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Storm.wnba.comís Best of 2008

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Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | December 30, 2008
As we turn the last pages on the 2008 calendar, this is your chance to help storm.wnba.com look back on the year that was in Storm basketball both on and off the court. Check out our five contenders for game, play, player, photo, story and feature of the year and then make your selection in the corresponding poll.
Best Game of 2008

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What was the best Storm game of 2008?
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MAY 17 VS. CHICAGO
Opening Night is all about comebacks for the Seattle Storm. A year after rallying from a 22-point deficit to beat Houston, the Storm shrugged off a relatively paltry 38-29 Sky advantage, going on a 36-12 run to win the game comfortably before gathering at center court to celebrate Force 10's first game as owners.
JULY 8 AT SACRAMENTO
The Storm had not won at ARCO Arena since 2004 before facing the Monarchs on July 8. The streak was snapped in fine fashion as the Storm took a 14-point halftime lead and went up as many as 27 en route to a 79-64 win.
JULY 12 VS. LOS ANGELES
The Los Angeles Sparks stood between the Storm and tying the longest winning streak in franchise history, one that started after a loss at L.A. With a sellout crowd at KeyArena providing support, the Storm held the Sparks to a season-low 52 points in a 70-52 win.
SEPTEMBER 4 AT CHICAGO
The Storm completed a 2-1 road trip and clinched a playoff berth with a 70-64 win at Chicago. The Storm had to rally after trailing by four going to the final period. Sue Bird led the comeback and hit the go-ahead three-pointer.
SEPTEMBER 21 VS. LOS ANGELES
The Storm evened its first-round series with the Sparks at one win apiece by holding Los Angeles to a paltry 15 first-half points. Bird, with 20, and Sheryl Swoopes, who scored 16, provided all the offense the Storm needed in a 64-50 win.

Best Play of 2008

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What was the best Storm play of 2008?
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SUE'S GAME-WINNER
With the Storm down one and time ticking down against the Houston Comets, Bird raced end-to-end for the go-ahead layup with seconds to play in what would ultimately be a 64-63 Storm victory.
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AROB'S BIG BLOCK
Ashley Robinson's volleyball-style spikes always bring the KeyArena crowd to its feet. Robinson may have had her best yet in the Storm's home finale against the Atlanta Dream, blocking former teammate Iziane Castro Marques on the drive.
SUE'S CLUTCH THREE
Bird led the Storm's comeback Sept. 4 at Chicago and capped it by hitting a three-pointer to put the Storm ahead 64-62. The Sky would not score again as the Storm came up with a key road win.
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SWOOPES DAGGER
Sheryl Swoopes three-pointers from NBA range have been a trademark throughout her illustrious WNBA career, and 2008 was no exception. One of Swoopes' biggest slammed the door shut on the eventual champion Detroit Shock in the Storm's win at KeyArena.
Hear Dick Fain's call
BIRDY'S GO-AHEAD BUCKET
Bird hinted at the clutch year that was ahead for her early in the season. In the Storm's first road game, it was her runner in the paint that gave the Storm its first lead since the first quarter. The Storm followed it up with a steal and beat the defending champs on their home court.
Hear Dick Fain's call

Best Player of 2008

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Who was the best Storm player in 2008?
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SUE BIRD
The Storm's point guard enjoyed two different great seasons in 2008, first leading the league in assists through the midway point of the season as a pass-first distributor and then taking on the scoring slack and carrying the Storm in Lauren Jackson's absence. Bird finished third in MVP voting.
SWIN CASH
During her first season in Seattle, Cash served as a bellwether for the Storm's success as a team. Fortunately, more often than not that paid off. The Storm went 15-4 in the 19 games where Cash scored double-figures. She was the Storm's third-leading scorer and rebounder. Cash also enjoyed a career year in blocking shots, averaging a rejection per game.
YOLANDA GRIFFITH
At 38, Griffith was supposed to be nearing the end of the line. Apparently everyone forgot to tell her. Griffith started all 30 games she played at center for the Storm, anchoring the team's stingy defense and contributing on offense with her work on the glass and ability to get to the free-throw line. Griffith was especially effective after the Olympic break.
LAUREN JACKSON
It speaks to Jackson's impressive career that a season in which she averaged 20.2 points, 7.0 rebounds , 1.6 blocks and 1.5 steals per game can be considered run of the mill. Jackson really got going midseason, topping 30 points in consecutive games in early July. Alas, her season would end July 12. After joining the Australian Olympic Team, Jackson had to undergo season-ending ankle surgery.
TANISHA WRIGHT
All it took to revitalize Wright's Storm career was settling in at her true position. Though Wright still served as the backup to Bird at the point, she had the opportunity to start 14 games at shooting guard and took full advantage, notching 10.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists as a starter while also serving as the Storm's perimeter stopper.

