Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween from the Storm

It's last minute, I know, but I wanted to point everyone towards the design the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did a few years ago for a Storm pumpkin (as well as ones for other local sports teams).

Having spent the last few days papier macheing the head of Michael Scott, I don't envy anyone trying to carve the Storm logo. However, it will go great with your Sue Bird/Lauren Jackson costumes.

Anyways, hope everyone has a happy and fun day and gets more treats than tricks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Imperial Remains Unbeaten

In the only international game Thursday featuring a Storm player, K.V. Imperial AEL went to Spain to defeat Gran Canaria 69-63 in a defensive struggle. Gran Canaria was held to 35.3 percent shooting. Imperial got balanced scoring with four players scoring double-figures, including Storm forward Shyra Ely, who had 12 points and 13 rebounds in 33 minutes.

At 2-0, Gran Canaria is all alone atop Group F and in good shape to advance. The top two teams advance from each group in the EuroCup format along with the eight best third-place teams for a 32-team elimination round. Last year Imperial went 2-4 to finish third in its group.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jackson Gets Going

Lauren Jackson's fourth outing back from surgery on her right ankle was her best. The Storm's star knocked down five three-pointers in six attempts on her way to 19 points, her highest-scoring outing of the season. Jackson added seven rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes as Spartak rebounded from last week's Euroleague loss by crushing a pretty good Fenerbahce team 92-52 at home Wednesday.

Sue Bird had a solid all-around game for Spartak with 10 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Sylvia Fowles added 18 points and 11 boards and Diana Taurasi threatened a rare quadruple-double with 14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists but also eight turnovers.

ZVVK USK Praha had a rougher go of it. Despite Swin Cash being limited to three scoreless minutes of action, USK Praha still led 66-62 with five minutes left. However, big buckets from former UNLV guard Constance Jinks - who led all scorers with 26 points on 9-of-21 shooting - Jolly JBS Sibenik rallied for the 76-70 win. Lindsay Whalen had 21 points for USK Praha in the loss.

In EuroCup action, MBK was no match for Dynamo Moscow, which improved to 2-0 with a lopsided 104-44 victory. Janell Burse had 14 points and seven rebounds yet still was overshadowed by her teammates. Anete Jekabsone-Zogota poured in 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting, while Marina Kuzina had a double-double with 17 points and 11 boards. On the other side, one-time Storm center Tye'sha Fluker had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Athinaikos remained unbeaten with an 84-59 takedown of Ragusa (which sounds more like a sauce than a basketball team, but that's neither here nor there). Katie Gearlds continued her hot shooting, hitting 4-of-7 from beyond the arc and 8-of-14 overall to score 20 points as well as grab four rebounds.

Lastly, Tarbes Bigorre Elite picked up an 83-52 win against Extrugasa. Tanisha Wright played a solid game for Tarbes, finishing with 12 points, six assists and five rebounds.

The last Storm player in international competition is Shyra Ely. Her K.V. Imperial AEL squad faces Gran Canaria tomorrow, and we'll update then.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Little Debuts

The Turkish TBBL was the last of the major European leagues to get underway and Pankup TED Kayseri Koleji had a bye in week one, so this past weekend was Camille Little's first meaningful game for her new squad. It matched Little against college (and, at one point, WNBA) teammate Ivory Latta and Ceyhan. Latta poured in a game-high 31 points, but Kayseri Koleji pulled out an 82-80 victory in no small part thanks to 19 points and 10 rebounds from Little, the team's leading scorer.

In Russia, Spartak got back in the winning column with a 96-67 victory over Kursk Dynamo. Lauren Jackson had 10 points and six boards for Spartak, while Sue Bird scored eight. Diana Taurasi was Spartak's leading scorer with 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

Cadi La Seu saw its two-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of Estudiantes in a 71-65 defeat. In a losing effort, Kelly Santos had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and nine boards.

