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20080520/SACSEA
Monarchs-Storm Preview
By MATT BECKER, STATS Writer

Yolanda Griffith was the face of the Sacramento Monarchs for nearly a decade, leading the franchise to their only championship.

Now a role player with the Storm, Griffith is hoping to bring a title back to Seattle.

Griffith faces her former team for the first time when the Storm host the Monarchs on Tuesday.

Griffith signed as a free agent with Seattle (1-0) in April after spending her first nine seasons in the league with Sacramento (1-0). With the Monarchs, she was a six-time All-Star, league MVP in 1999 and was named finals MVP in 2005.

Seattle won its only championship in 2004, and boasts a lineup filled with former MVP award winners.

Griffith joins three-time MVP Sheryl Swoopes, who signed with the team in March, and two-time MVP Lauren Jackson, who averaged league bests of 23.8 points and 9.7 rebounds last season.

Jackson, the reigning league MVP, had 14 points and six rebounds in the Storm's season-opening 67-61 victory over Chicago on Saturday.

Seattle shot 29.4 percent (10-for-34) in the first half, but went on a 23-1 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to put the game away.

Sue Bird had 13 points and seven assists, Swoopes finished with six points and Griffith started at center and had eight points and seven rebounds. Swin Cash, another All-Star acquired from Detroit in an offseason trade, had 13 points.

"We were a little tentative during the first half, not because of a lack of energy, but because you're in a new system with a lot of new players," said Bird, who averaged 14.7 points in three games against Sacramento last season. "But every day, the more we play together, whether it's in practice or in games, it'll come."

The Monarchs also feature a revamped starting lineup and bench.

Already without Griffith, Sacramento released DeMya Walker on Friday after she was injured during the preseason.

Despite playing three rookies and two players who saw limited action a year ago, the Monarchs defeated San Antonio 73-64 in Saturday's season opener.

"We only play 36 games, so it was important for us to get off on the right foot," said Kara Lawson, who finished with nine points. "We had a lot of contributions from a lot of people, it was good to see."

Adrian Williams-Strong and Nicole Powell each scored 13 points, and Rebekkah Brunson had 10 points and nine rebounds. Rookie Laura Harper, Sacramento's top draft choice out of Maryland, had 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks.

"That was impressive the way our rookies came in and played," said Powell, who didn't start the game and joined the team late last week after finishing her season in Russia. "Our rookies are very mature, they have no fear. They aren't intimidated by anyone."

Powell averaged 17.0 points in three games versus Seattle last season, while Brunson averaged 11.7 points and 10.3 boards in those contests.

The Monarchs have won four straight over the Storm since a 68-53 loss on June 27, 2006.

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