws and then takes off for the hardware store for 45 minutes. He returns and goes up on the roof. I check on him at halftime only to find that the dish is NOT where I wanted it and he mumbles about signal. I just want to catch the second half of the game and leave it alone for the moment. He finally gets it hooked up but tells me that DirecTV's computers are down and they can't enable my service right now. He leaves me with no television and says they should call me by the next morning. The game is over so I call DirecTV and get it turned on myself but the guy has to come back the next day to finish. He shows up late again with a longer drill bit and then refuses to move the satellite saying that he put it where he did to save cable because it costs him more to put it where he wanted since he would have to use his own cable. GRRRRRRR. I have his company sending someone else out to fix it today.

The Storm did not fare any better than I did. They tied a league record for fewest points scored in a quarter after they had a stellar 65% shooting performance in the first quarter. They seemed to just run out of steam and were unable to play against Indiana's zone defense without any three point shots falling.

Least Horrendous Shooters

PlayerFloor %eFG%
Janell Burse66%50%
Lauren Jackson64%59%
Iziane Castro Marques56%50%
Shyra Ely50%67%
Sue Bird43%57%

Best Individual Ratings

Lauren Jackson117.65
Janell Burse108.70
Iziane Castro Marques103.11

Best Plus/Minus

Iziane Castro Marques+3
Betty Lennox+3
Janell Burse+0

Most Effective Lineups

Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +8
Wright-Lennox-Ely-Jackson-Burse: +4
Wright-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +4
Wright-Gearlds-Ely-Jackson-Robinson: +1

Random Thoughts
Katie Gearlds came off her stellar shooting and plus/minus performance in Chicago and fell apart on the other side of the Illinois/Indiana border. Her -42 plus/minus value was the worst on the Storm this season. Her 19$ eFG rating was a far cry from the better than 100% she put in on Tuesday. The good news is that the ladies are back home, playing against the struggling Comets and likely to generate a blow out win as a result of the embarassment in Indiana. Looking forward to welcoming Barb Turner back tonight. I am glad she is doing well in Houston, there really weren't any minutes left for her here in Seattle with Gearlds in the rotation.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Katie Busts Out

Those of us who looked at Katie Gearlds college career numbers and listened to the heapings of praise from training camp viewers knew this day was coming. It has been brewing steadily over the previous three games as Katie became more and more prominent in top performers lists I do for each game, and yesterday in front of family and friends at the Chicago Sky game it has finally happened. "Hello WNBA, my name is Katie Gearlds and I can shoot the ball."

First Quarter
Things did not look too good for the Storm as the game got underway. The Storm started bleeding and gave up a -12 run to start the quarter. Replacing Lennox with Gearlds and Burse with Palmer slowed the bleeding down, but when Ashley Robinson stepped in for Lauren Jackson the Storm put a solid +5 run in to close the quarter.

Second Quarter
Anne broke out the rumoured big lineup in the second quarter with LJ at the three. It took replacing Palmer with Burse to make that lineup work, however and the Storm manged a +1 run with LJ at the three. They continue to play well after Ashley sat and they went to a more standard lineup until Sue got her first rest of the game. They dropped off immediately and even with Bird back in 67 seconds of game time, they floundered at -5 until LJ sat and Ashley returned with a strong +6 run to close the quarter and bring the Storm within 2 points after being down by double digits most of the half.

Third Quarter
The Storm took control of the game immediately in the third quarter with a +8 run in the first 4.5 minutes of the second half with Janell Burse stepping up her game as LJ found herself in foul trouble. The Sky came back forcing a -3 run with LJ and JB on the bench, but Burse and Jackson came back for another +6 run. Sue and JB sat out the last three minutes, but Tanisha, Katie, Izi, LJ and A-Rob held their lead closing the quarter up nine points.

Fourth Quarter
With a nice lead to start the quarter the Storm played with confidence and poise, with Bird, Gearlds and LJ anchoring the squad to make a +11 run over the first 7.5 minutes of the final quarter. The reserves took over at the 1:51 mark and managed survive a -8 run to close out the game simply because of the strength of the twenty point advantage created by the core unit.

