Saturday, January 31, 2009

Storm Waives Swoopes

The Storm's decision Saturday to waive guard Sheryl Swoopes came down to maintaining flexibility. Swoopes' contract called for her 2009 salary to become guaranteed if she was on the roster on Feb. 1, forcing the Storm to make a decision on her future in the midst of putting together a complicated free-agent puzzle with multiple moving pieces.

With Swoopes' salary on the cap, the Storm would have limited its options in addressing other needs in free agency.

"It was a very tough decision to release Sheryl," explained Storm Head Coach Brian Agler in a statement. "Our free agency priorities right now are to secure depth both at the post and point guard positions."

The Storm continues to negotiate to re-sign incumbent starting posts Lauren Jackson and Yolanda Griffith while also attempting to secure Janell Burse's return to the WNBA after she decided to sit out the 2008 season. The additional flexibility makes it possible for the Storm to retain all three players while also looking to add depth at the point-guard position behind All-Star Sue Bird.

Agler was appreciative of what Swoopes brought to the Storm during her season in Seattle.

"We were fortunate to be able to add Sheryl to our roster last year as her leadership and experience were a key part of our 22-win season. We are thankful for her contributions to the Storm on and off the court and wish her the best as she moves on to the next step in her career."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Spartak Reaches Quarterfinals

Playing on the road, Spartak Moscow Region crushed ZVVZ USK Praha's hope of forcing a decisive Game 3 in their Euroleague eighth-final matchup by taking a commanding early lead and cruising to a 92-78 win in Prague. Spartak scored 58 points by halftime to take an 18-point advantage to the break of Game 2.

Diana Taurasi led the offensive onslaught, scoring a game-high 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Taurasi flirted with a triple-double, grabbing nine rebounds and handing out eight assists (and, with seven turnovers, she wasn't far from a dubious quadruple-double either). Five Spartak players reached double-figures, with Lauren Jackson (13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, three steals) taking a relative backseat. Sue Bird needed just six shots (making five) to score 10 points, handing out four assists and pulling down four boards.

It was a long night for USK Praha's Swin Cash, who shot 2-of-14 from the field. Cash did everything else, contributing seven rebounds, three assists and three steals to go with her seven points, but could not get the shot to drop. Spartak's Sylvia Fowles blocked three shots and was a big reason why USK Praha shot but 39.0 percent on two-point attempts.

Having won the series 2-0, Spartak advances to the quarterfinals. Ros Casares Valencia is waiting, having swept Broker Kosice, winning the two games by a combined 78 points. At the beginning of the calendar year, Ros Casares added Candice Wiggins to its core of DeLisha Milton-Jones and Spanish legend Amaya Valdemoro. The result is a team that should be able to make things difficult for Spartak in the next round. The best-of-three series opens Feb. 17 in Russia.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

EuroCup Playoffs Resume

More than a month after the EuroCup 16th-finals, postseason action picked back up today with the start of home-and-home aggregate series in the eighth-finals. To recap, three Storm players are scattered amongst the 16 teams still in action - Janell Burse with top-seeded Dynamo Moscow, Tanisha Wright on Tarbes Bigorre Elite and Katie Gearlds for Athinaikos.

Dynamo played the day's tightest game, ultimately triumphing on the road against Greek side Ravenna Esperides by a 75-74 final. Two Tatiana Popova free throws with 15 seconds left - her only points of the day - gave Dynamo the lead for good. Of course, because these series are decided by total points, winning or losing a single game is not of crucial importance. Either way, Dynamo is in solid shape heading back home.

Dynamo relied on its trio of foreigners - Anete Jekabsone-Zogota (23 points), Belinda Snell (19) and Burse (14 points and seven rebounds). The three players combined for 56 of Dynamo's 75 points.

Tarbes found the road a less friendly environment, falling 75-66 at Cras Basket Taranto. Taranto outscored Tarbes 25-13 in the second quarter, and the visitors never got in the game - though at least Tarbes kept things close enough to have a reasonable shot of evening the score back home. Wright was a big part of that. Held to four first-half points, Wright finished with 22 on 9-of-16 shooting. She added four assists and three rebounds.

Tarbes scored at a strong clip, yet could not get enough stops. Megan Mahoney scored 20 for Taranto, which also got 14 points from former Storm center Suzy Batkovic. Old Storm favorite Michelle Greco ran the point, handing out eight assists while scoring 11 points and grabbing five boards in an excellent well-rounded performance.