Best Photo of 2008

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OPENING NIGHT HUDDLE
After the Storm defeated the Chicago Sky on Opening Night, players brought the members of the Force 10 Hoops L.L.C. ownership group into their ebullient postgame huddle. Terrence Vaccaro captured the moment.
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HELPING HANDS
After Swoopes took a charge during the Storm's July 3 win over New York, several teammates were there to congratulate her and offer a hand to help Swoopes off the floor and Aaron Last was there for the shot.
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THE PERFECT STORM
Opening Night was also a celebration of the Storm's busy offseason, which saw WNBA legends Swin Cash, Yolanda Griffith and Sheryl Swoopes added to a star-studded starting five. Their introduction before the game offered Vaccaro a chance to capture them all with the Storm's season-long tagline.
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RIVALS SQUARE OFF
The Storm and the L.A. Sparks have one of the WNBA's most intense rivalries, which added something extra to their playoff series. Prior to the deciding Game 3, Last found Bird through Lisa Leslie's arm during the pregame captain's meeting.
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THE AGONY OF DEFEAT
Ultimately, Game 3 did not go the Storm's way. As the Storm left its postgame huddle thanking fans for their support, Griffith was unable to control her emotion over the disappointing loss.
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Best Story of 2008

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STORM SOLD TO FORCE 10
Just a week into the new year, the Storm offered a stunner - the team had been sold from The Professional Basketball Club to Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., made up of four local businesswomen intent on securing the franchise's future in Seattle. The importance of the deal was reinforced when the PBC moved the Sonics to Oklahoma City six months later.
BRIAN AGLER NAMED HEAD COACH
A day after the sale, media returned to The Furtado Center to meet the Storm's new head coach - former Minnesota Lynx head man Brian Agler, most recently an assistant in San Antonio. In his dual role as director of player personnel, it took Agler little time to put his (defensive-minded) stamp on the Storm.
STAR-STUDDED LINEUP
All the Storm's three marquee offseason additions had done before coming to Seattle was win four MVP awards, seven WNBA championships and six Olympic gold medals. That's impressive, though doubters questioned the Storm's ability to fit all the stars together until it became obvious their only goal was working together to win.
BIRD '08
Jackson is perennially a candidate for MVP, but when she was sidelined, it was Bird who stepped front and center as part of a late push at the WNBA's highest individual honor. In an election year, the change in Bird's game swayed many voters, but not quite enough as she finished third in the final voting.
HOMETOWN HERO
Kristen O'Neill grew up watching the Storm play at KeyArena. In 2008, she got the chance to play there herself. The Storm's penultimate cut after an impressive training camp, O'Neill stuck around as a practice player. Her opportunity came in early July, and O'Neill spent the remainder of the season on the Storm's roster.

Best storm.wnba.com Feature Story of 2008

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What was the best storm.wnba.com feature of 2008?
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AGLER'S LONG PATH TO SEATTLE
An in-depth look at the development of the Storm's new head coach, starting with his playing days in his native Ohio and continuing through his introduction to coaching and women's basketball, success in the ABL, a more difficult stretch in Minnesota and the education he received as an assistant coach.
CASH BEGINS ANEW IN SEATTLE
After spending the first six seasons of her WNBA career in Detroit, a change was in order for Cash, whose relationship with Shock Head Coach Bill Laimbeer had become strained. She found her chance to start over in Seattle alongside former college roommate Bird.
IS THIS "THE PERFECT STORM"?
On the eve of Opening Night, storm.wnba.com asked the big question: What could this group of Storm players accomplish? The veteran leadership offered by the newcomers, as well as a renewed focus on defense from personnel and the coaching staff figured to make the difference and did.
FRIENDLY RIVALS SQUARE OFF
If not for San Antonio Head Coach Dan Hughes, Agler never would have gotten the opportunity to be a WNBA head coach again. In this feature, storm.wnba.com looked at how the two benefited from each other while working together with the Silver Stars and Hughes' role in securing Agler the head job in Seattle.
THE RELUCTANT MVP CANDIDATE
The last person to declare Bird an MVP candidate might have been the point guard herself. Bird has never played for individual accolades and had a hard time thinking of herself in the same group as close friends Jackson and Diana Taurasi, but the numbers spoke for themselves in terms of her candidacy.