Best Shooters

PlayerFloor %eFG%
Katie Gearlds85%117%
Iziane Castro Marques61%71%
Sue Bird60%50%
Janell Burse58%83%
Lauren Jackson51%39%

Best Individual Rating

Katie Gearlds229.91
Iziane Castro Marques137.75
Sue Bird118.22
Janell Burse115.57

Best Plus/Minus

Katie Gearlds+20
Sue Bird+17
Janell Burse+11

Most Effective Lineups

Bird-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +7
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Palmer-Burse: +6
Bird-Lennox-Castro-Palmer-Robinson: +5
Bird-Lennox-Gearlds-Jackson-Burse: +5

Random Thoughts
A Key Arena style comeback ON THE ROAD! While I'm not quite old enough to be any of the player's Dad (technically maybe I am, though I would have had to become a Dad younger than they are now), they made me feel like a proud father for their gritty performance yesterday. They gave me enough basketball lift to not really be bothered by the Cavs failing to win their first NBA Finals home game and to forget for the moment that the Sonics still have yet to hire a head coach. I love that they came on even stronger in the Third Quarter with their best player on the bench in foul trouble.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

6-10 Storm vs. Lynx

In addition to being required to play lego knights where I am the red lego horse, Star Wars where I am Darth Vader, and various other imaginary games I am now required to be Coach Donovan, my wife is Sue Bird and Connor is LJ. Since we woke up this morning I have been required to take care of LJ who has a hurt chin and is emotionally unsure of her ability to continue to play basketball at a high enough level to win games.

On to last night's game. It was good to get a win. It was even better to see Izi and Katie hold Seimone Augustus to 13 points without letting either of the other perimeter players really take off. Seimone had her moments, but for the most part she was held in check. LJ was fantastic and JB started a return to form in the second half of the game.

First Quarter

The Storm started off strong until something happened with LJ as Coach Donovan pulled her at the 8:03 mark in the game. Jayda Evans says she was tipped that this was a subtle reminder to LJ to execute the game plan. Whatever it was, the Storm went on a -8 run as Palmer, Robinson and Burse tried to manage the post over the next 6 minutes. LJ returned to the lineup to recover half of that by the time the buzzer sounded.

Second Quarter

The Storm controlled the entire second quarter, making their strongest push midway through the quarter with a +11 run with Palmer at the center position and either Lennox or Gearlds at the shooting guard slot. The team struggled when Wendy sat and JB returned giving up a -4 run in the last 3 minutes of the quarter but still managed to take an 11 point lead into the half. Of special note is the success of Tanisha Wright in this quarter, she ran the offense for the first two minutes of the quarter and also played a little at the two with Sue and the Storm were +2 over this cycle which is key to the Storm's success this season. They can't survive huge drops while T is running the offense. Holding serve is acceptable, gains are outstanding.

Third Quarter

The Storm surged to start the third with bursts of +5 and +6 bracketing a 2 minute -1 span and held serve the remainder of the quarter using their core of Bird, Lennox, Gearlds, Castro, Jackson, Palmer and Burse.

Fourth Quarter

With the game pretty much in hand, Coach Donovan let Tanisha run the offense again to start the fourth. This worked fine until she sat JB down after a solid third quarter and fourth quarter effort. She decided to rest Wendy and put Robinson in the lineup. The Lynx were able to make a push and the Storm gave up a -4 run. With Bird back in charge the lineup was able to regain control and take back what they had given up plus a little change. Anne turned things over to the bench who struggled against Minnesota's reserves at first, but seemed much tighter to close the quarter. This bench group just hasn't settled into their roles as of yet. Of particular note here is Katie Gearlds decision to pass up a good look at a three to Sue Bird who had an even better look and knocked it down. That shows me that she is finding her way in the system. Give the stars the looks when they are open and take the looks from them when they give them to you. I would like to see her be more demanding when the starters are sitting, however, since she becomes the best scoring option.

Random Thoughts

Seimone Augustus is REALLY long, and she has great court vision. She is able to pass so well in such a misleading way. She looks like she is taking another shot and the ball just shoots to an open player. If the Lynx ever surround her with capable shooters or finishers, the team will be quite good.

Lindsey Harding looks out of sorts. She has no confidence out there.

Nicole Ohlde usually beats up on LJ in the Key, but LJ had her number tonight. LJ is already playing like an MVP. I haven't seen her play like this since 2003.