The lone Storm team in EuroCup that is the lower-seeded team this round is Athinaikos, which crushed Elitzur Ramla 88-73. Gearlds paced the Athinaikos attack with 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting, while LaToya Davis contributed a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds. Athinaikos shot 61.3 percent on two-point attempts and was 26-of-32 at the free-throw line in the win. Ramla apparently had to release all of its American players - including Adia Barnes - due to financial considerations, so Athinaikos is in good shape to maintain its advantage going on the road and advance to the quarterfinals.

The deciding games of the aggregate series will be played a week from today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Spartak Takes Postseason Opener

The Euroleague playoffs kicked off today with all Storm eyes on the matchup between Spartak Moscow Region and ZVVZ USK Praha, featuring Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson squaring off with teammate Swin Cash.

Spartak, the two-time defending Euroleague champs, is heavily favored but USK Praha was able to keep things close on the road in Game 1. The margin was nine at halftime and eight late in the third quarter before Spartak pulled away to win 102-86.

Spartak got a combined 75 points from its three leading scorers - Sylvia Fowles (27 points, 11 rebounds), Jackson (25 points and 14 boards) and Diana Taurasi (23). Jackson had a tough time inside the arc, missing 13 of her 17 two-point attempts, but knocked down a trio of three-pointers and was 8-of-10 at the free-throw line. Bird played her customary role leading the Spartak attack, finishing with 13 points, five assists and three three-pointers.

Cash had 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists for USK Praha, but the Spartak D pressured her into seven turnovers. Praha got big scoring efforts from Evanthia Maltsi (27 points) and Lindsay Whalen (20 points, eight boards, five assists). Despite the best efforts of Cash and Whalen from the perimeter, USK Praha was beaten badly on the defensive glass, surrendering 20 offensive boards - seven by Jackson and five from Fowles.

Spartak will try to close out the best-of-three series on Friday, when the action shifts to Prague for Game 2.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gearlds Blog: Travel Troubles and a Big Win

I hope this finds everyone starting their New Year off exactly as they envisioned. My time at home for Christmas was very short. I think I had four or five days there, but at least I was able to make it home. I would have had more time, but I was stuck in Rome's airport for almost 28 hours. I flew from Athens to Rome on Alitalia Airlines at six in the morning with no problems, but when I got to Rome the flight was supposed to leave at 10 a.m. and it was delayed until noon. Again, no problem. I found a corner, cuddled up in it and did what I do best ... sleep! I woke up to find a group of about 40 people around the check-in counter screaming only God knows what. I asked around only to find out that the airline's grounds crew members had gone on strike and our flight was to be delayed another two hours. Again, no problem - I'll grab something to eat and by then it will be time to board the plane. Wrong again. I came back to the counter to find about 75 people screaming at the same woman. To make a long story short, the airline kept delaying the flight every two hours and would never flat-out cancel it because they didn't want to be responsible for accommodating passengers with food and hotels.

I met a group of about seven other Americans and we learned that the flight wasn't going to take off at all that day or any time in the next three days. My new friends decided to stand in line and get reimbursed for everything. I assumed that if I did that I would never make it home. I was able to purchase a ticket on a different airline scheduled to fly out the next morning.

With about 14 hours to waste in Rome, I figured I would wander around and check out the sites. Bad idea - everything was closed. No tourist spots were open, and there was nothing for me to do but find another corner, curl up and go to sleep. The group of Americans I met was just getting to the front of the line of the Alitalia line when I boarded my plane the next morning. I hope they all made it home safely! I never in my life have been so happy to be on American soil. I drove straight to Taco Bell, showered and slept until the next day. I had a great time at home, but of course my bags didn't arrive in the U.S. until after I had already left to go back to Athens.

Anyways, I can't believe it's the end of January already! Soon enough we'll all be back in the Key starting a new season. I was so excited when I talked to T and she said she was coming back to Seattle. She was a huge part of our success last season and I am sure she'll be even better this summer. I talked to Shy after she had signed with Chicago and told her that while I was very sad she was leaving, I was happy for her because it sounds like a good fit. I am sure she'll be a huge success there and it's only about three hours to Nap-town!

