Tune in to tonight’s FSN local broadcast of the UW women against the Kansas State Wildcats to hear Sheryl Swoopes offering color commentary. Swoopes and Brad Adam will be calling the game for FSN Northwest from Hec Edmundson Pavilion starting at 5:00 p.m.
Archive for December, 2008
We’re a week away from teams being able to sign free agents to contracts, but don’t expect a decision from Lauren Jackson on her future so quickly. That was the message from Jackson in an interview with the Daily Telegraph of Sydney.
“I think at the moment I have to decide on both (options), yeah both – whether to play in the WNBA and if so, with which team,” Jackson told the paper. “I don’t want to jump into anything that I can’t fulfil right now. I don’t know how I might feel in a couple of months’ time.
“I have to make a decision and it’s going to be a big one. It could impact on the rest of my career.”
In the rest of the story, Jackson talks about her love for the city of Seattle and her happiness with the Storm. It’s a must-read.
On behalf of the entire Storm organization, a Happy Holidays to you and yours. Hopefully everyone in the Seattle area has made it safely through our atypically snowy holiday season.
Storm players shared with us a few of their traditions as well as what Sue Bird has learned about Christmas in Russia during her time spent playing overseas. Also see WNBA.com’s look at how WNBA players, including the Storm’s Swin Cash, are celebrating.
“My family is pretty normal. We just go over to someone’s house to eat and exchange gifts. If there is a Cowboy game on we are usually shouting at the TV. That’s about it. Get together, give gifts, and STUFF OUR FACES!”
“At home in North Carolina, I have lots of fun memories. As a young girl, I always woke up really early on Xmas morning and my parents would be upset, so they told us one year we couldn’t get up earlier than 8 a.m. To make sure I stayed in my room until then, my Mom hung a bell on the door knob of my bedroom so she could hear if I opened the door.
“On Xmas morning we put on Christmas music, and start opening presents. After all the presents are opened, we start cooking breakfast. We always have a big breakfast and all our family & friends are invited. We have pancakes, bacon, grits, eggs, sausage, biscuits, orange juice, coffee, the works! One year there were so many people we had to rent a room at a recreation center to fit us all.”
“Christmas is different here. They open gifts at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Day. Their santa is blue and they call him “Grandpa Claus.” And with their religion and calendar, Christmas is on Jan. 7.”
Hey y’all! I have been so busy this month. I finally have time to sit down and get everyone caught up on what has been going on in Dallas. I know all of y’all are Seahawks fans, but “HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!!??” I think the Terrell Owens and the Cowboys receivers vs. Tony Romo and Jason Witten bickering is over. I didn’t know whose side to take on this one. TO is a huge Lady Vol Fan, but Witten is a Vol! I stayed neutral throughout all that drama. I think the media made something out of nothing. TO has been on his very best behavior since he became a Cowboy. So please leave my BOYS alone. It’s looking like the Cowboys are not going to make the playoffs anyways. BUMMER!
STORM FANS! I have said it before and I’ll say it again – Storm fans are the best fans in the WNBA! I think your only competition might be the Mavs fans! They are terrific. They have the longest sellout streak going in the NBA right now. How incredible is that? My challenge to my faithful Storm Fans is to start our own sellout streak. The energy the Mavs fans bring reminds me so much of Storm fans. The Mavs just had a seven-game homestand. It was amazing how the team fed off of the energy. The only downfall was that the other teams that aren’t used to playing in a packed arena fed off that same energy. Every home game ended up being a nailbiter. The Mavs came out on top, going 6-1 during that homestand. The only loss was a double-overtime game against a healthy San Antonio Spurs squad. In 2009 we need to get KeyArena rocking on another level! Let’s further prove that Storm fans aren’t just the best in the WNBA but the best in all sports!
I still have more bragging to do about these Mavs Fans. Mavs season ticket holder Neal Hawks came up with this brilliant idea to give up his courtside seats to military personnel on a special day called “Seats for Soldiers.” This year American Airlines flew in 150 soldiers that are currently rehabbing injuries suffered while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. They took a 45-minute flight from San Antonio to DFW. I was lucky enough to get tag along with Mavs Sideline Reporter Emily Jones on this special day. We greeted the soldiers at the airport and rode on the charter buses with them en route to dinner.
