Live From Press Row - Storm vs. San Antonio
Storm Wins to Complete 10th Anniversary Celebration
Final (OT): Storm 85, San Antonio 82
A wild finish to this game. The Storm got the necessary stop when Edwige Lawson-Wade missed a contested three. Still, after Shannon Johnson split two free throws, the Silver Stars had a chance to tie on their final possession. Becky Hammon missed a wild three attempt, but the ball went out of bounds to San Antonio. As the buzzer sounded, Hammon tried to bank a three off glass amidst heavy defensive pressure. It looked for a while like it might go down, but it was off and the Storm celebrated an important victory in the Western Conference. The cardiac kids have now won two straight OT games at KeyArena.
On a night they were honored as members of the Storm All-Decade Team, Lauren Jackson and Swin Cash both posted double-doubles. Sue Bird struggled with her shot much of the night, but came through with the biggest three of the game to force overtime. Another big performance came from Shannon Johnson, who scored 10 points off the bench and played virtually the entire overtime after Tanisha Wright fouled out moments into the extra session. The Storm held San Antonio to 37.3 percent shooting from the field and clamped down beyond the arc, where the Silver Stars were 7-of-28 (25.0 percent).
Don't expect tonight's playoff atmosphere to change. On Tuesday, the Storm will host the Phoenix Mercury in a matchup of the top two teams in the Western Conference. Games against the high-octane Mercury are always a lot of fun, so make sure you're here and get your tickets now!
Tuesday is also the Storm's third annual Teddy Bear Toss, as part of Warm 106.9’s Teddy Bear Patrol campaign that provides local police, firefighters and hospital workers with bears to use for children in emergency situations. Bring a bear to Tuesday’s game and shower the court with bears during a timeout in the first half. One place you can get a bear is tomorrow, when the Storm heads to Woodland Park Zoo. Janell Burse and Ashley Robinson will be at the Zoo from 4:30-5:30 p.m. to sign autographs and participate in various exhibits and activities, including touring the new Humboldt penguin exhibit and feeding the birds at Willawong Station. The ZooStore will be offering fans a 10% discount on plush bears and animals for the Teddy Bear Toss. Bears will be sold near the Storm tent on Sunday during the “Storm the Zoo” event.
Storm Holds Tenuous Lead
Overtime: Storm 84, San Antonio 82
With 28.1 seconds left in the extra session, the Storm leads 84-82, but San Antonio is taking possession after Sue Bird was unable to convert a couple of shot attempts on that possession. The Silver Stars got a break when Lauren Jackson was ruled to have been fouled on the ground instead of in the act of shooting. San Antonio is without Tuesday's hero Sophia Young, who along with Ruth Riley has fouled out of the game. But Becky Hammon is still out there and figures to get the call after this Dan Hughes timeout.
Overtime Again at the Key
End Regulation: San Antonio 77, Storm 77
Hey, what say we extend this 10th Anniversary Celebration just a little longer? The Storm and Silver Stars are headed to an extra session after Sophia Young missed off the rim at the buzzer. Young had a chance to be a hero again, and I was reminded of her crucial game-winner in Game 2 of last year's Western Conference Finals. Instead, there are five more minutes for a hero to emerge on either side. Swin Cash and Tanisha Wright have five fouls apiece for the Storm, while Ruth Riley and Sophia Young both have five for San Antonio.
Fourth Quarter: San Antonio 77, Storm 77
How about Sue Bird? The Storm inbounded the ball to Lauren Jackson, who upfaked and drove before kicking to Bird. With a defender in her face, Bird shot a three - almost double-clutching on the way up - and found nothing but net to tie the game. 3.0 seconds left for the Silver Stars to try to win.
Storm Needs a Three
Fourth Quarter: San Antonio 77, Storm 74
Lots of great chances for the Storm, but could not convert and Becky Hammon stole Swin Cash's tip of a jumpball. The Storm had to foul and Hammon hit two free throws to make it a three-point game.
Fourth Quarter: San Antonio 75, Storm 74
Suddenly, the Silver Stars lead by one with 35.8 seconds left. Lauren Jackson scored for the Storm late in the shot clock, but Becky Hammon went to the basket and got the hoop plus the Jackson foul. Nearly automatic, Hammon made the free throw for a one-point advantage.
60 Seconds to Save the Win
Fourth Quarter: Storm 72, San Antonio 72
With precisely one minute left on the clock, the Storm and San Antonio are tied at 72 apiece after a Becky Hammon pullup jumper. Brian Agler takes a timeout and still has two 20s left. Dan Hughes has a lone 20-second TO after going timeout happy early in this quarter. Look for the Storm to go to Tanisha Wright. I asked before the game if she had become the No. 1 option. Agler wasn't willing to go that far, but noted she is a good option, and Becky Hammon has been defending Wright with Helen Darling on Sue Bird.
Fourth Quarter: Storm 72, San Antonio 70
The Silver Stars led by as many as four on a Becky Hammon three, but the Storm has rallied back to tie the game almost entirely at the free throw line. Lauren Jackson was impossible for Ann Wauters to defend in her first game back and got to the line consecutive times, while Camille Little just knocked down two shots to give the Storm the lead.
