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Women's Hoops Blog

Jayda Evans covers college and pro women's basketball. While its her first year on the Washington beat, she has covered the Storm since its inception. She'll offer observations, critiques, occasional off-beat tales and answers to select e-mail inquires. Evans also has written a book on the Storm and women's hoops, called "Game On!"

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June 30, 2007 4:11 PM

Lennox questionable

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm guard Betty Lennox missed practice in order to have an MRI on her right Achilles today. Results were not immediately available.

Lennox, who scored a season-high 23 points in her team's loss to Houston on Thursday, said she started having a problem with the tendon during training camp. She switched shoes along with normal treatments to alleviate the pain.

The team's second-leading scorer (12.3), Lennox is listed as questionable for the Storm's matchup against New York on Sunday, but warned earlier when she felt a problem with the injury that she'd "always play."

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June 27, 2007 2:30 PM

Durant rant

Posted by Jayda Evans

Turns out the Web site running a rant by possible Sonics No. 2 draft pick Kevin Durant on the WNBA is not actually Durant, according to his agent. The player's representatives have asked that the post be removed immediately. The negative spewing has already stirred up emotions on various message boards and turned some who had a fleeting interest in the NBA sour toward Durant.

The post made remarks like, "I hope I make enough money in my lifetime to buy the WNBA and shut it down." (FYI, Durant could feasibly purchase the league with his first year's paycheck). And that, "Diana Taurasi I would block yo [sic] shot so hard." The post also had Durant's smiling face mug shot beside it.

I checked it out originally because Durant attended the Storm's loss against the Shock and I wanted his opinion on a couple of questions. I've never read a comment about the league from him and will hopefully have another chance this week to talk to him, if drafted by the Sonics. He was off limits that night because he had been giving a lot of interviews. We'll see what the real Durant says.

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June 26, 2007 10:38 PM

Cool club

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson joins another elite club. She's the fourth WNBA player to score 30 points or more in consecutive games, joining Houston's Cynthia Cooper and Sheryl Swoopes and Phoenix's Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi.

Meanwhile Storm All-Star Sue Bird, who had some of the assists on Jackson's shots, is just four dishes short of 1,000 in her WNBA career.

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June 26, 2007 10:23 PM

Ouch!

Posted by Jayda Evans

Sometimes it's hard to remember all that Storm guard Betty Lennox is going through this season given her play on the court. The spry 5-foot-8 shooter isn't afraid to get underneath the basket for rebounds, is passing better than she has in the past, and playing comparable defense.

All that while dealing with an offcourt family situation and being hampered by an aggravated Achilles.

"I try not to show any weakness out there," said Lennox, who finished with 12 points, four rebounds, and four assists with only one turnover in 21 minutes against Chicago. "It may be playing a big part in my shooting, but I'm trying to be mentally tough in playing through it."

But at one point the pain was nearly unbearable tonight. Lennox, who is shooting a career-low 29.6 percent from three-point range, switched shoes last week and is still having problems finding a comfortable pair.

"I can't wait to get the shoes off," said Lennox of the way she feels postgame. "I was going to take them off today in the fourth quarter not knowing I wasn't going back in. Just to get that pressure off. But I've just really got to try to go out and do the dirty work and put it behind me. I can't harp on every step, every movement, every loose ball, you know."

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June 26, 2007 11:07 AM

Coach Jamaican Shake?

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm original Simone Edwards, who retired in May 2006, was announced as a women's assistant coach for Radford University today. Edwards played six seasons with the Storm, averaging 7.4 points in each of the team's first two seasons, 2000 and 2001. She left the organization ranked third in rebounding (624) and fourth in points (936), playing a critical role as a reserve in helping the Storm win its 2004 title.

Edwards, 33, checked in from her Florida home earlier this week and said life is peachy. She's preparing to play in the Pan-American Games in Brazil next month with her Jamaican national team. She most recently played overseas in Hungary.

"I love teaching the game," Edwards said in a released statement. "I was given the opportunity to get a scholarship, play basketball on every level and learn from some of the best coaches in the world. Now I would like to take all of the knowledge I gained throughout the years and give back by teaching young athletes the game of basketball."