Another game, another win for Tarbes Bigorre Elite, which improved to 7-0 in French LFB play with an 80-48 takedown of Reze Basket. With the game well in hand, Tanisha Wright did not need to put up big numbers. She finished with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Swin Cash looks to be getting in the swing of things for ZVVZ USK Praha after seeing her minutes limited early in the season. Cash played nearly 35 minutes on Saturday in USK Praha's 91-46 win over Strakonice. She responded with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting and 14 rebounds in a strong outing.

As Athinaikos improved to 2-0, Katie Gearlds had far and away her best effort of the young international campaign. Gearlds scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including four three-pointers. She added seven rebounds in Athinaikos' 76-70 win over Asperides Ravenna.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vote in Snap Judgment 2008

WNBA.com has kicked off its annual Snap Judgment Photo of the Year competition. For each photographer/arena, the league has chosen 10 photos. The best of those will advance into a 16-photo tournament that will play out over the next few weeks.

Anyways, this is the week for the Storm's photos taken by Terrence Vaccaro, like the thumbnail shown at right from Media Day. Go make your selection and be sure to visit the Snap Judgment homepage so you can vote for Los Angeles and Sacramento, the other two teams for whom voting is currently open.

Spartak Upset

Apologies for the lack of overseas updates. I spent the first part of the week out of town on a rare vacation and have been catching up ever since as we make our move to The Furtado Center. The big news I missed is that Spartak fell victim to an upset Wednesday at the hands of Lithuanian competitor TEO Vilnius. Spartak trailed 24-13 after one quarter and by 18 at the half. By the time Spartak mounted a furious fourth-quarter comeback, it was too late. TEO Vilnius held on for the 72-64 win.

It was a rough night for several Spartak players, including Sue Bird, who shot 3-of-15 from the field. (She did have seven steals and eight points.) Lauren Jackson was limited to 12 minutes and did not score in her Euroleague debut. Sylvia Fowles (24 points, 11 boards) and Diana Taurasi (18 points) were the only Spartak players able to find a rhythm. The team shot 25.0 percent from downtown and really left a lot of points at the free-throw line, shooting a dismal 13-of-27 (48.1 percent). Vilnius got a dominant performance from Crystal Langhorne, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds.

The other Euroleague game with Storm ties saw ZVVZ USK Praha rebound from a poor Euroleague debut to come up with an impressive 87-72 win over Ros Casares in Prague. Swin Cash had six points in 12 productive minutes off the bench for USK Praha, which got 29 points from Evanthia Maltsi and saw Lindsay Whalen (nine points, 14 rebounds, seven assists) threaten a triple-double.

This week marked the tip off of play in the EuroCup. All four teams featuring Storm players were winners. Athinaikos survived a pair of late tying three attempts (one from Sheri Sam) to beat Greek rivals Panionios 62-59 behind six points and four boards from Katie Gearlds. Municipal Targoviste was no match for Dynamo Moscow in Dynamo's 95-59 win Thursday, which featured 18 points and 15 boards from Janell Burse (as well as 29 from Marina Kuzina).

Also Thursday, Shyra Ely scored 15 points and grabbed 10 boards as K.V. Imperial AEL scored an impressive 70-53 home win over Cras Basket Taranto and familiar faces Suzy Batkovic and Michelle Greco. Ely was 6-of-10 from the field and added four steals. Lastly, Tarbes crushed Olivais Coimbra by a 102-59 final. Tarbes was able to rest its starters in the win. Tanisha Wright played just 15 minutes, finishing with six points and three assists.

To national league play from last weekend ...

Kelly Santos' Cadi La Seu squad picked up its second straight win by a 70-65 final over Celta Undepo. Santos had 12 points and seven boards in the victory. Spartak had an easier time of it in the Russian Superleague against Slavianka, winning 115-43. Bird scored 12 points, while Jackson made her return from ankle surgery in style, posting 10 points and eight boards in 15 minutes of action. Dynamo crushed Dynamo-GUVD 102-57 as Burse had 16 points and eight rebounds.