I was supposed to be interviewing different soldiers and just hearing their stories to assist Emily in finding a good story for the game broadcast. I don’t know how well I did interviewing, but I did have great conversations with a few of the men and women on the bus. From the airport we went to Abacus. Abacus is one of the top restaurants in Dallas. Abacus Chef Kent Rathbun is BIG TIME! He’s been Iron Chef, on the CBS Morning Show and he has been featured in multiple magazines. Chef Rathbun put it down for the Soldiers. I normally don’t eat at high-end restaurants like Abacus, but I was not going to pass up free food from Chef Rathbun. As we say down south, “He put his foot in it.” I wasn’t even hungry but ate anyways. Glad I did. So we get to the game and guess who the Mavs were playing? The team formally known as the Seattle Super Sonics! I was excited to see some of the guys, but I have to say I do wish they were still in Seattle. The team formally known as the Seattle Super Sonics played hard, but the Mavs came out on top.
From talking with the soldiers I learned that I have no idea what the word “war” really means. The men and women in our military are truly a group of unselfish Americans. I felt so proud to be in their presence. What heart it must take to go fight and protect people you don’t even know. They just know they love our beautiful country and plan on keeping us safe. Seats for Soldiers was one of those experiences that I will never forget. I left at the end of the day feeling so blessed. Thank you to all of our men and women serving in the U.S. Military.
I finally heard from Kristen and Swin. Kristen was so sweet. She told me the best part about Ireland is she gets to work out whenever she wants. LOL! I used to try to get Kristen to leave the gym. I never could talk her into leaving early. She was consistently the first person in the gym and the last person to leave. I told her a lot of her needs to rub off on me and just a little of me needs to rub off on her. She seems so happy and I’m guessing she might be home by now. There might be some Kristen O’Neill sightings in the area. Swin and I are never online at the same time. One morning I woke up to a cute little message from Swin. Swin’s nickname is grandma. Her message was, “Very wise like a granny.” LOL! Love you, Swin!
So many people have asked me if the Storm is OK since the Comets folded. I want to make sure everyone saw this quote from Karen Bryant, the Storm’s CEO, on the Storm’s future. She said, “It’s definitely a loss, there’s no doubt about that. But as it relates to our future here, our future continues to be bright. We’re focused on our 10th anniversary of playing in Seattle and have a lot of momentum already.”
I think that answers all question about the Storm. OUR FUTURE IS BRIGHT!!!
Being home has been a great time. I’ve started to miss playing so bad. I don’t miss being in Europe, but I do miss being on the court with my Storm teammates. Everybody should be on their way home for the holidays. I wish all my lovely teammates safe travels back home. Happy Holidays to you from me! 2009 is going to be a blast!
Force 10 Hoops L.L.C. Chairperson Anne Levinson appeared yesterday on KPLU with Gary Davis. Take a listen online to the archived audio of the interview. (HT: RebKell and Stever)
Force 10 also pops up in Seattleite Jim Caple’s piece for ESPN.com Outside the Lines on the year that was in Seattle sports, with the Storm singled out as a bright spot: “Before (Clayton) Bennett moved the Sonics to Oklahoma, he sold the Storm to local businesswomen who are committed to keeping the team here.”
Caple tells the city’s story using Lorin “Big Lo” Sandritzky, aka Seattle’s Biggest Sports Fan, who describes the Storm as behind only the Seahawks in his heart with the departure of the Sonics. It’s a must-read, even if the year’s events aren’t something we want to rehash, and it ends on an optimistic note.
The last week before the European leagues break for the holidays was a critical one. In EuroCup, teams completed their two-game aggregate 16th-final playoff series, while the Euroleague played the last week of group action. In every case, the results were positive ones for teams with Storm ties.
