Live From Press Row - Storm vs. Sacramento
Feel-Good Victory for Storm
Final: Storm 84, Sacramento 66
The fourth quarter of this one was all Storm. Seattle outscored Sacramento 31-13 in the period, getting 15 of Betty Lennox's game-high 26 points. Almost everyone who was able to stay healthy for the Storm had a strong game. Iziane Castro Marques scored 17 points and was 9-for-10 at the free-throw line. Katie Gearlds finished with 15 points and six assists in an excellent outing. Ashley Robinson had 10 rebounds and five blocks and added seven points for good measure. Wendy Palmer looked healthy and had eight points and nine boards in 21 minutes of action. Tanisha Wright didn't have huge numbers (five points and four assists), but she turned it over just twice in 23 minutes.
The Storm caps the first winning preseason in franchise history and I think everyone in KeyArena besides the Monarchs and their staff feels good about this one. Opening Night is coming up on May 19 against the Houston Comets. Make sure you get your tickets for that game now and check out storm.wnba.com between now and then for all the latest.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 76, Sacramento 57
Betty Lennox hits another three-pointer, her seventh of the game - all in the second half. Katie Gearlds also has a triple and the Storm leads by 19 points. I was talking to Sonics Assistant Coach Gordie Chiesa yesterday about the playoffs and he declared what's going on in Golden State right now "a lovefest." Well, that's what we're feeling here at KeyArena right now. It's all working for the Storm and the crowd is loving it.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 68, Sacramento 57
The Storm's roster is nearly set. There's just one roster competition left. That's Barbara Turner against Shyra Ely in a matchup of backup small forwards. I asked Anne Donovan before the game whether the decision will be made based more on what Ely does or more on what Turner does after returning from Turkey next week.
"Initially it was more about what we saw from Shyra that kept Shyra around," said Donovan. "What we love about Shyra is her size defending that big three. That's something that Barb's not going to give. Her defense has to be solid. Her offense has to be a spark and it has to be more developed than it was last season."
Game 6 of the TBBL Finals will be played tomorrow. The StormTracker blog will have that result after it becomes available. As for Ely, she's been quiet tonight, with one point and two rebounds in 10 minutes of action.
The Storm has opened up an 11-point lead and Lennox now has six three-pointers, more than she's ever had in a regular-season game.
Sue and LJ "En Route"
Fourth Quarter: Storm 61, Sacramento 53
Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson are en route to Seattle right now as they return from their overseas obligations in Russia. At last check, they were in L.A. for a layover.
"We're just so happy they're en route," said Storm Coach Anne Donovan. "That makes my heart soar."
The hope is to have Bird and Jackson on the practice floor tomorrow, when the Storm will hold a "Meet the Team" event for season ticket holders at KeyArena.
The Storm does have one of its stars in Betty Lennox, and Lennox is carrying the team right now. She's scored two three-pointers and all eight points of an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter. Lennox has five triples on the night, tying her regular-season career high.
Now it's officially Storm season - the first "Train" of the season has brought dozens of kids to the court. This is as good a turnout for "The Train" as I can recall.
End Third Quarter: Storm 53, Sacramento 53
As we head to the fourth quarter all square at 53, this game has picked up in intensity. Tye'sha Fluker has left the game with a lip laceration that left her lip bloody. She's doubtful to return. With Janell Burse unlikely to play, that leaves the storm back to two true posts available - Wendy Palmer, whose minutes have been limited, and Ashley Robinson.
Big third quarter for Betty Lennox, who hit a pair of three-pointers.
Ashley is Balling
Third Quarter: Storm 41, Sacramento 38
Ashley Robinson has been the star of tonight's game for the Storm. Robinson has a layup and an impressive tip-in in this quarter to give her six points. Any time Robinson is scoring, that's a bonus; she's here to defend and rebound, and Robinson has five boards and four blocks (I would give her five, but either way that's impressive). It doesn't look like Janell Burse will return tonight, but the Storm hasn't missed her because of Robinson's play.
Izi Castro Marques has also keyed the Storm's second-half comeback with seven points in the period. Castro Marques is just 2-for-11 from the field but has hit nine free throws in 10 attempts. Her speed has gotten her open in transition to draw a number of fouls in this game.
I'm reminded of a story I read on True Hoop about Castro Marques' countryman Leandro Barbosa by Barbosa's former interpreter about a pre-Draft workout against Marquis Daniels.
"In the timed sprint, Daniels wins by a longshot. What is going on? I have seen this before, so I announce the two should race again, this time while dribbling basketballs.
"The new race begins, and it is not even close. Daniels is only about half way through as Leandrinho crosses the finish line.
"That is the key to the Brazilian's speed. He does not lose a millisecond between running without the ball and running with the ball. Not many players are that coordinated."
Izi's a lot like that.
It's an Exhibition Game
Halftime: Sacramento 29, Storm 27
That this is a preseason game was clear from some sloppy play during the first half. Sacramento shot 37% from the field, which looks positively outstanding in comparison to the 26.7% the Storm is shooting. Seattle was 3-for-18 from the field in the second quarter. The Storm has 10 turnovers. This Monarchs defense demands precise passing from the opposing offense and the Storm isn't there right now, leading to some miscues in the halfcourt.
