Saturday, January 31, 2009

Winter Warm Up

This was the first time I made it to one of these. It was nice. The stars aligned to make it possible, first, my wife is unemployed until March (through a freak of local theatre calendars and our holiday vaction schedule), the Husky game that followed the Warm Up had three seniors that I am tracking and there is a bus that leaves the end of my street and drops me off in front of BOA Stadium in 20 minutes. It was my first chance to see any of my senior prospects play live (though I have my tickets to the first round of the tournament!)

First of all, stlkr23 was there, or at least some of her was there. Last time I saw her she had 50 more lbs on her frame. For someone like me who fell of the carb wagon, quit running and put on 40 lbs, she was inspirational. Wow! Way to go stlker23!

The usual suspects abounded, Kevin Pelton the MC, CEO Karen Bryant, owners Lisa, Ginny and Ann. I was surprised to see Anne Meyers Drysdale, the GM for the Phoenix Mercury in attendance, but she was covering the ASU/Husky game for FSN. Coach Agler flew in just to answer some questions for us, which I will get to shortly. A final surprise was Sheryl Swoopes and her family, but in a strange twist, she was only watching the game, not part of the Storm event.

Ok, here are the key tidbits that I picked up from the Q&A:

1) Lauren is no closer to a decision. Agler plans one to two more trips to Russia to attempt to woo her. The crowd threw some bad Mojo towards Anen Meyers to keep her voice silent in LJ's ear. Brian and the owners are willing to compile fan email pleas to Lauren to add to their wooing cycle.

2) JB is coming back once they clear some details on her contract, hopefully by the end of this week.

3) Yo is giving serious thought to giving us one more year. She had fun playing in China and might be up for another go.

4) Agler is working on closing the deal with a veteran point guard with a serious WNBA and international resume. The only UFA that fits that bill at in Shannon (Pee Wee) Johnson, but there could be other PG's in Europe that haven't played in the WNBA for a couple of years that might fit the bill as well.

5) Agler's ideal post rotation for the 2009 season would be LJ, Yo, JB, Camille Little and Ashley Robinson.

6) If Agler gets what he wants in the post he will hope to grab the best wing player available in the draft to compete for his final roster spot.

Sue, Mysterious Veteran
Tanisha, Sheryl, Draft Pick or Camp Invitee
Swin, Sheryl, Draft Pick or Camp Invitee
LJ, Camille, ARob
Yo, JB, ARob

That is an 11 player roster folks. That is all she wrote unless something falls through.

7) Agler answered Karen Bryant's request to give us some potential draftees to watch out for...his reply was to watch the following schools (I am adding the top seniors on those rosters for your perusal):

Pittsburgh: Shavonte Zellous (5'10" G)
In my overall top 20 senior prospect list at the moment. She is a very strong shooter, showing above 50% in all three shooting areas I track. The only areas she shows strong is Usage (her team depends on her) and Individual rating. I think someone else looking for shooting will snatch her up, but she could slide to the twelvth pick.

North Carolina: Rashanda McCants (6'1" SF)
McCants is just outside my top 25 list at the moment, but that is only because my stats can't track defense. She could be the best one on one wing defender in the NCAA at the moment. She is also a strong rebounder, coming in strong on rebounds per 40 minutes from the Small Forward position. She might be available at the 12th pick, but I doubt it. We will have to see how international players effect the draft this year.

Oklahoma: Ashley Paris (6'3" PF)
This is a pipe dream. We know Courtney is gone in the top five picks, but I think Ashley is gone in the top 10. She is in my overall top 5 list right now. She ranks in every statistical category I am tracking except Usage. Her team depends on her sister, not her, to win games. She is having a fabulous season, and has shown that she can be a great second post to a team with a strong post player.

California: Ashley Walker (6'1" PF)
Ashley Walker is in my top 5 list as well. She will go long before pick #12. She ranks in every statistical area I track. She is having a brilliant season and has been number one on my list a number of times this season.

California: Devanei Hampton (6'3" C)
I have heard she is a bit of a head case, but rumors are worthless. Then again her play this season hasn't been worth much at all. I don't see anyone taking her in the first round. Her talent could make her a steal in the later rounds, but only if she plays like she did early in her college career.

