Friday, September 10, 2010

Come on, Seattle!!!

My day job is absorbing all of my non-family time right now as I am trying to secure a promotion that has been two years in the making.

That doesn't mean that I am not obsessing utterly about the Storm and Game 1 of the WNBA Finals this Sunday.

The game is a 12 noon PDT, and will be aired on national, broadcast television on ABC.

Today the Storm are raising a flag with 6000+ season ticket holder names upon it to the top of the Space Needle.

According to TicketMaster there are only 16 (released for sale) seats left in the lower bowl of Key Arena for Sunday's game. That includes a single ticket in Section 120 and two blocks of "obstructed view" seats behind the baskets Sections 107 and 121 (my section!). The upper bowl has sold enough of the released seats to force the organization to open 5 additional sections of seating, which now have less than 50 seats available remaining. There are 14 additional upper bowl sections which have not yet been made available for sales.

Seattle is a basketball town.

Last year, the NBA's Indiana Pacers and Phoenix Sun coaches and players bought out the upper bowls of their arenas and gave the tickets away to fans to get people in the seats.

The last time we had a championship basketball game in Seattle (2004), those seats were all filled without a grand gesture and masses of free tickets. I was relegated to sitting in nosebleed seats in the next to the last row of the upper bowl. This time I will be in my own seat, 3rd row behind the visitor basket, right in the action.

I know the Seahawks will open their season this Sunday a few hours after this game. I know tailgating is part of the NFL football experience. I still hope to see a bunch of people in Seahawks gear at Sunday's WNBA game for the rare experience of a day of sports. Watch their local champions in the WNBA Finals and then head to Qwest Field for opening day.

Come on Seattle. We don't need the NBA to sell out our Finals. We can buy up those seats and remind everyone that this IS a basketball town. Come in your Seahawks gear, come in your Huskies gear, come in your Sonics gear, best of all, buy some Storm gear and come in that. A championship series game does not come along very often in this city. The crowd will be crazy, the players will play with every ounce of talent and passion they possess.

The bandwagon has 3,000-4,000 seats worth of room remaining for you. It doesn't matter if you leave a die hard WNBA fan or walk away with some more fodder for Sports Radio on why the WNBA doesn't matter. Just buy the dang tickets and come to the game. Bring your girlfriend, your wife, your daughter, your niece, that hot barista with the diamond in her right nostril you have been chatting up in the mornings, or be like me and bring your sons....just come on out.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Round 1, Game 1 (no numbers)

I haven't even looked at the numbers...but my post from yesterday was still right on with Le'Coe Willingham being a non-factor while Ashley Robinson made a nice impact in limited time and Jana Vesela came up huge.

This is simply about match-ups...LA has exterior/mid-range shooting posts that neutralize Willingham's strength and low post defense/rebounding at one and and offer height and athleticism to compensate for her wily offense. Camille Little struggles against the sparks at times for the same reasons. The Sparks have guards playing the small forward spot with gives tall athletic players with range like Cash and Vesela a big advantage, particularly when LJ starts off the game on the block forcing LA to double/triple team her.

The crowd last night was great. They had a nice portion of the upper bowl open, and there were quite a few people up there. The energy of the crowd was a little different, they were almost jovial like they expected a win. The addition of the wave was interesting, probably a result of bandwagon newbies combined with an unusual post season confidence.

Can the Storm win 7 in row against LA this year and close out the series on Saturday? It should be a rocking game.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Storm vs. LA Numbers

While I am way behind on the season, I do have all of the Storm vs. Sparks games entered into my spreadsheets. Here are some of the bits and pieces I have found from looking at the data...

The most effective lineups against the Sparks this season have been:

Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: +26 in 61 minutes of play
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Little-Jackson: +10 in 7.5 minutes of play
Bird-Wright-Cash-Jackson-Robinson: +8 in 5 minutes of play

The lineups that have struggled against the Sparks this season have been:

Bird-Wright-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: -6 in 3 minutes of play
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: -4 in 10 minutes of play

While Alison Lacey does not show a negative +/- value against the Sparks this season, she has barely played, with only 2.5 minutes all season.

Essentially, the numbers play out that the Storm don't play well against the Sparks with Willingham on the floor. She is -23 for the season against the Sparks at the PF position.

Vesela on the other hand has looked relatively good as long as she is on the floor with Lauren Jackson, and Robinson has looked good paired with either Jackson or Camille Little.

The key to this series may be allowing Le'Coe to continue healing while leaning more heavily on Vesela and Robinson.

Another issue for the Storm, as has often been the case, is that they struggle against the Sparks when Sue Bird is resting. Tanisha Wright is +31 against the Sparks when playing the off guard position and -12 when forced into the point guard slot to rest Sue. The one truly effective lineup with Bird resting against the Sparks this season has been:

Wright-Abrosimova-Vesela-Jackson-Robinson: +2 in 3 minutes of playing time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Game 15, June 27th vs. Shock

Another come behind victory made more special as Sue Bird sat out almost the entire game.

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Jana Vesela70%100%100%4+4
Lauren Jackson51%56%63%24+18
Svetlana Abrosimova41%79%82%21+13

Top Storm Lineups

Wright-Abros-Vesela-Little-Jack: +18
Wright-Abros-Vesela-Will-Jack: +4

The Storm used 17 unique lineups including 6 new lineups in this game.

Game 14, June 25th vs. Fever

div>The first revenge gdiv>The first revenge game. The starters took over near the end of the 3rd quarter and never let up again.

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Lauren Jackson72%100%103%28-2
Tanisha Wright55%40%55%7+15
Swin Cash55%54%65%21+4

Top Storm Lineups

Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson : +10
Bird-Wright-Cash-Will-Rob: +9
The Storm used 8 unique lineups in this game.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

June 18th, vs. NY Liberty

This game came after the loss to the Fever and started a VERY long winning streak for the Storm.

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Jana Vesela68%75%87%5-3
Sue Bird58%60%66%22+10
Tanisha Wright57%75%80%18+2

Top Storm Lineups

Bird-Wright-Cash-Will.-Jackson : +4Bird-Wright-Abros.-Little-Jackson: +4
Bird-Abros.-Cash-Will.-Jackson: +3

The Storm used 12 unique lineups in this game including one new lineup. There were two lineups that fared particularly poorly.

Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: -3
Wright-Abros.-Cash-Will.-Jackson: -3

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On Temporary Pause

I have fallen behind, I know, but I am not stopping the work. My day job has just been invading my personal life a great deal over the past few weeks. I have been back and forth between Seattle and the East Coast for the past several weeks and for the next few. I hope to get enough spare time back in my schedule to get caught up before the post season. With the Storm playing so well, it hasn't seemed as important to analyze the numbers, but it will be important in the post season. Of course, if I listened to Coach Agler or his players I suppose I would realize that now is not the time to be complacent.

On a side note, it really looks like ESPN is putting a focused effort on delivering a quality product with ESPNw, the new digital platform to cover women's sports. Perhaps if the website draws enough attention we could see a growth in on air coverage as well.

