Voting for the Euroleague All-Star Team has concluded, and lineups for the March 8 All-Star Game (to be played in Paris) were announced by FIBA Europe today. If you think the voting results are sometimes a little funny here stateside, they’re especially strange this time around in Euroleague. The Storm’s Sue Bird and Chicago’s Sylvia Fowles were both amongst the top five vote-getters for the “Rest of the World” team, but a rule limiting each club to two players on the All-Star roster means neither will play in Paris. Lauren Jackson will represent the Storm, and she and Diana Taurasi are the two players from Spartak.
Archive for February, 2009
Wednesday and Thursday were the return leg of the EuroCup’s eighth-final matchups, those series decided by aggregate.
We start in Tel Aviv, where Katie Gearlds and Athinaikos was the lone team with Storm ties heading out on the road. Athinaikos carried a 15-point advantage from the first game of the series and only extended it in a 91-72 demolition of Elitzur Ramla. Gearlds led the way in the rout by shooting the lights out. She made five three-pointers in seven attempts and was 8-of-11 from the field overall, scoring a game-high 23 points in 26 minutes. Gearlds added three steals. As a team, Athinaikos shot 55.9 percent from the field. The 34-point combined margin was tied for the second-largest amongst the eight series.
The outcome was much more tense in Moscow, where Dynamo clung to a one-point advantage heading home. Dynamo trailed by eight after one quarter before putting it on Ravenna Esperides in a 26-13 second quarter. In the second half, Dynamo turned up the defense, allowing just 18 points (while scoring 18 as well) to hold on for the 60-52 win and a 135-126 aggregate outcome. Janell Burse was excellent for Dynamo, scoring 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting (including a rare three-pointer) and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line, pulling down 12 rebounds and blocking four shots. Marina Kuzina added 19 and that was all the scoring Dynamo needed in holding Ravenna Esperides to 30.0 percent shooting.
The news was not as positive in France, where Tarbes Bigorre Elite returned home needing to overcome a nine-point deficit from playing at Cras Basket Taranto. Tarbes led 22-10 after one quarter, but from then on it was all Taranto, which came up with a 73-69 win to eliminate Tarbes by 13 combined points. Tanisha Wright put up 17 points and five assists in the losing effort, but Tarbes struggled to stop Suzy Batkovic (20 points, seven rebounds) and was hurt at the free-throw line. Taranto made 20-of-21 free-throw attempts, while Tarbes was 11-of-18 from the charity stripe.
Athinaikos and Dynamo advance to the quarterfinals. Athinaikos will play Kursk Dynamo, while Moscow takes on Serbian side ZKK Hemofarm Vrsac. The EuroCup takes next week off before the next round of aggregate play starts on Thursday, Feb. 19 with both Athinaikos and Dynmo heading out on the road.
In case you haven’t been visiting WNBA.com (and, praytell, why not?), a quick roundup of several announcements around the league this week.
- The 2009 WNBA Draft will be held on Thursday, April 9. After a couple of years at the location of the Final Four (and the day after the NCAA Championship game), the draft is moving back to Secaucus, N.J. and there will be one day in between the game and the draft to allow any prospects involved to get to the league’s TV studios. The Storm will be picking 12th overall in the first round and also holds the 38th pick in the third round (the penultimate selection), having traded its second-round pick to Atlanta for Camille Little (a move that looks even better in hindsight given the tough time second-rounders will have making 11-player rosters).
- The league also announced the 2009 All-Star Game will be played at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena on Saturday, July 25 and televised on ABC. While some teams will have an abbreviated All-Star Weekend this year, All-Star fits neatly into a five-day break for the Storm between the July 22 home date with Los Angeles and a visit to San Antonio on July 28. The timing is also nice in that the Storm will play 17 games before the All-Star break and 17 afterward.
- Speaking of July 22, it will be Lisa Leslie’s last regular-season visit to KeyArena. The Sparks fixture and Storm rival announced yesterday that 2009 will be her last WNBA season. Note that I say last regular-season visit given the teams have squared off in the postseason three times in the last seven years. Los Angeles also visits on Friday, June 26.
- Lastly, the WNBA announced today that the use of replay by officials will be expanded this season to allow the league’s referees to review whether shots are twos or threes and to look at the clock in the case of malfunctions at the end of quarters or games. These changes were both instituted in the NBA for the 2008-09 season.
The Storm will have center Kelly Santos on the roster for training camp after the restricted free agent agreed to a training-camp contract with the team.
Santos played in 22 games for the Storm last season, averaging 2.1 points and 1.3 rebounds. A three-year WNBA veteran, Santos also represented Brazil in Beijing, her third career appearance in the Olympics.
Here’s our 2008 Santos Season in Review, including a photo gallery.
(Photo by Aaron Last/Storm Photos)
Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day! This is the 23rd annual NGWSD since the initiative was first chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1986. It honors female athletic achievement and recognizes the positive influence of sports participation for girls and women.