Sue on All-Decade
Fourth Quarter: San Antonio 63, Storm 62
With a quick timeout by Dan Hughes, not much to analyze at this stoppage of play. Instead, I'll cede the floor to Sue Bird, who talked about the 10th Anniversary Celebration after yesterday's practice. She noted that as she goes through her WNBA career, she values the moments off the court that she shared with teammates like Simone Edwards and Kamila Vodichkova more and more.
"I think it's going to be amazing for them," Bird said, referring to the returning All-Decade players. "I think the fans are going to go bananas. I think it's going to be a special time for us. I'm really glad that all of us - but especially the players who haven't been back for a while - get to hear the fans embrace them.
"I really think it's special that the owners and franchise decided to do it - flew Kamila in from Prague. They really put a lot of thought and a lot of effort into this to make it a special night, and I don't see why it won't be."
Fourth Quarter: San Antonio 61, Storm 60
For the first time since it was 8-7, the San Antonio Silver Stars have the lead after a Ruth Riley follow shot a moment ago. As in Tuesday's loss down in Texas, the culprit has been second changes. I think part of the issue is that the Silver Stars are willing to shoot from any spot on the floor at any point on the shot clock, which helps explain why a team with lots of talent is shooting just 36.4 percent from the field. That's an insufficient excuse, however; we've seen the Storm rebound the ball very well during the first half, and the team must get back to that immediately and start converting at the offensive end. I'm sure that (or something similar) is Brian Agler's message during the timeout he just called.
Strange Third Quarter
End Third Quarter: Storm 56, San Antonio 53
A very weird 10 minutes of basketball that was dominated by the trio wearing gray shirts. Both teams ended up in the penalty as the whistle was quick on both ends of the floor. That's odd, given that this has not been an exceptionally physical game (nor are either of these teams known for their physicality). Ultimately, that worked to benefit the Silver Stars, who cut the margin in half to three points. Also, foul trouble cost the Storm Camille Little and Swin Cash, both of whom picked up four fouls. The teams combined for 21 free throws and 14 fouls. Wow.
As far as the two teams, Megan Frazee has really changed this game. She's not as efficient tonight as she was on Tuesday, shooting 2-for-7 from the field, but has had a dramatic impact with her energy. She's really pumped up the Silver Stars on the offensive glass. Along with the Storm going small due to foul trouble, San Antonio ended up with six offensive boards in the period.
Third Quarter: Storm 45, San Antonio 39
The Silver Stars got as close as two shortly into the third quarter, but as we head to our first break, it's the same six-point margin we had at the half. The most notable development over the last four and a half minutes has been fouls - four of them in total on the Storm, nearly putting San Antonio in the bonus, and two of them on Camille Little. That gives her four in total, putting her on the bench. Katie Gearlds has checked in to replace her as the Storm ahs gone small.
During the timeout, one last part of the 10th Anniversary Celebration. In-arena host Shellie Hart of Kube 93 presented the one and only Doppler with a piece of customized "bling" - a necklace with Doppler's No. 00 on it.
Halftime: Storm 39, San Antonio 33
Really, a very special extended halftime as we relived great memories from the Storm's 10 years of history. Storm PA Announcer Matt Pitman - nattily attired in a suit - served as the emcee and introduced a variety of dignitaries. Before we got to the players from the All-Decade Team, first up were CEO Karen Bryant - the Storm's leader since the beginning - the members of Force 10 Hoops L.L.C. who ensured the franchise's future in Seattle by purchasing the team last January, and special guest Ginger Ackerley. Ackerley led the push to bring a WNBA franchise to Seattle in her role as co-chairperson of The Ackerley Group and was the team's first chairwoman. Bryant honored Ackerley with a No. 99 Storm jersey (in honor of the year the city of Seattle was awarded a WNBA team) and announced that the Storm will create a Ginger Ackerley Community Service Award to honor her legacy in the community.
Then to the Storm All-Decade Team. The seven members of the team, selected by fans in voting right here on stormbasketball.com, were introduced along with the three members currently playing elsewhere in the WNBA who could not be here tonight. Tully Bevilaqua, Iziane Castro Marques and Betty Lennox all taped special messages thanking fans.
The ceremony concluded with the Storm raising a banner with the No. 6 to the rafters of KeyArena in honor of the support of Storm fans over the last 10 years. Sue Bird and Swin Cash did the honors of raising it high in the sky.
That was a very emotional 10 minutes, but now it's time to refocus. We've still get 20 minutes of basketball to play and the task of getting a key win over San Antonio is at hand.
At the Break, Storm Up Six
Halftime: Storm 39, San Antonio 33
A solid first half for the Storm, which will take a six-point advantage to the locker room after two free throws from Swin Cash with seconds to play in the first half. The Storm did a lot of things well and it really feels like the team has controlled the game more than the score would indicate. San Antonio managed just 33 points in 38 possessions, which is an 86.8 Defensive Rating for the Storm - very solid. The two things that proved the Storm's demise on Tuesday against the Silver Stars - three-point shooting and offensive rebounding - have both been solidified. San Antonio is 3-of-8 from downtown and has a paltry two offensive boards.