Thanks to stever at Rebkell's Junkie Boards, we get to hear about one of the new consultants they are using and some of the approach they are taking to plan content.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Game 11 Storm @ Fever

Darn those first games of East Coast road trips.

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Lauren Jackson57%35%51%17-2
Camille Little54%56%61%12-3
Sue Bird42%63%63%15-11

Where was the bench in this game? Willingham was the only one who came to play.

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Shavonte Zellous63%63%68%60
Tamika Catchings55%56%75%12+1
Katie Douglas55%46%52%15+17

Top Storm Lineups

Bird-Abrosimova-Vesela-Willingham-Jackson: +5
Bird-Wright-Vesela-LittleJackson: +2
Wright-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +2

The Storm used 11 unique lineups in this game including one new lineup. There were three lineups that fared particularly poorly.

Bird-Wright-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: -6
Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Willingham: -5
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: -5

Top Fever Lineups

January-Zellous-Douglas-Moore-Davenport: +10
Bevilaqua-Douglas-Catchings-Sutton-Hoffman: +6
January-Douglas-Catchings-Moore-Davenport: +4

The Fever used 12 unique lineups in this game with only four generating a positive value for the team. Two of them stood out as particularly ineffective.

January-Zellous-Catchings-Moore-Davenport: -6
January-Douglas-Catchings-Sutton-Hoffman: -4

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Coach Agler

Kevin Pelton takes a closer look at the success of the Storm under Coach Brian Agler.

I know that our two previous head coaches have received significantly larger applause from game to game in Key Arena than Brian Agler ever has received. It is something about which I have wondered. In the first year it was so obvious coming off the rabid cheering for Anne Donovan as the most successful female coach in the WNBA. I wrote that off at the time to the crowd needing to see him prove himself.

The numbers in Kevin's article make me wonder once again. Coach Agler is the most successful coach in Storm history by record. Coach Donovan only had one successful post season, though it did lead to a championship. What is preventing this crowd from recognizing this coach?

He is the first male coach in franchise history. While I know that many of our fans celebrated the success of our female coaches, I like to believe that our fan base is above withholding praise just because our coach is a man.

Coach can be rather formal and withdrawn with both the fans and the media. Seeing him work with players and other coaches proved to me that we fans DON'T get to see the real Brian Agler. I think this has led to a failure for the crowd to establish a personal connection with him. Coach Donovan was not much friendlier...but she did have success and the gender "bonus."

I think Coach Agler also likes to hide in the background a bit. His introduction by the PA announcer is more subdued than his predecessors and he tends to tuck himself away in the corner to make sure that the crowd focuses on the players. While I truly admire his choice, in some ways I think it has hurt the fan's relationship with him as their coach.

In the end, perhaps our fans are just fickle. Perhaps we won't accept and adore Coach Agler until he brings home a trophy. We adored Lin Dunn because she was adorable, and she brought the WNBA to our city. We loved Anne Donovan because she took this team to the next level, elevated our stars and brought home a championship trophy.

I ask you, Seattle...what does Brian Agler need to do to get a little more love from Storm fans?

Game 10 vs. Sparks

Well it turns out it was the second quarter that was screwed up on the play by play...but things look good now.

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Le'Coe Willingham100%100%100%6+8
Jana Vesela84%83%90%7+4
Camille Little77%67%93%13+18
Svetlana Abrosimova75%70%77%9+22
Sue Bird65%68%68%15+16

Isn't it great to see the bench dominate the top performance numbers in a game where they played quite a lot of minutes?

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Lindsey Wisdom-Hylton67%100%125%10-8
Tina Thompson51%50%59%10-9

Top Storm Lineups

Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: +6
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +6
Bird-Abrosimova-Vesela-Little-Willingham: +5

The Storm used 14 unique lineups in this game including six new ones. Only one lineup of the evening performed at all poorly.

Wright-Cash-Vesela-Willingham-Jackson: -4

Top Sparks Lineups

Toliver-Lennox-Thompson-Wisdom^Hylton-Parker: +4
Riley-Ferdinand^Harris-Thompson-Wisdom^Hylton-Parker: +3

The Sparks used 12 unique lineups in this game with only four generating a positive value for the team. Two of them stood out as particularly ineffective.

Toliver-Lennox-Thompson-Mokango-Wisdom^Hylton: -10
Penicheiro-Quinn-Milton^Jones-Thompson-Parker: -6


I brought a first time visitor to the game and he really seemed to enjoy the experience, though at 8, I doubt he could tell me the score at the end of the game.

The team continues to be a joy to watch and simply inspires wonder within me. While it is clear that they are not executing to their abilities on defense, their offense is so much more fluid and aggressive this season than it has been under Coach Agler to date. It seems as if he has loosened the reigns offensively and allows the team to pursue early scoring options more than in the past, but it may just be that the team is better prepared to execute the offense than they have been in previous seasons. With all five starters returning and a relatively experienced bench, the Storm are just able to find the basket and score with regularity.

The best part of the game will still always be the Stanky Leg video. It is so refreshing to see the playful, "Dad," side of Coach Agler. It was a stroke of genius to have a child interview him, I don't think we would have got to see as much of his personality in any other context. If the Storm find their way to the final stage, the arena better be full of "Stanky Leg" chants. I want to see that live next time, Coach.

As a long time Storm fan, it just warms my heart to see the execution of the bench this season. In 2004 the bench came up big at the end of the season with the play of Tully Bevilaqua, Chelle Thompson, Janell Burse and Simone Edwards. Seeing the bench get time this early and execute consistently is raising hopes and expectations for a lot of fans.

The next two days will inform us even more on where this team is right now as well as where they are going as the season progresses. Back to back games against strong Eastern Conference teams is the next measuring stick.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Late on the numbers

I have run into a conflict with the data from the play by play and the posted individual +/- numbers for the game. I am still trying to track down the issue...we have been spot on all season, so I suspect a mysterious error with the published play by play is at fault.

On another was way cool to see a photo Sue Bird coaching one of my K/1 kids at Stormtracker this week. Actually two of the kids in the photos have been on my teams...but only one was basketball. It really is great how they get out into the community and share a little of what life has given them with these kids who are still exploring what life has to offer them.

I know the kids had a blast and from the photos it looks like Sue and Coach Agler did, too.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Quarter Season Numbers

We are at the quarter season mark already with 9 games played and the Storm at 8-1. It is shocking to witness what is happening with this team. I have been watching them play for eight seasons, and I have never seen them start a season like this. I have seen them play stretches like this, but never come out of the gate playing so well.

