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stormbasketball.com's Best of 2009

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Kevin Pelton, stormbasketball.com | December 31, 2009
As we turn the last page on the 2009 calendar, this is your chance to help stormbasketball.com look back on the year that was in Storm basketball both on and off the court. Check out our contenders for game, player, individual game, Sue Bird game-tying shot, defensive play, photo and story of the year and then make your selection in the corresponding poll.
Best Game of 2009

What was the best game of 2009?
What was the best game of 2009?
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JUNE 7 VS. SACRAMENTO
Opening Night saw the Storm complete a home-and-home back-to-back series against the Sacramento Monarchs. Lauren Jackson returned to KeyArena for the first time since re-signing with the Storm in May and was feted by fans before scoring 25 points to lead the team to 2-0..
JUNE 21 AT PHOENIX
The Storm's finest performance of the season might have come at the US Airways Center. The Storm shot 50.7 percent from the field and 7-of-14 from three-point range en route to a 93-84 win over the eventual WNBA champions.
JULY 22 VS. LOS ANGELES
It took 55 minutes to decide a winner between the Storm and the Sparks on July 22 at KeyArena, in one of the longest games in WNBA history. In the third OT, Sue Bird caught fire from downtown, making three three-pointers as the Storm won going away.
AUG. 1 VS. SAN ANTONIO
On the night the Storm celebrated its 10th Anniversary and All-Decade Team, fans were also treated to another overtime thriller. Bird forced OT with a late three-pointer and the Storm beat the Silver Stars 85-82.
SEPTEMBER 18 VS. LOS ANGELES
Needing a win to stay alive in the playoffs against the Sparks, the Storm got a miracle finish when Camille Little stole L.A.'s inbounds pass and hit a layup with seconds remaining to win a game the Storm trailed by four points in the closing seconds.

Best Player of 2009

Who was the best player of 2009?
Who was the best player of 2009?
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SUE BIRD
Playing more of a traditional point guard role, Bird led the WNBA in assists for the second time in her career. She was still capable of taking over games when the situation called for it, twice winning Western Conference Player of the Week honors when Jackson was ailing.
SWIN CASH
Healthy after back surgery, Cash responded with a bounceback performance. Voted a starter for the All-Star Game, Cash set a scoring record and won MVP honors. In the playoffs, she was the Storm's most effective player against the Sparks.
LAUREN JACKSON
Jackson started the season by scoring 20-plus points in the Storm's first eight games, one shy of the WNBA record. Later on, she joined the elite WNBA 5,000-point club and scored a season-high 35 points at Detroit while playing with a stress fracture in her back that had not yet been diagnosed but would ultimately end her year.
CAMILLE LITTLE
With Jackson back in the lineup, Little was expected to return to the bench. Instead, she grabbed a starting spot across from the two-time MVP and emerged as a steady force in the paint, averaging 10.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
TANISHA WRIGHT
In her first full season as a starter, Wright continued her development into an All-Star-caliber player. She averaged 12.2 points, third on the team, and 3.5 assists (second) and was selected to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team.

Best Individual Game of 2009

What was the best individual game of 2009?
What was the best individual game of 2009?
View Results
SUE BIRD AT PHOENIX (6/21)
Bird ran the Storm attack to perfection as the team took down the Mercury on the road. She scored 21 points, handed out nine assists and even grabbed five rebounds. Best of all, Bird had no turnovers in 35 minutes of action.
TANISHA WRIGHT VS. PHOENIX (8/4)
It was a first half to remember for Wright, who put up 21 points by halftime against Phoenix. She cooled down in the second half as the Mercury provided more defensive attention, but she finished with a career-high 25 points (later tied against Atlanta) on 8-of-15 shooting and handed out seven assists.
LAUREN JACKSON AT DETROIT (8/18)
Believe it or not, the 35 points Jackson scored on Aug. 18 at Detroit were the most she (or any Storm player) has ever had in a regulation game. Jackson needed overtime to tie the WNBA record with 47 points at Detroit in 2007. Jackson was equally good at the defensive end in leading the Storm to a key road win.
SUZY BATKOVIC-BROWN AT LOS ANGELES (9/16)
With her fellow Aussie out of the lineup, Batkovic-Brown stepped up in an enormous way during the playoffs against the Sparks. In Game 1, she came off the bench to spark a Storm comeback to make the game close. She finished with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting and seven rebounds.
SWIN CASH VS. LOS ANGELES (9/20)
With the Storm's season on the line, Cash delivered a vintage performance, playing all out for nearly 40 minutes on the floor and leading the Storm with 21 points and 10 rebounds. She got to the free throw line 12 times, making 10 of them.

