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Coach can be rather formal and withdrawn with both the fans and the media.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.