Storm Defeats Chinese in Scrimmage
Continuing preparation for the 2005 season, the Seattle Storm defeated the Chinese National Team 81-54 ( Boxscore) in a closed scrimmage held Monday night at The Furtado Center, the Sonics and Storm Training Facility.
For the second straight year, the Chinese, coached by former Washington Mystics Coach Tom Maher, have come to the U.S. to take on WNBA teams during the preseason. They'll play the Sacramento Monarchs in an official exhibition game this Friday, and have another scrimmage scheduled against the San Antonio Silver Stars later this month.
The Storm led the scrimmage, which consisted of five 10-minute periods (stats were only kept for the first four periods), throughout. A late first-half surge boosted Seattle's lead to 45-26 at intermission. The Storm shot 64.7% from the field in the first half and dominated the glass, outrebounding China 33-13 and not allowing an offensive rebound all game.
With 17 points, center Janell Burse led four Storm players in double-figures. Burse dominated the low post, shooting 7-for-13 from the field and tying for a game high with seven rebounds. Burse started at center for the Storm, with Alicia Thompson at small forward and Shaquala Williams at the point alongside incumbents Betty Lennox and Lauren Jackson, who scored 12 and 13 points, respectively.
China was led by the 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting of forward Song Liwei. Liu Dan (10 points) also scored double-figures. Chinese guard Bian Lan left the game after suffering an apparent knee injury. China is missing two of the National Team's top players, Sui Feifei and Miao Lijie. Both are in camp with the Monarchs.
Tuesday morning, the Storm flew to New York, where the team will spend the next five days leading up to Saturday's preseason opener against the Liberty. While back East, the Storm will scrimmage also scrimmage the Liberty and perhaps the Connecticut Sun.
"I'm not one to schedule four exhibitions," said Storm Coach Anne Donovan after Monday's morning practice. "I don't think games get you as much; practice is what gets you prepared right now. Then you sprinkle a few exhibition games in there and that's great. The Liberty and then Sacramento gets us ready."
The Storm is expecting to add a pair of guards while in New York. Michelle Greco arrived in Seattle late Monday evening. After taking her physical Tuesday, she is expected to fly to New York to catch up with the team. Sue Bird's Moscow Dynamo team lost the first two games of its best-of-five Russian Superleague championship series against VBM-SGAU, but held on for a 69-67 victory in Game 3 earlier today. Game 4 is tomorrow, and if Dynamo wins again, the deciding Game 5 would be played on Saturday.
With those guards returning, the Storm made another roster move before leaving for New York, waiving guard Amy Taylor. The Seattle Pacific grad impressed during training camp, but was never a serious consideration to make the final roster.
Part of the decision to release Taylor may have been first-round pick Tanisha Wright's strong play at point during training camp.
"I think Tanisha's shown her ability to swing to the point very effectively, so that's sure a nice surprise," said Donovan. "I knew she could play minutes there, but I didn't know how well she could play there."
Wright played 13 minutes at the point against the Chinese National Team, handing out four assists without committing a turnover. Her ability to serve as a third point guard will help her in the battle for a roster spot.
One point guard who won't be joining the Storm any time soon is Australian Jessica Bibby. After the Storm's medical staff was able to look at the results of tests conducted in Australia, the decision was made not to bring Bibby over this season. The Storm will place her on the suspended list at the start of next week and retain her rights for next season.
"We've had good point guard play in camp thus far, and her back is just a huge question mark and will remain a question mark," explained Donovan. "Even once she starts feeling better, you go through the whole season wondering if it's going to flare up again."
The Storm will have 13 players in camp when Greco joins the team, safely under the WNBA's limit of 15 (today was the deadline to cut down to 15 in camp). However, more cuts will be needed as more players return from overseas.