Storm Tracker (June 16-22)

Jackson – 20.3
Bird - 12.0
Brondello – 10.5
Vodichkova – 10.0
Edwards - 4.5
Jackson - 9.3
Barnes - 4.0
Vodichkova - 3.3
Bird - 3.0
Edwards - 2.8
Bird - 7.3
Vodichkova - 3.0
Williams - 2.0

June 16-22
Record for the week: 3-1
Overall Record: 6-5
Standing: 2nd, Western Conference

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Storm 36 25 61
at Phoenix 35 25 60
The Storm opened its three-game road trip with the Mercury, looking for its second victory of the season over Phoenix, the West’s last-place team. Early on, it looked like the Storm might start the trip with an easy win. Backup guard Tully Bevilaqua, in because Sue Bird went to the sidelines with cramps, nailed a pair of three-pointers to spark a 15-0 Seattle run that gave the Storm an early 18-6 lead. The Mercury, as it usually does, refused to quit on the game, and when guard Anna DeForge got hot from the perimeter late in the first half, the game got tight again, with the Storm taking just a one-point lead to the half. Things stayed just as tight in the second half, with neither side leading by more than four points the entire half. That lead was 58-54 for the Storm with four minutes left after a critical Bird three, but the Mercury answered with DeForge hitting a three, one of two free throws and finally a jumper to put Phoenix ahead 60-59 at the 2:54 mark. Neither side scored for the next two and a half minutes, with the Mercury sending Lauren Jackson to the free throw line with 24 seconds to play. Jackson hit both shots, and it was hang-on time for the Storm. Phoenix’s Adrian Williams missed a shot with four seconds left, and a jump ball was the result of the ensuing battle for the ball. Storm Coach Anne Donovan instructed guard Sandy Brondello to throw the tip, gambling that the Mercury – without a timeout – would be unable to get off a good shot in the final four seconds. That proved correct, as the Mercury’s Tamicha Jackson missed a long three at the buzzer to allow the Storm to escape with a 61-60 victory. Jackson carried the Storm on a day when the rest of the team shot just 13-for-36, finishing with 23 points and 10 rebounds. DeForge set her career high for the second straight time against the Storm, netting 22 points to lead the Mercury.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Storm 42 27 69
at Los Angeles 32 35 67
With the Mercury out of the way, the Storm could get down to business in the game they might have been looking ahead to – Thursday evening’s nationally-televised clash with the arch-rival Los Angeles Sparks. Revenge provided additional motivation for the Storm after they lost to the Sparks in the home opener last month, though Seattle didn’t have the chance to hand the Sparks their first loss after Detroit ended the Sparks 9-0 run a game earlier. Nonetheless, the Storm came out motivated and got off to a fast start behind the shooting of three players in particular, guards Bird and Brondello and center Kamila Vodichkova. All three players were in double-digits at the half, as the Storm held a 10-point lead. Seattle started the second half with the intent of adding to the lead, and built it as large as 58-40 after a Brondello jumper at the 14:15 mark. An LA run was almost inevitable. Seven unanswered points got the Sparks within 10 at 62-53, and Los Angeles clamped down defensively at the four-minute mark, holding the Storm scoreless for nearly all four minutes. A score by rookie Shaquala Williams made it a 67-65 game with 36 seconds left, but the Storm had the answer in the form of Brondello. Her jumper put the Storm up four with ten seconds left. Despite Brondello missing two free throws with three seconds left, the Sparks never got a shot to tie or win and the Storm held on for a 69-65 victory, perhaps its biggest of the season. Brondello finished with a season-high 21 points on terrific nine for 14 shooting, shaking off a poor night against Phoenix. Bird (15 and a season-high 12 assists), Jackson (15 and nine rebounds) and Vodichkova (14) joined her to put four Storm players in double figures. The Sparks got 21 points from Lisa Leslie and 17 from Tamecka Dixon, but Sparks All-Star Mwadi Mabika connected on just one of nine attempts.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Storm 32 32 64
at Sacramento 30 39 69
The Storm headed to Sacramento looking for a rarity in the WNBA’s Western Conference – a three-game sweep on the road. To get that, the Storm would have to beat a Monarchs team starting to come together after a slow start to the season thanks to the renewed dominance of center Yolanda Griffith. While the Storm played hard and took the game down to the wire again, it was not enough to win. Behind the dominant play of Jackson, who had 12 first-half points, the Storm led most of the way early, extending the lead to as many as seven points. By the half, however, the Monarchs had caught the Storm for a 30-30 tie. The second half saw each team put together runs. The Monarchs led with a 7-0 run early in the half. After an effective timeout, Donovan got her team under control and it saw Sacramento and raised it with a 12-2 run of its own. The Monarchs had the final run, a 9-0 effort that spanned 3:21 and effectively put the game away. The Storm got back within four, but no closer in a 69-65 loss. The culprit was offensive rebounds, with Sacramento getting 14 second-chance opportunities. Griffith led the Monarchs in that regard, grabbing 12 rebounds to go with her 22 points. The Storm also got just four points of production from its bench, meaning Jackson’s 19 points and nine rebounds went for naught.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

