Storm Tracker (June 2-8)

Jackson - 23.5
Brondello - 13.0
Vodichkova – 11.0
Bird – 6.0
Barnes - 5.5
Jackson - 13.5
Vodichkova - 6.0
Barnes - 4.5
Edwards - 4.0
Bird/Brondello - 3.5
Bird - 7.5
Vodichkova - 2.0
Brondello - 1.5

June 2-8
Record for the week: 2-0
Overall Record: 2-3
Standing: 4th, Western Conference

Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Sacramento 31 25 56
at Storm 32 38 70
Looking to snap a three-game losing streak to start the season, the Storm looked as if they’d have no better luck against the Monarchs early on. All-Star Sacramento guard Ticha Penicheiro put on an early clinic, turning heads with passes perfectly on the money to open players under the basket as Sacramento took the early lead. The Storm quickly rallied back, and the rest of the half was tightly contested, with the Storm taking a 32-31 lead to the locker room after Simone Edwards scored with seven seconds left. After halftime, Seattle took control with a 14-0 run catalyzed by a pair of Adia Barnes three-pointers, one from each side of the court. After the Storm’s run, the game changed complexions as the Monarchs attempted to slow it down and make it more physical. The referees responded with their whistles, attempting to reclaim control. At around the same time, the KeyArena shot clock began malfunctioning, leading to a lengthy delay. Still, the Storm persevered. Leading by at least seven the rest of the way, the Storm finished the 70-56 victory at the free-throw line. Lauren Jackson had a huge game of 22 points and 13 rebounds. Sandy Brondello added 14, while Kamila Vodichkova scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and held Monarchs All-Star Yolanda Griffith to 13 points. The Storm dominated the boards, outrebounding Sacramento 46-31, including 19 offensive rebounds. The Monarchs were also held to 28.1% shooting for the game, with the majority of their second-half offense coming at the line. Sue Bird played 31 minutes despite the pain in her left knee, but shot just 1-for-9 and committed eight turnovers.

Saturday, June 7, 2003

Phoenix 26 31 57
at Storm 33 33 66
After starting the season with games against Houston, San Antonio, Los Angeles and Sacramento, the 1-5 Phoenix Mercury looked like a welcome change of pace for the Storm. As expected, the Mercury put up a tough fight against the Storm, but couldn’t quite get within striking distance in a 66-57 Seattle victory. After an early burst by Phoenix, the Storm led comfortably most of the first half behind the offense of Brondello and Vodichkova. A late run provided a seven-point halftime lead. Just as in the team’s first two home games, the Storm put together a run just after halftime, with nine unanswered points pushing the lead to 14. Seattle still led by 12 when the Mercury made its run, using offensive rebounds and defensive pressure to get within 56-49 and force Anne Donovan to take a timeout at the five-minute mark. As throughout the second half, the Storm answered with Jackson, who sandwiched a three and a post score around two Bird free throws as Seattle secured victory. For the Storm, it was the best offensive output of the season despite scoring just 66 points. The team shot 48.2% from the field and 92.3% from the line while committing just 13 turnovers. Jackson paced the attack with 27 points, also adding 14 rebounds. Brondello (12) and Vodichkova (10) double-dipped in scoring again, while Bird continued to struggle with her shot but set up her teammates with 10 assists. The Mercury got 16 points off the bench from guard Anna DeForge, with leading scorer Adrian Williams held to 10 points by the Storm’s zone.

Player of the Week

F Lauren Jackson
24.5 ppg, 13.5 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 6-15 threes, one franchise record, two career-highs

Seeing as Jackson was named WNBA Player of the Week, this was not a difficult selection. Through the Storm’s first three games, Jackson had played well but had yet to dominate the way she is expected to. Then, Tuesday against Sacramento, Jackson had what she termed “the game”, scoring 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Jackson was also a force at the defensive end of the court, blocking three shots. Included was a crushing rejection of Penicheiro that helped slow Sacramento’s early momentum. If that was “the game”, what was Saturday’s even more dominant performance? To be fair, Jackson only dominated the second half, making just one shot – though she did grab eight rebounds. In the second half, Jackson went off to secure the Storm’s victory, scoring 22 of her career-high-tying 27 points and grabbing six more boards to tie the franchise’s record and set a new career high. It ranks, along with a 27-point, 7-rebound, 8-block effort against the Utah Starzz last August, as the best performance of Jackson’s career. In addition, during Saturday’s game Jackson became the youngest player in WNBA history (at 22 years, 26 days old) to score 1,000 career points.

Weekly Happenings

Brondello has been feeling it in the Key.
Jeff Reinking/WNBAE/Getty
Bird on the Mend
After sitting out the final minutes of the Storm’s home opener against the Sparks because of what was diagnosed as chondromalacia in her left knee, Bird was questionable to play against Sacramento. She gave it a go and was able to play nearly a full game, but was not her usual self. The injury has hurt Bird’s shooting stroke, possibly because she’s not getting as much lift on her jumper from her left leg. At the same time, Bird committed 12 turnovers over the Sacramento game and the first half of the Phoenix game. In the second half of that game, she effectively controlled the ball, handing out six assists and committing just one turnover. “In the first half I was trying a little too hard to do the things I normally do,” Bird told media afterwards, “but the second half I just played within myself and used my teammates and it really worked for us.” Bird did not practice last week in order to rest the knee, but has returned to practice this week. Aside from forward Danielle McCulley, who remains on the injured list, Bird’s injury is the only one for the Storm. Rookie forward Jung Sun-Min saw action in both of last week’s games.

Storm Dominates the Boards
The opening road trip’s rebounding problems, when the Storm was outrebounded by an average of eight rebounds per game, are now a distant memory. Seattle dominated the glass this week, grabbing 75 rebounds over the two games to opponents’ 54 boards. Jackson was the big key, pulling down half as many boards (27) as opponents did. Through five games, Jackson is fourth in the WNBA with a 9.4 rpg average, which would represent a dramatic improvement over her first two seasons. Jackson’s been supported on the boards by Barnes, who is second on the team with a 4.6 rpg average from her small forward position. Overall, the Storm has now passed its opponents in rebounding, outrebounding them 33.6-32.2 on average for the season.

Brondello Bringing It to Key
Storm shooting guard Brondello has played just three games at KeyArena, but already it seems to be an excellent home for her. Brondello struggled a bit with her shot on the Storm’s season-opening road trip, making seven of 24 attempts (29.2%). Wearing white instead of green, Brondello has lit it up, making 16 of 31 shots (51.6%) and averaging 12.3 points per game. The added production has been particularly important to the Storm because of Bird’s injury. Brondello has been able to pick up much of the offensive slack with Bird held to single-digit scoring the last two games.

The Week Ahead

Tue, June 10 Indiana Fever 7:00 p.m. KeyArena (Tickets) 950 KJR AM/Oxygen TV
Sat, June 14 Minnesota Lynx 7:00 p.m. KeyArena (Tickets) 950 KJR AM

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