Texas A&M: Takia Starks (5'8" SG)
Starks is too small to play shooting guard in the pros, and her shooting is not so hot. I don't see her even getting drafted unless it is in the third round.

Texas A&M: Danielle Gant (5'11" SF)
Gant is in my top 10 and is very likely available at number 12. A true scorer, she ranks high in floor percentage and shoots over 50% in all the shooting stats I track. She tracks well in WinScore, BoxScore, offensive rebounding % and Individual Rating. Danielle could well be the pick. Should would have to play the shooting guard in the pros, and I would like to see her on the defensive end before I evaluate her.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nebraska @ Kansas State

Kansas State's 5'9" senior point guard is who the folks at WNBA Draft Net:2009 are mocking for the Storm's 12 pick, so I paid more attention to this game and this player than I usually would for an individual. I will caveat that I provide the statistical data for that site, but I have nothing to do with the mock draft. I do provide input into WNBA Comparisons and the site "score" for the players along with thoughts on strengths and weaknesses. That said, I am not sure I am aligned perfectly with their analysis on this player.

They put Shalee compared to Tully Bevilaqua which would be music to the ears of many long term Storm fans who lament the fall of the Storm since Tully went east for a starting job in Indiana. Whalen was the best rebounding point in the W last season, but there is no other similarity. I don't think there is a current comparison, and perhaps I have not been around long enough for the old school options. I can't say who I would compare Lehning to in the WNBA because of her rebounding capabilities.

Lehning is nowhere near the on ball defender that Tully was for the Storm, and she lacks the requisite range from downtown. She is, however, hands down, the BEST rebounding point guard I have seen in the women's game. I thought Jhasmin Player from Baylor was a good rebounder, and she is not even in the same league as Lehning. Shalee has that impossible to teach nose for the ball. The former New Jersey Net center (and current convict) Jayson Williams used to talk about the "desire" needed to be a great rebounder. Lehning has more desire to rebound that ball than any player I have watched in the women's game. If she were 6 or 7 inches taller she would rebound like Cheryl Ford. As it is, she has averaged 7RPG over her college career. In addition to the knack to judge the rebounding angle, she uses speed and smarts to get to the ball. Every time the ball goes up she is moving to the right position. If she is not boxed out, held or the rebounder remembers to look for her behind them, she is going to make a reach for that ball. She leads her team in rebounding from the point guard position. She personally grabs 20% of the available defensive rebounds and 6% of the available offensive rebounds. From the point guard position she is my #2 overall defensive rebounder. She pulls down a higher percentage of the available defensive rebounds than any of my top 100 seniors except for Courtney Paris with whom she is TIED. That is something of which EVERY WNBA GM should take notice.

She is excellent at penetration, a great passer (she surprised some team mates with brilliant passes in this game) and shoots a high percentage. She is 8th overall in Floor percentage for the 100 seniors I am tracking, 20th for eFG% and 17th for True Shooting. She takes and makes very few three pointers shooting 12 for 36 on the season. She has a great sense of pace and controls it at both ends of the floor. Her team is 14th in the nation and tops in the Big 12. My main complaint in this game is that she didn't look for her own shot enough. She had some open looks that she should have taken, though many ended up as assists. Lehning ended this game with 7 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals and 3 turnovers in 39 minutes. This was a low scoring game, low assist game for Lehning with high steals. She is the only player in Big 12 history (according to the announcers) with at least 1000 points 800 rebounds and 700 assists.

She is a clear 1st rounder, and though she is my highest ranked point guard so far this season, the players like Montgomery, Toliver and Cirone will likely go earlier leaving her free for the Storm should they choose to take that route in the draft. She is 7th overall for me at this point in the season ahead of Cirone (a marvelous shooter) at 10th, Montgomery (a great complimentary player) at 21st and Toliver (the hyped one) at 22nd.