Let’s start in the EuroCup, where K.V. Imperial AEL faced the toughest challenge. As the lower-seeded team, Imperial had to go on the road for the conclusion of the series, needing to win or lose by three points or fewer. Indeed, Imperial pulled off the 79-70 win to take the series 141-128. Shyra Ely, who had to leave the first game just after halftime because she suffered whiplash, led the way with 15 points and 14 boards.
“It’s a big win for our team and our country (Cyprus),” said Imperial coach Linos Gavriel. “It was a great collective win. We congratulate Rivas for their participation and now we want to continue making history against Galatasaray.”
Katie Gearlds and Athinaikos were in comfortable shape coming home up 11 points, but still in danger of being knocked out. Any worry was short-lived, as Athinaikos defeated SK Cesis 90-72 to advance. Gearlds’ 23 points led all scorers, and she knocked down five three-pointers while shooting 9-of-14 from the field.
Dynamo Moscow, the top seed, cruised to a 164-115 aggregate win, taking Thursday’s matchup with the Solna Vikings 89-57. Janell Burse had 12 points and six boards, adding three steals and a pair of blocks on defense. Teammate Oxana Zakalyuzhnaya deserves a tip of the cap for her 26-point, 14-rebound effort.
Lastly, for some scheduling reason, Tarbes finished up its series a week early, beating Baschet ICIM 96-52 in the home leg. The final 206-110 margin was easily the largest in any of the aggregate series. With advancement well in hand, Tanisha Wright played a quiet 13 minutes in game two, finishing with two points and two assists.
EuroCup will resume play with the Eighth-finals on Jan. 29 and Feb. 5.
Nothing was on the line for Spartak Moscow Region this week, the team having already assured itself the top spot in Group D. Still, in a matchup of the best and worst the group had to offer, Spartak clocked Lattes Montpellier 103-48 at home. Ho hum. Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson were two of the five Spartak players to score double-figures, Bird posting 11 points and five assists and Jackson scoring 13 points.
The bigger matchup was in Prague, where ZVVZ USK Praha was hopoing to secure a spot in the postseason with a chance to move up to third in Group C. USK Praha’s 69-64 win over Lotos Gdynia was enough to achieve the first goal, but not the second. Lotos still took third place in the group because of point differential, as USK Praha would have needed a win of 14 points or more to move past Lotos. Swin Cash had eight points and six rebounds in the win as part of a balanced scoring attack.
So the good news is that USK Praha plays on. The bad news is that a fourth-place finish in Group C means drawing the winner of Group D … which, as you read a moment ago, is the Spartak juggernaut. USK Praha will face a tall order trying to pull off the upset when the Euroleague playoffs commence Jan. 27 and Storm teammates collide overseas.
Storm color analyst Adia Barnes is headed to Israel to play for Ramla, reports Safsal.co.il. Barnes previously played two seasons in Israel. I apologize for completely missing this, but apparently she has been playing in Italy, where she spent last season, before deciding to make the move. (HT: RebKell)
Another good read is Jayda Evans talking to Ashley Robinson about her internship with the Dallas Mavericks.
Alright, you’ve seen the release announcing the Storm’s schedule and you’ve checked out our breakdown of the season’s 10 biggest games. Still want a little more? Here’s some additional analysis and observations.
First off, I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned it on the site, but the season is moving back a bit in 2009. The regular season will tip off the first weekend of June and play will run through the middle of September. Expect this kind of schedule to be the norm, at least through 2012, when the Olympics will be an obstacle. When the WNBA has pushed the schedule back, primarily because of past Olympics, it has been successful.
The upside at the front end is obvious. Teams should have virtually their entire roster throughout training camp, which will help build continuity and should create better play in the early part of the season. It also gives players a bit of a break instead of forcing many of them to go directly from championship series overseas to the grind of the WNBA season.
- Here’s the Storm’s month-by-month breakdown:
Month H A TotJune 3 6 9July 6 3 9August 7 4 11Sept. 1 4 5
At least in terms of home and road games, the schedule is soft in the middle but challenging at both the beginning and the end. The Storm will look to make up a lot of ground in July and August. After playing at Phoenix on July 1, 13 of the team’s next 19 games will be in the friendly confines of KeyArena. It will be important to build up some margin for error going into the month of September.