My team here in Athens is playing some pretty good ball right now. After returning from a very short Christmas break we had two tough games in the Greek league. I don't think there was any way we could have played worse in that first game, but fortunately we were able to sneak by and win by a point. The second, the one that probably determined whether or not we would win the Greek championship, was against last season's champs. My team was down by three at the half, but was able to hold them to only four points in the third quarter and take over the game. We were never threatened during the final period. Everyone on my team is on Cloud 9 and hopeful that we are able to run the table the rest of the Greek league season.

In Eurocup, we are still alive and kicking and play a team from Israel this coming week. They are seeded higher than us, so we will play at home first. I am not sure on where the second game will be played, because even though the war has calmed down in Gaza we are still cautious to fly anywhere near there. Adia was on that team, but they recently released all their American players for financial reasons. I'm currently trying to talk Adia into giving me some tips on her former team - I think she might be willing to help. ;)

Outside of basketball, life is good here. I spend a lot of time with my teammates - they are really great people. I had a friend come visit for almost two weeks and that was fun. My mom and brother are coming over here in March, so I am counting down the days until then. The majority of my time is spent playing PlayStation - I recently won the World Series with the Cubs. Yes, it's just a video game, but one of these days (in real life) they are going to win it all. Now I am finishing up a season in NCAA 09. My team is Davidson because Stephen Curry is just flat out nasty! Lastly, here's my Super Bowl prediction: Steelers over Cardinals (... and yes, that really hurt to say T)!

Until next time,

RIP Coach Yow

Weekend Overseas Update

A light weekend for games involving Storm teams, with two games on the schedule. The biggest came in Greece, where Athinaikos got another test against Paleo Faliro, a middle-tier team in the Greek A1 league. Athinaikos trailed by nine after one quarter and five at the half before holding on for a 59-58 win. Athinaikos would have been doomed without a strong effort from Katie Gearlds, who scored 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting and pulled down six boards. Athinaikos remains undefeated in league play at 16-0.

Despite an off night for Kelly Santos (six points on 3-of-12 shooting, five rebounds), Cadi La Seu got back on the winning track by defeating Gran Canaria 70-68. At 5-11, Cadi La Seu is tied with Mann Filter Zaragoza for 10th in the Spanish Liga Feminina.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

RIP Coach Yow

Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images
Sad news from the world of college hoops this morning, as legendary North Carolina State Head Coach Kay Yow lost her lengthy and inspirational battle with breast cancer, passing away peacefully early Saturday. Her absence will be felt throughout the women's basketball community.

From N.C. State's press release:

She entered her 34th season as head mentor of the Wolfpack women’s program in 2008-09. Her NC State record of 680-325 left her as one of only three women’s coaches at the Division I level to coach 1,000 games at one institution. On Dec. 14 in a victory over Ole Miss, Coach Yow took her place alongside legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and former Texas coach Jody Condradt.

Yow’s all-time collegiate record of 737-344 spanned 38 seasons, four with Elon College. She was one of just six coaches to ever compile over 700 victories and began this season as the most tenured coach in the active ranks.
Of course, to summarize Yow's career and life in wins and losses would be to significantly understate its magnitude. Her influence was as strong if not stronger in the way she led off the floor, including the the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund established in 2007 in partnership with the V Foundation to battle women's cancers.

The WNBA's leadership has paid tribute to Yow. From President Donna Orender:

This is certainly a profound loss for the family of basketball. Kay's legacy will be the many lives she touched and will continue to touch as the lessons she delivered in life will live on.
and WNBA Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations Renee Brown:

I consider myself blessed to have known - and learned from - Coach Yow throughout my career. Without a doubt she will be remembered as one of the most beloved coaches in the history of women's basketball. Her players adored her but it was so, so much bigger than basketball. They adored and respected her for the life lessons she imparted along the way; she taught them the value of being a good person and representing themselves and their families in the proper manner. Kay did more than prepare her players for basketball; she prepared them for life.
As you would expect,'s Mechelle Voepel has a heartfelt column that encapsulates Yow's life and career as best possible.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Big Win for Athinaikos

Katie Gearlds and her Athinaikos squad passed one of their biggest tests in Greek A1 league play Wednesday, defeating second-place Esperides Ravenna 74-63 in Athens. The win is the second for Athinaikos head-to-head between the two teams, who have not lost to any other Greek team. As a result, 15-0 Athinaikos holds a two-game lead in the standings over Esperides Ravenna with the season series complete.

