Storm Tracker (Jul. 28-Aug. 3)
July 28-August 3|
Record for the week: 1-1
Overall Record: 14-11
Standing: tied 3rd, Western Conference
Thursday, July 31, 2003
Saturday, Aug. 2, 2003
Player of the Week
8.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.0 spg, 5-8 shooting, 3-4 threes
Despite Jackson’s phenomenal effort against the Storm, most players and the media were quick after the game to give the credit for the victory to Bevilaqua. When she entered the game with 10:57 to play, the Storm trailed 46-41 and was struggling. Shortly thereafter, Bevilaqua made a three to tie the game at 46. She stayed in the game the remainder of the way – scoring nine more points to set a new career high with 14 – and when the final buzzer sounded, the Storm had won by 15 points – 69-54. In the 12 minutes Bevilaqua played, the Storm outscored Charlotte 34-11; when she was out, the Sting outscored the Storm by eight points. That’s typical of a player who has one of the best plus-minus ratings on the Storm so far this season. Bevilaqua’s defense always sparks both the KeyArena crowd and her teammates. When she’s the team’s second-leading scorer, that’s a welcome bonus.
Bird led the Storm against Minnesota with 17 points.
Starting small forward Amanda Lassiter continued her strong defensive effort last week. Lassiter – with help from Brondello, amongst others – limited the Sting’s leading scorer, small forward Allison Feaster, to just three points – ten below her season average. While Smith had 15 points for the Lynx, she did not shoot well under Lassiter’s defense, making just six of 18 field-goal attempts. Since Lassiter replaced injured Adia Barnes in the starting lineup, Storm opponents have shot just 40.1% from the field. That mark, if carried through a full season, would place the Storm fourth in the WNBA in that category.
By winning at home and losing on the road, the Storm continued a trend they’ve followed much of the season – success at home, struggles on the road. The Storm is 9-2 at home, having won its last six games at KeyArena in a row. Away games have been a different story – the Storm has lost four straight road games and is just 5-9 overall. Seattle’s last road win against a Western Conference opponent was June 19 against the Los Angeles Sparks, with five straight losses since then. What has been the difference? A look at the statistics may provide some answers.
What is obvious is that the difference extends team-wide, to both ends of the court. Few players have gone unaffected; by the WNBA’s Efficiency Rating system, Bevilaqua is the only Storm player to have played better on the road than at home.
From the points per game statistics, it is not immediately evident whether offense or defense has been more problematic on the road. Using field goal percentage, however, makes this clear. While the Storm’s field goal percentage has dropped 34 points, the field goal percentage the team allows jumps by a remarkable 71 points. To illustrate the magnitude of this difference, the 37.7% field goal percentage opponents shoot in KeyArena would top the WNBA, while the 44.8% they shoot at their home courts would rank the Storm 13th in the league in opponent field goal percentage. A deeper look at the Storm’s defense home and away seems to be in order:
While the Storm’s defensive statistics are better almost across the board on the road – with the notable and unusual exception of steals per game (and opponents turnovers, which are not included) – the biggest difference is clearly in two-point percentage. While opponents are shooting better from beyond the three-point line on the road, they’ve been dramatically better inside of it. Some clues for why this is happening are provided by the free throws and three-pointers attempted. Clearly, the Storm’s opponents are taking the ball to the hole more on the road, being rewarded with both free throw attempts and easier shot opportunities. That would seem probable to produce more blocks for the Storm, but instead they’ve blocked less shots on the road. Interior defense looks like the place the Storm needs to focus its efforts to improve its road performance.
The Week Ahead