San Antonio 27 26 53
at Storm 42 51 93
Though the Storm returned to KeyArena 2-1 on its trip, the team was not satisfied. Donovan made sure of that by laying into her players post-game, exhorting them to bring a better effort in the second game of a back-to-back against the San Antonio Silver Stars. Mission accomplished. The Silver Stars were never in a game that was undoubtedly the Storm’s finest performance of the season, and possibly the best in team history. The game wasn’t that close in the early second half before getting out of hand during an 18-0 Storm run that precipitated heavy substitutions by both sides. This time, the Storm’s bench acquitted itself well. Four out of six bench players beat their season highs in the extended playing time, and the Storm pushed the lead to 40 and broke its franchise record for points in a game with 93. Every player on the Storm roster scored, while San Antonio’s leading scorer, guard Marie Ferdinand, was held scoreless. Jackson was the key player for the Storm, scoring 24 points and grabbing nine rebounds in just 22 minutes of action before heading to the bench for good. To demonstrate how much of a team effort the game was, Jackson and backup center Alisa Burras (12) were the only Storm players to score double-figures.

Player of the Week

F Lauren Jackson
20.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 3.0 bpg, 62.5% threes

The theme of the week for Jackson was consistency. While none of her four outings was as impressive as, say, her 27 points and 14 rebounds against the Mercury in KeyArena, each of her four outings was solid. Jackson continued her improved boardwork, grabbing at least nine rebounds in all four games, and had 19 points or better in three of four games. Come to think of it, her performance against the Silver Stars might have been just as impressive as any performance in her career, given it was done in just 22 minutes. Had Jackson played more, she might have threatened her career highs . . . but she’ll surely take the victory and some rest after averaging nearly 35 minutes in the first three games of the week. Additionally, Jackson picked it up on the defensive end of the court. After averaging just one block per game during the first seven games of the season, well off her 2.9 bpg pace of last season, she averaged three last week. As a result, Storm play-by-play announcer David Locke has begun publicly stumping for a “Lauren Jackson for Defensive Player of the Year” campaign. It’s a little early for awards campaigning, but Jackson will have an excellent case if she keeps it up on defense.

Weekly Happenings

Jackson's big week has put her amongst the WNBA's leaders.
Jeff Reinking/WNBAE/Getty
The power of the Sports Illustrated cover jinx is well known and accepted in the world of professional sports. Might something similar be at work with this very website? So far, four Storm players have been profiled in features – Kate Starbird, Burras, Adia Barnes and Brondello. Starbird, of course, was cut. While her 12-point effort against San Antonio may portend turning the corner, Burras has not yet found a comfort zone with the Storm. In the first two games after Barnes’ article was posted last Monday, she shot a combined 0-for-8 against Phoenix and Los Angeles. Brondello was coming off her 21-point effort against the Sparks when her article was posted. The result, inevitably, was missing her first seven shots against Sacramento. Brondello recovered to finish with 13 points, but the jinx definitely bears watching.

Storming the All-Star Game
Sunday night’s game was, alas, the last opportunity for Storm fans to vote for Bird, Jackson, Vodichkova and Burras to start this year’s All-Star Game in New York City. Today is the last day to vote on, so cast those final ballots for the Storm. As of the most recent returns, from last week, Bird led all West guards by nearly 14,000 votes; Jackson was fifth amongst West forwards, but a 13,000 vote margin back; Vodichkova ninth; and Burras fourth amongst West centers.

Check of the Leaderboard
A quick check of the WNBA’s league leaders so far reveals several Storm players dominating statistically. Jackson ranks a close second in the league in scoring average, at 19.36 ppg to Leslie’s 19.42. Jackson is fifth in rebounding (8.6 rpg), seventh in blocks (1.73 bpg) and second in the WNBA’s efficiency ranking. Bird continues to lead the WNBA in assists with 7.1 apg and is fifth in steals (1.73 spg) and free-throw percentage (.952). Brondello is ninth in three-point percentage at 47.4%, and Vodichkova is seventh in field-goal percentage (49.3%).

The Week Ahead

Fri, June 27 Cleveland Rockers 4:00 p.m. Gund Arena 950 KJR AM
Sat, June 28 Indiana Fever 5:00 p.m. Conseco Fieldhouse NBA TV & 950 KJR AM

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