The Lynx bench really tried to keep the starters going in the beginning of the game. They were up cheering every play, but by the second half they were all drained with the heads in their hands. They need to find their confidence, it is going to be a long season.

Best Shooters

PlayerFloor %eFG%
Janell Burse73%75%
Lauren Jackson67%90%
Katie Gearlds58%63%
Iziane Castro Marques58%43%
Sue Bird49%56%

Best Individual Rating

Lauren Jackson155.65
Janell Burse128.64
Katie Gearlds125.77
Iziane Castro Marques107.67
Sue Bird106.97

Best Plus/Minus

Lauren Jackson+25
Sue Bird+22
Iziane Castro Marques+18

Most Effective Lineups

Bird-Lennox-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +10
Bird-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Palmer: +7
Bird-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +6
Bird-Lennox-Gearlds-Jackson-Robinson: +6

Saturday, June 09, 2007

6-7 Storm vs. Monarchs

No LJ and another loss. I didn't realize this one was televised until I saw the thread on Rebkell, but I managed to record both it and the NBA Finals game 1. I don't know which was more disappointing. For the NBA it appears that many people in the nation fell as I do and aren't really interested in watching Spurs basketball. I admire the team and the organization, but they are simply boring to watch 75% of the time. Occasionally Parker or Ginobli will do something exciting, but I just don't get into watching their games. I was planning to avoid the finals all together this year if it was to be another Spurs/Pistons matchup. Been there, slept through that once already. I am interested to see the Cavs play, but outside of Lebron James, they aren't much more exciting. We'll see how game 2 looks on tape tonight.

As for the Storm, I could tell early on it was going to be a loss. The team looks confused on the court and they are making strange mistakes at both ends of the floor. They were ignoring mismatches on offense, and allowing back door cuts on defense. They were just a beat slow on most plays. It was nice to see Sue play like she used to. She was shooting and penetrating, I hope she can keep it up. Katie Gearlds is starting to shake off the rust and may be adjusting to the bench role, but I won't hold my breath just yet. Tanisha Wright stepped in at the shooting guard alongside of Bird and had her best game of the season.

Best Shooters

PlayerFloor %eFG%
Katie Gearlds55%83%
Ashley Robinson53%100%
Sue Bird53%79%
Janell Burse53%56%
Tanisha Wright48%100%

Best Individual Rating

Sue Bird138.68
Katie Gearlds127.08
Tanisha Wright107.04

Best Plus/Minus

Ashley Robinson+5
Tanisha Wright+4
Iziane Castro Marques+2

Most Effective Lineups

Bird-Gearlds-Castro-Palmer-Robinson: +6
Bird-Wright-Castro-Robinson-Burse: +4
Bird-Wright-Castro-Palmer-Burse: +3

The Storm came close a number of times, but just could not get over the hump. The good news is that with them playing like this and LJ back, they are a much stronger team. The question is whether they can carry it through.

For tonight's game we are at risk again on the perimeter.

Lyndsey Harding: 5'8"
Seimone Augustus: 6'0"
Svetlana Abrosimova: 6'2"

Izi will have to guard the Lynx's best perimeter player, Augustus, which will leave Bird to cover Abrosimova and Betty to pick up Harding. This caused problems against San Antonio, so seeing more of Wright at the two and of course Gearlds will help protect the perimeter. It will end up being up to Anne to keep them in the game unless LJ is able to dominate. Hayden and Ohlde both have played well against the Storm in the past though, so I expect the game to be decided on the perimeter tonight.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Key Arena Lease Performance Clause

SonicsCentral has been a haven for the Sonic's fan side of the arena argument and until recently had been very much in the support of Bennett and the current ownership of the Sonics & Storm. Last week the man who runs SonicsCentral and leads Save Our Sonics & Storm, Brian Robinson, had finally had enough. He had been pushing to be more active in the media and with a very visible presence since the sale was announced. His intent was to be a loud voice of the fan in SUPPORT of the ownership team and keeping the Sonics and Storm local.

Early on he was asked by the organization to tone down his message and his presence while the team got their side of things organized. When they finally asked for help they had already essentially bungled things with the city and the state. While he felt Bennett was amazingly sincere in person about his desire to keep the teams in the area, the sudden blitz of Bennett courting Las Vegas, Oklahoma City and Kansas City in a manner which effectively killed the every glimmer of buzz about the teams locally, Brian decided that keeping the teams in the area was more important than working with the teams' owners. He came out in a Seattle Times interview last week and yesterday went on the attack.