In the Agler era the Storm have been an average to below average offensive team and an elite defensive team by the end of the season. Seattle has not had an offensive rating above 100 points per 100 possessions since 2007. They are rating at 111.76 points per 100 possessions in my calculations for this season to date. Their defensive rating has slipped quite a bit (4 points)from 2008 but only 2 points per 100 possessions from last year. They are however 5th in the league for defensive rating. Their pace is at the bottom part of the league at this point. My original results were not normalized to possessions per game as they are usually something I run at the end of the season. As a result all of the teams with nine games played had much higher possessions than those with only seven or eight played fooling me considerably. The key defensively for the Storm has been their defensive field goal percentage which at 41.1% is second in the league to Indiana. Additionally they have dominated the boards with league best rebounding percentages of 38.13% offensive rebounding and 73.13 defensive rebounding. Atlanta and Minnesota are the only teams close to Seattle in those statistics so far.

Once upon a time ratings differential was the clear indicator of the WNBA champion, but that broke down a few seasons ago. However, Seattle has a dominant +13.64 ratings differential, meaning they score more than 13 points more than their opponents per 100 possessions. The only other teams with double digit differentials are Indiana (+10.25) and Connecticut (+10.06). Chicago, Atlanta and Washington are the only other teams positive in this category. Minnesota and San Antonio look quite hapless with double digit, negative differentials.

Top Shooter/Scorers

Camile Little has been the most efficient at maximizing her possessions with a Floor Percentage of 58.81%. Lauren Jackson is right there with her with 57.86%. In fact the Storm have been so effective this season that only Abby Bishop, Svetlana Abrosimova, Alison Lacey and Ashley Robinson have floor percentages below 50%.

Jana Vesela leads the team with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 80% and True Shooting Percentage of 85.03%. Given she has barely seen any floor time however we will give the true leader nods to Camille Little's 54.12% eFG% and Lauren Jackson's 59.06% TS%. Allison Lacey, Ashley Robinson and Abby Bishop are the only players with an eFG% or TS% below 40%.

Given the excellent shooting, it is not odd that those same three players are the only three players on the team with an Offensive Rating below 100 points per 100 possessions. Lauren and Camille lead the team at 132.83 and 122.41 respectively. Vesela, Jackson, Bird and Little also have Individual ratings over 100. Last season only Lauren broke the 100 rating barrier and no bench player broke 90. In fact, only Sue and Tanisha were over 90.

Last year Tanisha Wright broke out as a key player for the Storm. It might seem that her performance has dropped off so far this season. In fact, the only area where Wright has actually slipped is with her free throw shooting. She shot over 90% from the charity stripe in 2009 but is only shooting just below 80% so far this season. Most of her other advanced statistics are actually up. It is hard to notice that however because of the huge growth from Camille Little. Little has quietly become the team's second most effective player

Top Performing Lineups

Working with only those lineups that have seen at least five minutes of floor time this season, here are the most effective so far.

Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: +92, +27 per 40
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Little-Jackson: +14, +33.53 per 40
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +14, +18.42 per 40
Bird-Wright-Abrosimova-Little-Jackson: +11, +31.28 per 40
Bird-Wright-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +11, +17.48 per 40

The following lineups are struggling to be effective.

Wright-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Robinson: -18, -67.19 per 40
Wright-Abrosimova-Vesela-Bishop-Robinson: -17, -54.91 per 40
Wright-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Vesela: -9, -54.96 per 40
Wright-Abrosimova-Cash-Little-Jackson: -7, -46.67 per 40
Bird-Wright-Abrosimova-Willingham-Jackson: -6, -38.81 per 40

The Per40 numbers display some lineups with potential as the season progresses:

Bird-Wright-Cash-Jacskon-Robinson: +8, +61.54 per 40
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Little-Willingham: +8, +42.38 per 40
Wright-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +5, +38.96 per 40

The most effective lineups with Wright at point guard are:

Wright-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +5
Wright-Abrosimova-Little-Willingham-Vesela: +3
Wright-Cash-Vesela-Willingham-Jackson: +2

Player Pairs

Bird-Cash: +142, +23.37 per40
Bird-Jackson: +134, +21.86 per40
Cash-Jackson: +131, +22.23 per40
Bird-Wright: +112, +21.25 per40
Wright-Jackson: +108, +20.62 per40

The most effective bench pairings are:

Bird-Abrosimova: +40, +17.26 per40
Abrosimova-Jackson: +25, +12.04 per40
Abrosimova-Little: +12, +7.88 per40
Jackson-Robinson: +8, +58.36 per40
Abrosimova-Cash: +6, +2.55 per40

For the second year in a row the Jackson-Robinson pairing is a very effective one, though it seldom sees any floor time with Robinson primarily being used at the end of the bench. Newcomer Svetlana Abrosimova has proven to be the most effective player off the bench for the Storm in terms of allowing starters to rest. Coach Agler is resting Tanisha, Swin and Sue in rotation while Abrosimova is on the court.

Positionally, the team is +109 with Tanisha at shooting guard and -50 with her at point guard. Abrosimova's minutes at small forward are +3 while the team is -19 with her at shooting guard. Both of those are thrown off by the "garbage time" numbers that always have those two at those positions. As far as Willingham, she has been equally effective at the power forward and center position.

Game 9 vs. Mercury

It really is nice to watch a good, old-fashioned blow out. Swin is the only starter who doesn't have at least three games with less than 30 minutes played yet this season. Now the team has earned two days off...all this rest is great for LJ and Sue. Other teams will get better as the season wears on and they will be needed.

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Lauren Jackson72%63%75%16+28
Jana Vesela69%100%100%8-14
Sue Bird68%60%60%12+38

I don't read much into Vesela's +/- for this game. She was +16 until the fourth quarter.

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Candice Dupree75%71%63%10-29
Brooke Smith100%100%66%5+13
Taylor Lilley44%100%150%12+11

Top Storm Lineups

Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: +19
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Little-Willingham: +7

The Storm used 13 unique lineups in this game including four new ones with Vesela. Only the final lineup of the evening performed particularly poorly.

Wright-Abrosimova-Vesela-Bishop-Robinson: -13

Top Mercury Lineups

Lilley-Swanier-Holmes-BSmith-Ohlde: +11Swanier-Taylor-Dupree-Bonner-Ohlde: +6

The Mercury used 13 unique lineups in this game with the starters performing the worst overall. Only two other lineups offered positive values, one at +1 and the other at +2.

Johnson-Taurasi-Taylor-Dupree-TSmith: -12
Johnson-Taurasi-Dupree-Bonner-TSmith: -8
Swanier-Taurasi-Taylor-Dupree-Bonner: -7

My family missed the whole first half of the game striking a SIFF event across the way at the Alki Room, but they did remember to bring the BRICK! bullhorns just in time for Mercury free throws at our end of the floor. stuffed the cup holders with instructions for this game and it seemed to help somewhat with keeping the noise down prior to the brick yell. Our timing is still a bit off, but we got a great reaction from Nicole Ohlde. We forgot to "BRICK!" her first free throw (we were busy celebrating the HUGE lead (95-60 at the time.) She seemed very surprised and missed her first free throw and then looked up at us. For her second we got her with the "BRICK!" and she flinched at the last second missing that one, too which had her shaking her head and smiling.

