Storm Tracker (Aug. 11-17)

Jackson - 23.0
Bird – 14.3
Brondello - 10.3
Lassiter – 7.7
Edwards - 7.0
Jackson - 13.0
Lassiter – 6.7
Edwards - 5.0
Bird - 3.0
Vodichkova - 3.0
Bird - 5.0
Brondello - 2.0
Edwards/Jackson - 1.7

August 11-17
Record for the week: 0-3
Overall Record: 16-14
Standing: 5th, Western Conference

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

San Antonio 43 44 87
at Storm 42 35 77
Trouble struck the Storm a little over seven minutes into its Tuesday game with the San Antonio Silver Stars. The Storm, looking for its third straight win, had opened up an early 17-12 lead when starting center Kamila Vodichkova came down awkwardly after blocking a Sylvia Crawley shot. During a timeout, Vodichkova limped off the court and into the locker room, not to return to the game. Vodichkova was off to a strong start, already scoring four points and three rebounds, and without her the Storm struggled to defend 7-2 San Antonio center Margo Dydek. Dydek promptly scored on the next two possessions as the Silver Stars came back to take the lead, which they took to halftime after point guard Jennifer Azzi scored five points in the final 43 seconds of the half. The two teams traded the lead much of the second half, culminating in a Lauren Jackson three-point play with 6:23 left to bring the Storm to within 69-68. Seattle did not score for the next 4:15, and while San Antonio was hardly lighting it up offensively, the Silver Stars were able to push their lead to seven. A layup by rookie Jung Sun-Min cut the margin to five points and the Storm regained position when Jung drew a charge on Dydek, but the Storm was unable to answer and was forced to foul with 53 seconds left. San Antonio ended any hope of a comeback with sharp shooting from the free-throw line, making all ten free-throw attempts in the final minute, six of them by Azzi, who made all eleven of her free-throw attempts en route to a season-high 18 points. The Silver Stars finished with a Storm-opponent-record 87 points in an 87-78 victory. Jackson led the Storm with perhaps the best game of her career. She finished with 32 points and 18 rebounds – both marks her second-best of her career – and made a franchise-record 14 free throws in 16 attempts.

Friday, Aug. 15, 2003

Storm 27 44 71
at Phoenix 29 44 73
Without Vodichkova, who was placed on the injured list, the Storm traveled to Phoenix looking for a sweep of the season series with the Mercury and, more importantly, a key win late in the season. While the Mercury entered the game just 6-23, the team had been playing well, nearly upsetting Los Angeles and Detroit within the last week. The first half saw the Mercury look a lot like a 6-23 team. The Storm built an early lead as large as 27-9 at the 9:21 mark, and looked to be cruising to a blowout victory. Just as in the team’s first visit to Phoenix, however, the Mercury reeled off its own run to get back in the game. A 17-5 run got Phoenix within six before the Storm pushed the lead back to ten at the half. The Storm then suffered through one of the most excruciating 20 minutes of basketball in franchise history. After shooting 52% in the first half, the Storm made just six of 36 attempts in the second half, scoring a season-half-low 14 points. With 3:50 to play, the Storm had scored just six points in the second half and was threatening the all-time half record of nine points. By that point, the Mercury had gone on a 24-6 run to go from down ten to up eight. Phoenix, like San Antonio, made its free throws, making the final even worse than most of the game had been – a 64-50 Mercury victory. The 50 points were a season low for the Storm, as was the team’s 31.1% shooting. Jackson scored 14 points and had eight rebounds, but had an off night, shooting 6-for-18 and having her streaks of double-doubles (seven, which had already tied the league record) and 15+points (27, two off the league record) broken. Bird added 14 points, but committed eight turnovers against just two assists. The Mercury’s backcourt dominated the game, with Tamicha Jackson and Anna DeForge combining for 39 points on 11-for-22 shooting.

Sunday, Aug. 17, 2003

Detroit 37 58 95
at Storm 45 41 86
Looking to snap a two-game losing streak, the Storm got a difficult opponent in the East-leading Detroit Shock. The Storm did get a break, however, with Rookie of the Year favorite Cheryl Ford missing the game because of a death in her family. The Storm jumped on the Ford-less Shock, which missed its first 12 shots and trailed 12-0 and 21-2 early. Detroit isn’t one of the league’s top teams for nothing, and mounted a comeback to get within eight points by halftime. The Storm looked to have things back under control taking a 55-43 lead almost four minutes into the second half. But the Shock kept coming offensively, with the Storm almost powerless to stop them. By the 7:51 mark, Detroit had taken the lead on a jumper by Barbara Farris. The Storm was at the time in the midst of a stretch of four straight turnovers, and the Shock took advantage of the opportunity to run the floor and extend the lead to five, forcing Storm Coach Anne Donovan to call a timeout. Detroit followed a pair of Seattle scores with nine unanswered points, and the Storm could not get the stops it needed to mount a comeback. Trailing 82-75 with 1:14 left, the Storm was again forced to play the fouling game, and again the strategy proved unsuccessful. Detroit scored 13 points in the final 74 seconds of the game to set Storm opponent records for points scored (95, breaking the five-day-old record set on Tuesday) and points in a half (58). Six Shock players scored in double-figures, led by 18 from Deanna Nolan, and center Ruth Riley had her first double-double of the season with 10 points and a career-high-tying 11 rebounds. Jackson had another fantastic effort for the Storm, finishing with 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Bird added 20 points and Edwards a season-high 16, but offense was not the team’s problem in this loss.