Here at storm.wnba.com, we’ve recognized the day in a couple of ways. After Saturday’s Winter Warm-Up event, I was fortunate to have the three members of Force 10 Hoops L.L.C. in attendance (Lisa Brummel, Ginny Gilder and Anne Levinson) join me for a StormCast roundtable recounting their own experiences as college athletes in the era just after Title IX, how that has shaped their lives and professional careers and what the Storm means as role models for future generations.
Also, we’re using today to kick off our National Girls and Women in Sports Day Essay Contest. You have until Feb. 28 to submit your essay addressing the question: “How have girls’ and women’s athletics impacted my life?” Gilder and Storm Assistant Coach Shelley Patterson, along with essay judges from the Storm organization, will score the entries. This is your chance to win game tickets, a personalized Storm jersey, be recognized on-court prior to a Storm game and have your essay featured on storm.wnba.com, plus other great prizes.
Elsewhere, WNBA players share their thoughts on National Girls and Women in Sports Day with WNBA.com.
Tia Jackson addresses the crowd. /Storm Photos
A record crowd of more than 350 Storm Season Ticket Holders filled the East Gym of Hec Edmundson Pavilion Saturday for the Storm’s annual Winter Warm-Up Event bringing together the Storm and UW Women’s Basketball. They heard from a variety of guest speakers, including UW Head Coach Tia Jackson; Lisa Brummel, Ginny Gilder and Anne Levinson from the Storm’s ownership group, Force 10 Hoops L.L.C.; CEO Karen Bryant; and Head Coach Brian Agler, who offered the latest on the Storm’s plan as the 2009 roster is built via free agency.
The program concluded with a raffle for 10 items, highlighted by a t-shirt and Perfect Storm poster signed by the entire 2008 roster. Afterward, Season Ticket Holders made their way to watch the Husky women give Arizona State a tough fight behind a 29-point effort from guard Sami Whitcomb.
Other highlights included:
- A surprise appearance from Phoenix Mercury GM Ann Meyers Drysdale, calling the UW-Arizona State game for FSN. Meyers Drysdale was (jokingly) hexed and told to keep away from Storm free agent Lauren Jackson.
- Brummel leading the Season Ticket Holders in chants of “Go Storm!” and “Go Huskies!”
- An impromptu group “Happy Birthday” to Levinson, a four-year-old fan and a Storm employee.
- Standing ovations for the ownership group and Agler.
- Fans having the chance to videotape their favorite memories as part of the Storm’s 10th Anniversary celebration (stay tuned for this opportunity at future events).
- Make sure you’re invited to future exclusive Storm events by becoming a Season Ticket Holder.
Three Season Ticket Holders share their memories. /Storm Photos
A full house listens attentively /Storm Photos
Again, a light weekend of Storm action with the major teams busy with the Euroleague postseason, so just three games involving Storm players.
Another day, another Greek A1 League win for Athinaikos. This weekend, Athinaikos improved to 17-0 by blowing by Panionios 89-63. Katie Gearlds paced Athinaikos with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting and seven rebounds in 30 minutes of work before calling it a night. Panionios got 16 points and nine assists from Seattle native Lindsey Wilson, while one-time Storm center Tye’sha Fluker had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Kelly Santos was hampered by foul trouble in a 59-50 Cadi La Seu loss to Celta Indepo on Friday. Santos picked up five fouls in just under 24 minutes of action. She scored 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting when she was on the floor.
In Ireland, Kristen O’Neill’s 23 points led UL Aughnish to a 62-39 win over DART Killester. The Aughnish outscored Killester 31-11 after halftime to improve to 9-2, tied for second in the Irish Superleague.
The Storm’s decision Saturday to waive guard Sheryl Swoopes came down to maintaining flexibility. Swoopes’ contract called for her 2009 salary to become guaranteed if she was on the roster on Feb. 1, forcing the Storm to make a decision on her future in the midst of putting together a complicated free-agent puzzle with multiple moving pieces.
With Swoopes’ salary on the cap, the Storm would have limited its options in addressing other needs in free agency.
“It was a very tough decision to release Sheryl,” explained Storm Head Coach Brian Agler in a statement. “Our free agency priorities right now are to secure depth both at the post and point guard positions.”
The Storm continues to negotiate to re-sign incumbent starting posts Lauren Jackson and Yolanda Griffith while also attempting to secure Janell Burse’s return to the WNBA after she decided to sit out the 2008 season. The additional flexibility makes it possible for the Storm to retain all three players while also looking to add depth at the point-guard position behind All-Star Sue Bird.
Agler was appreciative of what Swoopes brought to the Storm during her season in Seattle.
“We were fortunate to be able to add Sheryl to our roster last year as her leadership and experience were a key part of our 22-win season. We are thankful for her contributions to the Storm on and off the court and wish her the best as she moves on to the next step in her career.”