Tune in to hear Storm guard Sue Bird on KJR 950 AM at 5:05 p.m. this evening with
host Mike Gastineau whoops, Dave Grosby was filling in for the Gasman this evening. Here’s a link to the interview.
Archive for May, 2008
Tune in to hear Storm guard Sue Bird on KJR 950 AM at 5:05 p.m. this evening with
Here at Storm HQ, we’re keeping an eye on several milestones that could be within reach for Storm players in the near future. Here’s what you should be watching.
- Sheryl Swoopes is battling Ticha Penicheiro to become the first player in WNBA history to 600 career steals. Currently, Swoopes has 596 in her career, Penicheiro 594. One of them should reach the mark in the next couple of weeks.
- Speaking of steals, Yolanda Griffith has 490 in her career, leaving her 10 shy of joining Swoopes and Penicheiro as the only players in league history with 500 steals.
- The race is also on for Sue Bird and Swin Cash, both headed toward 2,500 career points. Cash has 2,433 in her career, Bird 2,428. 35 players in league history have at least 2,500 points, and the next-closest player to the milestone is Indiana’s Tammy Sutton-Brown, with 2,270.
- Ashley Robinson has 86 blocks and is on her way toward joining a surprisingly elite group with 100 career blocks (39 players entering this season).
- Lauren Jackson isn’t really close to any nice round numbers, but she has an opportunity to move up the WNBA’s career rebounding leaderboard this season. Currently, Jackson ranks ninth in WNBA history with 1,765 total boards. However, she could move up as high as sixth by season’s end:
5. Taj McWilliams-Franklin – 2,021 (active)
6. Chamique Holdsclaw – 1,862
7. Natalie Williams – 1,832
8. Wendy Palmer – 1,825
9. Lauren Jackson – 1,765 (active)
10. Tangela Smith – 1,701 (active)
Though the Storm is more than a tenth of the way through the 2008 season, it’s still very early. Nothing shows that more than the fact that 10 days into the season the Minnesota Lynx is still sitting on one game played. Still, it’s never too early to at least glance at the advanced statistics.
In terms of Offensive Rating, the surprising 3-0 Connecticut Sun laps the rest of the league.
Team ORating------------------Connecticut 114.8Los Angeles 109.4Minnesota 106.6Phoenix 102.1San Antonio 101.1Chicago 100.3Detroit 99.0Seattle 98.8AVERAGE 96.5Sacramento 90.6New York 90.2Indiana 89.7Houston 85.2Atlanta 84.0Washington 83.8
Talk about a disparity between the haves and the have-nots – look at that gap between the Storm and the Monarchs, bridged only by league average. That San Antonio’s offense has played so well early despite some subpar shooting from Becky Hammon and two games without Ann Wauters should make the rest of the WNBA afraid. Very afraid.
Team DRating------------------Indiana 83.8Connecticut 84.9Minnesota 86.7Los Angeles 90.5Detroit 91.3New York 93.7Chicago 94.3Washington 95.0San Antonio 95.9AVERAGE 96.5Seattle 98.2Houston 100.9Sacramento 102.9Phoenix 107.0Atlanta 114.3
Definitely a skewed distribution in terms of Defensive Rating; nine of the 14 teams in the league are above-average, in no small part because the Dream’s defense has been a nightmare. (Sorry, bad pun.) Phoenix’s defense also has to be a major concern – weren’t the Mercury supposed to be better at that end with traditional post players? Don’t look for Connecticut and Minnesota to maintain their lofty defensive perches, but the Fever might easily lead the league in Defensive Rating wire to wire.
Too early for Pythagorean records, at least as long as the Sun is projected to win more than 34 games and Atlanta to lose more than 34. Moving ahead, here are your early leaders in PER, including some surprising names.
Player Tm PER----------------------------Charde Houston MIN 43.1Sidney Spencer LAS 37.7Katie Douglas IND 34.7Sophia Young SAS 34.4Lisa Leslie LAS 33.9Candace Parker LAS 32.9Lindsay Whalen CON 31.2Nicky Anosike MIN 30.9Candice Dupree CHI 30.2Plenette Pierson DET 29.2
I don’t count on Houston, Spencer and Anosike staying up there with more minutes, but Pierson’s fast start might not be a fluke. Bill Laimbeer ought to get her more time so the Shock gets off to better starts.
I can’t imagine WNBA.com is going to continue featuring the Storm at quite the same pace after the team’s two early-season national TV appearances are past, but right now I could probably just coast and let the .com do my work for me.
The latest feature catches up with the Storm’s holdover stars, Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson.
Here’s Sue and Lauren on the news that Force 10 Hoops L.L.C. would purchase the team and ensure its future in Seattle.
LJ: “I was so happy. Seattle has a wonderful fan base and it would have been a shame to see everything that we have worked for and achieved be thrown away. Seattle is an amazing city and I’m so proud to play for the Storm. The new ownership also offers another wave of excitement. Having a group of women who are passionate about our sport taking the lead is inspirational.”