Everything just seemed to work for the Storm. They were fighting for rebounds, getting to all of the 50/50 balls, hitting their shots and making great rotations on defense. It was beautiful to behold. They just weren't making that many mistakes, and Phoenix seemed so flustered by the display that they barely were able to take advantage of the mistakes that were made. The team really showed a ruthless commitment to each moment of the first three quarters.

The season is far from over, and I still believe that other teams are going to get better. If the Storm keep performing at this level, with this much commitment, though, it won't make a difference in the Win/Loss column how much better those teams get. The games will be tighter, but the Storm will keep on winning. They are making many of us have visions of upper bowl sell outs, confetti and parades.

For now, though, I am just satisfied to enjoy some of the best live basketball I have seen in my lifetime.

Game 8 @ Sparks

Ah, the joy of the outdoor basketball experience....

We got to have the game blacked out in Seattle...someday the league and the broadcasters will actually work this out. LiveAccess worked, though and I managed to get it hooked up before tipoff.

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Sue Bird65%75%80%22+15
Camille Little60%64%67%16+1
Lauren Jackson54%50%58%17+13

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Tina Thompson61%62%51%17-8
Lindsey Wisdom-Hylton56%60%70%7+0
Candace Parker55%57%86%24+3

Top Storm Lineups

Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: +7
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +5

The Storm used 11 unique lineups in this game with no particular lineup performing too poorly.

Top Sparks Lineups

Toliver-Lennox-Milton^Jones-Thompson-Parker: +10
Toliver-Quinn-Thompson-Parker-Wisdom^Hylton: +5
Toliver-Quinn-Milton^Jones-Parker-Wisdom^Hylton: +5

The Sparks used 10 unique lineups in this game with the starters performing the worst overall.

Toliver-Quinn-Milton^Jones-Thompson-Parker: -16
Toliver-Lennox-Milton^Jones-Thompson-Wisdom^Hylton: -5

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Game 7 vs. Dream

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Abby Bishop85%100%100%3-4
Camille Little61%86%90%15+10
Lauren Jackson59%66%72%32+22
Jana Vesela51%0%113%2-4
Swin Cash48%79%83%13+26

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Armintie Price58%25%41%4-5
Yelena Leuchanka52%38%47%8+6
Alison Bales51%50%52%3-7

Top Lineups
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Little-Jackson: +7
Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +6
Bird-Wright-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +6

KMiller-Price-McCoughtry-Leuchanka-Bales: +5
KMiller-CMiller-Raven-Leuchanka-Bales: +4
Lehning-Castro-McCoughtry-Lyttle-DeSouza: +2

So, these were the keys to the game I indicated yesterday morning...

  1. Transition Defense: Don't let Atlanta get out on the break for layups. Sue Bird excels at transition defense, but all 5 players on the court will need to focus on getting back. Their half court offense is decent, but can be controlled by Seattle's post players and and the trio of Cash, Wright and Abrosimova.
  2. Rebounding: Fight for position, box out and make sure that Atlanta does not get a huge edge on the boards. If they rebound they will get their running game going, and their posts are too strong to allow second and third chances on offense.
  3. Perimeter Play: Seattle struggled against Chicago because their perimeter shooting dried up and Chicago has excellent post defenders. They will need Bird, Wright and Abrosimova on target with Cash, Little and Jackson ready to hit open threes

I think the Storm did pretty well on all three. Atlanta was limited to 6 fast break points. The Storm out rebounded the Dream 35 to 27 grabbing 36% of their available offensive rebounds while holding Atlanta to only 33%. Seattle got 7 three pointers on the evening (including FIVE from LJ) and saw decent scoring from Bird and Abrosimova to free up Cash, Little and LJ down low.

The game started off pretty sloppy by both teams with nine turnover in the first five minutes of play. Both teams were very aggressive defensively and neither seemed to be able to keep their hands on the ball. Eventually, however the Storm settled down somewhat and were able to execute their offense.

Essentially what I saw was a demonstration of what the key differences between Seattle and Atlanta are for the season.

Atlanta is a scrappy, opportunistic defensive team which will score most of its points off the other team's mistakes. This will serve them well at the start of the season when the majority of other teams are still getting things together offensively and adjusting to new personnel. The Storm are a veteran team with a solid core that knows exactly what they want to do and excel when they are patient enough to wait for that opportunity. I expect to see Atlanta struggle later in the season while Seattle will continue to fare about the same. They will lose more of the close games than they have so far, but in general they while they will get better as the season progresses, other teams will make bigger leaps forward. Seattle can tighten up offensively and defensively, but their greatest area for improvement will be strengthening the play of the bench. Already Willingham and Abrosimova are settling in, but to be successful, Robinson, Vesela, Bishop and Lacey will need to work themselves into the rotation and grow comfortable in their assigned roles.

Lauren Jackson is playing the game in top form. She is playing some of the best defense I have seen from her. Her hands are active, her positioning is solid and her rotations are near perfect. Offensively she will have nights where she shoots so well she barely has to work...other nights she will have to fight tooth and nail to score in the paint. I never worry about LJ offensively...she finds a way to make it happen. Seeing her play defense like this, however, is just thrilling. The Storm is virtually unstoppable when LJ anchors their defense the way she has been this season. When the rest of the defensive rotations tighten up, more teams will shoot like Atlanta did last night. One of my favorite moments of the game came when LJ was on the perimeter and a defender jumped out at her. LJ used her off arm to protect the ball but the defender just sort of flew by her with it looking like LJ flung her off. LJ looked to the referee to see if they were going to call a foul...paused, thought about tying her shoe, then decided to shoot the open three seeing as no help defense came to cover her while her defender tried to get back on her feet. She did retie her shoe at the other end of the floor after acknowledging her team's laughter at the sheer absurdity of the situation.

Svetlana Abrosimova really looks like the best acquisition of the season by Coach Agler. She is settling in at both ends with regards to the system, and still bringing the extra oomph she has always had as a player. She seems to have a natural instinct for knowing when something needs to happen and then making it happen. It can't be taught, but it is precisely the kind of edge the Storm have needed in the past but just not had. Sheri Sam filled that role back in 2004, but I think Abrosimova is more well rounded as a player and has been more effective in that role than Sam was that year.

On a side note, Scott from swung by and dropped off bullhorns in our section last night. We had a nice little core of six or so people yelling "BRICK!" during Dream free throws in the second half. We struggled a bit with the timing, but actually might have had impact of some small sort on 1 or 2 misses. They felt perfectly timed, the shot was missed and the shooter looked rather annoyed.

I decided that it was just too complicated to travel to LA this weekend. Saturday is my wife's busiest day of SIFF after opening night, she is working a 14+ hour shift. I will have to make do with watching NBATV in HD.

I am so glad that I decided to return to my seats and not cover the team "officially" this season. I am truly enjoying the fan experience this year, and I have been able to not only get caught up on last season's numbers but also to make some advancement in my spreadsheets to make my analysis less time consuming. If I am able to capture some of that and use it for my NCAA analysis I might be able to keep up my column next year.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

2009 Numbers

Yes...I actually have finished the numbers for 2009.