- The Storm has just one back-to-back all year, and it comes during the first two days of the season as part of a home-and-home series with Sacramento. Presumably fatigue shouldn’t be a big factor there, especially since both teams have the same schedule.
- With the Houston Comets suspending operations, the Western Conference is at 6 teams for the first time in the Storm’s existence (while the league has had 13 teams off and on, the smaller conference had always been the East). As a result, the Storm will play all five other West foes four times apiece, a change from last year when each West team played four teams three times and two teams four times.
- There are no real long road trips on the schedule, with a trio of three-gamers the longest of the season. Those are split up, with one in June, one in August and the last in September. The Storm will have a pair of extended four-game homestands, the first in mid-July and the other at the end of August. The team leaves Seattle just once (for the relatively short trip to Sacramento) between July 1 and July 28.
“Karen Bryant is a huge inspiration to me and would be a great leader to follow with all the things she has accomplished.”
Kent, Wash., 8th-grader Breanna Leonard wrote those words about Bryant, the Storm’s CEO, for Macy’s Follow A Leader essay contest. The 15-year-old mentoring program matches youth with Pacific Northwest leaders who have careers in arts, science, medicine, sports, education, law, business, industry, technology and government.
Breanna, who attends Cedar Heights Middle School in Kent, met Bryant for the first time in November during a luncheon honoring students selected for the Follow A Leader program. In early 2009, Breanna will spend a day “on the job” with Bryant, and will also return to attend a Storm game during the upcoming season.
Macy’s Follow A Leader mentor program, co-sponsored by the Seattle Times and KING 5 Television, is designed to encourage children to develop their writing and communication skills, and to think and learn about various career options. Breanna was one of 20 student honorees selected from over 600 entrants in grades 4-12, after submitting an essay explaining why they would like to meet and spend a day with one of 20 local community leaders and how education can help them achieve their dreams. All winners also receive a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond.
From reading about Karen Bryant, I learned that she’s the leader I would want to follow for a day because she’s a role model to me. I have loved basketball for as long as I can remember and have played ever since 4th grade. I remember watching basketball when I was a little kid and always asking who was winning and what team had which color jersey.
Karen Bryant was an amazing athlete and could’ve played professionally if she wanted to, but instead became the CEO for the Seattle Storm. Now she can still enjoy basketball and is responsible for finances, marketing, and community relations for the team, which is something I’m interested in. Karen Bryant helped women’s sports begin and that is why she’s the leader I would want to follow. She shows us that if you work hard and stay committed you can have your dreams come true. Karen Bryant is a huge inspiration to me and would be a great leader to follow with all the things she has accomplished.
If I could spend the day with Karen Bryant, that would be absolutely wonderful. I would ask her what she does as the CEO of the Storm, to see exactly what she does and if I would want to go into that profession. Also, she seems like she has fun at her job and I would want to know how she really feels and if at times it gets stressful.
Education can help me achieve my dreams just like it did for Karen Bryant. Karen Bryant was a former basketball player in High School and College. She then went into project management instead of playing professional basketball. She’s now the CEO of the Seattle Storm which involves basketball and management. Here is what Karen Bryant says about her job, “… it’s exciting, and there’s never a day that I don’t smile and treasure the privilege that I have to work for the Storm.” Karen Bryant’s dreams came true and so can mine with education. Now you know why I would want to follow the leader, Karen Bryant.
For those of you who tend to check the blog and not the storm.wnba.com homepage (and have missed the latest news RSS feed we’ve added in the sidebar), I wanted to make sure everyone saw our series of 2008 Season in Review articles, which wrapped up last week and covered all 13 Storm players.
Also part of each article was a new 2008 wallpaper, and these are now up on the Storm Desktop Wallpaper page along with two others featuring Doppler and Head Coach Brian Agler.
For the record, I’m sporting the Kristen O’Neill wallpaper on my computer. UW represent!