Tarbes survived a scare from Lattes Montpellier to remain undefeated in the French LFB, winning 64-59. It was a nice balanced game for Wright, who had 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Tarbes and Bourges are the last two remaining undefeated teams in the LFB. In the Czech Republic, USK Praha blew out BK Tabor by a 111-51 final. In her best game of the year, Cash had 13 points and nine boards in an even 20 minutes.

Lastly, the Greek A1 league kicked off last weekend. Athinaikos defeated Aris Holargou 72-66 with Gearlds scoring 12 points.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Planting Trees


Amy Burdick from the Storm (second from left) with Danny Levine, Sara Carter, Mary Carter and Scott Decelles from Carter Subaru . /Storm Photos

Saturday was the Tree Planting Kick-Off event for the Mountains to Sound Greenway. As part of the event at Lake Sammamish State Park, Storm fans and employees helped plant the 143 trees donated as part of the season-long "3's for Trees" campaign. Storm Director of Ticket Sales & Service Zachary Fraser was there and blogs about his experience.

When the opportunity was presented to help plant trees at Lake Sammamish State Park as part of our relationship with the Mountains to Sound Greenway project, one thought immediately came to mind: my son would love to play in the mud.

As transplants to the Pacific Northwest, we are being brought up to speed on community efforts that involve "green" initiatives. We ride the bus (most of the time), we recycle, we use Storm-branded chico bags at the store, but we have yet to help plant trees. So, we put on our red rubber boots and our grubby jeans and headed east on I-90 to the park.

We showed up and wasted no time in being put to work along with about 150 other volunteers (I didn't take the time to count, but it seems like an accurate estimate). It was pretty simple: Grab a shovel, dig a hole, put the tree in, fill the dirt back in, and do the "tree dance" to make sure the roots were packed tight enough to pass the "deer" or "pull" test. (Basically, you dance around the backfill dirt to pack it in tight so that it can't get pulled out by snacking deer. I learn something new every day). Brain surgery it was not.

Besides the postcard setting (60 degrees and sunny with fall colors exploding off the trees in the park), the best part of the morning was the incredible variety of people that were there. It was very similar to what makes a Storm game such a great event - the sense of community that exists, bringing people from different backgrounds together to have fun and do some good at the same time. My son even found a pet worm and named him "Bono."

We planted three trees - that was the extent of my son's attention span. It will be fun to go back year after year to look at "our" trees (the locations won't soon be forgotten), and to see the area as the trees mature. Plus, it was great to be able to track mud through the house without getting in trouble!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bird Celebrates in Style

A Happy Birthday to Sue Bird, who turns 28 today. It happened to fall on the same day as Spartak's Euroleague opener, and Bird's birthday wish for a victory came through as Spartak defeated Famila Schio 88-63 at home. Bird was a big reason why, finishing with 15 points, nine assists and five rebounds and no turnovers in a terrific all-around effort.

Lauren Jackson had hoped to return to action today after missing the last seven weeks after ankle surgery. However, she did not play. Spartak has enough All-Stars on the roster to bring Jackson back slowly and not lose any ground.

Famlia Schio did put up a good fight today, taking an early lead and down just 10 late in the third quarter. A 9-0 Spartak run pushed the advantage to 19 early in the fourth and all but sealed the game.

It was the Russians who stepped up for Spartak today, with Tatiana Shchegoleva scoring a game-high 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting and Marina Karpunina adding 17, including three triples. Diana Taurasi added 12 points.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More From Jackson; Euroleague Opener

Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and their Spartak teammates are preparing to tip off Euroleague play tomorrow against Famila Schio in Vidnoe, Russia. For now, another article from the Aussie press on Jackson's future. She reiterated to The Border Mail that she is giving thought to whether to play in the WNBA prior to the 2012 Olympics. Jackson was also asked about her more immediate future in the league as an unrestricted free agent.