PlayerPPGFloor %
Lauren Jackson19.252.29%
Sue Bird12.844.31%
Tanisha Wright12.249.69%
Swin Cash12.244.70%
Camille Little10.049.92


Lauren Jackson53.03%58.58%
Katie Gearlds53.38%54.12%
Suzy Batkovic52.33%50.52%
Janel Burse51.03%57.44%
Sue Bird48.01%50.25%


Lauren Jackson116.32101.05
Tanisha Wright105.6692.67
Sue Bird101.5891.03
Janel Burse105.5789.80
Camille Little101.5584.39


Bird-Wright-Gearlds-Little-Jackson: +45.78
Johnson-Atkinson-Little-Batkovic-Burse: +42.35
Bird-Johnson-Wright-Jackson-Burse: +29.02
Bird-Johnson-Gearlds-Little-Jackson: +28.07
Bird-Johnson-Wright-Cash-Little: +27.69
Bird-Wright-Little-Jackson-Burse: +24.00
Bird-Wright-Gearlds-Little-Jackson: +23.14
Bird-Johnson-Gearlds-Cash-Jackson: +20.06
Bird-Johnson-Gearlds-Little-Burse: +15.46
Johnson-Wright-Gearlds-Cash-Little: +15.22


Jackson-Robinson: +29.48
Bird-Jackson: +9.16
Jackson-Burse: +.870
Little-Batkovic: +.833
Batkovic-Burse: +7.08


Bird-Jackson: +175
Bird-Cash: +138
Bird-Little: +125
Cash-Jackson: +120


Johnson-Wright-Cash-Little-Burse: -25
Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Robinson: -19
Johnson-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: -17
Johnson-Wright-Gearlds-Jackson-Burse: -11
Bird-Johnson-Wright-Little-Jackson: -10

Game 6 vs. Silver Stars

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Tanisha Wright73%70%53%9+30
Lauren Jackson69%63%87%27+31
Ashley Robinson59%50%41%2-1
Camille Little57%57%51%8+22
Swin Cash58%58%58%14+33

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Ruth Riley65%33%58%6
Chamique Holdsclaw58%67%62%8
Roneeka Hodges55%50%86%12

Top Lineups

Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: +26
Bird-Wright-Abrosimova-Willingham-Robinson: +6

It was nice to see a good old-fashioned, Storm rout. There was not a single minute of this game where the outcome was in doubt. The Storm came out of the gate with solid, aggressive, physical defense and were able to score from anywhere on the floor. By the middle of the third quarter fans in the chat room were agonizing over when the bench would get a chance to play.

Coach Agler, however, took the opportunity to experiment with on the floor chemistry until the final 5:49 of the game when he began to empty the bench. He has a seven player rotation that looks to be his focus for the season with Abrosimova and Willingham providing relief for Swin Cash, Tanisha Wright, Camille Little and Lauren Jackson. Wright will generally get a short rest and then return to relieve Sue Bird. Robinson will be next off the bench with Vesela, Lacey and Bishop seeing time only based on injury or games decided well before the final buzzer.

The truly nice thing about this road trip, despite the loss to Chicago, is that both games saw less than 30 minutes for the majority of the starters. This keeps them fresh and allows the bench to build some confidence. In this case the bench out performed the starters in Chicago, sparking a near comeback in the fourth quarter and then played well in San Antonio finishing the game -3 in the fourth quarter.

Tonight's game vs. Atlanta will be a true test. Atlanta has played some fierce defense and they have no fear of the outlet pass for layups. On top of that, they are rebounding remarkably well and demonstrating solid post play at both ends of the court.

The keys to tonight's game could well be:

  1. Transition Defense: Don't let Atlanta get out on the break for layups. Sue Bird excels at transition defense, but all 5 players on the court will need to focus on getting back. Their half court offense is decent, but can be controlled by Seattle's post players and and the trio of Cash, Wright and Abrosimova.
  2. Rebounding: Fight for position, box out and make sure that Atlanta does not get a huge edge on the boards. If they rebound they will get their running game going, and their posts are too strong to allow second and third chances on offense.
  3. Perimeter Play: Seattle struggled against Chicago because their perimeter shooting dried up and Chicago has excellent post defenders. They will need Bird, Wright and Abrosimova on target with Cash, Little and Jackson ready to hit open threes.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Game 5 vs. Sky

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Svetlana Abrosimova70%60%65%13-4
Alison Lacey70%0%100%2+7
Ashley Robinson68%50%41%2-15
Le'Coe Willingham61%58%67%8-4
Camille Little55%50%48%10-5

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Sylvia Fowles81%67%106%19
Catherine Kraayeveld66%71%69%14
Epiphany Prince65%83%108%13

Top Lineups

Lacey-Abrosimova-Willingham-Bishop-Vesela: +8
Wright-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Bishop: +3

Chicago continues to pose serious match-up problems for Seattle. In this game though it was a combination of severe defensive lapses combined with a dearth of quality shooting. The defense has not been very strong so far this season, but in this game they gave up both the perimeter jumper on the week side and penetration into the lane. With both Bird and Wright missing even open shots, they had a tough go against a team with very strong post defense. San Antonio is the next test and then they have to face the undefeated Atlanta Dream. That will be a scary team. If they can't stop penetration and rebound effectively the Dream will slice them apart.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

2010 Game 4 vs. Mystics

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Camille Little65%64%63%11+6
Sue Bird58%71%114%16+12
Tanisha Wright54%60%63%16-5
Le'Coe Willingham53%60%108%8+1
Swin Cash46%50%70%14+9

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Marissa Coleman73%133%103%8
Monique Currie60%71%76%24
Crystal Langhorne52%56%74%14

Top Lineups

Bird-Abrosimova-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +11
Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: +6

First of all, let me just say that I REALLY like what Coach Julie Plank is doing with Washington. She is really using her roster well and the style of play that she in implementing with them should be very effective and help them be very successful this season. This is a much improved team with her at the helm and I expect them to keep getting better.

It was a hard game to watch. I guess we are being told to get used to this. The Storm seem to go through the motions staying close to teams and then locking them down in the fourth quarter. Four close wins are still W's in the win/loss column, but they are putting themselves at risk when facing teams better prepared and more experienced than those played up to this point.

I got to share the game with a first timer, my friend's six year old daughter came with us, attending her first professional sporting event ever. She really seemed to have a blast (though she was exhausted by the end and slept the whole way home) cheering, chanting defense and hitting her thunder sticks together.

The fourth quarter was VERY exciting, though I was quite distressed to have a close game with Katie Smith on the floor for the opposing team. She may be a half step slower than two years ago, but she is a clear leader on the floor and capable of turning the clock back at any moment and nailing critical shots or getting key steals and rebounds. The Storm survived though, because of spectacular bench play from Abrosimova and Willingham. That left the starters fresh and both Camille and Tanisha had fresh legs under them when they hit some big threes in the second half because of the rest the bench earned for them.