Save Our Sonics & Storm posted a press release yesterday indicating a clause in the Key Arena lease between the city of Seattle and the Sonics and Storm organization which could allow the city to FORCE the teams to play all regularly scheduled games in Key Arena until 2010.

Lawyers from the city have agreed, "in general terms," that the Specific Performance Clause in the lease is indeed binding and enforceable should the mayor instruct them to pursue enforcing the clause. Additionally, the city's lawyers have identified a precedent in Minnesota where a similar clause required the MLB's Minnesota Twins club to fulfill their contract and play all games as anticipated at contract signing.

This gives the city a potentially significant position of power in the negotiations with the teams' ownership with regard to the breaking of the lease required to relocate the franchises by 2008 as desired by Clay Bennett.

It is disappointing that the relationship has become adversarial. I must agree that I have swung to the opinion of late that Bennett is either extraordinarial naive AND inept, or that he is not genuine in his public statements. He never attempted a negotiation with the city or the state. He put together a worst case scenario of $500 million at the last minute and then when he was told he needed to retune, he cried foul and ran loudly and publicly to other cities. He claims that there has been no public outcry (letter to the editor, etc.) or new ideas.

I have seen MANY letters to the editor and written a number myself, as well I have seen and heard this topic in the media regularly for a year now. It turns out that there have been at least two serious offers brought to Bennett which he has quietly rebuffed offering potentially viable alternatives, and a third group may be quietly waiting in the wings. His timing has either been DESIGNED to kill momentum locally or the man is oblivious to the impact of his decisions. Within days of a tremendous upswing in local buzz after the Sonics landed the number 2 pick in the NBA draft Bennett killed the buzz telling Kansas City that Seattle didn't love him and he thinks the Kansas City Sonics and Storm would be a great idea. They sign a hot new General Manager and they have yet to make a statement.

I want the teams to stay. I want to like the owners of the teams and I want them to be excited about the product they are bringing to the fans. I don't see either of those things happening with the Clay Bennett we had seen thus far remaining at the helm of the organization.

Barb vs. Shyra and Perimeter Defense

With back to back losses behind them to a Western Conference team, the Storm better prepare for the questions.

In two games with Houston, Barb Turner (cut by Coach Anne Donnovan for failing to show up on time for camp and then failing to out play camp invitee Shyra Ely) has put up the following numbers (averages)...

Minutes: 25.5
FG%: 37.5%
Rebounds: 3.5
Assists: 1
TO: 1
Points: 8.5

Ely in contrast has provided the following TOTALS...

Minutes: 14
FG%: 50% (she has taken TWO shots)
Rebounds: 3
Assists: 0
TO: 2
Points: 4

So tell me again what you were thinking, Coach Donovan? Shyra's four game TOTALS are just about equal to Barb's two game AVERAGE.

I will grant that BT is shooting a worse percentage so far than she averaged last season, but she is rebounding much better. However, she went 1 for 8 from the field in her first game and 5-8 in her second, so that number is misleading with only two games under her belt in a Comet's uniform.

It is somewhat unfair to make this comparison, since it is Katie Gearlds that really has taken Barb's spot in the rotation, and perhaps it was better to cut Barb to free her up as a 6th man for a team like Houston than be the rarely played option available to Ely. With Swoopes out, Barb could end up starting for the Comets before long. Anne needed offense off the bench and a shooter like Gearlds is more likely to grow into that role than Barb, given BT's role as spark plug and defender.

Here are Katie's averages for the season...
Minutes: 14
FG%: 21%
Rebounds: 1
Assists: 1
TO: 0
Points: 2.8

Her shooting and scoring aren't where they need to be and Barb is doing better despite being in a new system in Houston. I suspect Anne feels that her potential is higher given her histor as a scorer, feeling that she just needs time. My fear is that the perennial college starter is struggling to adjust to coming off the bench, if she does, she can do for the Storm what Crossley is doing for San Antonio and start dropping threes off the bench.