"I can’t see myself doing anything differently, that is, playing for Seattle, but I’ve got a good couple of months to think about it and where I want to play," she said. "I feel like the pressure is off and I can take my time with what I want to do. But Seattle is my home over there and has been for eight years, so I can’t see a move happening."

One other question from that article: Is the phrase "on cards" in Australia instead of "in the cards"?

While Spartak plays tomorrow, Swin Cash's ZVVZ USK Praha opened up today, falling 78-62 to Union Hainaut Basket. As best I can tell, Cash was playing her first game for USK Praha. She came off the bench and showed some rust, shooting 1-of-8 from the field in 13 minutes of action. Cash's four rebounds were tied for the team lead. It was a rough shooting game in general for USK Praha, which hit 35.5 percent from the field while Hainaut was near 50 percent. Teammate Lindsay Whalen scored 11 points but shot 3-of-12.

Look for USK Praha to pick it up as Cash is integrated into the lineup.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Overseas Update - Oct. 13

We begin this week in France, where Tarbes survived a scare from Villeneuve d'Ascq, winning 71-69 Saturday to remain undefeated at 5-0 and tied atop the LFB league table with Bourges. Tanisha Wright tied for game-high honors with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting and seven assists.

Kelly Santos helped Cadi La Seu d'Urgell get off the schneid in LEB play, beating Gran Canaria 66-57 on Saturday. Matched up against a former Storm training-camp invitee, Eva Montesdeoca, Santos had 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and eight boards. Montesdeoca grabbed 11 rebounds, but scored just four points. Through three weeks, Santos is third in the LEB in scoring (17.7 ppg) and also in the top 10 in field-goal percentage (63.3 percent).

In Russia, SuperLeague play kicked off Friday. In her first regular-season game, Janell Burse had 17 points and 11 rebounds but Dynamo Moscow fell to Nadezhda 86-82. Neither Sue Bird nor Lauren Jackson were not around for the opener, but Spartak still cruised 79-55 past Dynamo-GUVD with Tatiana Shchegoleva, Sylvia Fowles and Kelly Miller scoring double-figures.

Jackson was, as of the end of the Storm's season, scheduled to fly to Russia today in time for Spartak's Euroleague opener on Thursday (also Bird's 28th birthday). Before she left Australia, Jackson spoke to the Daily Telegraph, telling the paper she's considering not playing in the WNBA in 2012 leading up to the London Olympics.

"But for me now I think something I really need to look at is not going back to the WNBA in Olympic years and, instead, focusing on our team, just being around and getting to know people, building relationships. I'll try and be more of a leader, more of a captain," she said. "Leading up to the Olympics, I'll go on European tours with the team, do all that stuff. I think that's my next step."

Friday also saw the UL Aughnish open up play in the Basketball Ireland SuperLeague, defeating newcomers Leisureworld Churchfield Iona 64-45 behind 25 points from the Storm's Kristen O'Neill.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Four Years Ago Today ...

I'm embarrassed to admit that I almost let the day slip by without mentioning that it is the fourth anniversary of the Storm winning the 2004 WNBA championship. (I think it falling on a Sunday threw me and maybe others, seeing as there's nothing on StormFans.) I think it's always fun to look back on the night of Oct. 12, 2004 and consider what the Storm (and 13 other teams) are striving for each season.

Here's some of the content we've put together on storm.wnba.com to remember the championship:

- Video of the final seconds and postgame celebration
- Staff memories of the evening
- My column celebrating the 2004 Storm

Friday, October 10, 2008

Overseas Update - Oct. 10

For the first time this offseason, it's time to head overseas and check in on the Storm's players in Europe. If you haven't already, give our Storm Overseas page a look for more links and a handy map showing where everyone is playing.

Before Euroleague play tips off next Thursday, the only major international competition is the qualifying round of the EuroCup. Katie Gearlds' Athinaikos squad advanced over CAB Madeira by winning 87-58 at home Wednesday to take their home-and-home series with a combined score of 165 to 103. In the two games, Gearlds combined for 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting, including three triples as well as four rebounds and four assists.