The second senior I watched in this game was Marlies Gibson, a 6' forward. She is certainly too small to play the power forward, but I liked her tenacity in this game. She wasn't scoring, and would not have scored at all if Lehning hadn't passed up an open shot to give her a lay up at the end of the game on a give and give an go. Despite that, Gipson had 5 assists from the center position, repeatedly finding an open Ashley Sweat or a guard to finish for her. She ended the game with 2 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 turnovers in 32 minutes. I think she is another tough comparison. She is small for a 4 and not athletic enough for a three. From a Storm perspective, that says Camille Little for me, but she is not as skilled around the basket. Statistically she ranks #16 overall so far this season for me, coming up strong in BoxScores, Adjusted Win and Defensive Rebounding %. She also shows in Floor %, eFG% a and adjusted Individual Rating. Withouth her teams strong RPI though, she would not rate in Wins or IR. I don't see her getting drafted when there are good posts available with size. If she were to go overseas and work on her athleticism, she might have a chance to make a training camp in the future.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Louisville @ Connecticut

I caught the Louisville game at Connecticut last night. It is really fun to watch the Huskies play this season. They just seem to do everything right at both ends of the floor and have such a nice set of competent role players. They have an excellent control over game pace and Maya Moore is simply fantastic. She is one of those players that you just have to watch. I was tracking two Louisville senior in this game...

Candyce Bingham
WNBA Player Comparison: Allison Bales
Candace is a big player who plays well. She is not fantastic at either end of the floor but she is a solid complement to star player McCoughtry. She is an adequate rebounder at both ends and shoots a strong percentage by sticking to her strengths. She could be a backup player on a 13 player roster needing post depth.

Angel McCoughtry
WNBA Player Comparison: Deanna Nolan
She is not as graceful and lacks Tweety's shooting form, but her length, athleticism and ability to use her length to get off her shot on offense and disrupt the ball on defense is very similar. She also has a little more "flair," or ego in her game than the ever cool Tweety. I am not sure that she has the upside of Nolan, but she could excel with the right coach and system. Her main weakness in my eye is her dependance on going right. She clearly favors going right and, at least in this game, shoots a significantly higher percentage when she does go right. She hit only one shot in the game going left, and it was a layup.

Monday, January 26, 2009

College Games

I have had the chance to catch three games recently. I watched Murray State take on Tennessee Tech last week. It was a severe mismatch, but it was the only televised Murray State game I have found to watch senior Prospect Amber Guffey.

WNBA Player Comparison: Lindsay Whalen
Amber has a similar body type to Whalen when she entered the WNBA. She also plays a similar style of game. She is a solid scorer, with a decent jumper and the ability to drive to the basket and finish. She has deceptive speed and makes good decisions on the court and seemed to have a great sense of when to distribute and involve her team mates vs. when she needed to put the team on her shoulders and carry them. The entire Tennessee Tech defense swarmed on Guffey throughout the game, yet she still tallied 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and only one turnover. She has led the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring and is 16th in the nation. She is in the top 100 in the nation for assists and FG% and in the top 50 for FT%. Her main weaknesses from a draft perspective are coming from a small program and her current overall fitness level. She has deceptive speed in the open court and seems to manage that speed well on offense, but I believe she will have trouble keeping the strong, fast and very athletic guards of the WNBA in front of her.

I also managed to catch the top 2 matchup between Connecticut and North Carolina. The Huskies were out a starter and were going to have to face an aggressive, pressing defense from North Carolina's guards. Connecticut didn't blink, took control early and poured it on all game. On a side note, Maya Moore is all that and then some. As for the seniors, there were two in this surprisingly mis-matched game.

Renee Montgomery
WNBA Player Comparison: Janeth Arcain
I like Montgomery a lot more after seeing this game. She is the perfect accessory to a star player. She has the ability to put points on the board but does not have to be the focus of the offense. She knows how to find the star and fit her own points in out of the offense. She will never be superstar in the WNBA, but she will have a solid career as a starter. She shoots the three better than Arcain ever did, but I look at how Montgomery has increased her scoring this year and it reminds of how Arcain upped her scoring to 18ppg in 2001 after averaging around 8ppg in the previous 4 seasons and then returned to average around 10ppg for her last 3 seasons. Cynthia Cooper retired after the 2000 championship and Sheryl Swoopes sat out the 2001 season after ACL surgery and Arcain picked up the slack.

