Storm Tracker (June 23-29)

Jackson - 16.0
Brondello - 12.5
Bird – 11.0
Vodichkova – 10.5
Edwards - 8.0
Edwards - 7.0
Vodichkova – 6.0
Bird - 5.0
Jackson - 5.0
Lassiter - 3.0
Bird - 11.5
Brondello - 2.0
Lassiter - 2.0

June 23-29
Record for the week: 1-1
Overall Record: 7-6
Standing: tied 2nd, Western Conference

Friday, June 27, 2003

Storm 39 32 71
at Cleveland 29 30 59
Despite having four days off after drilling the San Antonio Silver Stars 93-53, the Storm was still able to carry over its momentum in the first of a three-game road trip in Cleveland. The Storm raced out to early leads of 6-0, 14-6 and 24-11 and never looked back in a 71-59 victory that wasn’t as close as the final score would suggest. The Storm never really had a major, sustained run, but kept building its lead throughout the first half. It bulged as large as 15 points late in the half, and Lauren Jackson was a major reason why. The 6-5 Aussie had sixteen first half points, making a terrific seven of her 10 shots from the field. With six and a half minutes left in the first half, Jackson alone had nearly outscored the Rockers, with the latter holding a slim 20-16 margin. In the second half, the Rockers rolled out a zone that succeeded in slowing Jackson – she did not score after halftime – but did little to the Storm as a team. Seattle’s lead was still 52-38 when Jackson was removed, not to return again, at the 10:51 mark. The Storm’s offense slowed down after building the lead to 20 at 65-45, allowing the Rockers to make things somewhat interesting, but they eventually succumbed to defeat. A balanced Storm attack saw three players score double-figures and two more score nine apiece. Sue Bird was brilliant on the fast break, tying her career-high by handing out 12 assists. With 11 points and seven rebounds, she wasn’t far from her first career triple-double. Chasity Melvin led the Rockers with 15 points.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Storm 43 27 70
at Indiana 42 37 79
The Storm received a devastating blow before tipoff in Indiana when Jackson was ruled out with a sore right foot. Replacing any starter is tough, but for Jackson – who leads the WNBA in scoring and the Storm in rebounds and blocks – it was near impossible. For a half, the Storm was able to run with the Fever in a wild, up-tempo game. This time it was another Australian delivering a first-half barrage, guard Sandy Brondello, who missed her first shot and then made her next eight for a Storm-record 19 first-half points. Behind Brondello, the Storm pulled out of a half-long deficit to take a 43-42 lead to the locker room. Unfortunately, like Jackson, Brondello went scoreless in the second half as the Fever aggressively defended her away from the ball. With Bird and Kamila Vodichkova struggling with their shots – both made four of 11 attempts – that left the Storm rather punchless. An 11-0 run gave the Fever the lead, and they maintained it between six and 14 the rest of the way. The Storm could never find a run of its own in the second half, falling 79-70. Bird was the offensive star again for the Storm, handing out 11 assists and scoring 11 points. Simone Edwards effectively replaced Jackson, recording a double-double, while Brondello finished with 19. The Fever had more scoring, with four starters – Tamika Catchings (20), Natalie Williams (18), Kristen Rasmussen (14) and Niele Ivey (12) in double-figures.

Player of the Week

F/C Simone Edwards
8.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 7-11 fg, 2-2 ft

With Jackson out of the lineup against the Fever, Edwards did her best to lessen the blow. After starting the game slowly, which Storm play-by-play announcer David Locke attributed to nerves, Edwards settled down and had her best game of the season. It wasn’t enough to pull out a victory, but Edwards certainly wasn’t the reason for that. Though Edwards is not scoring as much this season playing fewer minutes with the addition of Burras, she’s maintained her rebound average and ranks in the league’s top fifteen in boards per minute. Despite having her minutes cut, Edwards has uttered nary a word of complaint and continues to work hard as a key part of one of the league’s better benches. When she does get a chance to start, like last Saturday, Edwards makes the most of it.

Weekly Happenings

Burras scored double-figures for the second straight game against Cleveland.
Nick Hura/WNBAE/Getty
All About Assists
With Bird recording a pair of double-doubles last week and continuing to lead the WNBA in assists, STORM.WNBA.COM takes this week to put Bird’s performances over the last two seasons in the perspective of history.

Double Your Pleasure
Prior to Bird’s arrival last season, no Storm player had ever recorded 10 or more assists in a game. and Michelle Marciniak held the franchise record with eight assists on Aug. 4, 2001 against the Los Angeles Sparks. Last season, Bird had four double-digit assists games. Less than halfway through the 2003 season, Bird has already surpassed that mark with five games in double-digits. Oddly, two of Bird’s three career-high 12-assist games have been recorded at Gund Arena against the Cleveland Rockers. Two of her 11-assist games have come in the games immediately following those games at Cleveland. All nine games:

12@ Cleveland6/27/03
12@ Los Angeles6/19/03
12@ Cleveland7/5/02
11@ Indiana6/28/03
11@ Miami7/7/02
12@ Orlando7/25/02
10@ Houston5/22/03
10@ Los Angeles8/1/02

Just a handful of other WNBA players have had double-figure assists games so far this season, and nobody else has as many as Bird’s five. The complete list:

Ticha Penicheiro14Phoenix5/30
Nikki Teasley13@ New York6/14
Nikki Teasley11Indiana6/12
Shannon Johnson10Cleveland6/18
Shannon Johnson10@ Indiana6/20
Ticha Penicheiro10Indiana6/14
Dawn Staley10@ Detroit5/31
Dawn Staley10@ Indiana6/17
Sheryl Swoopes10Phoenix6/13
Nikki Teasley10Minnesota6/10

No Home Cooking
You may have noticed that eight of Bird’s nine games with 10 or more assists have come on the road. While most players average more assists at home, both because their teams make more baskets and scorekeepers are a little more generous with assists for their players, Bird has not. This season, Bird has averaged 8.7 assists per game on the road and just 6.7 at home. For comparison’s sake, and Ticha Penicheiro, who is second to Bird in assist average this season, has averaged 7.5 assists at home and 6.0 on the road.

Move Over, Ticha
Bird currently leads the WNBA with a 7.8 apg average. If she were to maintain this pace, she would both dethrone Penicheiro after she has led the league in assists five straight seasons, but also join her with one of the top assist seasons of all time. The top all-time seasons:

Ticha Penicheiro20028.0
Ticha Penicheiro20007.9
Sue Bird20037.8
Ticha Penicheiro20017.5
Ticha Penicheiro19987.5
Ticha Penicheiro19997.1

Career Leaders
Talking about Bird’s career is, alas, probably a bit premature. After all, she’s played fewer than 50 games total thus far. Still, Bird currently ranks amongst the WNBA’s leaders in career assists per game. The top five:

Ticha PenicheiroSacramento7.5
Sue BirdSeattle6.5
Teresa WeatherspoonNew York6.1
Dawn StaleyCharlotte5.6
Nikki TeasleyLos Angeles4.9

The Week Ahead

Mon, June 30 Charlotte Sting 4:00 p.m. Charlotte Coliseum 950 KJR AM
Thu, July 3 Washington Mystics 7:00 p.m. KeyArena (tickets) 950 KJR AM
Sat, July 5 Los Angeles Sparks 7:30 p.m. STAPLES CENTER 950 KJR AM

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