Saturday, May 31, 2008

Storm vs. Comets Preview

I have a busy day tomorrow. I am diving all morning and we have the early game at night, which leaves me two hours in the middle. I am going to try and get through this quick.

Houston has yet to win a game, despite playing competition that is not top of the line in Minnesota and Washington, with losses to Detroit and Sacramento as well.

Tina Thompson is the focus of the offense, with former Sparks Tamecka Dixon and Mwadi Mabika as well as former Monarch Maiga Ba helping out. Michelle Snow has been unimpressive to start the season and it appears that she may never be the player she has the potential to become. In fact, Sancho Lyttle, her backup is playing better than the starter. Rookies Matee Ajavon has been a real surprise, stepping in off the bench to be the team's second leading scorer averaging 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 turnovers. Fellow rookie Erica White had a solid game off the bench against Sacramento and has played well so far this season.

  • Shooters seem to do well against a weak perimeter defense from Houston. LJ will draw attention down low, particularly after Friday's game, so she needs to find Cash, Bird, Swoopes, Gearlds, Wright and Ely on the perimeter. Each one of their opponents has had solid guard scoring.
  • Tina Thompson always plays LJ hard, but LJ needs to keep her busy at this end so that Tina has less left over at the other end of the floor.
  • Detroit and Washington dominated the offensive glass vs. Houston, Seattle needs to follow suit.
  • Snow is going to help on LJ so Yo needs to be ready for the high/low pass and make her chippies.


  • All things will run through Tina. Stop her and the Comets are done.
  • Play early defense like they did against San Antonio and this team will not have the confidence to attempt a real comeback. You have to break them mentally early in the game.
  • Thompson, Snow and Lyttle are big AND athletic, they can abuse Agler's "small ball" lineups, don't be afraid to play Robinson for her defense if the smaller benchies start giving up points.

I am looking forward to another fun game...I'll see you all there.

Game Five: Storm vs. Silver Stars 30 May, 2008

My, oh my, what a few days of real practice with the entire roster can do for a team. The Storm's defense was dominating and they started the game running everything through star Lauren Jackson who hit the first 10 points of the game in their 14-0 run. Let's look at my keys to the game from yesterday...

Offensive Rebounding: The Storm held even with the Silver Stars here, with 12 apiece, but the difference was that the Storm's 12 were 46% of the available rebounds and the Silver Stars 12 were only 32% of their available rebounds. I called Yo out in this category, and she responded with 4 on her own, helped by Swin Cash (3) and Shyra Ely (2).

Offensive Layups: I don't recall any missed chippies, but the Storm shot a reasonable 47% considering they didn't score much with the bench in the second half.

Ball Movement: I thought it was pretty darn good.

Post up Swin and Sheryl: They skipped out here, but LJ was so dominant on the block last night that everyone just let her have that spot.

Defensive Rebounding: The Storm grabbed 68% of the available defensive rebounds...that will do, and the starters were great with Griffith having 10, and Cash 9. LJ's rebounding is way down this season...she appears to be deferring to Yo and Swin.

Keep Becky out of the paint: How does 0-6 with only 4 free throws sound?

Stay on the shooters: The Silver Stars shot 27.6% on the night. Teams can't beat you if they can't hit the basket.

The Storm controlled the perimeter and limited the can't ask for more defensively. The offense is still a little choppy, particularly when the bench is in, but these extra minutes will only help. Sheryl Swoopes is still missing her three, and she moves uncharacteristicly slow on the court, but her defense is still solid.



True Shooting %

Floor %

Eff FG %

















Jackson was clearly, dominant, Swin Cash is cementing herself as the second scorer and Santos is consistently performing at the offensive end of the floor in her limited minutes. Tanisha Wright turns in her third consecutive strong performance with a mix of play at both guard positions, though she is strongest when playing with Sue Bird. Yolanda Griffith deserves an honorable mention here though her effective field goal percentage was only 40%, the other two ratings had her over 50% due to free throw success.


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating












Other notable players were Tanisha Wright and Sue Bird.

Cash: +28
Griffith: +25
Swoopes: +22
Jackson: +19
Bird: +16
Wright: +14
Ely: +1
Santos: -2
Gearlds: -5
Beck: -6
Robinson: -7

Bird-Swoopes-Cash-Jackson-Griffith: +10
Bird-Wright-Swoopes-Cash-Jackson: +7
Wright-Swoopes-Cash-Jackson-Griffith: +6

We saw some truly unusual lineups tonight, including some very odd "small ball" lineups, with mixed success.

Bird-Wright-Gearlds-Swoopes-Jackson (-4) and Beck-Wright-Cash-Ely-Robinson (-3) did not do so well while Bird-Wright-Cash-Ely-Griffith (+4) did quite well. It looks like Coach Agler is highly enamoured with his swing players and will spend a lot of time in the second halves of games creating mismatches to keep his opponents guessing.

Silver Stars

PlayerTrue Shooting %Floor %Eff FG %

















PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating



Atunruse: +2
Irvin: 0
Lawson-Wade: 0
Buescher: -10
Johnson: -11
Young: -14
Hammon: -19
Wauters: -26
Darling: -26


Hammon-Johnson-Buescher-Young-Wauter: +4
Hammon-Johnson-Atunrase-Young-Wauters: +2
Lawson-Darling-Atunrase-Young-Irvin: +2
Lawson-Johnson-Atunrase-Buescher-Irvin: +2

Friday, May 30, 2008

Seattle vs. San Antonio: Game Preview

EDITED LJ's Numbers to reflect a math error...

Neither of these two teams has played since San Antonio delivered Seattle's first loss of the season before a national television audience last Saturday. In that game San Antonio looked liked the sharper, more focused team. I said in my last preview that LJ has struggled against Young, last weeks Western Conference Player of the Week. Yet, while LJ played well below her season averages last year when faced with the Silver Stars, she still won the matchup. Last game was the first time Young owned the matchup.

Last season LJ was held almost 4 points below her season average, with her FG% eight points below her season average. She did shoot 9 points better from long range, however which shows how much trouble Sophia gives her down low. LJ shot 51% and 40% from three last season but only 43% and 50% against San Antonio. In the game on Saturday, LJ shot 40% from the field and 40% from three point range. Of course, she is only shooting 43% and 30% in the first four games this season. Last season LJ rebounded well (right on her averages) against San Antonio, and that continued last week. She also turned the ball over twice as much against San Antonio as she did for the season.

Young is really playing great this season. She had a fantastic game against Jackson. Last week I said that the Storm should focus on the other players defensively, but I think Young needs to be stopped and Jackson is going to need to be aggressive at both ends of the floor. She needs to work hard down low on Young and find her shooters/cutters. Hopefully a week of practice with her new team mates has given her a little more comfort with the new system.

Becky Hammon, perhaps showing a little extra pep facing a guard who made the US olympic team over her, broke out of her shooting slump against the Storm. She cannot be allowed to penetrate or get open looks early. Becky is a very streaky shooter who will hit everything if she gets a few early buckets.

Helen Darling cannot be allowed open looks. She is not a great scorer or shooter over the course of her career, but she looked like one against Seattle's defense on Saturday.

Buescher and Wauters gave the Storm trouble last week. They know that they will be facing Wauters this week, and they need to step up to the challenge.



  • Rebound the dang ball. Yolanda Griffith is one of the best rebounders in the history of the WNBA, yet she only pulled down 4 rebounds in that last game though 3 were offensive.
  • Hit the chippies ladies. Everyone was missing layups...that just won't cut it.
  • Move the ball around and make the defense work. Look for Cash more, she is very active and made San Antonio pay whenever she got the ball.
  • Post up with Swin and Sheryl, it worked when it was tried on Saturday, but we didn't see enough of it, despite Coach Agler stressing it in the locker room at half time.


