Friday, May 2, 2008

Tonight: Griffith Back in Sacramento

Did you know? The Storm has played the Sacramento Monarchs far more often than any other preseason opponent. The two teams have played nine preseason games over the last eight years; next on the list is the now-defunct Utah Starzz, with four preseason meetings.

The 10th preseason matchup between these two teams is on tap for tonight at ARCO Arena. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and with Sacramento broadcasting on local radio, you should be able to get the feed online via However, technical difficulties are common early in the season, so be prepared for the possibility we might be limited to's live updates.

This game will have a little extra meeting because it is the first trip back to Sacramento for new Storm center Yolanda Griffith after nine years with the Monarchs, including an MVP and the 2005 WNBA championship.

Earlier this week, Griffith was focused on practice and the Storm's preseason opener in Chicago and wasn't really thinking ahead to tonight, other than looking forward to getting home and seeing her family. By the time the Storm practiced in Sacramento yesterday, she was ready to talk about the game with the Sacramento Bee.

"The hardest part is adjusting to the colors," she remarked of her new green and red uniform. "And I'm adjusting to a new city. I've lived in Sacramento for such a long time. My family has stayed here, so being away is hard. ... But (my daughter) Candace understands; Mama got to work."
Columnist Ailene Voisin also considered the incongrinuity of Griffith in a Storm uniform in a column that touches on how she came to Sacramento in the first place.

First, though, she was the sneaky-brilliant draft pick that former Monarchs general manager Jerry Reynolds plucked after Katie Smith and Shannon Johnson had been allocated in the ABL dispersal draft, Chamique Holdsclaw had been drafted by the Washington Mystics with the No. 1 pick, and while the higher-profile former UCLA star, Natalie Williams, remained on the board.

"I wanted 'Yo' because she had the slim body type that would last longer," Reynolds recalled, "and I thought she was the player you could build a franchise around."
The Monarchs may have bigger issues on their mind than Griffith, however. Yesterday, they learned that forward DeMya Walker will miss the season with a fractured right patella. Walker had been returning from tearing the patella tendon, which holds the patella in place, in the same knee. That injury forced her to miss the final 29 games of the season, but Sacramento may find it more difficult to overcome Walker's absence without Griffith. The Monarchs have options, including using Nicole Powell primarily at power forward or putting Rebekkah Brunson at the four alongside first-round pick Laura Harper, but those represent a step down from a Brunson-Walker frontcourt.

The Walker news came the same day as Minnesota announced that point guard Lindsey Harding has a stress fracture of her left patella that will sideline her indefinitely. Harding told reporters she expects to miss about a month with the injury. Like Walker, Harding was coming back from a torn ligament, in this case a torn ACL. Fortunately, the Lynx has depth at guard after signing Anna DeForge and drafting Candice Wiggins, but you want to see Harding get healthy and have a chance to make good on the potential that made her the top overall pick of the 2007 WNBA Draft.

Lastly, the Phoenix Mercury announced Wednesday that All-Star forward Penny Taylor will not join the team until after the Olympic break, if at all. The news was not unexpected but is still a major blow to the defending champs. Taylor was arguably Phoenix's most valuable player a year ago, and the Mercury doesn't have a great replacement for her either - though the Mercury was lucky to get LaToya Pringle late in the first round last month, and Pringle will see extra action filling in for Taylor.

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