SB: “I was very excited when I heard the Storm would be staying in Seattle. Our new owners are very passionate about women’s basketball and I truly believe this team belongs here. Our fan base is amazing and deserves to see this franchise continue to grow. On a more personal level, I really like living and playing in Seattle so I really couldn’t be happier.”
And there’s plenty more like that. WNBA.com also has up a video feature previewing the Storm’s season with some great behind-the-scenes footage from a practice at KeyArena last week.
I hope you listened to last night’s Storm broadcast on 1150 AM KKNW or via the online webcast right here at storm.wnba.com for many reasons, most notably to hear the Storm’s comeback. Beyond that, if you missed the broadcast, you missed a halftime interview with Alicia “Chelle” Thompson, who played a key role off the bench for the Storm’s 2004 championship team and is now living in Phoenix.
Thompson told Dick Fain and former teammate Adia Barnes that she’s now playing football for the Phoenix Prowlers of the National Women’s Football Association. Thompson said she played defensive end and is also listed on the Prowlers’ roster as a tight end.
That got me thinking about where Storm players might play were they to cross over. Naturally, Sue Bird has to be the quarterback, right? Swin Cash’s partner, former Penn State star and NFL player Chafie Fields, could probably give her a few pointers about being a fleet-footed wideout. Sheryl Swoopes would have to be a shutdown corner who specialized in interceptions, given she’s the WNBA’s all-time leading stealer.
Something tells me Tanisha Wright has the mentality of a power running back who runs between the tackles with no fear. And you could put Yolanda Griffith on either line – she’s no stranger to physical play.
I struggle a little bit with Lauren Jackson. Maybe tight end? Given her size and ability to catch lobbed entry passes, Jackson could cross over like Antonio Gates.
What do you think?
There are some nights where there’s just so many things going on it’s tough to organize everything. So, while I mentioned some of them in our Game at a Glance feature and others made into the Postgame Notes, here’s a look at what stuck out to me from the Storm’s win tonight in Phoenix.
- The Storm is 3-0 for the first time in franchise history. Last season, three teams started as well or better, all from the East: Detroit (7-0), Indiana (4-0), New York (5-0)
- The Storm pulled off the second-largest comeback in franchise history tonight. The largest, you might recall, came a year ago on Opening Night, when the Storm trailed by 22 against Houston. The only other comeback of 15 or more in Storm history came July 17, 2004 vs. Washington, when the Storm trailed by 16 but won in OT.
- With this win, the Storm now has more victories by single-digits (two) than in all of 2007 (one). I was stunned again by that weird stat when I was looking at some 2007 notes this morning and noticed the Storm had more double-digit wins last year (16) than any other WNBA team. This year, the Storm is winning some close ones, though the opener was really more lopsided than the final score indicated.
- How do you come back from a 21-point deficit? Well, it helps to start by not committing a single turnover in the entire second half. The Storm has just 35 turnovers in three games, which is remarkable given the team is learning a new offense and integrating three new starters into the lineup.
- The Storm scored 87 points tonight despite going 6:47 without a bucket in the first half (a stretch that seemed even longer listening at home). That means over the other 33:13 of the game, they scored at a pace that was equivalent to 105 points over a full 40-minute game.
- Sue Bird’s 10 three-point attempts tied a career high.
- I hope Tanisha Wright’s defensive effort in the second half (not to mention a couple of big, big buckets early in the fourth quarter) doesn’t get overlooked.
- When you’re playing the Mercury, per-possession numbers take on added importance because Phoenix’s fast pace skews everything. The Mercury scored 87 points on 83 possessions, a 103.8 Offensive Rating. That’s pretty good work overall defensively for the Storm, consisting of one bad half and one terrific one.
With a trip to Phoenix scheduled for the afternoon and only one day in between games, the Seattle Storm held a relatively light practice session Wednesday morning at The Furtado Center. During the portion of practice open to the media, the Storm’s starters were on the sidelines watching reserves and players from the practice squad play 5-on-5.
“Real light day today,” said Head Coach Brian Agler afterwards. “Want to keep them as fresh as possible. We’ve got two games coming up in three days and we’re traveling on top of it. It was a very competitive game last night; some of these people put up big minutes. It would really defeat the purpose if we wore them out in practice. We’ve got a long season ahead of us.”
Included in the group doing limited work was guard Sheryl Swoopes, who tweaked her ankle late in Tuesday’s win over Sacramento. Agler said after the game that Swoopes asked to go back in after having the ankle retaped, but with the game in hand she stayed on the bench.
“She’s doing fine,” Agler said Wednesday. “She was out there moving around. I don’t know if we had gone live if she’d have been able to go, but I think she’s doing better.”
The starting lineup Thursday in Phoenix will include forward Swin Cash, who came off the bench against the Monarchs but still played 28 minutes and tied for the team lead with 17 points. Agler reiterated after the game that he started Tanisha Wright in Cash’s place simply because the team had been unable to prepare with Cash, who was not with the team for Monday’s practice because of a death in her family.
- Reigning MVP Lauren Jackson offered some thoughts on the slow starts that have affected her (and the team as a whole) in the Storm’s first two wins. Jackson has gotten going in the second half of both games, but is still shooting an atypical 37.5% from the field for the young season.