Player of the Week

F Amanda Lassiter
7.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.0 spg, 5-13 threes

With Vodichkova sidelined, the Storm’s other starters had to step up their performances. Amanda Lassiter answered that call, performing the role of third scorer at times over the last week. Lassiter also helped replace Vodichkova’s rebounding contributions, recording season-highs of eight rebounds in consecutive games. Lassiter’s 15-point effort against the Silver Stars was just off her season high of 16 points. As usual, Lassiter excelled at the defensive end of the court against a variety of different types of opponents, defending players at all three perimeter positions.

Weekly Happenings

Lassiter’s 36.8% shooting from three-point range is the best of her career.
Ron Hoskins/WNBAE/Getty
Playoff Picture
After losing three games last week, the Storm finds itself out of the playoff picture for the first time since the morning of June 7. At 16-14, the Storm is a half-game behind both the Minnesota Lynx and the Sacramento Monarchs, tied for the third seed. Still, the Storm controls its own destiny because it has the Monarchs left on its schedule in the finale (tickets). While that game is not literally a “must win” at this point, it would be extremely unlikely for the Storm to make the playoffs without beating Sacramento. Both the Lynx and the Monarchs have magic numbers of three, meaning any combination of three wins by the team and losses by the Storm would clinch a playoff spot. The Storm, then, has to win at least one of its next three games to make the finale meaningful. Sacramento plays twice between now and then (both games at home, against Houston and Phoenix). If the Monarchs win both, the Storm has to win out. If the Monarchs win one, the Storm has to win two of its next three games. Similar scenarios apply with the Lynx, although there is no head-to-head game remaining between the teams. Minnesota need only win out to clinch a playoff spot. If the Lynx take two of three, the Storm has to win out and so on.

Thanks in part to the lengthened season, several Storm season records have already fallen or are in danger of falling as the season winds down:

  • Jackson has blown by her own records for points (previously 482, now 620) and scoring average (previously 17.2) as well as rebounds (193, 261) and rebound average (6.8).
  • Bird broke her own season record for assists over the weekend (191, 198) and needs six assists to get the season average record (6.0).
  • On a more dubious note, Bird is 10 turnovers away from breaking her own season record (109) and needs 16 to top last season’s 3.4 topg average.
  • Jackson is currently tied with Edwards’ 2001 team record of 47.9% shooting from the field. Astute readers will note that Edwards actually shot better last season (53.2%), but she did not qualify for the record book.
  • Jackson has crushed her own records for field goals made (186, 225) and free throws made (104, 136)
  • As a team, the Storm needs just 58 points to break the team record for points scored, 2,130. With 196 points over the last four games, they would break the team record for scoring average, 68.4 ppg, set like most every team record a year ago.
  • Currently shooting 43.6% from the field, the Storm should easily beat last year’s 40.8% record.
  • The Storm is ten free throws away from besting the previous record of 418.
  • Led by Jackson, the Storm is 46 rebounds away from the team record of 995. It is 108 boards away from the per-game average record, previously 31.1 rpg.
  • Lastly, the Storm needs 29 assists to break the team mark of 514, and 62 to break the team per-game record of 16.1 apg.

    Injuries Add Up
    Vodichkova’s injury, diagnosed as a sprained left foot after an MRI, has her on crutches and will almost certainly sideline her the remainder of the regular season. Without Vodichkova and Adia Barnes, who was lost for the year in mid-July with a torn ACL, the Storm is without players who have accounted for 26.5% of its starts, 18.3% of its minutes, 17.5% of its points scored and 21.9% of its rebounds. The results have only confirmed Vodichkova’s importance to the team. The Storm’s records when various players are in or out of the lineup, whether by injury or coach’s decision:

    Barnes 9-7 7-7
    Bevilaqua 16-11 0-3
    Burras 13-10 3-4
    Jackson 16-13 0-1
    Jung 10-4 6-10
    Lassiter 16-12 0-2
    McCulley 2-4 14-10
    Vodichkova 16-12 0-2
    Williams 14-14 2-0

    The Week Ahead

    Tue, Aug. 19 Houston Comets 5:00 p.m. Compaq Center Oxygen & 950 KJR AM
    Wed, Aug. 20 San Antonio Silver Stars 5:30 p.m. SBC Center 950 KJR AM
    Sat, Aug. 23 Houston Comets 7:00 p.m. KeyArena (tickets) 950 KJR AM
    Mon, Aug. 25 Sacramento Monarchs 7:00 p.m. KeyArena (tickets) 950 KJR AM

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