Some of the national leagues have started up. While the Russian Superleague isn't yet underway, teams are apparently competing in the Russian Cup. Janell Burse made her debut for Dynamo Moscow, which has gone 2-1 to rank second in Group B. Burse has two double-doubles in the three games, including 16 points and 13 boards in a loss to Nadezhda. Wednesday will be a battle of the Dynamos against a team from Kursk.

Kelly Santos led Cadi La Seu d'Urgell with 19 points and seven rebounds, shooting 7-of-11 from the field. However, La Seu d'Urgell fell 76-59 to a Ciudad Ros Casares team including Storm training-camp player Roneeka Hodges.

At 4-0, Tanisha Wright's Tarbes Gespe Bigorre √Člite team is tied for first place in the LFB with Bourges Basket. Tarbes most recently defeated Calais 77-43 on Wednesday. For some reason, the stats from that game are no longer available, though the RebKell boards handily note that Wright had 14 points and nine assists in the win.

Force 10 on Eyewitness News Profiles

Tomorrow's edition of KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Profiles will feature Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., the Storm's ownership group. Tune in to KIRO 7 at 10 p.m. Saturday to see interviews with the members of Force 10 Hoops and more. Here's how KIRO describes the segment in a press release:

A similar dedication—to Seattle and to women’s professional sports—was the driving force behind Force 10 Hoops, a Seattle group that formed to convince the new SuperSonics owner that the Seattle Storm should stay in the city. In contrast to the drama that publicly unfolded for the Sonics, Lisa Brummel, Ginny Gilder, Anne Levinson and Dawn Trudeau—the local women who comprise Force 10—worked quietly to keep the Storm from hitting the Midwest. They talk with KIRO 7 Eyewitness News anchor Margo Myers about their game plan.

In an industry dominated by men and filled with disgruntled players and disillusioned fans, the four women share their determination to develop a nurturing, cooperative and winning environment for everyone involved.
To see extended versions of the interviews and for more information, check out the Eyewitness News Profiles site on KIRO7.com.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vote Storm!

While Election Day may be nearly a month away, it's still time to cast your vote for your favorite team. The Storm is part of Evening Magazine's The Best of Western Washington awards, nominated for "Favorite Sports Team." (And really, this year, that seems like an obvious choice, right?)

Also, a pair of Storm point guards - Sue Bird and rookie Kimberly Beck - are up for "Friendliest Pro Athlete."

So what are you waiting for? Surf on over to King5.com and make your voice heard now!

UPDATE: Storm nominations continue rolling in. If you've already voted, head on back to cast your vote for Doppler as "Most Energetic Mascot" and the Storm Dance Troupe as "Best Cheerleading Squad."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Personal Note

It pales in comparison to Yolanda Griffith and Lauren Jackson, but I'm pleased to pass along that the Storm has ensured that at least one free agent will be staying in Seattle - your humble blogger. In the wake of the Sonics move to Oklahoma City, I continued to cover the Storm as an employee of the Professional Basketball Club through the season, but today is my first day working for the standalone Storm.

I hope it's evident in my coverage how much the Storm means to me, and it was difficult to imagine not covering the team after its sale, even before the departure of the Sonics became reality. There are so many reasons that is the case, from a great group of coworkers to a team and a coaching staff that is fun to cover every day. Most of all, though, it's about you, the fans/readers. A sense of community exists in KeyArena (and, in a different way, on this site) that is unparalleled throughout professional sports. I'm privileged to play a small part in that unique relationship.

An upside of focusing on the Storm instead of dividing my attention between two teams is that we should be able to offer coverage throughout the offseason that expands upon what you've already come to expect from storm.wnba.com. This year figures to be especially interesting as we lead up to the Storm's 10th Anniversary season. If you've got any idea for things you'd like to see, please leave them in the comments or pass them along via e-mail.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll continue to do so all winter long and into another great season of Storm basketball.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Doppler Jumps for JumpUp


Photos courtesy Seattle School District

Seattle Storm Mascot Doppler showed off jump-roping skills at Seattle’s Dearborn Park Elementary School Sept. 30, all part of an effort to advocate increased physical activity to combat childhood obesity.