Busy 48 Hours for Gearlds
Second Quarter: Sacramento 29, Storm 27
Storm rookie Katie Gearlds has shown tonight she's not nervous as a rookie, at least about putting up the basketball. Her eight shot attempts lead all Storm players. Gearlds is tied with Iziane Castro Marques for the team lead in scoring as well at seven points.
After tonight's game, Gearlds is headed to Indiana for her graduation from Purdue. She's due to arrive in Indianapolis at 10:00 a.m. with ceremonies scheduled for 2 p.m. Katie will have a little time to celebrate with friends and family before hopping on a plane to head back to Seattle on Sunday.
Second Quarter: Sacramento 24, Storm 24
Great defense from the Storm tonight. Sacramento is shooting 36.4% from the field and has 11 turnovers. Scholonda Robinson (aka Dorrell aka Hoston) has been the leading Sacramento scorer, hitting a pair of three-pointers in a nice effort.
I assume this is primarily because DeMya Walker and Rebekkah Brunson have yet to arrive, but Nicole Powell - normally a small forward - has played a lot of power forward tonight and was working with Sacramento's post players this morning during shootaround. Interesting.
Die by the Three
Second Quarter: Sacramento 18, Storm 17
The Storm has become a little dependent on the perimeter game during this second quarter, shooting just 1-for-8 from the field in the period. Seattle is 0-for-4 tonight from downtown. That should improve when Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson are available, but the Storm also wants to be more aggressive against this Sacramento defense.
Two reserves have really impressed tonight. Ashley Robinson, who finished the first quarter with four blocks, was extremely active. She's also gotten on the glass and made a 15-foot jumper from the baseline in her only shot attempt. Katie Gearlds has got it going offensively after shooting 2-for-14 in her first two WNBA games. She got a layup when Sacramento fronted her in the post, then dribbled her way into a jumper that found all net.
Second Quarter: Storm 15, Sacramento 14
The Storm PR Department passes along that Janell Burse had a left shoulder spasm. The good news is that it's nothing serious and she's expected to return in the second half. The bad news is any time we talk about Burse's left shoulder, it makes people nervous. Burse missed time twice last season after experiencing dislocations of her shoulder.
7-0 Storm Run to End Quarter
End First Quarter: Storm 13, Sacramento 12
The Storm ends the first quarter with a one-point advantage after holding Sacramento scoreless for the final 4:19 of the period. The Monarchs committed five turnovers during the stretch and shot just 25% (4-for-16) from the field in the first quarter.
While this had something to do with Yolanda Griffith heading to the bench, the Storm seemed to figure out how to beat the Monarchs "white-line defense" a little better as the quarter went on. Coach Anne Donovan likes the opportunity for the Storm to test itself against the Sacramento defense during the preseason.
"I'm pleased that it's Sacramento tonight," said Donovan, "because we're going to have to work hard offensively and a little bit different offensively in order to score. The adjustments we made at shootaround, at practice yesterday, that's good practice for us in the exhibition season, to see who can make those adjustments quickly.
Storm Looking for Offense
First Quarter: Sacramento 8, Storm 4
Slow start for the Storm on offense. The hosts have started just 1-for-6 from the field with three turnovers. In the early going, we've seen a lot of Iziane Castro Marques working one-on-one, which is not the strength of her game and we won't likely see during the regular season. However, it does show her growth as a player.
Ashley Robinson has impressed in the early going with three blocked shots in a little more than four minutes of action. Robinson is in because Janell Burse left after one possession on either side and was looked at by new Storm Athletic trainer Kyla McDaniel. We'll see if there's any need for an update on her status.
Incidentally, it's preseason for the refs as well as the players. They were thrown by the change from 10 seconds in the backcourt to just eight for teams to get it across this season. They stopped play with 15 on the shot clock, huddled and then decided it was in fact a violation.
Welcome Back Jenny Boo
If you missed it, I had a chance to join other members of the media in chatting with former Storm Assistant Coach Jenny Boucek, now the head coach in Sacramento, this morning. Here's a link to the Q&A. Now what about what everyone else said about Jenny?
"It's great to have all the Storm alumni come back through here," said Anne Donovan. "Jenny was a part of our championship season, so a lot of fond memories for all of us here in this building with Jenny. It's good to have her back."
I had a great conversation with John Whisenant, Sacramento's GM and formerly head coach, before tonight's game. (Whiz is always a favorite.) He said he was impressed with Boucek's pedigree, having coached under Ron Rothstein and Donovan, her smarts and ... her family?
Whisenant explained that he's got a pair of sons who are doctors, and there are several doctors in Boucek's family (not sure if Whisenant knows, but Boucek nearly became a doctor herself before getting into coaching). Maybe that made the difference for Jenny.
Welcome to KeyArena. As hard as it may be to believe, the 2007 Seattle Storm season is upon us. The Storm closes out the exhibition season tonight, hosting the Sacramento Monarchs, and we're just eight days away from Opening Night against the Houston Comets. The first home game of the season is always fun - it's a little like the first day of school, seeing people you haven't seen in months (many of them in the case of the long WNBA off-season), catching up and falling back into the old familiar rhythms of the season.
Both teams will be short-handed tonight. For the Storm, Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson are currently en route from Russia, while Barbara Turner is still finishing up her season in Turkey. Sacramento still has three key players coming back in Ticha Penicheiro, Rebekkah Brunson and DeMya Walker. Nicole Powell and Adrian Williams got back just last night. Williams will not play tonight because of a patella tendon injury suffered in Spain.