Storm Tracker (May 26-June 1)
May 26-June 1|
Record for the week: 0-1
Overall Record: 0-3
Standing: 7th, Western Conference
Friday, May 30, 2003
Player of the Week
22 points, 7 assists, 9-18 fg, 4-10 threes, two steals
The Storm’s offensive struggles without Bird in overtime illustrated just how important the second-year guard is to her team. They were predictable, however, given what an important role Bird plays in the offense. Her assist totals – 7.3 apg during the first three games – are remarkable considering she scores about 30% of the Storm’s field goals, ones she obviously can’t assist on. During the minutes she played in the Los Angeles game, the Storm scored 21 field goals. Bird herself made nine of those, assisting on seven others, meaning she had a hand in nearly 80% of the team’s scores. What made Bird’s injury particularly disappointing was how well she was playing on Friday, hitting several pull-up jumpers in transition and making a career-high-tying four three-pointers.
Struggling with her shot, Jackson contributed eight rebounds and four assists.
D. Clarke Evans/WNBAE/Getty
Friday night’s game with the Sparks completed the Storm’s tour of last season’s Western Conference playoffs, as they played all three other playoff teams to start the season. Coach Donovan said before Friday’s game that to her, seeing improvement was as important as the outcome on the scoreboard. “We played so much better against San Antonio than we did against Houston, which is a good feeling for a coach because at least you’re moving in the right direction, there’s progress there,” Donovan explained. “As long as I see that same progression tonight, then I can rest easier.” Clearly, the Storm played its best game of the season against the Sparks, despite not ending up with a victory. Especially important was getting production from the rest of the starting five besides Bird and Jackson. While Vodichkova’s shot was off, Brondello and Adia Barnes – who, after hitting two threes for the second time in three games is rapidly becoming a long-distance specialist – both scored double-figures for the Storm. The Storm also played much better defensively, holding the high-powered Sparks to 40.6% shooting and forcing four turnovers apiece by Leslie, Teasley and Mabika.
Rebounding Questions Answered
One of Donovan’s biggest concerns entering Friday’s game was the Storm’s rebounding. During the two-game road trip in Texas, opponents outrebounded the Storm 66-50. “We struggled in Houston with (Alisa) Burras as our starting post player, and she didn’t rebound the ball,” Donovan said. “We changed it up with Kamila and she didn’t rebound the ball in San Antonio, so we’re not getting anything from that position.” Vodichkova answered Donovan’s challenge with eight rebounds and Jackson also added eight as the Storm played the Sparks even on the boards, 41 apiece – impressive considering the Sparks were the best rebounding team in the WNBA last season, in terms of rebound percentage. The Storm grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, many of them early in the game to help build the lead.
After playing in front of crowds averaging over 10,000 in the state of Texas, the Storm was happy to be back in the friendly confines of KeyArena to start a five-game homestand. The Storm’s sellout crowd was its fifth straight, dating back to last July 20. “It’s nice to be home,” Donovan said. “It’s just a good feeling, you can relax, it’s much more of an advantage to have your own people behind you.”
Bird’s knee injury was diagnosed over the weekend as patellar chondromalacia in her left knee, a condition that affects the cartilage in the knee. Bird told the Tacoma News-Tribune she plans to play on Tuesday, but her availability for the game is still unknown. Forward Jung Sun-Min missed the Sparks game because of her sprained right ankle, but did participate in that morning’s shootaround and Saturday’s practice and could return for Tuesday. Amanda Lassiter returned from her hyperextended knee against the Sparks, playing 18 minutes off the bench, scoring three points and grabbing six rebounds.
The Week Ahead