The event marked the launch of JumpUp, an initiative created by Seattle nonprofit Treeswing - in partnership with Seattle Children’s - to give young children increased opportunities for fun and fitness at school and home. Dearborn Park kindergarteners received the first of 4,000 jump ropes to be distributed to Seattle Public Schools kindergarteners citywide.

In addition to Doppler and the Mariners Moose, the event included individual and tandem jump-roping by Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson; the Northwest Double Dutch exhibition team; and the students and returning alumni of Dearborn Park’s Seattle Cirque and Acrobat Teams.

“We were delighted to be part of the JumpUp event, which reflects our commitment to helping children become physically active,” said Teresa Wippel, the Storm's director of communications and community relations. “One of our major community initiatives – supported by every team in the WNBA – is to raise awareness about how being fit improves health, self-image and overall well-being among young people.”

Detroit Takes Game 1

My initial inclination was to predict before the series that San Antonio would win Game 1 because of the short turnaround for the Shock from the end of the Eastern Conference Finals, but I thought better of it. Lo and behold, rest proved not to be a factor as Detroit jumped all over the host Silver Stars in the first half and controlled the closing minutes after San Antonio rallied to tie the game. That quickly, the Shock has stolen back home-court advantage in this series.

If once is a fluke, twice a coincidence and three times a trend, it's officially time to worry about the Silver Stars. This is the third straight series where opponents have been able to score against the once-impenetrable San Antonio D. Detroit shot 47.1 percent from the field and committed just eight turnovers, which adds up to a cool 109.5 Offensive Rating. There's no way the Silver Stars can defend like that and win.

Down the stretch, it was Taj McWilliams-Franklin who came up big for the Shock by slipping behind the defense after pick-and-rolls and getting good looks. McWilliams-Franklin also turned four offensive boards into second shots and finished with 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Katie Smith also made some enormous shots and scored a game-high 25.

On the other end, Detroit did a terrific job of defending Becky Hammon using a variety of defenders. The Shock pushed Hammon to the baseline and used the sideline against her desire to dribble around and probe the defense until something opens up. Hammon ended up with 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting, did not make a three and had four turnovers, but her frustration late in the game told the story in a way the numbers can't possibly match.

As we look ahead to tomorrow's Game 2, San Antonio could get a key lift if Helen Darling and/or Edwige Lawson-Wade are able to return to the lineup. However, that's offset by the possibility that Plenette Pierson could play for the Shock. Either way, the Silver Stars will have to figure out a way to consistently get stops. Look for San Antonio to pay more attention to McWilliams-Franklin, which could open things up for Deanna Nolan or other perimeter players. Hammon should be able to get going, but unless the Silver Stars improve their defense, they won't even this series.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Other Stormy Awards


Senior Coordinator of Storm Business Operations Kelly Nigh thanks Storm employees for their hard work.

You already got a chance to vote for the 2008 Stormy Award for best performance in a Storm Movie Magic, won by Sheryl Swoopes. (And, for those of you hoping to find video of Sheryl's tearjerker of an acceptance speech online, we should have that up before long.) On Monday night, however, we handed out the inaugural "The Office" Stormy Awards at the end-of-season party at the Garage Billiards & Bowl in Capitol Hill. It was a great opportunity to celebrate a successful first year under independent ownership and look forward to an even better 2009.

Awards included most Storm spirit, the Go Green Award for most environmentally-conscious employee, most likely to fill in for Doppler and more. (Sadly, no award yet for best blogger!)

Fittingly, Storm CEO Karen Bryant won the Storm Lifer award (would you have it any other way?):



Kyle "The Shark" Waters not only posted the high bowling score (223) but also took home the Seargent Sales award for his ability to put fans in the seats at KeyArena.



Congrats to all our winners!