The win showcased Athinaikos' impressive depth. With 10 points, Gearlds was one of of five Athinaikos players to score double-figures. On the other side, Esperides Ravenna had just three players contribute more than two points. Still, Athinaikos trailed 45-42 at the half before outscoring the opposition 17-4 in the third quarter. Esperides Ravenna was held to 1-of-11 shooting in the period.

Gearlds added nine rebounds and a pair each of assists and steals in 37 minutes of action in the win.

The Waiting Game

The most common question I get these days is for an update on the Storm and free agency. Honestly, I'm not quite sure what to say. As a team site, we're not in the rumor game (that need being filled in the W by the RebKell boards), and the coaching staff's perspective hasn't really changed since we last talked with Brian Agler a week and a half ago.

Besides last year, which seemed to bring the Storm a new All-Star every few weeks, this is fairly typical of a WNBA offseason. For any number of reasons - The fact that players are busy playing half a world away? The length of time until the start of the season? - the Hot Stove League tends to move at a relatively slow place in the WNBA. I suspect that is exacerbated to some extent this year as teams wait on the top players on the market to make up their minds before moving on to secondary options. So, for now, transactions flow in at a trickle, not a stream's pace.

Of course, just because moves are not being finalized does not mean there is not work being done behind the scenes. The Storm, like teams throughout the league, continues to talk with free agents and work through a variety of scenarios for putting together a 2009 roster. I suspect we'll have some news to offer sooner rather than later. For now, however, I preach patience.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bird Back in Action in Spartak Win

Good news from Russia, where the injury that ended Sue Bird's day late in Spartak's loss Sunday to CSKA proved to be minor. Bird was not only back on the court for Wednesday's Superleague matchup with Dynamo Moscow, she played 30 minutes, second on the team to Diana Taurasi.

With Bird at the point, Spartak got back to winning ways, defeating Dynamo 94-78. Spartak built a 14-point halftime lead before the teams played even after intermission. Bird had seven points, six rebounds and five assists, while Lauren Jackson supplied plenty of offense. Jackson scored 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting despite having a tough time finding the touch from beyond the arc. The rest of the scoring Spartak needed came from Taurasi, who scored 24.

Dynamo, which played without Janell Burse, was led by 21 points and nine boards from Marina Kuzina.

Spartak has the weekend off before beginning the Euroleague Playoffs on Tuesday by hosting Swin Cash and ZVVZ USK Praha in Game 1 of their best-of-three series.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gilder on KKNW Thursday

Ginny Gilder, one of the four women who make up the Storm's ownership group (Force 10 Hoops L.L.C.), will be a guest tomorrow on the Chat With Women radio show on KKNW 1150 AM. Tune in (or listen live online) to hear Ginny talk about the Storm and more at 8:45 a.m.

UPDATE: Here's the podcast of Thursday's show.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Overseas Update: Spartak Falls

On Sunday, the long-anticipated first showdown of 2008-09 between Russian powers Spartak and CSKA Moscow arrived. Both entered undefeated in Russian Superleague play, Spartak at 10-0 and CSKA 9-0. In a game that was tight throughout - tied at halftime and a one-point margin through three quarters - CSKA held on for the 76-73 victory.

With 1:32 to play and CSKA leading 74-68, Sue Bird apparently rolled her ankle. Fortunately, she was able to walk off under her own power. It had already been a tough night for Bird and Lauren Jackson, who scored six points apiece. Diana Taurasi, who scored 27, was the only Spartak starter to score double-figures. Four CSKA starters reached that mark, led by Anne Wauters' 23. Spartak could not find the range from downtown, hitting 2-of-15 on threes.

Another undefeated season in league play came to an end over the weekend with Gambrinus Brno going into Prague and defeating ZVVZ USK Praha by a lopsided 76-58 final. USK Praha has been plagued by injuries, and that was too much to overcome against the traditional Czech power. Swin Cash scored eight points, while Lindsay Whalen scored nine for USK Praha. The loss creates a tie atop the Czech Basketball League with both teams 17-1. This won't be the last time USK Praha and Gambrinus Brno play this season.

Katie Gearlds' Athinaikos squad remains undefeated at 14-0, and did not really get much of a test this weekend against Aris Holargou, winning 92-34. The score after one quarter was 34-4. Gearlds did not play; neither did Athinaikos' other American, LaToya Davis. Presumably, they were just resting. And Athinaikos still won by 58 points. Apparently Aris Holargou is not very good.