Best Play of 2009

"THE PLAY"
Sorry, no voting in this category. Is there any question that the best play of 2009 came with the steal and Camille Little's game-winning layup at the end of Game 2? No? Good. Instead, two new categories.
See "The Play"


Best Sue Bird Game-Tying Three of 2009

What was the best Sue Bird game-tying three of 2009?
What was the best Sue Bird game-tying three of 2009?
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JULY 22 VS. LOS ANGELES
While this game is more remembered for Bird's flurry of threes in the third overtime, it was a strike late in the second OT that allowed the Storm to play on and eventually win.
AUG. 1 VS. SAN ANTONIO
The degree of difficulty on this tying three with 3.0 seconds left in regulation was off the charts. Bird almost double-clutched with a defender right in her face on the right wing, but still found nothing but net.
AUG. 29 VS. ATLANTA
Bird did her work early this time around, making a three to tie the game with 19.3 seconds left. Later, she had the assist on the tying basket at the end of the first overtime as the Storm eventually defeated the Dream in 2OTs.
SEPT. 18 VS. LOS ANGELES
Technically, this was not a game-tying shot, but it was important nonetheless. Remember that "The Play" never happens without Bird's three-pointer pulling the Storm within one point in the closing seconds.

Best Defensive Play of 2009

What was the best defensive play of 2009?
What was the best defensive play of 2009?
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SWIN CASH STEAL
Needing a stop to preserve a win over the L.A. Sparks, the Storm turned to Cash, who stood her ground against Tina Thompson and stripped Thompson as she went up to shoot just before the bbuzzer.
Hear Dick Fain's call
CAMILLE LITTLE TAKES CHARGE
Another game-saving stop. With the Storm up one in the closing seconds, Minnesota's Candice Wiggins drove the lane only to find Little waiting in her path. She drew a charge, one of 19 she took on the season to rank among the WNBA's leaders.
LESLIE MISSES AT BUZZER
Also overshadowed by "The Play" was that the Sparks still had a chance to win Game 2 at the buzzer. With Ashley Robinson defending the post, Lisa Leslie missed and the Storm held on to win.
Hear Dick Fain's call
JACKSON BLOCK
For the second time in her career, Lauren Jackson was voted to the All-Defensive First Team on the strength of her interior defense. Here against Phoenix, she blocks DeWanna Bonner's shot to set up a three-point play on the other end.
Hear Dick Fain's call
BURSE SWAT
One of Janell Burse's best games of the year came on Aug. 22 against the Eastern Conference champion Indiana Fever. Burse blocked a pair of shots, including this memorable rejection.
Hear Dick Fain's call

Best Photo of 2009

What was the best picture of 2009?
What was the best picture of 2009?
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HIGH-FIVING STORM PLAYERS
When Swin Cash's three-pointer essentially put the Storm's triple-OT win over Los Angeles away, Sue Bird was there to share a big high five in front of a delirious KeyArena crowd. Aaron Last, who took all these photos, captured the moment.
See the photo
WINNING HUG
After the clock expired at the end of the Storm's thrilling Game 2 come-from-behind victory, Sue Bird and Camille Little embraced while the rest of their teammates gathered at center court.
See the photo
DOPPLER BUMP
Storm forward Katie Gearlds took flight to celebrate with Doppler during the pregame introduction of the Storm's players.
See the photo
JACKSON LOOKS FOR SWAT
As San Antonio's All-Star guard Becky Hammon drives to the hoop, Jackson comes over hoping to swat her shot away.
See the photo
THE ALL-DECADE TEAM
During halftime of the Storm's 10th Anniversary Night, seven of the 10 members of the Storm All-Decade Team joined Ginger Ackerley and the members of Force 10 Hoops for this one-of-a-kind picture.
See the photo

Best Story of 2009

What was the best story of 2009?
What was the best story of 2009?
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LAUREN JACKSON RE-SIGNS
It was the question that dominated an offseason: Would Lauren Jackson re-sign with the Storm? The two-time MVP decided to wait until after her season finished in Russia and she returned in Australia to make it official, but had known for some time she couldn't bear to leave.
STORM 10TH ANNIVERSARY
A celebration 10 years in the making, the Storm commemorated 10 years of basketball all season long. It culminated with the Aug. 1 10th Anniversary Night and introduction of the 10-player All-Decade Team, as selected by fans on stormbasketball.com.
CASH CAPS COMEBACK AS MVP
Revitalized after offseason back surgery, Cash assured the world she had returned to the form at the WNBA All-Star Game. Voted a starter, Cash scored a record 22 points and earned MVP honors.
BIRD EXTENSION
Like Jackson, Bird knew that Seattle was the only place in the WNBA she wanted to play. Bird made it official in September, signing a multi-year contract extension announced before the Storm's last home game.
PEE WEE RETIRES
Shannon Johnson completed a legendary WNBA career with her season in Seattle. During the Storm's playoff series, Johnson announced that she would retire at year's end. She played 10 WNBA seasons in addition to three in the ABL and retired as the league's third-leading assister.