4-0 folks. Only two teams remain undefeated. That is a lot of responsibility to bear. Let's hope the Storm can hold on to that weight and grow that first number.

Monday, May 24, 2010

2010 Game 3 @ Mercury

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Le'Coe Willingham65%75%100%140
Svetlana Abrosimova60%50%44%7+1
Lauren Jackson56%44%52%25+9
Camille Little55%50%47%14+1
Swin Cash49%42%69%18+1

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Dewanna Bonner64%63%100%240
Penny Taylor55%56%60%14+1
Temeka Johnson42%59%68%15-1

Top Lineups

Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: +8
Bird-Wright-Abrosimova-Little-Jackson: +7
Bird-Wright-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +4
Bird-Abros.-Cash-Will.-LJ: +3

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2010 Game 2 vs. Lynx

Top Performers

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Camille Little66%54%72%18-1
Swin Cash57%68%109%24+3
Tanisha Wright55%100%101%9+10
Sue Bird52%38%50%8+3
Lauren Jackson48%53%56%18+6

NameFloor %eFG %TS %Points+/-
Rashanda McCants56%50%63%10+3
Monica Wright49%53%56%190
Nikki Anosike60%56%52%13-1

Top Lineups

Bird-Wright-Cash-Willingham-Jackson: +9
Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: +3

This game was a bit of an odd one.

I was late to the game despite my Tee Ball game being cancelled by the weather. It was a late game on a school night with testing in the morning, so I decided to go to the game without the boys and had to wait for my wife to get home and relieve me of parenting duty for the evening.

I arrived midway through the first quarter and the score was tied with the bench on the floor with Bird, Cash and Jackson. The Lynx made a huge push as soon as I sat down, with McCants, Houston, Whalen knocking down shots putting the Storm down 7 by the end of the quarter.

Coach Agler started the second quarter with Wright handling the ball , within a minute, though, both Bird and Lacey were on the floor with Alison at the small forward slot. The bench saw som action with at least one bench player on the floor from the 2 minute mark of the 1st quarter until the end of the half. After the initial defensive melt down with the introduction of the bench leading to a -7 hole, the bench held Minnesota to a draw for the first five minutes or so. At the end of the quarter the starters with Willingham in for Camille made a push and went on a +5 run.

The first half, outside of the push at the very end, looked very stagnant. The Storm weren't playing horribly but they weren't playing well. They would get a stop but blow the scoring opportunity at the other end leaving them unable to make up any ground.

The second half did not get much better. Agler had the starters play all but 2:27 of the 3rd quarter, but things looked pretty much the same with defensive mis-steps at one end and sloppy execution on offense at the other end preventing them from gaining any real ground against the Lynx.

In the fourth quarter, however, Agler went with a UCONN lineup in the backcourt with Bird, Abrosimova and Cash on the floor with Willingham and Robinson. Swin started to find a groove and when Lauren Jackson and Tanisha Wright returned to the lineup things started to click. With just under five minutes remaining Little joined the rest of the starters and the experienced team closed out the game with focused defense on the perimeter and aggressive offense attacks. Cash was brilliant in the quarter with key efforts leading to choice baskets by Little and Jackson to seal the deal. Camille hit a three to give the Storm a lead and Jackson used an offensive rebound and putback to lock it up.

It is easy to see how the bench is struggling defensively and the offense just has not found its groove. However, if Swin Cash continues to play with this kind of aggression the offense should open up much more quickly. Willingham got some good looks at the basket (as did Lacey) which should start going in as she gets more floor time. Defensively she looked much better than she did in the first game of the season. We will see how fired up she gets taking on Phoenix this weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


How can you NOT love a WNBA fan?

We have the league's unofficial "superfan," a male school teacher who traveled to every WNBA city for a game last season all to honor a dear friend and WNBA fan who had lost her fight with cancer.

We have Stormfans who earn 50% the leagues GM's vote for creating the most hostile atmosphere for opposing WNBA teams. This is something we really need to think about. Let's do the math, people. 6 GM's picked Seattle, 3 picked Connecticut and 3 picked unique teams not from either Seattle or Connecticut.

Here is my interpretation of those results. 3 GM's picked a particular rival city that hates their team. Chuck them. 3 eastern conference teams picked Connecticut, a small arena with a very passionate local women's basketball fan base fed by PASSIONATE fans in the locality of the most dominant NCAA Women's Basketball team in the history of the sport. If you didn't know, that team had UCONN great (Sayles) and now has three UCONN greats in Asjha Jones, Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles. Three of their current starters came out of their local program. Then we have Seattle. We have a Division 1 Husky team that has made the first round of the NCAA tournament once that I recall and has ZERO current alumnus on WNBA rosters. We have a defunct ABL team named the Seattle Reign, a team that only broke .500 in the final season of the league's existence when they folded after 15 games.

OK, I am biased...Seattle clearly has the best fans in the league...blah, blah, blah.

Back to my point. I simply got jazzed by the following quote from a USA Today article...

"Everyone deserves a second chance," said Phyllis Young, a longtime Shock fan who traveled to the game from Flint, Mich. "So you've got to support that."
The ownership of the Detroit Shock bailed. Unlike the Houston Comets, the Sacramento Monarchs, the Miami Sol, the Cleveland Rockers, and the Portland Fire, the Shock found a new home in Tulsa. This fan defies logic and travels all the way from Detroit, a city absolutely DECIMATED by the collapse of the US auto industry and the weakness of the US economy, to Tulsa to watch a team which only has two truly familiar faces on the roster. Kara Braxton and Plennette Pierson are the only faces of the franchise still on the Shock roster after the relocation. Pierson was a traded player who became an invaluable 6th woman while Braxton is the talented but frustrating player who moved into a starting role after the trade of Ruth Riley to San Antonio. Two of last year's rookies, Shavonte Zellous and Alexis Hornbuckle are nice players, but barely had a chance to woo over Detroit fans. Still, Young makes the trip to see HER team play.

That is the essence of a WNBA fan to me. Not every Shock fan makes that trip, but for any team in this league you WILL find fans who will make that trip.

Monday, May 17, 2010

2010 Game 1

Top Performers

Tanisha Wright- FL%: 63%, eFG%: 45%, TS%: 55%, +24
Lauren Jackson- FL%: 55%, eFG%: 41%, TS%: 72%, +22

Ticha Penicheiro- FL%: 72%, eFG%: 50%, TS%: 35%, -6

Top Lineups

Bird-Wright-Cash-Little-Jackson: +21
Bird-Wright-Cash-Jackson-Robinson: +8

Opening Night

Wow. That was fun. I almost forgot how much fun it is to just be a fan of this team. Last year, even when I was in the stands while someone else officially covered the game I was much more reserved...probably from my poor attempts at being objective from media row.

Seattle returned all 5 starters...who we ALL recall played every minute of last season. OK, they didn't play every minute, but they did score every point. So I am guilty of a little exaggeration. Who cares?

