Oakwood Live From Press Row - Storm vs. Sacramento (Preseason)

The Storm enjoys a home-court advantage at KeyArena unparalleled in the WNBA. Even if you don't live in Seattle, you can enjoy the electricity of the KeyArena experience thanks to storm.wnba.com's Oakwood Live From Press Row. All night and all season long, Kevin Pelton will be bringing you pregame quotes from coaches and players and observations from the game as it unfolds - on and off the court. Make sure to keep coming back
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No Rookie Play
Posted at 9:30 p.m.

Surprisingly, the Monarchs look to second-round pick Chelsea Newton, who played virtually the entire second half, on their last play. Newton drives the right side of the lane and hits the layup with a little contact with 2.2 seconds left. With the Storm out of timeouts, Sue Bird took the ball the other direction, but could not get off an attempt until after the buzzer sounded. It missed anyway, as Sacramento gets a 77-76 win. It’s only the preseason, but you wouldn’t know it from the way the Monarchs celebrated this win, gathering around Newton.

I know Anne Donovan would have liked to get this win, but there are a lot of positives to take away. Both teams looked sloppy at times (there were 45 turnovers combined) and obviously the fouls really dominated this game, but a great performance for Tanisha Wright and the players trying to make this team did some good things as well. We’ll see you a week from today, when they start to count with a matchup with the Los Angeles Sparks at 1:00 p.m. Hope to see you here.

Free Throws, Fittingly
Posted at 9:25 p.m.

Mandisa Stevenson, working the high-low with Lauren Jackson, is fouled. Stevenson splits two free throws and the Sacramento Monarchs will have 6.9 seconds to try to win this game. Please, please no fouls.

All Square
Posted at 9:22 p.m.

Nicole Powell hits a 3-pointer in transition from the left wing with 18.3 seconds left to tie this game at 75. Powell is 6-for-10 from the field and now has four 3-pointers. That’s a pretty nice night, and Powell might fit into this Monarchs lineup very nicely replacing Tangela Smith, for whom she was traded.

Let’s see what Anne Donovan diagrams out of this timeout.

Let’s Win This
Posted at 9:18 p.m.

While Shaquala Williams and Tanisha Wright have done a great job, they’re replaced with 1:32 to play by the Storm’s starting backcourt of Sue Bird and Betty Lennox. Anne Donovan clearly wants to come away with a win in this one.

Bad News
Posted at 9:12 p.m.

DeMya Walker has fouled out. Many tears shed here at KeyArena.

Getting Some Offense
Posted at 9:03 p.m.

Very encouraging performance here by the Storm with Shaquala Williams at the point. The offense has still run great, thanks in large part to Tanisha Wright. Wright now has gotten to the free-throw line 13 times tonight and has 12 points for the Storm. But Williams showed her ability when she got trapped with the shot clock running down and made a forced 3. That’s the kind of talent Shaq has.

Great shooting tonight from Nicole Powell, who has 11 points on 4-for-7 shooting, including a trio of 3-pointers. Brief discussion on the air of who the best outside shooter in the WNBA is. I like Anna DeForge, though we briefly forgot a pretty obvious pick: Lauren Jackson.

The parade to the free-throw line continues, as we’ve reached 50 free throws combined for the game. With both teams in the bonus, that won’t change any time soon. It’s been intresting to watch some fairly frustrated reactions on both sides.

It’s Preseason, Alright
Posted at 8:48 p.m.

36 turnovers combined by the two teams so far, with Sacramento’s last turnover giving the Monarchs an even 20 on the evening. We’re also up to 44 fouls. It’s nearing 9:00 and we’re only halfway through the second half, which is longer than we’re used to for WNBA games (though compared to NBA playoff games, it’s a sprint). Mandisa Stevenson has played pretty well tonight amongst the players fighting for various positions, while Iziane Castro Marques has shown some solid passing skills and successfully defended the bigger Nicole Powell.

Speaking of the NBA Playoffs, we’ll be back here tomorrow for Game 4 of the Sonics Western Conference Semifinals series with the San Antonio Spurs. Sonics guard Antonio Daniels is in the first row next to the basket with his lovely wife.

Offense Quiet
Posted at 8:38 p.m.

An 11-0 Sacramento run after the Storm scored the first bucket of the second half has pulled the Monarchs within three, 43-40. This might be a useful reminder that while the Storm got it going during the first half, Seattle’s offensive execution is going to be limited early in this season as new players are integrated into the lineup and players arrive late from overseas. Simone Edwards has played most of this half and has only been around for this week. Right now, Edwards and Mandisa Stevenson are working together up front, a lineup that presumably hasn’t seen a lot of action.

Posted at 8:29 p.m.

Yesterday, Italian guard Francesca Zara arrived in Seattle and signed a contract to join the Storm. Zara is a combo guard who the Storm is looking at as competition for Shaquala Williams as the backup to Sue Bird. Playing for Italian League runner-up Phard Napoli, Zara averaged 12. 9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game this season. That assists number doesn’t sound impressive, but her 68 total assists were second in the league. (Assists are much more difficult to come by in Europe; you basically have to put the ball in the hoop for the other player to get an assist.)

