Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Another News Day for the Storm

After yesterday's HUGE news of the sale of the team to a group of local women who will keep the team in Seattle, today brings the announcement of our new Head Coach. Former San Antonio Silver Stars assistant and Minnesota Lynx head coach Brian Agler will take over both the head coaching and general manager positions.

I didn't become a women's basketball fan during Agler's head coaching days with the Lynx or in the ABL, so it is hard for me to form a useful opinion so I have tried to look at the statistics of his teams.

His Lynx teams had a defensive rating right around 96-97 points per 100 possesions, though his offense was rather poor with his best year being 2000 with almost 98 points per 100 possesions. Offensively I can't imagine the Storm dropping off too much if you look at the players on the roster. Defensively it will be interesting and we will have to see who he fills the roster with in terms of draft picks, free agents and trades.

Lynx Offensive Rating: 93.74
Offense Compared to League: -3.30
Lynx Defensive Rating: 97.24
Defense Compared to League: +0.19

The Lynx were well below the league average offensively but only a little worse defensively in their expansion year.

Lynx Offensive Rating: 97.81
Offense Compared to League: -0.33
Lynx Defensive Rating: 97.58
Defense Compared to League: -0.59

In their second season the Lynx pulled closer to the league offensively and actually climbed above average on the defensive end of the floor. This was Seattle's expansion year and they were much worse offensively (83.81) and defensively (99.86) than Minnesota.

Lynx Offensive Rating: 92.86
Offense Compared to League: -2.13
Lynx Defensive Rating: 96.39
Defense Compared to League: +1.45

In their third season (the final under Agler) the Lynx fell below the league average in both categories which likely led to his firing. The Storm in their second season improved their offense (89.78) but still trailed Minnesota, while significantly improving their defense (95.71) to a better rating than Minnesota. Lauren Jackson's rookie addition likely led to both improvements.

In 2002 Seattle continued its growth with a huge boost on offense (98.93) to a better number than Minnesota ever had under Agler, and the defense got even better (94.99) giving Seattle better than average ratings at both ends of the floor. This was Sue Bird's rookie year.

Once Anne Donovan took over in 2003 the Storm continued their offensive improvement but began to backtrack on defense. 2004 was Seattle's best defensive year under Anne Donovan (95.06) , but other than that the Storm were fairly poor defensively giving up between 98-101 points per 100 possesions.

If the Storm were able to maintain their offensive strength under Agler but also reach his average of around 96 points per 100 possessions defensively they would be as strong as they were in their championship season.

The key to improving Seattle's defense has to lie in its perimeter play. They must find a way to limit penetration and improve their defensive field goal percentage. Agler's 2001 Lynx team limited opponents to 39% shooting from the field, Seattle never did better than 41% under Anne Donovan including their 2004 championship season. This leaves room for hope, and I am looking forward to seeing Coach Agler's next steps.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Thank you, Clay Bennett

I hope it is not the last chance I get to utter those words.

If you haven't figured it out yet, Bennett sold the Seattle Storm to a local ownership team of four women, known as Force 10 and who are commited to keeping the Storm in Seattle. This is the first thing Bennett has done since he purchased the teams that actually benefits the city of Seattle and its basketball fans.

Thank you to Karen Bryant, who I am 100% certain was the driver of this event.

Thank you to the NEW OWNERS of the Seattle Storm! You have saved our team, made my day and made my three year old son's day.

I just ran upstairs to tell him that LJ and the Storm were staying in Seattle and he ran across the house, leaped into my arms screaming YAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!

The news, leaked by Jayda Evans last night on her blog and published in the morning paper say that local ownership has purchased the team with the intention of keeping them in Seattle.

I guess this answers the question of why the coaching/gm selection went silent and perhaps why Sue Bird swung through Seattle on her short break from Russian play.

We Storm fans need to become the new owners' best allies and drum up additional ticket sales, help with marketing and do whatever else we can do to promote the team and drum up revenue for the new owners. Let's get to it! They have done their part, it is time for us to step up and do ours.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Durant Outs His Inner WNBA Fan

I remember a stink that arose back before the NBA draft last summer when an online user posed as Kevin Durant and said that he was going to buy the WNBA after he got drafted so that he could shut it down. Before it was exposed as a "fake" a number of people (journalists included) took it to be actually Kevin Durant's words. He never made a formal statement, but he did attend a Storm game this summer while he was in town (he stayed for the whole game which is often a rarity with the NBA guys, Ray Allen and Johan Petro being the others who actually appeared to enjoy the games) and hung out with Sue Bird for a joint interview with an airline magazine. Kevin Pelton points out this week in an interview about playing his first game at the Verizon Center this week, for his professional debut in his home town he talks about going to Bullets, Wizards and Mystics games while growing up. Even before he was tied to a WNBA team he was going to games just to watch, a true fan of the game of basketball. (The Stormtracker blog's text doesn't show up unless I highlight it, but it is there!) I hope this puts to bed any doubts people had about Durant and the WNBA.