In Spain, Cadi La Seu had a tough matchup with league-leading Ciudad Ros Casares. Behind 25 points from Amaya Valdemoro, Ros Casares blew Cadi La Seu out 107-71. Kelly Santos scored eight points and grabbed six boards in the loss.

UL Aughnish and Kristen O'Neill pulled off a key upset over the weekend, going on the road to hand Team Montenotte Hotel Cork its first loss in Irish Superleague play. The win improved the Aughnish to 7-2 and third place in the Superleague table.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

King Holiday Hoopfest

The Storm is a sponsor of tomorrow's King Holiday Hoopfest at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The Hoopfest has become an annual Seattle tradition that celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and also offers some of the best prep basketball you'll see all season.

This year's Hoopfest features six boys games and one girls game and many of the state's best teams as well as national power Dominguez of California. Stars on display include UW-bound Bellarmine Prep guard Abdul Gaddy, Franklin guard Peyton Siva (committed to Louisville), one of the nation's best juniors in Kentwood post Josh Smith and Garfield guard Tony Wroten, a highly-touted sophomore.

The Storm Dance Troupe will be performing and Sheryl Swoopes will sign autographs at 2 p.m. It should be a lot of fun. I plan to make it out and hope to see you there.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Force 10 Profile Re-Airs Sunday

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Profiles featured Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., the Storm's ownership group, in an espiode last October. Now you've got another chance to watch. Tune in to KIRO 7 at 9 p.m. Sunday 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

Griffith Update

I got an e-mail the other day from Rejina wondering about an update on Yolanda Griffith. I'd heard she had gone overseas, but it wasn't until digging deeper I realized I had not noticed that Griffith had gone to play in China some time ago. In fact, her season is already over, her Henan team having been defeated in the WCBA quarterfinals.

Petrel of the Pleasant Dreams blog, who has been following the WCBA all year long with Atlanta's Jennifer Lacy playing in China, is experienced navigating the WCBA Web site with Google Translate and was nice enough to track down Griffith's stats: "She scored 18.4 ppg in 18 games, hit 62 percent of her free throws, averaged 16.9 rebounds a game, 0.8 blocks per game, 1.1 assists per game, and 2.7 steals per game. A double-double is not bad, even in the WCBA."

Other WNBA players in the WCBA (which allows one import per team, usually a post player) included Chasity Melvin, Tangela Smith and Adrian Williams-Strong.

At the end of the season, Griffith indicated she wanted to play another WNBA season at age 39. The latest I've heard is she was planning to make a final decision after returning from China. Griffith is an unrestricted free agent.

Tangentially-related note: Did you know that former Sonics Head Coach Bob Weiss is coaching in China's men's league, the CBA?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Overseas Updates Resume

National leagues are back in operation after the holidays, so it's time to look overseas once again. With Euroleague play currently on break until the start of the playoffs, the typical schedule is also different right now. The Russian Superleague is playing games midweek, including Spartak winning 116-71 yesterday. Sue Bird had 11 points and four assists, with Lauren Jackson scoring 18. They combined to shoot 12-of-18 from the field - a little worse than Spartak shot as a team in the blowout.

Cadi La Seu lost a thriller in overtime Sunday to Perfumerias Avenida, falling 82-80. Kelly Santos came off the bench but played 28 minutes, scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds. Santos matched up with Michelle Snow, who had 22 points and 12 boards.

In Turkey, Ted Kayseri Koleji lost 93-66 without the services of Camille Little and Lisa Willis.

ZVVZ USK Praha got a double-double from Swin Cash (11 points, 10 rebounds) in an 86-58 victory over Kara Trutnov.

At 13-0, Athinaikos remains undefeated in Greek A1 League play. The perfect record survived a scare against Pantahinaikos, with Athinaikos holding on for a 63-62 victory. Katie Gearlds had 13 points and six rebounds.

UL Aughnish kicked off 2009 on Jan. 3, beating Meteors Basketball Club 63-56. Kristen O'Neill scored a game-high 35 points, knocking down five three-pointers and making eight free throws. O'Neill pulled down 11 boards and had five steals.

Euroleague All-Star Voting Under Way

It's All-Star voting time. No, not just in the NBA, but also in Euroleague. Once again, fans will decide the starting lineups for the 2009 Euroleague All-Star Game via The format of the Euroleague All-Star Game, to be played March 8 in Paris, features a team of Europe's finest against players from the Rest of the World.