  • Again, rebound the dang ball. San Antonio pulled down 41% of their available offensive rebounds, that is simply unacceptable. The Storm have great size in the post, except when they play LJ at the center position. Use that early to dominate the defensive glass.
  • Keep Becky out of the paint, make her shoot contested shots, don't let her get a groove on or she will kill you with her jumper.
  • Stay on the shooters, Buescher, Darling and Hammon all knocked down open threes off kick outs from the post. Let the bigs defend the paint and stay on your assignment.

As for the crowd, we need to get loud early and help the Storm get off to a better start. My heart can't take any more of these second half comebacks.

Simulation Results

In the simulation I ran for this game at, the Storm won a nailbiter 80 to 79. LJ was the game's leading scorer and rebounder with 29 points and 9 rebounds to Sophia Young's 20 and 6. Sue Bird added 15 points and 7 assists while Swing Cash gave 15 points and 6 rebounds. Yolanda and Sheryl came through on the boards with 7 and 5 respectively, while the bench was solid with scoring from Shyra, Katie and Tanisha. The Storm failed to keep Buescher (12) or Hammon (17) in check but limited the bench and the rest of the role players enough to make a difference.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sim your WNBA matchup...

I have never been a big fan of internet basketball simulators, though they are fun to putz around with every once and a while. has added a WNBA simulator with 2008 rosters to their offering. They also have 2006 data, but the rosters are without named players. When they end up with multiple years of data you can actually do things like have the 2004 championship Storm take on the 2008 Storm and see who wins.

If you want to play with single games, try the following link:

If you want to runa playoff series, go this way:

I am considering running the sim before each game just for giggles to see how the sim compares to the actual game. I will publish results in my game previews.

The Peltonator has a nice riff on how great Swin Cash has been for the Storm this season.

There are people upset with the Lynx "Primal Aggression" advertising campaign which uses images in print and television where star Seimone Augustus' face is split imaged with an actual lynx growling. The fury is over whether the ad is offensive to women or african americans because of the animal imagery. It has been linked in some articles to the controversial Vogue cover photo of the NBA's LeBron James and model Gisele Bundchen which many felt reinforced racist images of the black man as a dangerous ape "stealing" the slight white woman. I thought the hullaballoo over that cover was a lot of over-reaction, but at least I get what offends people. I just don't get what the issue with the lynx ads happens to be. I am curious if anyone else is offended and can share their opinion in the comments section.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Game Four: Storm @ Mercury 24 May, 2008

The first loss of the season is realized.

My keys to the game were lost on the team. I was hopeful early when both Swoopes and Cash posted up and scored, and Coach Agler pointed that out in the locker room at halftime, but it made no difference, it was too late. The game was ended by the massive run made by the Silver Stars to end the first quarter (See the end of the post for details.) Sheryl didn't shoot a free throw all evening.

The bench was key, and the benches were close, with the Silver Stars outscoring the Storm by only 3 points off the bench. Sophia Young and Becky Hammon just destroyed the Storm with 43 points between them. The Storm were out rebounded, and allowed the Silver Stars to get to the line more often. I had not counted on the presence of Ann Wauters, who in her first game with San Antonio put up 10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block. Erin Buescher also caused tremendous problems for the Storm which shows in the plus/minus below. The play of Helen Darling was another problem. So far, when Darling plays well the Silver Stars are winning. Katie Gearlds was stifled and that was a problem for Seattle. She took one shot in her almost 14 minutes of action. She is the designated shooter off the bench and never had a look. Tanisha Wright had another great game, as did Shyra Ely, but the team did not fare well with them on the floor.

PlayerFloor %Eff FG %

Swin Cash had a strong 73% true shooting percentage and 67% effective field goal percentage, but she had only a 49% floor percentage based on the number of possessions in which she was involved. Ashley Robinson had a 100% shooting percentage but a low 20% floor percentage since she rarely scored based on her time on the floor.


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating



Wright tops the list for the second consecutive game. Swin Cash was next in line as the fifth player over 100 pts per 100 possessions.

Griffith: +1
Santos: -1
Beck: -2
Gearlds: -3
Bird: -5
Robinson: -6
Jackson: -8
Cash: -9
Swoopes: -9
Wright: -12
Ely: -21

Ely and Swoopes played well individually as seen above, but the team played poorly when they were on the floor.

Bird-Wright-Gearlds-Cash-Jackson: +4
Bird-Swoopes-Cash-Jackson-Griffith: +3
Bird-Gearlds-Swoopes-Cash-Jackson: +3

Silver Stars

PlayerFloor %Eff FG %


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating



Ouch. We knew Young was going to make this list, but Darling and Buescher should have been kept off. Irvin barely played, but showed decent shot selection and that three was pure luck.

Buescher: +18
Young: +17
Wauters: +14
Darling: +13
Hammon: +6
Atunruse: +3
Irvin: +2
Johnson: 0

The Silver Stars bench did some serious damage, particularly Buescher and Wauters who I hadn't considered in my preview.


Hammon-Darling-Buescher-Young-Wauters: +8
Atunruse-Darling-Buescher-Young-Wauters: +8
Hammon-Atunrase-Johnson-Buescher-Young: +3
Atunruse-Darling-Buescher-Young-Irvin: +3

I said the bench would make the difference and it did. The game was ended by the +8 run made by Atunruse-Darling-Buescher-Young-Irvin against Bird-Wright-Swoopes-Cash-Jackson at the close of the first quarter in 1:37 of game time. That is a sad, sad thing. The Storm were within 5 prior to Hammon having a seat on the bench.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Storm @ Silver Stars Preview

Today is a bigger game for Seattle than in should be. It is the second game of the first road trip of the year. Normally, a loss here is not such a big deal. This year and this trip are different. The Storm are 3-0 for the first time in franchise history. They have a chance to push for a long win streak and set a difficult to beat new franchise record. The Storm are hard to beat at home, and they could go as far as 6-0 to start the season. They can also build up some early season insurance given that they will miss their MVP for five games in July. Every game they steal now while teams are warming up provides a more solid cushion for the difficult stretch before the Olympics. Everyone in the league is watching the Storm right now. LA is the favored team in the west, but while they have been sitting idle the Storm have quietly won game after game.

Confidence is an intangible that should not be underestimated. I think back to a few years ago when a rag tag group of Sonics players and coaches in contract years stunned the NBA by getting off to such a blistering start that even when they crumbled at the end of the season with injuries, they still won 52 games. The Storm have never won more than 20 games in a season, and have only hit that 20 mark twice, 2004 and 2005. Winning creates a mental environment where players start to believe that they can win, to expect that they should win, and then they play to win. This team has come back three times now from games they should have lost. They are focused on winning the next games earlier. That is the type of attitude this team has lacked for a few years.

Winning their first road trip and defeating three of the big names in the Western Conference to start the season on top of setting a new franchise record can really set a tone for these players in this season.