Rashanda McCants
WNBA Player Comparison: Swin Cash
I wasn't all that excited about McCants from this game, but she has the potential to be a utility forward much like Swin Cash was orginally used Detroit. I don't think her upside is as high as Cash's was as a rookie, but she could certainly fill the role of a player who will score points of rebounds, kick-outs from other player penetration and drawing fouls. She is not the kind of player that requires set plays to have an impact, she will do whatever is needed and you will always see her in the box score when she gets minutes.

Finally, I watched teh Purdue at Ohio State game yesterday. This was not a terribly exciting game, but I did get to see two of my prospects play.

Star Allen
WNBA Player Comparison: Latasha Byears
She will never be a star in the WNBA, but she is the perfect bruising role player that many teams lack. She has the bulk and the kind of "edge" needed to be a role playing enforcer like Byears did in LA during their strongest seasons.

Lyndsay Wysdom-Hilton
WNBA Player Comparison: Camille Little
She is a great shooter, but is a little short to play power forward in the WNBA, and not athletic enough to play the 3. She can rebound and has a nice touch around the basket. She is too soft around the basket in my opinion, and nowhere near tenacious enough on the boards to translate her play to the pros at her position. If she were a few inches taller and a little more physical she would be a good pick at the four. If she were faster and more athletic she could play the three or be a good combo player. However, I would have said the same thing about Camille Little when she entered the league.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Reply from the Parks Chair

Tom Rasmussen, the Chair of the Parks and Seattle Center Committee, also offered a positive response:


Thank you for writing to me regarding the proposed contract between the Seattle Storm and the City of Seattle. In February 2008, the Council adopted a resolution requesting Seattle Center staff to work collaboratively with the new local owners of the Storm to negotiate a long-term lease to enable the Storm to continue playing at KeyArena.

A contract has now been developed and has been presented to the City Council for approval. The proposed contract would authorize the execution of a ten year agreement with the Women’s Basketball Club of Seattle, LLC, for use and occupancy of KeyArena and adjacent areas at the Seattle Center.

Seattle Center staff and a Seattle Storm representative reviewed the proposed contract with the Parks and Seattle Center Committee on January 13th. I anticipate we will discuss and possibly vote on the proposed contract on January 27th.

The Storm’s presence at KeyArena provides number of a public benefits and creates vitality for Seattle Center. The women of the Seattle Storm are role models for girls in our community and I hope to be able to approve the contract soon.

Thanks again for writing.


Tom Rasmussen
Chair, Parks and Seattle Center Committee

As someone pointed out on, the interesting tidbit all the response have ignored is that the Storm are likely the main signature tenant in the facility. If they don't negotiate a deal, who WILL use Key Arena?

The Council President's Reply

Here is the encouraging reply from Council President, Richard Conlin:

Thank you for your message about the proposed lease between the Seattle Storm and the City of Seattle for the use of Key Arena by the Storm. The proposed lease would guarantee the Storm a home for ten years, and appears to be workable from their standpoint.

While The City Council is enthusiastic about keeping the Storm, we are also responsible to the taxpayers to make sure that the lease is financially sound. The good news is that the Council Parks and Seattle Center reviewed the lease at our Tuesday meeting, and we agreed that it made financial and economic sense for the City.

The lease will come to the Full Council for a vote on Monday, February 2, and, given that assessment, I expect that the Council will unanimously approve it.

Council President Richard Conlin
Seattle City Hall
600 Fourth Avenue, Floor 2
PO Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Councilman Burgess Replies

Here is another positive response, this time from Councilman Tim Burgess.

Thank you for writing me about the Seattle Strom. I strongly support the new 10-year lease and will vote to approve it when it comes before the full Council. The Storm are a valuable asset to our city, will draw fans to Seattle Center and the surrounding neighborhood, and provide inspiration to our young people.

Tim Burgess
Seattle City Council

Councilwoman Godden Replies

I received a much more supportive reply from Councilwoman Jean Godden today.


Thank you for showing your support for our Seattle Storm. I’m pleased and excited that the Storm’s new owners and the City were able to come to an agreement that will keep the Storm playing in the Key Arena for years to come.

As you may already know, terms of the lease were discussed this week at a briefing in the Parks and Seattle Center Committee chaired by Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. I believe the proposed lease agreement to be a sound one that has significant benefits for both the City and the Storm. This lease will help maintain the Key as a lively venue and allow the Storm revenue streams that will keep them viable.

