Spartak Moscow Region completed a sweep of its semifinal series in the Russian Superleague Playoffs on Sunday, defeating Kursk Dynamo 92-69 in Game 2 of their series. Kursk was within striking distance at home after three quarters, trailing 67-57, but Spartak clamped down and allowed just 12 points in the final period to win going away.
Pokey Chatman was able to limit her starters’ minutes. Sue Bird saw 23 minutes of action, scoring six points and handing out seven assists. Diana Taurasi scored a game-high 21 points in as many minutes, knocking down four three-pointers. Irina Osipova came off the bench to contribute 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The big surprise in Russia is that UMMC Ekaterinburg will need to win a deciding third game against Nadezhda after falling at home in Game 1, 77-76. Ekaterinburg got back on track yesterday with a blowout Game 2 win, 94-66, but will have to win Wednesday to set up an anticipated finals matchup against rested Spartak.
Storm forward Swin Cash spent the weekend back in Connecticut, participating in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team training camp. A week’s worth of practices concluded with a scrimmage open to the public yesterday.
“It’s very important,” Cash said of the last USA Basketball extended training before the roster is chosen for this summer’s World Championship. “Not only for us and for what we want to do moving forward, obviously we have the World Championship coming up, but as you saw, there was a lot of young talent out there today. When you set the tone for them, they’ll understand as they go through the USA Basketball program what the expectations are for the level of play and how high the intensity level has to be. I think it’s great for them. It’s great for the coaching staff. At the end of the day we all got a good result out of this.”
With many U.S. players like Bird busy overseas, Cash was one of the veterans in camp, but playing for Geno Auriemma reminded her of the basics of the game she learned at UConn, she told the Hartford Courant in a feature article.
A few other Storm articles to check out. First, Lauren Jackson talks about her offseason to The Border Mail while at home in Albury, Australia. (HT: RebKell)
“I’m looking forward to the WNBA, I feel like I’ve been a bit spoiled, I’ve been home and having the time of my life, I’ve really missed being home and I don’t want to leave at all but I am looking forward to getting back to Seattle.
“I just feel fit and I feel very strong at the moment, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt this strong in my career before.”
Next up for Jackson is an Opals training camp before she arrives in Seattle at the start of May.
SwishAppeal checked in with a pair of stories about new Storm backup point guards. Contributor freelantz spoke with Alison Lacey’s coach at Iowa State, Bill Fennelly, about Lacey’s development and how she will fit in Seattle.
“For Aus to be picked by in my mind [by] the perfect team [is] the perfect situation for her,” he said. “Great coach, great organization and she’ll get to play with the best point guard in the world, Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, her fellow Australian.”
And Q McCall took a look at what the addition of Loree Moore means for the Storm.
As important as (Shannon) Johnson was to the Storm last season as a veteran presence, Moore was a far more productive distributor last season with the Liberty. While neither was an aggressive scorer, Moore was by far the more trustworthy ball handler in terms of both pure point rating and turnover percentage and had an assist rate that was closer to average among distributors in the league. Defensively, Moore is known for her defensive ability and although she has not made an All-Defensive team in the last two years, last season her defensive numbers — never perfect metrics — were among the best of any point guard.