  • Get LJ going early with post ups and Yo in position to rebound.
  • Move LJ to the high block to clear the paint and let Swin and Sheryl post up VJ and Helen Darling. It is not really Sue's game, but she can post up Becky as well. There won't be a lot of double teams if San Antonio is forced to respect the Storm's starters.
  • People say the Storm are old, but San Antonio's starters are no spring chickens either. Run VJ and Darling off screens and hit them with midrange jumpers from Swin and Swoopes.
  • Let Sue show Becky that Coach Agler wants to push her game to the next level, too.
  • San Antonio is only playing eight players right now, so the Storm can't be afraid to continue the fresh substitutions with Gearlds, Wright, Beck and Ely to keep pressing the offense for 48 minutes.
I am not sure whether Coach Hughes is still implementing Agler's offense in San Antonio, but if he is, the Storm should be able to read it fairly well, though the reverse could also be true.
  • Sophia Young is starting off the season well, likely benefitting from the extra attention teams are playing to 2007 MVP runner up Becky Hammon. Young did well against both the Monarchs and the Mercury who offer very different post defenses. Of the three, I think the Storm has the strongest post defense with Yo, LJ, A-Rob and Ely or Cash. I don't think the Storm should focus on Young, but rather make her work for her points.
  • The difference between the Silver Stars win versus Phoenix and their loss in Sacramento was containment of Hammon, Darling, Buescher and Riley. As the Storm know from previous years, Young can't win every game on her own. In Sacramento, Darling was 0-8, Riley was 2-6 and Hammon was 4-19, with very few trips to the free throw line for any of them. Buescher was 5-5 from the line but 3-9 from the field. In the Phoenix game, Riley was 5-7, Darling was 2-4 from three point range, Buescher was 5-10 and Hammon got to the line 10 times. Keep Hammon out of the paint, and force tough shots on the rest from the start of the game.
  • The Storm should match up well and switch easily against the Silver Stars perimeter players, the key is to prevent them from gaining early confidence in their shots. Riley likes to shoot from the high post, so Yo will need to be ready to step out, which will weaken her ability to rebound.
  • Erin Buescher had 6 offensive boards in Sacramento, but they are not a great offensive rebounding team, so the Storm need to rebound on defense and move the ball up the court.

I am hoping that Tanisha will be able to build off a strong showing in Phoenix and her great play in San Antonio last year to have another solid game. I also hope to see a little more Kimberly Beck today. Outside of Buescher, San Antonio has no bench and the Storm can blow the game wide open with solid play from their bench today.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Opening Night Video

Someone at the Storm has put together a fun video from opening night.

Game Three: Storm @ Mercury 22 May, 2008

This team doesn't like to make it easy for themselves. For the third game in a row they allowed themselves to slack in the second quarter and fall behind by double digits requiring extra efforts in the second half. One interesting point is that Coach Agler seems to rely heavily on veteran Center Yolanda Griffith in the first half of games and prefers to go small with Jackson at the five spot in the second half.


PlayerFloor %Eff FG %

Tanisha Wright and Lauren Jackson busted out of their early season slumps. Cash continues to play incredibly well for this team as does Katie Gearlds. Ely and Bird were reasonably effective shooting as well.


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating



Boy, when Tanisha breaks out, she really breaks out. On top of this she has been credited at being the defensive stopper on the unstoppable Cappie Pondexter.

Cash: +24 (+14 on floor)
Bird: +16 (+10 on floor)
Jackson: +8 (+6 on floor)
Wright: +8 (+6 on floor)
Ely: +8 (+6 on floor)

The bench continues to provide a lift as the team is performing well with them in the lineup.

Bird-Gearlds-Cash-Ely-Jackson: +7
Bird-Wright-Cash-Jackson-Griffith: +6
Bird-Wright-Cash-Ely-Jackson: +3


PlayerFloor %Eff FG %


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating



When neither of your stars make this list, and the most effective player barely played, you know you are in trouble.

Farris: +40 (+18 on floor)
Mazzante: +32 (+14on floor)
Crockett: +28 (+12 on floor)
Oga: +12 (+4 on floor)

Ouch. The Mercury bench really pounded on the Storm in the first half, but these four barely saw floor time in the second half as the Storm surged back. Agler's frequent rotations allowed the Storm to punish a tired set of Mercury starters to close out the game.

Miller-Mazzante-Taurasi-Crockett-Farris: +5
Miller-Pondexter-Mazzante-Farris-Smith: +4
Miller-Mazzante-Taurasi-Farris-Smith: +4
Miller-Pondexter-Taurasi-Crockett-Farris: +4

Last game Jenny Boucek used 24 different lineups, here rookie coach Corey Gaines only used 12 and didn't use any of the lineups from the winning second quarter in the losing second half. The starters were a horrid -19 for the game.

Final Thoughts

I think that Dick Fein and Adia Barnes were right on the broadcast last night. Coach Agler is definitely taking advantage of these young coaches to start off the season. He is creating matchup problems and truly presenting two different teams in the first half and the second half. He is adjusting the game at half time and forcing his opponents to adjust in the game, a place where they appear to be struggling.

I feel for Coach Gaines and his team. It is very hard to follow up a championship season. Too many people thought the Mercury were going to be better than this, but as I said in my season preview, the Mercury need Penny Taylor. She is the key to creating the mismatches that allow "Paul Ball" to work.

Next up is a more experienced coach and Coach Agler's former boss. There was a nice article by Jayda Evans in the Seattle Times season preview that discussed how San Antonio's Dan Hughes approached former San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, and current Seattle Sonics coach PJ Carlisimo about how Greg Popovich had prepared a "failed" head coach to return to head coaching in the NBA. Hughes apparently took the advice and it provided identical results as Agler also moved from assistant coaching in San Antonio (for the Silver Stars) to head coaching in Seattle. (I know, it is a little bizarre how this happened for both coaches in the same cities, but at least it is working out better for Agler than it did for Carlisimo!) Let's hope Coach Agler doesn't thank Coach Hughes until AFTER the next game.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Storm @ Mercury Preview

Sigh, radio and internet only.

This game is certainly winnable, but it scares me, too.

Why is it winnable?

  • The Storm have won the season series two years in a row with wins in Phoenix.
  • Phoenix is not a defensive team and the "rover" defense won't cut it against the Storm's starters, there are too many scorers on the roster.
  • The Storm defense is focused on preventing penetration while guarding the three point line which are key strengths for the Mercury.
  • The Mercury have been beat by strong post play in both their games this season. Parker and Leslie put up 51 points and 24 rebounds on them, while Sophia Young and Ruth Rile put up 36 points 15 rebounds on them. LJ and Yo will out class Smith and Willingham by a significant margin.
  • Becky Hammon shot horribly but got to the line and converted 9-10, similar to what Swoopes has done for the Storm this season.
  • Sidney Spencer nailed threes like they were layups, just like KG did vs. the Monarchs.
  • Sue and Swin want to show up their former team mate, and Sue and LJ usually have great games vs. the Mercury.

What am I worried about?

  • The Storm have struggled to play defense early on. Phoenix has some seriously streaky shooters. If Taurasi, Pondexter and Mazzante get going early the margin could be 20+ by half time and they will only get better with the confidence.
  • The Storm have struggled rebounding and "Paul Ball" is focused on rebounding and running. If the Storm don't get the boards or struggle putting the ball in the basket, the Mercury will easily turn it into, at best, 5 on 3 fast breaks. The shot will be up before Yo and Swoopes get back to rebound.
  • The Storm have not been a good road team other than two years ago.

Keys to the Game


  1. Offensive rebounds. The Storm MUST use their size and skill on the offensive boards or they will get run out of the gym.
  2. Control the pace. It is OK to run, but make Phoenix play at your pace, not theirs.
  3. Be aggressive on offense, make their defense work and let Diana get frustrated, she is vulnerable to her emotion...her greatest strength and worst enemy.
  4. Use your angles. Phoenix plays a lot of zone and lanes are available if you can get the ball to the right spot.
  5. Feed LJ down low. She has no competition down there and her shot is not falling yet. Make them double her early to free up Cash for the midrange jumper and Swoopes for the back door cut.
  6. Rotations are key. Phoenix is not deep and knowing when to substitute and take advantage of A-Rob on defense and KG on offense will make a big difference.