I won’t go into all the specific terms of the contract discussed here at the committee meeting except to say that there are several “public benefits” which may be of interest to Storm fans. These include:

-- 1000 tickets per season at no cost to local non-profits to distribute to children who might not otherwise be able to afford attending a game.

-- A “significant” community service program each season, such as promoting healthy and active lifestyles to young people and partnering with non-profit organizations to improve literacy.

-- An environmental sustainability program to help educate the public about steps they can take to contribute to a healthier environment.

-- A ticket pricing structure that will ensure at least 500 tickets are priced no greater than $15 per game.

As a Storm fan, who has enjoyed many games through the years and who has helped to ensure the long term success of the Seattle Center and the Key Arena, I believe this lease is a win-win. Rest assured I will be supporting this lease when it comes before the full council and look forward to the upcoming season.

Again, thanks for your support and Go Storm!!

My regards,


Jean Godden
Seattle City Councilmember

Seattle City Hall
Physical address: 600 4th Ave, Fl 2, Seattle, WA Mailing address: PO Box 34025, Seattle, WA 98124
Tel: 206-684-8807/ Fax: 206-684-8354

She shares quite a few of what the city gets in return as opposed to Councilman McIver's focus on what the city contributes. She also shares my opinion that the deal is fairly equitable.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Storm Lease Vote

I sent off my own email to the Seattle City Council last week encouraging support of the Storm and the proposed ten year lease.

One of the council members (so far) has taken the time to respond. Here is my response from Councilman Richard McIver. You may remember him as the council member arrested for spousal abuse a little over a year ago. Or perhaps you recall the $1000.00 in fines levied against him for handing out no-bid contracts last July. Or maybe you remember hearing how he then tried to use City funds to pay those same fines.

McIver was vocally supportive of keeping the Sonics in Seattle, he was one of the few allies Save Our Sonics had on the city council.

As far as the Storm, however, he has had little to say until recently. He was quoted in the Puget Sound Business Journal back in August saying,

“I think we would work as hard as we can to make it financially feasible
for them to stay there,” City Councilmember Richard McIver said recently. “But
that doesn’t mean we ought to pay them to play.”

This is the number one sticking point for him with the current proposal.

Here is the full text of his reply to me.

Mr. Sheehy,

You are among five or six dozen fans of the
Seattle Storm who have emailed my Seattle City Council colleagues and me over
the past week to express support for ratification of a ten year lease between
the team and the City for the lease of KeyArena. Many of the emails I
received offered compelling testimony about the value of Storm to individual
families and to the broader community. I certainly agree that the team is
a valuable community asset we want to keep in Seattle, and they serve a critical
role as our anchor tenant for KeyArena now that the Sonics are

While the Council will likely vote on the proposed lease
very soon, it has only recently reached us for consideration and I am not yet
prepared to offer my support until I have had an opportunity to examine the
lease more closely.

Under the proposed lease, the City would
retain control and responsibility for concession operations, as well as sale of
KeyArena naming rights, suites, premium seats, and advertising. (This will
ensure the availability of these revenue streams for a potential future NBA team
at KeyArena.) In that the Storm’s presence in KeyArena helps the City sell
naming rights, suites, and advertising, and thus, enhances the revenues the City
will receive from these sources, the lease agreement requires the City to pay
the Storm $300,000 annually. I am not sure I’m comfortable with this
figure in light of the fact that this is a fixed amount independent of any
actual revenues Seattle Center may receive from these sources. (As it is,
the team would receive 30% of the gross concession revenues generated on home
game days, which it is estimated will give them $206,000 per

The other big issue is damages the City would be required to
pay in the event KeyArena undergoes a major renovation during the term of the
ten year lease. The City would be required to make up any subsequent
revenue loss to the team as a result of any dislocation.

to an analysis done by the City Council’s professional staff, the lease appears
to provide a close to break even financial deal for the City. That is,
while it is unlikely the City would generate significant excess revenues from
this contract, the City should not experience a significant loss in revenues
either, at least for those years in which the Storm are able to play at

I suspect the lease will be approved by the
Council, and very likely with my vote, but I cannot provide any guarantee of my
vote until I have more closely analyzed the proposal. Members of the
Council have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the interests of the citizens
of Seattle. This is particularly important during the current recession
that is placing some very real challenges on our budget.

