The Storm reached the All-Star break with last night’s 73-55 victory over the San Antonio Silver Stars. Here’s what they’re saying.
Jayda Evans writes in the Seattle Times that the Storm set the tone for the win by playing physical basketball in the paint, starting with Le’coe Willingham.
Willingham, who was scoreless in the team’s previous two games, got six points off the bench in the second quarter. She was replaced in the starting lineup for a second consecutive game by center Ashley Robinson.
“It had a lot to do with Brian calling me out and the post players out, telling us we need to get in there and fight for position and ask for the ball,” said Willingham, who helped Seattle outscore San Antonio 30-20 inside. “My teammates saw me and I finally got (the shots) to go down. We’re at our best when we play inside-out, so we made an effort as a team to sprint down and seal and keep sealing.”
On her blog, Evans has an update on the rehabilitation of Storm star Lauren Jackson.
“I’m good,” she said. “Obviously for me I want to get back out there as soon as possible, but in saying that, they’re monitoring everything really closely. All signs are very positive for a early return.”
Jackson, who ranks fourth all-time in WNBA points scored, can run in a pool, which she said is a bit ahead of schedule. She also feels better when walking around rather than sitting for long periods, supposedly another good indicator.
In the Everett Herald, Aaron Lommers credits the performance of Tanisha Wright, who helped the Storm start the second half strong.
The Storm picked up where they left off in the third quarter, starting the half on an 8-0 run.
“It started with Tanisha,” Bird said. “She got those quick steals and we were able to score off of them. Our 14 point lead turned into 20 and we were feeling good and just rode it out from there.”
Nate Parham talked about the Storm’s defensive effort on SB Nation Seattle.
‘I thought they were extremely tough-minded defensively and physical,” said Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes. “They really congested the paint.”
With the paint congested, the game pretty went the opposite direction of the two teams’ meeting last Thursday.
The Storm out-rebounded the Silver Stars 37-26 and nobody on the Silver Stars had more than three rebounds. Struggling to establish themselves in the paint, the Silver Stars retreated to the perimeter but weren’t much more successful there. San Antonio shot just 27.1 percent from the field during the game, a season-low for Storm opponents.
ESPNW has a nice story about the bond felt between Australian players in the WNBA, including current Storm players Jackson and Belinda Snell and a host of former Storm players like Tully Bevilaqua.
Before Jackson underwent surgery June 30 to repair the torn labrum in her left hip, her game-day routine started with her lacing up shoes with an Australian flag stenciled on, and a solo shootaround on the court 2½ hours before tipoff, with INXS blasting through the PA system.
It may be why Jackson calls Seattle her favorite city outside Australia. They do try. On day one with the Storm in 2001, Jackson was picked up by a limo in which a song by Savage Garden, a Brisbane boy band, was playing.
And you’ll want to check out Meri-Jo Borzilleri’s piece for ESPNW on Sue Bird being at the top of her game as one of the league’s top players and the world’s best point guard.
“Doing the point guard stuff gives me way more satisfaction, because not everybody can do that,” Bird said. “I don’t know. There’s just not a lot of point guards out there.”
Fewer still are of Bird’s caliber.
“When I think about Sue Bird, I think about a person who’s perfectly suited, by temperament and personality, to play the point guard position,” Burke said. “She is confident enough to have the ball in her hands at crucial moments and make all the right decisions, but humble enough to not need the spotlight and to make sure she’s putting the people around her in the best position possible.”
For more Bird, she answered questions on the All-Star experience and more for ESPNW.
2. What does this weekend mean for you?
It means a lot to be selected but it really is a celebration for the fans. It’s a chance to have the league’s best on display and hopefully put on a good show. For me, I also like catching up with the other players and playing with them.
Also on ESPNW, columnists made their picks for the Top 15 Players in WNBA History, to be announced during halftime of Saturday’s All-Star Game. Bird, Jackson and Katie Smith were all unanimous votes, while Swin Cash was selected by Mechelle Voepel.