At some point Anne needs to decide where the perimeter defense is going to come from in the starting lineup. Izi has been getting the toughest defensive assignments, like Swoopes, Taurasi and Hammon, but that still leaves two perimeter players open. Betty is crucial on the floor for offense, but her height is a problem when Izi slides to pick up a guard on defense. It worked against Phoenix and Houston but not San Antonio.

Seattle Perimeter
Bird: 5'-9"
Lennox: 5'-8"
Castro-Marques: 6'-0"

vs. Houston
Grant: 5'-8"
Shields: 5'-10"
Maiga-Ba: 6'-1"
Swoopes: 6'-1"
It only worked after Sue was told to force Shields to her left hand, prior to that the rookie was shredding the Storm's perimeter defense.

vs. Phoenix
Miller: 5'-10"
Pondexter: 5'-9"
Taurasi: 6'-0"
Derevjanik: 5'-10"

vs. San Antonio
Hammon: 5'-6"
Johnson: 5'-9"
Ferdinand-Harris: 5'9"
Crossley: 5'-10"

When Izi guards the tallest player the Storm have won, but when she picks up the shortest player the Storm are playing at a disadvantage with Bird and Lennox forced to defend taller players who then hit open shots. Until the Storm figure out how to address that (replacing Lennox with Gearlds in the third produced the best plus/minus of the night on Saturday) performance could vary depending on the size of the opposing perimeter players and who Izi has to guard.

Monday, June 04, 2007

6/2 Storm vs. Silver Stars

I stumbled into this game after flying for 14 hours. I had given away my tickets and then forgotten, so I showed up with my Lynx tickets and ended up buying an extra pair of tickets for the game.

The annoying "Get Struck!" mantra appears to have finally died giving way to the more palatable "Seeing is Believing!" campaign. I really did not like the Get Struck, message, it just didn't click for me.

The Storm looked really good and really bad out there for stretches. LJ was amazing and determined, but it didn't make a difference. JB keeps missing chippies at the basket. What is up with that? Nobody was shooting well on the Storm, and the Silver Stars perimeter players ate us alive.

First Quarter
The Storm were leading until LJ picked up a second foul and sat at the 4:52 mark in the first. San Antonio immediately went on a run in a -4 period for the Storm. LJ checked back in at the 2:25 mark with Gearlds also replacing Lennox, but it wasn't enough and they went another -2.

Second Quarter
The Storm started off strong with the starters and Gearlds going +7 in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second quarter. Bird left at the 6:09 mark and it was all downhill from that point. The Storm went -5 without Bird as the offense sputtered in the hands of Tanisha Wright. Bird came back but LJ sat and that was not any better as they finished the quarter with another -4 run.

Third Quarter
The Storm came out stagnant from the half with the starters going -4 in the first 5 minutes of the second half. The rest of the quarter was a wash as the two teams traded runs.

Fourth Quarter
Here the Storm just rolled over and died. They allowed former Lady Vol Shanna Crossley (aka Shanna Zolman) abuse them with three point shooting while they failed to accomplish anything of their own. The Storm lost every moment of this quarter until it was over and the benches played out a +9 final 1:23 interval.

Best Shooters
Wendy Palmer- Floor%: 65%, eFG%: 67%
Katie Gearlds- Floor%: 57%, eFG%: 50%
Lauren Jackson- Floor%: 55%, eFG%: 50%

Best IR
Shyra Ely: 227.27
Katie Gearlds: 116.35
Wendy Palmer: 108.71

Best Plus/Minus
Katie Gearlds: +6
Tanisha Wright: +4
Ty'esha Fluker: +3

Most Effective Lineups
Bird-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Burse: +7
Wright-Gearlds-Castro-Jackson-Palmer: +5
Wright-Gearlds-Ely-Palmer-Fluker: +4

Random Thoughts
The Storm need to solve two key problems if they really want to contend in the west and compete for a title this season.

1) They need a backup point guard that can run the offense with confidence and play lock down defense.

2) They need to shore up their perimeter defense. They were destroyed by opposing jumpshots both from midrange and long range. The posts weren't even scoring down low, it was all from the field and Becky Hammon got into the lane repeatedly for uncontested layups. I think giving A-Rob more minutes in the post could help with help side blocks when someone gets in the lane. She plays quite well with Lauren, though not so well with JB or Wendy, while Wendy plays well with both JB and LJ.