Last year, Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson from the Storm were starters, and you have to like their chances again this season - especially if you make sure to vote.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Liberty Matches Kraayeveld Offer

The New York Liberty announced this morning the decision to match the Storm's offer sheet to forward Cathrine Kraayeveld.

I had a chance to speak with Brian Agler this morning, and we'll have something up later today looking at where the Storm stands in free agency a week in.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Agler: One Year Later

Wrapping up a busy debut week for "This Date in Storm History," today is the one-year anniversary of Brian Agler taking over as the Storm's head coach. When I had Agler on the phone recently, I made a point of asking him about his take on the first year. In particular, I was thinking about accomplishments, like how Agler mentioned improving defensively as his top priority during his introductory press conference. The Storm allowed the league's fewest points per game, so that goal was achieved en route to a franchise-record 22 wins.

However, Agler took the question in a different (and better) direction, paying special tribute to the Storm's fans:

I've thoroughly enjoyed the first 12 months. I've enjoyed working with the players, I've enjoyed working with the staff, I've enjoyed working with the new ownership. The fans in Seattle are all and more what's been advertised. It's obviously a lot better to be on the home team's side at KeyArena than the visiting team's side. I've experienced both. It's just been fabulous.

Moving forward, we want to continue to play extremely well at home and we want to have the opportunity to put ourselves in position to win a championship each and every year. We feel like if we can catch a break or two in free agency or in the draft, we can stay right there in the hunt.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Storm Signs Kraayeveld to Offer Sheet

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
As has been rumored on the RebKell message boards, the Storm has signed New York Liberty forward Cathrine Kraayeveld to an offer sheet. Because Kraayeveld is a restricted free agent, the Liberty has until Monday to decide whether to match the offer or allow Kraayeveld to join the Storm. Kraayeveld, 27, is a native of the Seattle suburbs who played at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland before attending the University of Oregon.

After being waived by San Antonio during training camp of her rookie season, Kraayeveld became a fixture in New York, starting all 34 games for the playoff-bound Liberty the last two years. Just six other players in the WNBA started every game in both 2007 and 2008. Last season, Kraayeveld averaged 9.6 points and a career-high 6.1 rebounds per game.

A 6-4 forward, Kraayeveld is unique in her ability to stretch the defense with her shooting range. She was seventh in the WNBA in three-pointers (62) in 2008, and ranked 13th in the league in three-point percentage (.376) after shooting a career-best 41.1 percent from downtown the previous year. Kraayeveld helped pace a Liberty offense that led the league in threes.

Kraayeveld is one of three Washingtonians currently playing in the WNBA, a group that also includes the Storm's Kristen O'Neill. The Storm will know by Monday whether Kraayeveld will be returning home to continue her career.

One Year Ago Today

Off the top of my head, I'd have a tough time picking the biggest day in the history of the Seattle Storm franchise. (Advance warning: This might be a poll as part of our 10th Anniversary celebration.) Oct. 10, 2004 has to be up there, and I'll never forget Aug. 9, 2002 (when the Storm defeated Portland in a must-win game en route to the first playoff appearance in franchise history).

For all the great games and all the acquisitions, it would be hard to top Jan. 8, 2008. As we remember in This Date in Storm History, one year ago today was when the Storm announced the team's sale from The Professional Basketball Club, L.L.C. to Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., the group of four local businesswomen committed to keeping the Storm in Seattle. With the Sonics now playing in Oklahoma City, we know the alternative we avoided.

The ensuing 365 days - actually 366, since 2008 was a leap year - have been a thrilling ride, from Brian Agler putting together a star-studded roster to a franchise record of wins to beginning life as an independent, stand-alone franchise.

I'm curious to get your memories of Jan. 8, 2008 (mine are all positive except for accidentally failing to record an interview with all four owners after the press conference ... oops) and thoughts on the first year of Force 10 Hoops as an ownership group.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This Date in Storm History

The Storm's 10th Anniversary season is a great chance to revisit the organization's rich history, which you will see on throughout 2009. That process kicks off in earnest with This Date in Storm History, a feature we'll continue to update all throughout the year.

Fortunately, we're able to start looking back with a day that features two notable events from franchise history, one related to the lead-up to the Storm's inaugural season and the other the addition of a key piece of the 2004 championship roster.

So what are you waiting for? Go check out This Date in Storm History and continue to do so all 2009 long.