  1. Defensive Rebounding. Phoenix has plenty of true scorers. Give them enough opportunities to put points up on the board and they will make you pay.
  2. Play your high/low game. The "rover" can be run off lots of picks and LJ will draw double teams meaning that YO will have a mismatch or open shot at the basket.
  3. Cut, cut, cut. When their zone rotates with the ball lanes will open up. Cutters have to run them and make themselves available for passes from the perimeter and the post. There are always huge gaps in Phoenix's defense if you can get a body and the ball there at the right time.
  4. The three guard lineup Phoenix uses can create mismatches, and Seattle is already big. The posts need to know when to help and keep up the great work on closing angles to the basket that they have shown so far.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Game Two: Storm vs. Monarchs 20 May, 2008

The crowd was not a bad size for an early season, midweek game, and was much louder than you would expect from the announced 6,871. The crowd at Key Arena is back and at the top of their game, even if the team is not.

They may not be the Perfect Storm quite yet, but they are still pretty darn good. They are at least good enough to win games at home after giving up big leads early. With regards to that trend, I think the roster changes are a big reason for their ability to come back. The mentality of Griffith, Cash and most importantly Swoopes is what makes the difference so far this season as opposed to last season's team. In the past, when LJ struggled, Sue was the only option to change things up, and that would only work if her pull up shot in transition was on. Unfortunately, even if the Storm scored points in those situations, they would fail to defend and eventually lose their confidence.

Twice now, Swoopes has proven that when she needs to dig in her teeth and do something for this team, she is able to do so. Her play from tip off to final horn has not been fantastic, but twice in a row she has proved clutch in the third/fourt quarters. She gets that steal when it is needed, or that rebound or even hits a shot when you need one. She was 3-13 from the field last night, but all I remember is her clutch put back of her own miss and her key three pointer. Additionally, the addition of Cash cutting, posting up on mismatches and hitting the midrange jumper has made a big difference. It doesn't hurt when Katie's shot is on either.

The real key is attitude. This team doesn't seem willing to quit and the veterans are able to pull just enough of their MVP, All Star, champion mentality together in spurts to make a difference and spur on the team.

Lauren seems to be thinking too much about her shot. Her cleanest shot last night was on a bobbled play where she had to pick the ball off the floor and elevate to shoot before the shot clock expired. That action alone tells me that she just needs to relax and let her shot flow...her MVP body knows how to put the ball in the basket.

As for my keys to the game, let's see how they did...

1) Execution and Focus: they waited until the second half to find it.
2) Rebound and Run: They allowed Sacramento to rebound 38% of their offensive rebounds, and that number is misleading since the Storm outrebounded the Monarchs in the second half. They were unable to get their running game going until the second half. It is frightening to me that Sacramento had more total possessions than the Storm.
3) Patience in the half court: Too often they kept the ball on the same side of the court falling prey to the "white line" defense.
4) Use your post players size: Agler tried to matchup with the Monarchs after his bigs were completely obliterated on the glass in the first half.

1) Trust your post defenders: The Storm didn't help too much, and Brunson was the only post player to do much damage, but she was a handful, even hitting a midrange fadeaway on the baseline at one point.
2) Beware the perimeter shooters: Lawson and Powell were hitting everything in the first half even with hands in their faces. I don't fault the defense for many of those threes, those two were just on fire.
3) Use your size on the glass: Ouch. It took two and a half quarter for that to happen.


PlayerFloor %Eff FG %

Swoopes had a low effective field goal percentage (27%) but she got to the line well earning a decent floor percentage of 44%.


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating



Beck didn't play much, but it sure is nice to see her continue to be effective. She is much better at the point than Wright, but I think it is good that Agler is bringing her along slowly and letting her build confidence for later in the season.

Gearlds: +16 (+13 on floor)
Cash: +14 (+12 on floor)
Ely: +12 (+11 on floor)
Beck: +10 (+10 on floor)

Who says the Storm has no bench? Of course Cash is really a starter and played starter minutes last night, but the bench dominates the ratings and the plus/minus in this game.

Bird-Swoopes-Cash-Ely-Jackson: +8
Bird-Gearlds-Cash-Jackson-Griffith: +7
Beck-Gearlds-Cash-Robinson-Griffith: +4


PlayerFloor %Eff FG %


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating



Rookie Laura Harper was much better offensively than veteran Williams-Strong, how long before she cracks the starting lineup for Jenny Boo?

Williams: +22(+5 on floor)
Kelly: +16 (+2 on floor)
Brunson: +14 (+1 on floor)
Allen: +12 (0 on floor)

Boucek used 24 different lineups in the game, only her starters and her starters with Harper instead of Williams-Strong were used more than once.

Penicheiro-Lawson-Powell-Kelly-Brunson: +11
Penicheiro-Lawson-Powell-Brunson-Williams: +2
Franklin-Allen-Atkinson-Brunson-Williams: +2
Pencheiro-Lawson-Powell-Brunson-Harper: +1

That +11 lineup was used during the big second quarter run for just over 3 minutes from the 8:22 to the 5:05 mark. We never saw them again. The Storm matched that lineup with three different ones (+/- is for the interval only, not the game):

Bird-Wright-Swoopes-Jackson-Griffith: -2
Bird-Swoopes-Cash-Ely-Jackson: -2
Bird-Swoopes-Cash-Jackson-Griffith: -7

Final Thoughts

In the end, the Storm put another W on the schedule, but as Dick Fein said quoting Adia Barnes in the post game interview, the Storm can't give up double digit first half leads on the road against teams like Phoenix and San Antonio. Phoenix has lost their first two games, and they will be hungry for a win. Taurasi is a fierce competitor and will absolutely be up to play Sue, Swin and Lauren, she will be a force. Cappie Pondexter is virtually unstoppable regardless of who guards her...she will get 20+ points. Of course, if the Storm can shut down the rest of the Mercury they will have a shot. San Antonio will also be tough, but the Storm can leverage their depth and new rotation system to wear down a team that is playing 8 people at the moment. Sophia Young and Becky Hammon will get their points, as likely with Buescher off the bench, they need to focus on Riley Darling and Johnson.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Seattle vs. Sacramento: Game Preview

Sacramento surprised me, and likely a few others, with their sharp play on opening day. Their defense was no surprise, as they shut down San Antonio's perimeter players, allowing 32.4% shooting and 21.1% from three point range. In fact, only young post Sophia Young was very effective going 10-18 in the game. Becky Hammon, who made a strong bid for MVP last season was held to 4-19 and 3-11 from three. She was not able to penetrate which is one of her strengths.

Sacramento also controlled the defensive boards, grabbing 63% of the available defense rebounds while corralling 50% of their own offensive rebounds.

What really made Sacramento work though, was their scoring. They got duble digit scoring from 4 players. In my season preview I asked who was going to score the points, and the answer was a little bit from everyone. The only player who played and failed to score was rookie A'Quonesia Franklin, but she provided in other ways with her serious hustle play off the bench producing two steals, two assists and a rebound. Adrian Williams-Strong also came up big with 13 points. Rookie Laura Harper was a surprise with 10 points and 5 rebounds, and Charel Allen hit her only shot of the game. Kim Smith came off the bench in the first half and immediately put the ball in the basket.

