Off the Record - April 2007

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When reporters want a little more information from a source, they go off the record. When you want a little more information about the Storm from, check out the "Off the Record" blog, which features interesting tidbits and odds and ends that don't lend themselves to a full article. We'll also answer some fan questions from time to time, so send yours to (Keep in mind there are many topics, like potential trades, that we can't address.)

LJ in Russia
Posted on April 18 | Permalink

We discussed the rumor last week, and Lauren Jackson has indeed joined Storm teammate Sue Bird in Russia with Spartak Moscow Region. Jackson made her debut over the weekend as Spartak tipped off the Russian Superleague Playoffs. Jackson did not play Tuesday after spraining an ankle in practice, but Spartak still defeated Kursk Dynamo 75-61 to sweep the series 2-0. Sue Bird did not score, but handed out a game-high seven assists. Diana Taurasi scored 19 points.

Spartak will open the Russian Semifinals next Monday against Moscow Dynamo, Bird's old team.

Head Coach Anne Donovan and the U.S. Women's National Team completed its tour of Italy 4-0, breaking open a close game in the fourth quarter to defeat Phard Napoli 72-49 and blowing out Virtus Viterbo 72-49 and the Pomezia Region All-Stars 81-41.

Indiana forward Tamika Catchings led the U.S. Women, averaging 12.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.

"I knew with this team I had to step up and score and be more of a defensive leader," Catchings told the USA Today. "It's my time. I've had some great people to learn under."

LSU center Sylvia Fowles was second in the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 10.3 points and 7.0 boards.

The U.S. Women practiced today and will do so again tomorrow with both afternoons filled with sightseeing. After that, it's back to Seattle for Donovan, who will prepare for the start of training camp next Monday. The U.S. team will regroup in September for the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship and the opportunity to qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

"I think there will be carry over, especially with the chemistry," said Donovan. "This team has been tight-knit, we've been small and they've gotten a lot of opportunities to get to know each other on the court and off the court. Hopefully we'll also carry over our defensive work, learning how each other plays, our style of play, our point guard knowing how and where to get the ball for the players to be successful. I think that will go a long way for us when we get back together in September."

The team poses before going to dinner earlier this week.
Courtesy USA Basketball

The team on a tour of Rome.
Courtesy USA Basketball

Donovan, USAB in Italy
Posted on April 12 | Permalink

Storm Head Coach Anne Donovan is keeping busy in the last week and a half before the Storm opens training camp on April 23. The USA Basketball Senior Women's National Team convened over the weekend in Rome, Italy to begin a training session and play four exhibition matchups against various Italian squads. In addition to Donovan, the team's head coach, point guard Sue Bird joined her teammates for practices before returning to her Spartak team in Russia.

The U.S. women beat the Italian National Team 77-47 yesterday in Rome. Leading 36-31 at the half, the U.S. outscored Italy 23-4 in the third quarter, including a 14-0 run.

"We came out and we really played well on both ends of the floor," said Donovan after the game. "We tried to pick up the ball a little bit, play smarter defensively and we got our offense in synch at that point, too. We were able to break it open. I expected us to do a little more damage in the first half than we did, but in the third quarter we really stepped it up."

LSU center Sylvia Fowles led the team with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 14 points and seven boards. As has been typical of the U.S. team under Donovan, it won with defense, holding Italy to 31.3% shooting and 5-for-23 (21.7%) from downtown. Laura Macchi had 14 points on 7-for-15 shooting, but Raffaella Masciadri shot a dismal 3-for-17 from the field.

Former Storm guard Francesca Zara played 20 minutes off the bench for Italy, scoring four points and handing out an assist. She had four turnovers.

Donovan with Assistants Dawn Staley and Gail Goestenkors and No. 1 overall draft pick Lindsey Harding at St. Peter's Basilica for the Pope's Easter Sunday service.
Courtesy USA Basketball

The U.S. Senior Women's National Team at the Musei Capitalini in Rome.
Courtesy USA Basketball

LJ to Join Sue?
Posted on April 12 | Permalink

Rumor has it that Storm stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson will be reunited with Spartak Moscow for the Russian Superleague Playoffs, and a Polish-language article featuring Spartak forward Agnieszka Bibrzycka apparently confirms those rumors.

The Spartak squad, which won the Euroleague Championship earlier this month, already features Diana Taurasi, Tina Thompson Ticha Penicheiro, Tamika Whitmore and Svetlana Abrosimova in addition to former Storm guard Francesca Zara. Spartak will play Kursk Dynamo in the best-of-three Russian quarterfinals starting Saturday.