The bench on opening night put up 4 points (A-Rob on an uncontested put-back layup and Svetlana Abrosimova on a second chance mid-range jumper) in about 26 minutes of game time. With 200 minutes of play available, the starters managed to only have to play 87% of the available minutes to start the season.

To be fair, Agler went to his bench early showing us his core for the season with Willingham, Abrosimova and Lacey being called on (no surprises) as well as Ashley Robinson. Many observers would have A-Rob as the 11th player on this wait, most would have had the young woman cut. Some have insulted the entire league and women athletes in general with blatant accusations equating to libel saying she has not earned her roster spot with her play on the basketball court.

Robinson is a professional. Her coach put her in the game, she did what she has always done. She played solid defense (guarding Candace Parker, perhaps the league's most dynamic post), making the proper rotations within the coach's defensive screens and taking shots in the offense that needed to be taken. Granted, as often happens, she only made one out of those three shots. The one she made should have been taken three seconds earlier. Wake up idiots. She isn't in the game to score baskets. She isn't in the game because of how she looks (sweet as it may be.) She is in the game to use her length, speed and height to disrupt her assignment and make the RIGHT rotation to help her team by stopping someone else from getting a basket while her assignment is well guarded. (See Le'Coe Willingham for an example of someone who only got the first half of that job right people.)

I am a self confessed Vin Baker apologist. I am NOT an Ashley Robinson apologist. I look at the roster Coach Agler has put together and I get it. It makes PERFECT sense to me. It wasn't the one I put together, but...

  1. I don't get to watch any practice...
  2. I am not as smart about basketball as he is...
  3. It isn't my dang job!!!

I look at what he did, and I can see WHY he did it. I also can see why my lineup was probably not quite as good as his.

Anyone who loves this game has to think about one thing and one thing only. Lauren Jackson wants to win. This may be the singular most powerful thing I have ever learned about this young woman. I am not an insider. The few quality questions I have asked her have been answered tersely and without a personal connection. Actually she was much more real when I asked her a really BAD question. That actually informed me of what kind of person Lauren Jackson is. I am not a reporter...I am just a fan with some meager skills with language who had a chance to talk to a person who embodies the essence of the only sport he loves. I waited until the REAL reporters were done and then I asked my questions. I blew it. I asked some stupid question...I can't even remember what it was. She didn't rub in my inadequacy...she merely said "It's alright, mate." Then she created an answer to a better question than I had asked which I could quote in my game article for the night.

She did the same thing with A-Rob tonight. Ashley forcefully grabbed that offensive rebound. Then for what seemed like an eternity, she looked around for who she should pass it to. The whole time, LJ was boxing out what seemed to be the entire LA team while screaming, "Shoot the ball!" or at least she was screaming something. The crowd was far too loud to hear anything she was saying. Robinson shot the ball and made the basket. Lauren did not chastise her for waiting, and she didn't pretend that everything was OK. She just laughed...WITH A-Rob.

I could write pages on those 10 seconds alone. If I can sum it up...A-Rob is our woman and LJ, well, she is so much more than her height, her looks and her turn around, fade-away jumper. Those two women are Seattle Storm Basketball, and if you don't get haven't been there.

By the way, there was a basketball game being played, did I mention that?

Yes, the highly touted (even here years before she wore the purple and vomit) Candace Parker shot 4-11 from the field. It wasn't as big a deal as the media will make it out to be. LJ played some spectacular defense on Parker...particularly when Parker tried to score on the move. She had some truly quality help from Wright, Cash, Little, Robinson and even Willingham. Le'Coe can defend one on one...(surprise Phoenix!) but she still has to internalize Agler's defense.

Really, his defense is not that complicated...if you have to coach it. Playing it, well that is another matter entirely. He gave his elementary version to the Boy's and Girl's Club of King County this year. I don't claim to understand it all, but the overview he gave answered a TON of questions I had after two years of watching his teams play here in Seattle. There are many nuances I don't get yet, (see pick and roll 101) but I see his ultimate vision. From there I can deconstruct much of what I see on the court (maybe low 60 percentile.) Willingham is still a step and a half slow at her reactions. She wants to hedge on the handler when she should be showing on the handler but hedging on her own assignment. Actually, this is where it probably gets too complicated. She likely has a primary hedge but has to adjust by how well the OTHER defender covers her assignment. OK, now I am getting confused...anyway...let us just say that I think Le'Coe is a dang sharp woman and she will have this down in a week or two. The lady just got to camp...give the "girl" a break.

So, my first time feeling truly free from the restrictions of an editor and I am just running off free form with tangential bruhaha.

In the end, the Storm won because they played starter minutes against a solid team on the second night of a back to back. LA is struggling (IMHO) to find the proper chemistry, and the Storm were able to exploit that by coming out aggressive and maintaining that aggression through the end of the game. LA did not fold until the 4th quarter. Seattle kept it close and played their bench more heavily in the 1st half. That left steam in the starting lineup to look for the weak point and go for the win.

I never doubt this team on the quality of their starters nor the quality of their coaching. I look forward to how the next few games play out. If this game was part of a complicated chess match to win one against LA, it was perfect. In the long run, though, we will need to see more offense from the bench and less minutes from the starters. A team that has fallen from the post season in the first round for 4 consecutive years CANNOT afford a 87% dependency on the starters for minutes.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Opening Weekend

I got to see 2 games yesterday.

LA @ Phoenix

Phoenix looks odd without Cappie. Diana is still Diana, and with Penny Taylor they will always be a threat (her hair is auburn this season), but I don't see anyone on the roster who can create their own shot in the half court the way Pondexter could with that wicked crossover. Dupree is a nice addition and I still love Bonner, but at this point in the season Phoenix is not as good a team as they were last season.

LA was really strange to watch. Candace Parker looks in good form, playing overseas has her ready for the start of this season. Will it impact her health this year though? They have the point guard situation locked up. With Ticha Penicheiro, Andrea Riley and Kristi Toliver in place, they have distributors and scorers that they can mix and match at will. Tina Thompson looks like she is 30 not 35 and D-Nasty will always be in the mix. They were not playing as a team yesterday, but if they start to gel over the course of the season, the league better watch out.

Andrea Riley was simply hot yesterday. I loved the way she played with no fear. Gillom decided to just let Ticha rest her sore ankle after Riley went in the game and took it over. She attacked the basket, found open players...she looked like a real pro and not a high volume, rookie shooter.

Minnesota @ Tulsa

Minnesota was without the services of two of its best players. Seimone Augustus and Candice Wiggins are both still out with injury. In their absence, however, rookie Monica Wright proved she is going to be a really solid pro. She did everything she did in college in her first game as a pro. I was very impressed. Whalen was unremarkable...but Minnesota could be a really strong team under new coach Reeve's tutelage. Nicky Anosike is everything that Reeve wanted Kara Braxton to be in Detroit and Charde Houston offers some nice flexibility. It will be interesting to see how they look when they get their superstars back. Wright deserves a heavy role on this team...what will it be?