Their offense, however is not that potent, and Seattle has always been able to score points in bursts against Sacramento. Seattle's new defense should be able to shut down the Monarchs when they need to do so. Bird struggles agains Penicheiro, and Brunson is tough for LJ down low, but given Youngs production for San Antonio, I believe LJ will score points. I think there are enough scoring options on the Storm to find ways to put up points, and Griffith should wipe up the floor with whoever they match her up against. Brunson can't guard LJ and Yo at the same time.

Keys to the Game

  • Execution and focus.
  • Rebound and run to allow quick scores before Sacramento can set their defense.
  • Patience in the half court. Sacramento wants to force you into a bad shot with their "white line" defense that loads the ball side of the court. Keep swinging the ball and find opportunities to penetrate and collapse the defense.
  • Use your post players and get those offensive boards. Use the size advantage to control the offensive glass and get second chance points.


  • Trust your post defenders, the Monarchs don't have a true offensive threat down low.
  • Beware the perimeter shooters. Sacramento likes to trick you into doubling or collapsing to free Powell, Lawson and the rest of the shooters.
  • Use your size to keep Brunson off the offensive glass. They can't win if they don't rebound.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

nuff said...

Rod Mar of the Seattle Times captures what Swin Cash brings to our team this season. This IS the Perfect Storm.

Game One: Storm vs. Sky 17 May, 2008

PlayerFloor %Eff FG %


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating



Gearlds: +30 (+18 on floor)
Bird: +24 (+15 on floor)
Jackson: +22 (+14 on floor)
Swoopes: +16 (+11 on floor)

Bird-Gearlds-Swoopes-Cash-Jackson: +10
Bird-Gearlds-Cash-Ely-Jackson: +6
Bird-Swoopes-Cash-Jackson-Griffith: +5

After running the plus/minus numbers, it is clear that the Storm were able to take control of the game whenever Jia Perkins sat down. Perkins was a net +12, but when Joens came in for Perkins at the 3:10 mark of the third quarter the Sky completely fell apart. They went on a -16 interval until the 6:45 mark of the fourth quarter while Perkins sat out. By then things were out of control and the Storm were hot. The Storm went small in that interval with Gearlds, Swoopes, Cash and either Bird or Wright along with one post, Jackson or Robinson. In the fourth Ely was the four with either Jackson or Robinson at the five. Griffith sat down at the 5:15 mark of the third and Agler went small and quick the rest of the night. I am not certain whether it was the matchup that forced Chicago to sit Perkins, or if she was just tired, but it led to a blowout run that was disguised by the reserves giving up 9 points in the last two minutes of the game.

Overall, the evening was very satisfying.

We got to thank Force 10 Hoops for keeping our team and we got to welcome some great new veterans. The savvy experience of Swoopes and Cash were a big factor during the run and may have made the difference. We saw nice play from Shyra Ely, I like the way Agler is choosing to use her. Tanisha struggled, as did Beck, and Ashley wasn't on top her game at either end of the floor, but it was only the first game of the season, and no starter needed to play more than 34 minutes despite the struggles of the bench. Katie didn't score much, but the team fared very well when she was on the floor. Any win that doesn't require 40 minutes from Sue and LJ and 30+ minutes from Sheryl and Yo is a very good win.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


What a waste. Talk about over rated and over hyped. Parker couldn't even get two assists in the fourth quarter.

Highest scoring rookie debut in league history, setting a new record 11 points higher than the previous record.

34 points
12 rebounds
8 assists
2 steals
1 block

Too bad nothing exciting happens in this league and there is no new blood.

Player Cuts on Western Teams

After my previews yesterday, three of the players I mentioned are now cut...Houston cut Byears and the Sparks cut Fluker and Zoll. I had originally thought the Storm would draft Zoll, but they went with Quigley and LA grabbed Zoll before their next pick. Too bad, but I am happy with Beck to this point. I guess there will be some options out there in the event of injury.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Scenario Two is the winner.

Word from camp via Jayda Evans is that Doneeka Lewis was the final cut. It appears was more worried about the depth of the post than he was about using Tanisha Wright as insurance should Kimberly Beck not work out.

I am actually prepared for the season from a data perspective. I have updated my 2008 spreadsheets and have some more automation built in to allow me to run player, lineup and player pair +/- data throughout the season. It adds a few minutes of work per game, but now I don't have to wait to run numbers to get the "current" state of things since everything rolls up to my summary sheet.

Hey tomorrow is opening night and estimates are for the LARGEST home opener yet with more than 13,000 expected. Jayda also says that Sylvia Fowles wants to dunk tomorrow night.

Let's rock the house.

2008 Preview Part 2


Los Angeles Sparks

Excuse me, I will be right back, I need to go throw up. Yes, that is right, at the moment I am victim of fear that the Sparks may be the best team in the west. It is not just the return of Lisa Leslie or the debut of Candace Parker. It is also the miracle ACL recovery poster girl Delisha Milton-Jones, the addition of former All-Star and great athelete Marie Ferdinand-Harris, the development of Sidney Spencer and the supporting cast that includes Temeka Johnson, Shannon Bobbitt, Jessica Moore, Muriel Page, Sharnee' Zoll and even former Storm Tye'sha Fluker. There is a lot of national championship Tennessee on this roster. I could flip flop the top four teams in the west in any order without batting an eye...face it folks the west is up for grabs and it will be a fight worth watching.

Seattle Storm

Need I say more? I want to put them number one. They might be number one. I am worried about Sheryl's back. I am worried about the backup point guard slot. I am worried about the five games LJ is missing to train with the Opals. I am worried about an injury to Yolanda Griffith without JB around. I think Swin Cash is going to be fantastic on this team. I think Katie Gearlds may break out for Agler like Shannon Crossley did for him in San Antonio. I want to believe this coaching staff can make A-Rob into this team's Tyson Chandler. I want to see Shyra Ely prove she deserves to play in this league. I want Tanisha Wright to play the shooting guard spot like we thought should would before AD tried to make her a point guard. I want to sit in my third row seat in September and feel confetti fall on my face again while more than 17,000 fans make the jumbtron shake with their screaming and Sue, LJ, Sheryl and Yo hug each other and celebrate what they have done together.

San Antonio Silver Stars

I think the loss of Shannon Crossley this week really hurt the upstarts from Texas. Getting Erin Buescher back could help...Phoenix might not have made it past the Silver Stars last season if Erin had been with them...even with the questionable referees in the playoffs. Becky Hammon is going to be even better than last year folks. Ruth Riley and Sophia young make another excellent tandem in the post. This team is not as strong after those names though, people. If Agler was as big a deal as everyone in Seattle is making out, his loss could mean something as well.

Phoenix Mercury

This is why I don't rank teams in the preseason. I think losing Penny Taylor and Paul Westhead is a big deal. I love Cappie Pondexter and there may not be a better perimeter player than Diana Taurasi, love her or hate her. She is just that good. Candace may have been the best at her level, but she has to earn her stripes at this one. Diana is to the perimeter what LJ is to the post. They change the game with what they are able to do at their positions. They differentiate with a blend of sheer talent, fiery competitiveness and sheer desire that are of the rarest blends in professional sports. I like Kellie Miller and Tangela Smith, but that is the extent of the roster. They don't get the respect their fans think they deserve this season because they have no bench and Penny Taylor was the soul of their success. Cappie and Dee are the heart and Kellie is the head, the engine, but Penny is the soul. Her play at the power forward spot made the offense work. Paul Baul didn't work until Penny showed up in his first season, and she kept it going through the championship in his second. Without Penny this team will blow teams out one night and get blown out the next.