Be assured
I will keep your comments in mind.

Richard J. McIver
City Council

In my (clearly biased)opinion, a near break even state is perfect for the relationship between Force 10 and the City of Seattle. The owners have committed to the city in a number of ways and the city has offered words of committment to them in return. The city can't ask to make a large profit off of a business that does not make a large profit itself. $300,000 should be a reasonable fixed figure to account for the city's gains from naming rights, advertising, suites and premium seating. The storm do well with their courtside ticket sales, though they make little from the suites from what I have seen. If the team does well and goes deep in the post season more often than not, the city will make out well.

Baylor at Colorado

I taped last weekends Baylor @ Colorado game and was able to watch it yesterday. There are three senior prospects that I am tracking from Baylor:

Jhasmin Player
WNBA Player Comparison: a young Betty Lennox
Player is the best rebounding guard I have watched all season. At 5'10" she is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game which works out to 7 rebounds per 40 minutes of play and 10% of the teams defensive rebounds. That is pretty impressive for a guard. She turns the ball over way too much and seems to have questionable shot selection. She is a scorer though and still has greater than 50% on all three shooting categories that I track due to her fearless nature attacking the basket. She makes my top 50 prospects list but is not even in my top 10 senior shooting guards this season. She scores in my top 20 for Floor Percentage and RPI adjusted individual rating.

Rachel Allison
WNBA Player Comparison: Erin Buescher
Yes, she is blonde but the physical resemblance is not what I am talking about. At 6'1" she is small for a pro power forward, but her tenacious rebounding, touch around the basket and serviceable jumper could earn her a back-up role on someones roster. Like Player, she is in my top 50, but not on my top 10 power forwards for the season. She make my top 15 for Floor Percentage, and my top 20 for Offensive Rebounding % and RPI adjusted WinScore.

Jessica Morrow
WNBA Player Comparison: I don't have one.
She strikes me as too slight for the pros. She is 6'0" but her poor shooting (mid to low 40's in all three categories) and weak rebounding (less than half a percent of the teams rebounds) from the small forward position are not what are needed in the WNBA. At this point she doesn't make my top 25 in any statistical category for the season.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My top senior PG prospects part 2

Given the stated need of a backup point guard by the Storm GM, I wanted to talk about the NCAA prospects. There may be better options in free agent pool if Seattle is a player. The "up in the air" status of Lauren Jackson could really hurt the Storm. If she does not play they have a max contract to hand out, but the right kind of players could be all snatched up by that point. The Storm won't know what they have to work with until Lauren makes her decision known to them.

I gave my thoughts on the top prospects out of college this year for point guards before the start of the NCAA season...and here is a look at where I stand now...

1) Shalee Lehning, Kansas State (was #3)
2) Kristi Cirone, Illinois State (was #2)
3) Renee Montgomery, Connecticut (was #4)
4) Kristi Tolliver, Marylad (was #1)
5) Briann January, Arizona State (not ranked)
6) Sha Brooks, Florida (was an honorable mention)
7) Amber Guffey, Murray State (was an honorable mention)
8) Dellena Criner, Nevada (not ranked)
9) Camille LeNoir, USC (not ranked)
10) Brianne O'Rourke, Penn State (was #5)
11) Kristi Smith, Iowa (not ranked)

Despite her poor shooting, Briann January and her strong ASU team play have climbed her into the top 5 while Brianne O'Rourke has slid to the bottom of the list.

The top three represent the best shooters with Lehning and Cirone standing out in a number of categories. I am troubled by Lehning turning the ball over on 43% of her possessions as a senior, it could spell serious trouble in the pros. She is the best rebounding PG on the list and her team has the third best RPI, leading her to the top. Cirone is likely to be one of the first PG's drafted at this point, she has the best individual rating and is the strongest shooter. She also has an appealing assist to turnover ratio as well as BoxScore and WINS rating.

We will see how the season progresses, and as always, tournament play trumps a great deal of the season performance given the stakes involved.