Tulsa will not be as bad as many have predicted, and their games should be a lot of fun to watch...40 minutes of hell to play, perhaps, but they will be fun to watch. Braxton and Pierson are the team's leaders and they showed it yesterday. With no Ford, Nolan or Smith, they will have to show it every night, something that has never been required of them. Shanna Crossley and Chante Black are going to be much better players in Nolan Richardson's system than most of us predicted. I really liked what they did in their home opener. The real surprise for me, though was the play of rookie Natasha Lacy. After being cut from camps the past two years, Lacy is thriving in Nolan's system. She was everywhere in this game. She could be the breakout player of the year. There will be better rookies, no doubt, but she is the one who is going to surprise us with how well she plays. Marion Jones was a non factor. Of the two games, this is the one I actually enjoyed the most. I have a defensive leaning in my philosophy of the game, and these two teams were both very aggressive defensively. I loved watching the players get after the ball. There is just something exciting about a well executed trap.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Not too bad...

Of my top 20 seniors this year, 9 of them made WNBA opening day rosters...

Kelsey Griffin
Tina Charles
Jayne Appel
Alison Lacey
Gabriela Marginea
Kalana Greene
Amanda Thompson
Monica Wright
Taylor Lilly

Some other top players by position...
Ashley Houts
Andrea Riley

Allison Hightower
Brittainey Raven

Jacinta Monroe

Surprise cuts for me:
Alysha Clark
Jenna Smith

Those are two players I think can play in this league if with the right system.

On Storm news...both Aja Parham and Ashley Walker are WNBA caliber players off the bench. In a 13 player roster they are both in this league and on this team, but they were cut today in favor of the height of Vesela, Bishop and Robinson.

OPENING DAY IS JUST 48 HOURS AWAY!!!!! Be there and be ready for The Brick Project!

Quiet will be mandatory for opposing free throws until the shooter finishes their shooting motion. We will force a league low FT% this season. You WILL be a factor.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Ashleys

Jayda mentions it in her piece while I was off at camp on Orcas Island with my son's elementary school...

Storm fans are robbed though if they don't get to see the video posted by Fox.

Ashley Walker and Ashley Robinson showed incredibly impressive, comic timing at Storm Media Day this week. They finish each other's sentences and do a brilliant back and forth that is truly entertaining. Those two ladies have some duo talent beyond what we get to see on the hardwood. They had the media in stitches and I simply could NOT stop smiling as they talked.

I haven't had the chance to sit through the audio yet...I had to go from Media Day to the technology free retreat, but I am not sure that internet or print media can do justice to The Ashleys. I am not a big reality TV fan, but I think I would have to set my DVR to The Ashleys.

On a side note, the fan lawsuit against Clay Bennett and the Seattle Sonics that I participated in has finally ended. My lawyer contacted me this week to let me know that settlement checks are being issued after the judge approved our settlement.

It was never about the money for me. I participated in the suit because I love the sport of basketball, I love the city of Seattle and I was personally disgusted by the callous way the Seattle fans of the NBA were treated by both Clay Bennett and David Stern. The business man in me comprehends their motivations, but the fan in me feels that they have dishonored the purity of the sport itself. Basketball is a sport and as such is so much more than the NBA. I feel lucky that the WNBA still embodies much of what the spirit of the sport inspires.

Anyone who was a true fan of the Sonics and watched the 1st round playoff match-up between OKC and LAL has to respect the passion and devotion those fans displayed for their team. I have always believed that Oklahoma City deserved a basketball team, and they proved their passion as fans this season. They did their team right and in my heart, I know they did Seattle proud as well. We could not have done a better job supporting that team than they did this year.

That said, I still feel that the league and the two ownership groups were irresponsible stewards of what should be a "public trust." As slimy a businessman as Bennett may have been in this endeavor, it was the poor choices of Howard Schultz and David Stern that represent the true villains in this story.

We are so lucky to have Force 10 and Karen Bryant here to represent what sport and community CAN be for this city. They are the role models we should embrace and share with our children. In my new endeavor as a youth coach, I have seen first hand what impacts sport can have on a child's development. My appreciation for the game and its values has only grown.

I decided before our lawsuit really took off that I would use any proceeds I earned from the suit to support Seattle basketball. I didn't qualify for much in the final settlement, but what I have will be spread across the Ballard Boys & Girls Club basketball program and youth basketball programs tied to the Seattle Storm. My ticket rep has been patiently waiting for me to tell him the settlement is in, so I get to give him the good news this week.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Camp shrinks before it can grow.

According to @seattlestorm on Twitter, Chelsea Newton abruptly opened the field for perimeter positions at the Storm training camp by announcing her retirement. That is not a big surprise to many of those who have watched her play. She was a solid defender with limited offense. However recent injuries have impeded her ability to play quality defense against the athletic perimeter players in the league and she appears to have decided to move on.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

No excuses for lazy journalists...

As if we needed one more reason to love the work of Q McCall...

He let's us know what he REALLY thinks of the inane question that annoyed so many of us throughout the NCAA women's tourney.

One reason I can't continue to cover the WNBA the way I have in the past is that I simply don't have the time to do it right. Apparently that isn't an obstacle to many actual, PAID journalists.

I have taken to spending more time participating in sports over the past year, and spending less time writing about sports. On a side note, I am more than halfway done with last season's lineup information, though with all the roster changes this may not tell us more than what we already know. Lineups with Bird, Wright, Cash, Jackson and Little are really good and the others...well they weren't. Coach Agler seems determined to change that. I like his training camp this year...though I still see his opening day roster already with just a few questions.

Storm go Bing!

Time to change my default search engine.

Microsoft has stepped up as the third and largest sponsor of the WNBA via placing their logo on the game and shooting jersey's of the Seattle Storm.

So Bing! is now my official search engine.

Sorry Google, but my loyalty to the Storm is greater than my many year relationship with your engine.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hampton's 09 Numbers

Floor %: 43%
efG %: 43%
TS %: 45%
Usage %: 33.76%
WinVAL: 3.20
BoxScores: 2.49
DefReb %: 11%
OffReb %: 4%
Stop %: 16.77
Off Rtg: 77.44
Net Pts: 5.35
Indiv Rtg: 70.44
Adjusted Rtg: 44.45
Team RPI: 0.6310

So in just over half the number of minutes for the season as played by Ashley Walker, Hampton was able to secure 11% of the total available defensive rebounds compared to Walker's 14%. Walker however was an excellent rebounder at both ends, also securing 11% of the available offensive rebounds. They had virtually the same number of rebounds per 40 minutes played based on Hampton's excellent defensive rebounding. Overall Hampton came up from a numbers perspective as a defensive rebounding specialist while Walker was much more well rounded and versatile. At 6'3" Hampton's potential value to the Storm will really be based on how successful she has rehabbed those knees. If she can offer more offense than she did her last year at Cal then her size and defensive rebounding could be quite valuable. If she can't contribute on the offensive end then I suspect A-Rob is the better option.