Minnesota Lynx

I know, it has been a long time since the Lynx were a contender. If they hadn't lost Lindsey Harding to injury before the season even started, I would have an even tougher time with my western conference ordering. With Seimone Augustus, Candice Wiggins, Ann DeForge and Noelle Quinen, they should be able to score. Nicole Ohlde is a great post player, but she needs some help down low if the Lynx are going to break out. I am not sure what else they have on that roster that will make a big difference for them. The losses of Harding and Svetlana Abrosimova are not to be underestimated.

Sacramento Monarchs

I though Jenny Boucek was going to get a chance to do some damage this season. Then Yolanda Griffith headed to Seattle, and DeMya Walker went down for the season. Brunson and Powell are a nice tandem and Ticha and Kara have a lot of experience, but I am not sure who is going to score points besides Powell and Lawson on this roster. They will remain a strong defensive team (NOT offensive as I said in the original post during a moment of typing faster than I can think), but this team is going to have a tough time of it this season. I hope they surprise a few teams, as long as we are not one of them.

Houston Comets

That last championship was a really long time ago. They have a group of 11 year veterans in Temecka Dixon, Mwadi Mabika and Tina Thompson, but Thompson is the only one I think has much juice left in her at this point. They have what should be a strong center in Michelle Snow, perhaps someday she will play like one. They have veterans Maiga-Ba (6), Latasha Byears (9), Sancho Lyttle (3), and Pee-Wee Johnson (9). Then they have some youth with Ashley Shields and Matte Ajavon. I read one Comet fan on Rebkell say that Houston was where old Sparks come to die. Karleen is likely to wear black most of the season folks. This franchise is starting from scratch.

2008 Preview

Everyone else is sharing their opinions today, so I will drop some rather random and unprepared thoughts.


Detroit Shock

They have a fantastic backcourt in Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan with veteran backup Elaine Powell and some youth in two time national champion, rookie, Alexis Hornbuckle. The losses of Ivory Latta and Pee Wee Johnson shouldn't hurt as much with a long, strong defensive minded combo guard joining the mix. Hornbuckle should fit right in with the system since she is the type of guard Lambier prefers. Up front, the new face of the franchise, Cheryl Ford forms the rock with returning center Kara Braxton. They are backed up by sixth woman Plenette Pierson and rookie Tash Humphrey. They added some veteran savvy in former Storm, Sheri Sam, but they WILL miss Swin Cash, and they are small with Braxton the only player over 6'2". Still, with Lambier as coach and the big three, they have a real edge in the east while Tamika Catchings recovers.

Chicago Sky

It is only their third year, and they have a new head coach, but I think the addition of Sylvia Fowles to their young core of Candice Dupree, Armintie Price and Jia Perkins could really push them to the status of a competitor in the east this year. Fowles would have been a consensus #1 pick in any draft without phenom Candace Parker. Fowles is a force down low like we haven't seen since young Lisa Leslie. She is the real deal folks, she plays defense, she rebounds, she scores and she has a competitive fire. They lost Stacey Dales, but I think the growth of Price, and Dupree will make up for that in and of itself leaving the arrival of Fowles to help them over the expansion team hump.

Indiana Fever

If Tamika Catchings were healthy I would be tempted to put this team at the top of my list for the east. With her out for most of the season, I was considering dropping them even further than third. Katie Douglas will easily replace the offense lost with Anna DeForge, and one of the best defenses in the league just got significantly better. Tan White showed in the preseason that she has just gotten better and I also liked the the look of former Duke Blue Devil, Alison Bales. When Catchings returns this will be a hard team to beat, simply because they won't ever let you score...and now they have more than one scorer of their own on the roster. Unfortunately they may have a significant upward batttle to get playoff positioning depending on how long their star is forced to sit out.

New York Liberty

I like the Liberty. They made their loyal fans proud last year, and besides, their new website is REALLY cool. They kept their core and then they added Essence Carson and Erlana Larkins to their roster. They are destined to be better this year than last year, when they surprised the league with their heart and their fire. I expect a few more surprises from them this season as well.

Connecticut Sun

Two seasons ago this team looked poised to make a third WNBA Finals appearance. They came within a shot of winning the 2004 WNBA finals and then fought hard in the 2005 finals. Detroit regained its crown in the east in 2006 and 2007, and Connecticut has suffered serious blows in the off season. First Katie Douglas has moved on. The tallest woman in the league had a baby this offseason, so the Sun lose the long arms that stood between shooters and the basket. To top it off, their heart and soul, Nykesha Sayles decided to sit out the season to rest her injured body. They have a great point guard in Lindsay Whalen, and they are full of Husky players with Asjha Jones, the return of Barbara Turner and the drafting of Ketia Swanier, but this is a new team that we will have to re-evaluate from scratch.

Atlanta Dream

Hello kids, this is not your big sister's expansion team. With former Storm starters Izi Castro Marques and Betty Lennox joining Katie Feenstra, Ivory Latta, Kristin Haynie, Chantelle Anderson and Camille Little, the Dream have a great start for a rookie franchise. I count five championship rings on this roster without doing anything other than looking at the names infront of me. They aren't a contender, but they will beat some good teams this year and they will surprise a few folks.

Washington Mystics

I'm sorry 'Stics fans. I don't know who this team is without Alana Beard playing. Taj McWilliams-Franklin is a nice pick-up, Monique Currie is a good player, but I just don't see this roster or this team winning many games while Beard is out, and only a few more after she gets back. I hope they surprise me like the Liberty did last year.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cool Nike Ad for Girls in Sports

Thanks to mhueter at the new blog "Saving the World Through Sports" for pointing out this excellent new ad from Nike that refrains from product and focuses on a public service annoucement format explaining the value of sports to young girls.

Athletics can do a lot for young kids of both genders and all economic backgrounds, but, as a nation, we are still behind the curve in encouraging our young women to participate in sports. Studies I have read have shown that the majority of women leaders in business played sports at either the high school or collegiate levels. The impacts of athletics goes far beyond the health and well being and goes towards developing confidence, leadership and teamwork skills that help these girls grow up with an edge over their peers of either gender.

I agree with mhueter...get your kids involved and let them reap the benefits.

O'Neil Waived

She was always a longshot, but the Storm waved Kristin O'Neil this morning. My uninformed guess is that the new post player arrival locked Coach Agler into one of two directions to decide in practice today and tomorrow morning.

Scenario One
I think Coach Agler knows that Kimberly Beck has the potential to be a multi-year backup for Sue Bird at the point guard position on a 4 year rookie scale contract. The Storm have not had a legitimate backup point guard since Tully Bevilaqua left the team in 2005 to start for Indiana. This is someone he wants to groom. With no other point guards on the roster, however he has to determine if Tanisha Wright can be enough insurance in the event of an injury to Sue Bird. If not, then he needs to keep Lewis and pick either Santos or Pascalau as the fourth/fifth (if you count Ely) post in the rotation. I don't see him keeping Lewis OVER Beck, but it is a slim possibility.

Scenario Two
With Janell Burse out for the season Coach Agler knows that he is pretty thin in the post. Yolanda Griffith is at the end of her career, and while she stills plays at a high level, she is subject to the injuries that plague post players. She plays all out in the paint, and people get hurt down there, particularly those who don't shy away from contact. That puts a lot of wear and tear on young players like Jackson and Burse, it is magnified with long time veterans. To top things off, he knows that Jackson is taking five games off a key part of the season to prepare for the Olympics. That leaves Agler with the offensively challenged (due mostly to lack of confidence, IMHO) Ashley Robinson, the undersized Shyra Ely and either a player who hasn't played in the league for two seasons in Kellie Santos or a WNBA rookie in Florina Pascalau. Santos seems comfortable in the paint, and Pascalau is a midrange shooter for the pick and pop offering Agler more options to use based on matchups when he is short his all star starters.