“For me at the moment, I’m just trying to get used to the play and figure out where I’m wanted or needed or whatever,” she explained. “I think everybody’s going to get opportunities to score and make shots and things like that. It’s just a matter of thinking about when it’s going to be. Maybe I’m overthinking it. It’s a very, very good offensive system.”
Lots of great content featuring the Storm coming from WNBA.com the last couple of days. We start with today’s updated WNBA Power Rankings, which feature the Storm checking in at No. 2.
New coach Brian Agler must be simply delighted at the speed
with which his roster of stars is coming together.
Lauren Jackson took center stage in the WNBA.com “This or That” feature, forced to choose between two similar pop-culture or personal items. Lauren picked Sonics rookie Kevin Durant, while admitting she liked Greg Oden too, but what’s with the answer on Don Johnson vs. Philip Michael Thomas?
“I don’t know who either of them is, but I’ll say Don Johnson.”
Did Miami Vice not make it all the way to Australia, Lauren? We’ll have to get you a DVD for next winter in Russia.
Last but surely not least, WNBA President Donna Orender blogged about her busy opening day, which saw her attend L.A.’s win at Phoenix before coming to Seattle to watch the Storm beat Chicago.
There was even a special moment at the end of the game when the Storm
brought their new owners into their winning postgame huddle. It was a fantastic
crowd and there was an outpouring of affection for Force 10 which parlayed its
force into keeping the Emerald City’s beloved Storm.
UPDATE: Even more WNBA.com Storm content. Brian Martin takes a look at the team’s pair of comebacks in the first two games of the season. If the Storm keeps it up, perhaps “Comeback Kids of the Cascades” will catch on.
If the future of the WNBA looks anything like today’s nationally-televised opener between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Phoenix Mercury, it will be one heck of a fun ride.
Historically, early-season WNBA games are often hard to watch. Even NBA teams take a while to begin clicking, and WNBA head coaches don’t have the luxury of having their entire team together for the full month of training camp. The Mercury got Diana Taurasi back only yesterday and Cappie Pondexter, as we were often reminded by ESPN on ABC broadcasters Dave Pasch and Carolyn Peck, slept but three hours last night. Imagine what Pondexter, who finished with 32 points, four three-pointers, seven assists and nary a turnover, might have done with a full night’s sleep!
Instead of a sloppy mess controlled by defense, the Sparks and Mercury treated us to a highly-entertaining game that wasn’t decided until Pondexter missed a potential tying three in the closing seconds.
Naturally, the big story was the play of Sparks rookie Candace Parker, who fell two assists shy of a triple-double in her WNBA debut. All Parker did was score 34 points, grab 12 rebounds and hand out eight assists. She was even better than advertised. Lisa Leslie returned from her year-long absence to post a double-double of her own with 17 points, 12 boards and four blocks.
Of course, we already knew Leslie and Parker would be great; the real question was the L.A. backcourt, and that wasn’t entirely answered in the opener. Starting guards Temeka Johnson and Marie Ferdinand-Harris combined to shoot 3-for-12 from the field and turn the ball over five times. The Sparks got effective play down the stretch from Murriel Page, but Page isn’t naturally a guard and doesn’t shoot the ball like one. Sidney Spencer had 14 points off the bench in the first half, includinf our threes, before sitting out the second half. Spencer will feast on the open looks created by Leslie and Parker, but isn’t quick enough to defend opposing guards.
The Mercury has to feel awfully good about putting up 94 points despite the limited practice time. To turn the ball over just 12 times in a fast-paced opener given those conditions is remarkable. Starter Wilnett Crockett (12 points, seven boards) and backup Le’Coe Willingham (four rebounds and strong defense) gave Phoenix solid play in Penny Taylor’s spot, but we also saw what could be problematic about using traditional posts in the Paulball system; Crockett and Willingham were stuck on the perimeter taking long jumpers at times, and that’s surely not their forte.
Besides Parker, the revelation of the game was Phoenix rookie
Yugo OhaYuko Oga. Just the second Japanese player in league history, Oha is a jolt of energy off the bench who will continue pushing the pace when she’s in the game at the point.
Officially, the Sparks won the game, but the real winner was the league. It’s hard to imagine new fans tuning in to see Parker and not coming away impressed with the quality of play. The WNBA’s 2008 slogan is “Expect Great.” In the opener, we got just that.
For those readers who frequent the blog but not always the homepage (something I’ve done myself with other Seattle sports teams), I hope you haven’t missed our extensive preview coverage this week. The local papers devote one day to a preview section. Online, that doesn’t make as much sense, so we spread out the same content over the last week. In sum, it’s quite a bit.
Fresh Start: Cash Begins Anew in Seattle
Bird Returns to Revamped Storm
The Centerpiece: Storm Looks to Relieve Pressure on Jackson
The Veterans: Griffith and Swoopes Hoping for Familiar Outcome with New Team
Is This “The Perfect Storm?”
If you’ve read all that, and tonight’s Insider Preview, I think you’re about ready for the season to start. I know I am.