On the other end of the floor, the Storm has worked a mismatch with Swin Cash defended by Belinda Snell. Cash has a game-high 10 points (as well as six rebounds) and Snell has three fouls. The Storm has also gotten solid bench production, with Janell Burse and Shannon Johnson scoring a combined 10 points. I guess the reason this remains a competitive game is the fact that Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson haven't been All-Everything in the first half, combining for 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting. I'm dubious that will continue.
Silver Stars Walking Down the Lead
Second Quarter: Storm 28, San Antonio 25
With Becky Hammon scoring back-to-back buckets and San Antonio going on a 7-2 run, the margin is just three points in favor of the Storm, the closest we've been in the entire second quarter. Brian Agler took another timeout and now has four-fifths of his starting lineup back in the game, with Janell Burse the only reserve. The Storm's defense still seems to be playing a little better than the numbers indicate, though maybe that's partially because the Storm's offense hasn't been executing to increase the lead. Seattle is shooting 31.0 percent from the field.
During the timeout, the other Storm legends in attendance tonight were introduced. Michelle Marciniak, Astou Ndiaye-Diatta, Semeka Randall and Jamie Redd are all here in addition to the members of the All-Decade Team. It's interesting to note that all four have coaching experience at the college level, though Marciniak has now gone into business. Three of the four, all but Randall, were present last night at the Storm All-Decade Event at SPORT Restaurant and Bar. I'm pretty sure everyone in attendance (including my own mom) has a great time. If you couldn't make it out, check out a photo gallery from the night.
Second Quarter: Storm 22, San Antonio 16
A Swin Cash hoop and the harm (no free throw attempt because of a lane violation) gave the Storm a double-figure lead for the first time tonight, but San Antonio has followed with consecutive scores. That led Brian Agler to take an early timeout to remind his charges what he wants. The defense has still been very strong, forcing the Silver Stars into difficult shot attempts and five turnovers.
During the timeout, King-5 TV's Paul Silvi hosted Storm All-Decade Trivia and it was fun to hear the entire crowd join in to help the contestants with the true/false answers. They ended up winning courtside tickets and a signed Lauren Jackson jersey.
Strong First Quarter for Storm
End First Quarter: Storm 20, San Antonio 12
That first quarter was about everything you could want from the Storm's perspective. Seattle holds an eight-point lead 10 minutes in, continuing its dominance of the boards and making more trips to the free throw line - 10 in all. San Antonio shot 4-of-15 from the field in the quarter and didn't get second chances, which is why the Silver Stars went more than six and a half minutes without a field goal.
Rarely do you see a StormVision video draw multiple ovations, but that's just what happened during the quarter break. A very well-timed video featured the latest edition of the Storm History Documentary, this one focusing on the magical 2004 championship season. Eight members of that 2004 team are on the Storm All-Decade Team, and six of them are in the house tonight (Adia Barnes, Sue Bird, Janell Burse, Simone Edwards, Lauren Jackson and Kamila Vodichkova). You'll be able to see that video before long right here on stormbasketball.com along with the first three editions of the series.
Storm Aggressive Early
First Quarter: Storm 9, San Antonio 7
I'm pretty sure Storm Head Coach Brian Agler preached aggression this week in practice. The Storm has been taking the initiative throughout the first five minutes of tonight's game. That's translated into getting to the free throw line - six times to none for the Silver Stars - and getting on the offensive glass. The Storm has three second chances and has yet to surrender an offensive board to San Antonio, which had 14 of them the other night.
Standing ovation during the timeout as Simone Edwards and Kamila Vodichkova, the two members of the Storm All-Decade Team who have returned to Seattle for tonight's game, are escorted to their seats at courtside next to CEO Karen Bryant.
10th Anniversary Anthem
A fitting National Anthem before tonight's game with Marcus Pettit performing. Other than maybe Pat Wright, nobody has performed the anthem more frequently at KeyArena over the last decade than Pettit, who we've seen grow into a young man who's headed to college. Pettit rocked it again to the delight of the crowd.
These two teams played just four days ago in San Antonio, but there will be a new face for the Silver Stars this evening. Yesterday, San Antonio signed center Ann Wauters, who has sat out the first half of the season after playing for her native Belgium in the European Championships. Wauters is a huge addition for the Silver Stars, having ranked third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding a year ago when San Antonio went to the WNBA Finals.
In chatting with Dan Hughes before the game, Wauters will play tonight. How much she plays will depend on how she's feeling and looking on the floor. Wauters knows the team's system, having played for Hughes last year, so it shouldn't take long for her to get comfortable and make San Antonio a more dangerous team.
Happy 10th Anniversary Celebration Night! The Storm and the San Antonio Silver Stars are getting ready to tip off on what is a very special evening here at the Key. The stars are out, from Storm legends to WNBA President Donna Orender to Clarence Lennox (decked out in lime green head to toe). But while we'll be celebrating throughout the game, there is also some very important business at hand for the Storm. This game could help determine the season series and tiebreaker between these teams, and the Storm holds a 2.5 game lead in the standings over San Antonio going into tonight.