The answers will all be made clear in 24 hours or less.


Yes, LJ is back, but the Storm also signed a late arrival, and waived Roneeka Hodges. We don't have much on the new arrival, Romanian Florina Pascalau, other than she is a center and 6'4" She played in Italy against Adia Barnes and Doneeka Lewis which provided good feedback. While Coach Agler commented on current post prospect Kelly Santos' language barrier as a minor issue during games, he has said he likes her work. According to Kevin Pelton, Agler wanted Pascalau in camp but they had visa troubles which were resolved enough to get a look at her once she declined a contract offer from the Minnesota Lynx.

This puts Santos and Pascalau competing for a post position and Lewis, Beck and O'Neil competing for a wing position. This could actually hurt local, Kristin O'Neil's chances of making the team. If Agler feels strongly one way or the other with Beck or Lewis, he may choose to keep both posts given potential for injury with his bigs and his wealth of swing players. Size can be very important against a number of teams in this league and he is not likely to want Shyra Ely playing significant minutes at power forward.

The roster waters are muddied a bit more with final cuts required by tomorrow.

Opening night in only two days, folks. Word is that all of the suites and the lower bowl are sold out with only tickets available in the upper bowl for Saturday night's game. A very small group of Sonics fans from Save Our Sonics are making a last minute effort to get Sonics fans out to show support for the Storm on opening night and show appreciation for the efforts of the local owners that saved the team for the city.

I applaud their efforts, but I don't expect a big response. There are a number of people who might come to a single game for just these reasons, but they needed to be rallied weeks ago, not the last few days before the game. Perhaps we will see them more organized at a later date. Many NBA fans who take the time to see the Storm gain an immediate appreciation for them despite preconceptions they may have had and it could generate more fans for the team in the long run, but I fear that there are still too many "guys" out there that believe the things the WNBA players are saying in the WNBA "Expect Great" ads playing during the NBA playoffs.

Personally I think the ads are a terrible idea. None of the players used have great talent behind the camera, and they were poorly coached on delivery. Their lines are stiff and stilted, particularly the Cheryl Ford spot. Additionally, they are essentially insulting the audience they are targetting.

The excitement of the WNBA comes from seeing the games live. That is what hooks people. It is more than just the game on the floor, it is the passion of the fans and the connection with the players and the other fans. We have to get people out to see the games if we want to increase the fan base. I donated my 10 extra tickets for opening night to my son's elementary school to try and get some new people to come out...that is the approach that I think is best to grow the fans in the area. If half the season ticket holders bought extra tickets to a handfull of games and gave them out to elementary school kids they would drag their families along and new fans could be born.

On another topic, fans desperately need to create new chants to replace the horrible one's on display at the arena. The "clap your hands" piece is way over done and never seems to be done at the "right" moment. The "Go Storm, Go" chant makes me crazy. I am OK with the "Day-o" chant though I know other fans loathe it. The "Whose ball is it?" exchange Pittman does with the crowd works by far better with Storm fans than it ever did with Sonics fans, though.

I am rambling now...perhaps I should reign in my excitement and get ready for tomorrow's previews.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ga-Ga over Bird

Every local paper and the Storm website are ALL focused on Sue Bird's arrival. Expect more of the same tomorrow with LJ's arrival today.

It is interesting to hear Agler's vote of confidence in Bird's defense. I have always thought that Sue was one of the better guards in the league at transition defense, but she has not shown her ability to guard one on one. Of course, Coach Donovan was focused on team oriented defense, but I am not sure whether that was preference or a reaction to the available personnel.

It is a given that the Storm's defense should improve this season. They have added three solid defenders to the starting lineup in Cash, Griffith and Swoopes. Two of them may be a step slower than their prime, but I am betting they are still better than average, making up in experience and smarts for what they have lost in athleticism and strength. The championship year the Storm had around the same offensive efficiency, averaging 101-102 points per 100 possesions (though they had 104 last season) but their defense fell from 95 to 100 over the same span with drops each year. That is what cost them...they just let the opponents score too many points.

If they can shave that 5 points back and maintain their offensive prowess, then I don't think anyone will match them.

I realize that I am a bit of a homer, but Phoenix's offense was only a point and a half better than Seattle's last year based on 100 possessions. Their defense was just under a point worse. Detroit on the other hand was significantly better defensively but their offense was 5 points below Phoenix's mark. LA is a question mark, I don't know how well Leslie will play or how much better Parker will make them. San Antonio hasn't changed much since last year, and they played better in the playoffs than their season hinted.

Last year the best regular season point differentials were in order...

Detroit: +5.81 (they lost Cash and gained Hornbuckle and Sam)
Indiana: +4.23 (how far do they go without Catchings despite getting Douglas?)
Phoenix: +4.22 (how far do they go with Taylor?)
Seattle: +3.31 (swapped Lennox, Burse and Castro for Cash, Swoopes and Griffith)
Connecticut: +3.05 (lost Douglas and Sayles for...Deforge?)

I expected better things this season from Minnesota, but then they lost Harding again.

Chicago looks better with Sylvia Fowles in the middle. They could do some serious damage in the East.

Atlanta will not play like an expansion franchise...they are going to disrupt the East as well.

Given all that, I think that the Storm are flying under the radar again, just like they did in 2004. Of course, the chemisty could just choke, but I just can't see that happening. Swoopes, Cash and Griffith all WANTED to come here and be a part of this. Robinson turned down better money to stay and be a part of this.

The Storm cut two decent guards from camp, not because they aren't ready for the league, but because they weren't a right fit for a tight roster. I think O'Neil, Beck, Lewis and Hodges are all better players than Michelle Greco and Trina Frierson were in 2004. I think Cash, Swoopes and Griffith are better collectively than Sam, Lennox and Vodichkova were in 2004. Top to bottom of the roster, as Swoopes has said, this is a mighty impressive team. Of course the league wide talent is also better than it was in 2004. That didn't stop the league from still being the five teams listed above being separated by a reasonable gap from the rest of the teams last season. I think the Storm really have a chance to compete this year. Key Arena should maintain or grow its home record with an energized fan base and the looming shadow of relocation removed. The team was 11-6 at home last year after going 9-8 in 2006. They were 12-5 in 2005 and 11-6 in 2004. The potentialis high...I, for one, am excited to see where it takes us.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Preseason Summary


PlayerFG %3FG %Eff FG %

Runners up (by eFG %): Wright-44%, Ely-43%, Gearlds-42%, O'Neil- 42%


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating



Runners up (by ORtg): Griffith-96.95, Ely-93.10, Santos-90.60

Wright: +9 (+13 Net40)
Kennedy: +8 (+19 Net40)
Beck: +7 (+4 Net40)
Robinson: +6 (+4 Net40)
Griffith: +5 (+3 Net40)
Cash: +5 (+4 Net40)
Hodges: +5 (+22 Net40)

Beck-Kennedy-Gearlds-Cash-Ely: +8
Beck-Wright-O'Neil-Ely-Santos: +5
Lewis-Gearlds-Swoopes-Robinson-Griffith: +5
Lewis-Quigley-Gearlds-Robinson-Griffith: +5
Beck-Wright-Cash-Ely-Griffith: +4

Don't be fooled by the strong showing of Kennedy and Santos, they barely played, though they were reasonably effective when they did.