Zara is in uniform tonight but will not play, leaving her five or six days of practice to convince Anne Donovan she should make the team. She’ll have to beat out Shaquala Williams, as Donovan has said she will not keep three point guards on the roster (possibly a testament to the work of Tanisha Wright at the point during training camp). Donovan will be watching to see if Zara can defend WNBA points, something that is a question mark.

“I’m looking for someone who can come off the bench and change the tempo like Tully (Bevilaqua),” said Donovan. “I want to be able to play Sue (Bird) at the off guard.”

Posted at 8:12 p.m.

After trailing 13-3 early in this game, the Storm dominated the final 16 minutes of this half, outscoring Sacramento 38-16. The Monarchs committed an incredible 16 turnovers, off of which the Storm scored 18 points. John Whisenant made the point before the game that his team will probably be more rusty tonight than in their previous preseason games because so many players have arrived in camp recently, including Yolanda Griffith and Rebekkah Brunson. Great finish to the half by Betty Lennox, who scored 10 of her game-high 12 points in the final 3:13 of the half as the Storm closed on a 16-4 run to open up a 12-point lead at the half.

We talked about fouls, and Sacramento finished the half with 19 fouls as a team. Both DeMya Walker and Erin Buescher were called for three fouls, Walker in just four minutes of action (and with much post-foul complaining). The Storm shot 21 free throws, Sacramento just six.

Wright Way
Posted at 7:54 p.m.

In the WNBA off-season, you do a lot of looking at European stats for players playing overseas. There are many differences between the stats that are collected stateside and overseas, and one of them is that fouls drawn by a player are recorded. Tanisha Wright would really benefit from this change over here. Wright drew five fouls during her first-half action, really showing how aggressive she has been. An 80.3% free throw shooter as a senior at Penn State, the Storm’s first-round pick has struggled at the line tonight but still leads the Storm in scoring.

New Interpretation
Posted at 7:45 p.m.

One thing we haven’t talked about nearly enough on this site during the preseason - blame the Sonics, for dividing my attention - is the new rule interpretation in the WNBA this season. As was done with the NBA, the WNBA is going to crack down on contact above the free-throw line. Whether that’s the reason or it’s something else, we’ve seen the two teams combine for 17 personal fouls thus far and 15 free throws (11 of those shot by the Storm). To say Anne Donovan doesn’t like the rule would be an understatement.

“I think it’s awful,” said Donovan before the game. “We don’t have a long enough season to adjust.”

In addition to the season, another difference in the application in the WNBA that Donovan points out is that pressure defense by guards is much more important in the WNBA than in the NBA, where interior players dominate defensively. We’ll be watching this throughout the season.

Storm Goes to the Bench
Posted at 7:32 p.m.

As we near the midway point of this first half - it’s 13-11 Sacramento with 11:59 left in the half, as the Storm is on an 8-0 run and has tightened up on the defensive end of the court (the Monarchs have gone over five minutes without scoring). The bench is now out in full force, with only Storm stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson in the game. It’s interesting that Anne Donovan is rotating in some reserves - Simone Edwards replaced Mandisa Stevenson - to look at them alongside the stars. Tanisha Wright and Iziane Castro Marques have also entered the game. Izzy just hit a 3-pointer to give the Storm the lead, which is a good sign for her and the Storm. There’s no doubt that Castro Marques is an outstanding athlete, but she needs to prove she can shoot from the perimeter.

Stevenson First Off the Bench
Posted at 7:22 p.m.

If you’re looking to Anne Donovan’s rotation tonight for clues about what decisions will be made on the roster between now and Friday’s deadline to set rosters for the season, note that post Mandisa Stevenson is the first player off the bench tonight. Donovan has raved about Stevenson’s ability to hit the jumper from the high post, something that is important for whoever is playing opposite Lauren Jackson. That’s not starting center Janell Burse’s strength, but Burse’s high-low passing has improved this season, according to Donovan.

Midseason Form
Posted at 7:18 p.m.

If you went by the Sacramento Monarchs reaction to two early fouls by DeMya Walker, you’d think this was the middle of July, not a mid-May exhibition. Walker complained about both calls, while Sacramento Coach John Whisenant replaced her with second-year forward Rebekkah Brunson. The Storm takes a 20-second timeout after an 11-0 Monarchs run. This may only be preseason, but Storm Coach Anne Donovan is playing to win. She said she’ll have her starters in at the end of the game if it’s close.

Signing On
Posted at 7:05 p.m.

Welcome to Live From Press Row. If you haven’t read our Sonics counterpart, Live From The Press Box, you can expect updates every 10 minutes or so throughout the evening with the progress of the game, pre-game interviews with Anne Donovan and opposing players and coaches and a feel for what’s going on off the court all evening long. Tonight will be pretty informal as the Storm concludes its preseason schedule, but expect a lot of discussion of the roster and things of that nature. Make sure to hit refresh so you’re getting the latest.