Storm Tracker (Jul. 28-Aug. 3)

Jackson - 19.5
Bird – 10.5
Vodichkova - 9.0
Bevilaqua – 8.5
Brondello - 7.0
Jackson - 16.0
Bevilaqua – 6.0
Lassiter - 4.0
Edwards - 3.5
Bird - 3.0
Bird - 6.0
Jackson - 2.0
Vodichkova - 1.5

July 28-August 3
Record for the week: 1-1
Overall Record: 14-11
Standing: tied 3rd, Western Conference

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Charlotte 28 26 54
at Storm 36 33 69
Storm Coach Anne Donovan got the chance to go for the sweep against her former team on Thursday. The game was not as emotional as the Storm’s visit to Charlotte a month earlier, in part because it was the second visit and in part because both teams – 13-10 and fighting for playoff positioning – needed the win. The Storm’s Lauren Jackson dominated Charlotte’s smaller front line early, scoring nine points and drawing three fouls as Seattle took a 14-6 lead. Charlotte coach Trudi Lacey switched to a zone, and it succeeded in slowing down Jackson, but she still had 13 points as the Storm took an eight-point lead to the half. After halftime, the Sting’s zone became downright stifling. A 16-3 run gave Charlotte a five-point lead, and the Storm couldn’t find any offense. Enter Tully Bevilaqua. The Storm’s reserve guard tied the game at 46-all with a three, and the home team never looked back in a game-ending 28-8 run that turned a close game into an easy 69-54 victory. Bevilaqua had 12 of those points, and the other key figure was Jackson. She finished with 23 points, but more impressive was her work on the boards – 20 rebounds, a career high and franchise record and only the eighth time in WNBA history that any player has grabbed that many or more. Jackson’s 20-20 was the fifth in league history, with only three other players accomplishing the feat. Guard Dawn Staley led the Sting with a season-high 16 points.

Saturday, Aug. 2, 2003

Storm 27 44 71
at Minnesota 29 44 73
Big players make big shots, and they don’t come much bigger than Katie Smith’s baseline runner as time expired on Saturday against the Storm. Smith’s jumper rattled twice and fell to give the Lynx a 73-71 victory, a tie with the Storm in the playoff race in the West, and ownership of the tiebreaker with them. The Storm looked to have a good chance to force overtime when Sue Bird went the length of the court to score with 2.6 seconds left and tie the game before Smith’s shot, but had no such luck in a game that had been back-and-forth in the second half, with neither team leading by more than four. In the first half, the Storm had a tough time scoring but still kept the game close, trailing by just two at halftime. Seattle found its offense, scoring 44 points in the second half, but was unable to keep Minnesota from answering most of its scores – with the last answer the decisive one. Bird finished with a team-high 17 points, while Jackson had her streak of seven straight games of 20 or more points halted when she ended up with just 16. She did net a double-double, pulling down a team-high 12 boards. Minnesota center Janell Burse, recently inserted in the starting lineup, bettered Jackson with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Player of the Week

G Tully Bevilaqua
8.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, 5-8 shooting, 3-4 threes

Despite Jackson’s phenomenal effort against the Storm, most players and the media were quick after the game to give the credit for the victory to Bevilaqua. When she entered the game with 10:57 to play, the Storm trailed 46-41 and was struggling. Shortly thereafter, Bevilaqua made a three to tie the game at 46. She stayed in the game the remainder of the way – scoring nine more points to set a new career high with 14 – and when the final buzzer sounded, the Storm had won by 15 points – 69-54. In the 12 minutes Bevilaqua played, the Storm outscored Charlotte 34-11; when she was out, the Sting outscored the Storm by eight points. That’s typical of a player who has one of the best plus-minus ratings on the Storm so far this season. Bevilaqua’s defense always sparks both the KeyArena crowd and her teammates. When she’s the team’s second-leading scorer, that’s a welcome bonus.

Weekly Happenings

Bird led the Storm against Minnesota with 17 points.
Rocky Widner/WNBAE/Getty
Lassiter for the Defense
Starting small forward Amanda Lassiter continued her strong defensive effort last week. Lassiter – with help from Brondello, amongst others – limited the Sting’s leading scorer, small forward Allison Feaster, to just three points – ten below her season average. While Smith had 15 points for the Lynx, she did not shoot well under Lassiter’s defense, making just six of 18 field-goal attempts. Since Lassiter replaced injured Adia Barnes in the starting lineup, Storm opponents have shot just 40.1% from the field. That mark, if carried through a full season, would place the Storm fourth in the WNBA in that category.

Road Woes
By winning at home and losing on the road, the Storm continued a trend they’ve followed much of the season – success at home, struggles on the road. The Storm is 9-2 at home, having won its last six games at KeyArena in a row. Away games have been a different story – the Storm has lost four straight road games and is just 5-9 overall. Seattle’s last road win against a Western Conference opponent was June 19 against the Los Angeles Sparks, with five straight losses since then. What has been the difference? A look at the statistics may provide some answers.

Home/Road Breakdown:

Home Road Total
PPG 74.9 66.6 70.3
FG% .455 .421 .436
PPG allowed 60.9 70.4 66.2
FG% allowed .377 .448 .416

What is obvious is that the difference extends team-wide, to both ends of the court. Few players have gone unaffected; by the WNBA’s Efficiency Rating system, Bevilaqua is the only Storm player to have played better on the road than at home.

From the points per game statistics, it is not immediately evident whether offense or defense has been more problematic on the road. Using field goal percentage, however, makes this clear. While the Storm’s field goal percentage has dropped 34 points, the field goal percentage the team allows jumps by a remarkable 71 points. To illustrate the magnitude of this difference, the 37.7% field goal percentage opponents shoot in KeyArena would top the WNBA, while the 44.8% they shoot at their home courts would rank the Storm 13th in the league in opponent field goal percentage. A deeper look at the Storm’s defense home and away seems to be in order:

Home Road
2PT% .393 .472
3PT% .327 .360
FT% .703 .724
SPG 6.0 7.6
BPG 4.4 3.4
FTAPG 13.5 19.4
3PAPG 14.5 12.5

While the Storm’s defensive statistics are better almost across the board on the road – with the notable and unusual exception of steals per game (and opponents turnovers, which are not included) – the biggest difference is clearly in two-point percentage. While opponents are shooting better from beyond the three-point line on the road, they’ve been dramatically better inside of it. Some clues for why this is happening are provided by the free throws and three-pointers attempted. Clearly, the Storm’s opponents are taking the ball to the hole more on the road, being rewarded with both free throw attempts and easier shot opportunities. That would seem probable to produce more blocks for the Storm, but instead they’ve blocked less shots on the road. Interior defense looks like the place the Storm needs to focus its efforts to improve its road performance.

The Week Ahead

Wed, Aug. 6 Los Angeles Sparks 7:00 p.m. KeyArena (tickets) 950 KJR AM
Fri, Aug. 8 Minnesota Lynx 7:00 p.m. KeyArena (tickets) 950 KJR AM

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