I walk away from the preseason pleased with the showings of Beck, Wright, Gearlds, Cash, Griffith, O'Neil and Robinson. My hope is that Beck and O'Neil earn roster spots based on their performances. Let's hope they keep up the great work in practice this week.

Monday, May 12, 2008

New Storm Radio Spots

Check out the new Storm radio spots on Stormtracker.

I like them. They have a less polished, more casual...kind of fun tinge to them that plays off the "inclusive" nature of being a fan in the WNBA. They are loose and a little off kilter. It is strange to have Cash, Swoopes and Griffith advertising for the Storm, but they play around with that a little as well.

I really hope the rest of the city gets behind the team and puts near lower bowl sellouts for most of the season. It is such a great product and so perfect for a combination of sports, entertainment, family fun and social interaction.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

PRESEASON: Storm vs. Fever 10 May, 2008

Wow. I forgot how good it could feel to watch a win in Key Arena with great fans, and a team that you KNOW is here to stay. It was like this HUGE weight was lifted from the fans and they were partying like we did in the years before the championship. Welcome back Storm fans, welcome home.

PlayerFloor %Eff FG %


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating



Beck: +19 (+15 on floor)
Robinson: +11 (+11 on floor)
Wright: +7 (+9 on floor)
Ely: +7 (+9 on floor)

Beck-Wright-O'Neil-Ely-Santos: +5
Beck-Wright-Cash-Ely-Griffith: +4

It was still a rough preseason game against a team without any of its best players. But, who was a win, it was fun...and the crowd loved it. It was great to see the veterans on the bench cheering the rookies during the runs at the end of the game. In fact, the team did not take off until Cash, Swoopes and Griffith were all resting. The youngsters made sure that Coach Agler never needed to bring them back in. Next Saturday will be an amazing night for fans.

I wore my "Keep the Storm in Seattle" shirt last night as I did many games last season. Before the game, though I used a red sharpie to cross out the word "Keep" and write in "Force 10 Kept" in its place. I got a number of comments and many more smiles from it. One photographer even snapped a photo.

I can't even describe the feeling. I am ridiculously emotional about the whole thing. I thought I was going to burst out in tears when Karen Bryant introduced Anne Levinson at the open practice. I don't know any of these four women personally, but I have this huge urge to just give them giant hugs if we ever meet. Don't worry...I can restrain myself, but I am simply not a skilled enough wordsmith to express what I feel about what they have done in keeping the Storm here for us.

Agler played Beck heavily. She delivered with the best impact on the team's plus minus. She does not have her own offense, but she handles the ball well, makes excellent decisions and plays good defense. She had 5 assists and one turnover in 23 minutes of play. When she played with Wright or Lewis she was always the point guard. There is nothing flashy about her game...she just makes things work. She may be almost EXACTLY what we have been looking for in a backup for Bird. If she develops a three point shot she will be perfect.

IMHO Agler is going to keep her. She is playing like a veteran but is just a rookie. That leaves one roster spot available. I think that the coach is leaning towards keeping the combo guard, Lewis but Kristin O'Neil made things very interesting last night.

Kennedy and Hodges played well at times, and I REALLY like Daphanie's game, but I don't think they are what the coach needs right now. Lewis gives him some security if Beck struggles in the season as a rookie. O'Neil was just so perfect as a member of the team, though, it is tough. Kristin (I did not follow her career at UW) was just in the right place on every play and hustled for every loose ball. She offers more offense than Lewis and has had a better impact on team performance recently. Lewis was better at the start of preseason, but not here at the end. I expect him to ride out the week with those two and see who meshes better with Sue and LJ.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Tanisha got back from Israel, and the Storm waived Quigley (saw that coming) and Doma. Agler was high on Tanisha after she put up big numbers against his Silver Stars last season when Sue was having surgery, and he appears to continue to be high on her, at least as far as defense is concerned. She was league MVP in a league with some good WNBA players, though, so she may bring some surprises, especially if Agler decides to play her mostly at the two guard. Beck and Kennedy have played well in camp, and Agler seems to really like what former Husky Kristin O'Neil brings to camp, but more cuts have to come with Bird and Jackson due to return next week.

With Janell Burse out for the season with injury, there is some room in the Storm salary cap. Burse was cored meaning she would have made the maximum salary plus the coring bonus for around $97,000. You can fit almost three rookies for that price, but more likely the Storm will look for adding a mid-priced veteran. They may go for 12 players instead of the original plan of 11 players given the extra space. At the moment the roster looks a little like this...

PG: Bird, Lewis
SG: Swoopes, Wright
SF: Cash, Gearlds
PF: Jackson, Ely
C: Griffith, Robinson

Bubble players: Hodges, Kennedy, Santos, Beck, O'Neil

I put Lewis in the backup PG spot because of the poise she has shown thus far in camp, but Beck could still have a chance. In truth, Robinson can play both post positions, Ely can play the 3 or the 4, Gearlds can play the 2 or the 3, Wright can play the 2 and a little 1. That gives Coach Agler some options, and he can still pick up 2 players. I think he needs one more post player with JB out (Santos?) but perhaps Hodges or Kennedy can still make the roster. O'Neil can play multiple positions, but I am not sure that she has stood out enough at any one of them to make the team as another combo player. I think it is going to come down to a tough choice between Hodges, Kennedy, Beck and O'Neil.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

PRESEASON: Storm @ Monarchs 5-2-2008

PlayerFloor %Eff FG %


PlayerOffensive RatingIndiv Rating

Kennedy: +14 (+6 on floor)
Cash: +6 (+2 on floor)
Lewis: +4 (+1 on floor)
Robinson: +2 (+0 on floor)

Beck-Kennedy-Gearlds-Cash-Ely: +8
Beck-Kennedy-Cash-Robinson-Griffith: +2
Beck-Lewis-Gearlds-Cash-Griffith: +2
Lewis-Kennedy-Cash-Robinson-Griffith: +2

The Storm was leading at the end of the third quarter and then fell apart in the fourth going on a -8 run over the first 9 minutes. They had a +5 run in less than a minute, but couldn't close out the game despit pulling within a point with 7 seconds left. Rookies Daphanie Kennedy and Kimberly Beck hit clutch three point shots in the final seconds to get within a heart beat of winning. Beck fouled Kim Smith who missed both free throws, but the Storm committed the cardinal sin of allowing the free throw shooter to get her own rebound, they were forced to foul again and Smith hit one of two to seal the win for the Monarchs.

Swoopes injured her shoulder in the opening minutes of the game and left for good.

Swin Cash led the Storm in scoring with 17 points in her first game in a Seattle uniform, but shot only 42% going 8 for 19 from the floor and missing 4 of 5 free throws. She did have an all around box score line with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block and 3 turnovers. With Swoopes out, the offense revolved around Cash who probably had not expected to see many minutes in her first game.

Shyra Ely played well with 16 points on 70% shooting and hit both of her free throws but turned the ball over 4 times.

Yolanda Griffith proved, again, that she has a lot to add to the Storm with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists and a block in 28 minutes.

Doneeka Lewis and Kimberly Beck are clearly the leading contenders for the backup point guard spot at this point in camp. Neither shot the ball well and Lewis was scoreless, though she did a little bit of everything else and had the better overall +/- value, indicating the team did better with her in the lineup. The Storm closed the game with Beck on the floor. Coach Agler even had them on the floor together twice during the second quarter.

Kennedy has played better than Quigley thus far, but once Tanisha Wright joins the team they may be in for tougher competition.

Based on current performance in game situations, I expect O'Neil, Quigley and Santos are next on the cut list. Coach Agler already cut Leah Rush and Dee Davis.