Edwards has always been a favorite with the youth, especially when she did her signature "Jamaican Shake" with the Storm's mascot, Doppler, during player introductions.

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June 25, 2007 10:58 AM

A little background

Posted by Jayda Evans

Normally our columnist Jerry Brewer does this type of thing where he walks through how a story came about. I'll do the same since some readers have it twisted that I have anything against Storm coach Anne Donovan outside of her general manager moves in Seattle (I have even told her that I don't like them).

First, the Friday article wasn't whipped up over night and wasn't my original idea. The mood around the team started to become visibly different last season and at exit interviews Donovan and her players all admitted that there was pressure with the upcoming World Championships, injuries, and the recent sale of the organization. Everyone was looking to get away to have a fresh start. Some people even mentioned an eroding relationship with Donovan, but I just logged it.

While I attend most Storm away games (typically staying in the same hotel and sometimes flying on the same plane), nearly all of their practices and shootarounds, some of their community appearances, the All-Star Game, and all of the home games -- whether I'm covering them or not -- I'm still not on the team. So, I don't know if someone is saying something because they have their own agenda or not. But this season more was said from all angles beginning in training camp! I requested an interview with Val Ackerman, president of USA Basketball, in May just to see what she felt since she was close to Donovan during the fall and still watches the league. So, the quote in today's story wasn't out of spite. I just wanted to check some questions that may have risen in reading the note -- that was going to be included in the Friday story if we had enough space. I also contacted and interviewed several others around the league that aren't included in the article for their persepective on Donovan and the players because, again, I wanted to make sure I wasn't being used to take down Donovan. Also, I wanted to verify my feelings about the rotations as an objective viewer to make sure I wasn't off base, a topic I would have written about on my own.

If you know anything about journalism, you know I have to seek that story out and write it before a competitor does. I'm not on Donovan's bandwagon or anyone else's. I'm an objective reporter who watches this team closely in all types of situations and trust me, there was a problem. It's probably over now. And that's cool by me, I'll keep on writing because there are tons of other stories. That's why we haven't dipped into this pool before, because I've written about other topics. And speaking of other topics, the Leslie post was in fun and only to answer a question my SFFs (Storm Fan Friends) had when I saw them last. (Hope y'all enjoyed that one!)

Asking me to be on the team's bandwagon actually hurts the prospect of women ever being seriously covered by other professional journalists. We have to be able to be critical when fit and when we really know what we're talking about, otherwise we're just a PR plug and that's not acceptable. If most of you are saying all you want are fluffy stories, then you did just lose a reporter. And sadly, from the outside of even my place, the last reporter who's paper is willing to spend money on consistent travel and give equal space to the team as we do the NBA Sonics (actually more considering we have a Storm blog and no Sonics blog). I always pick up a paper (or four, depending on the city) on the road and blurbs are all you see, except for in Sacramento, Indiana, and San Antonio where basketball is basically the only sport.

I'm not trying to make friends here. I did enjoy the relationship I had with Donovan, I was touched when she attended my book signing. But, again, I can't be an advocate for her or any of the players, owners, or front-office personnel. My job is to cover all angles of the team. That's what I did. It wasn't pretty, but it had to be done. Thanks for reading and showing through your passionate posts that there is an interest in the WNBA -- I just wish you wouldn't shoot the messenger. But I'll absorb the bullet as long as you understand where I'm coming from.

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June 24, 2007 7:35 PM

Baby scoop

Posted by Jayda Evans

Yes, it's odd that Sparks All-Star Lisa Leslie named her daughter Lauren Jolie, which could be shortened to "LJ," the same acronym of the reigning three-time MVP's rival -- Storm forward Lauren Jackson. And the baby was even born on the 15th -- Jackson's uniform number. But after speaking to Leslie's mother at halftime of the LA-Seattle game, there is no secret agenda.

Turns out Leslie did like the name Lauren and the middle name is a tribute to both grandfathers, whose names are Joe and Lee. Grandma says mother and baby are home now and that lil' LJ sleeps through the night, a nice treat for the new parents.

Leslie trained up until she was seven months pregnant and plans to play in the upcoming Olympics, so she'll be back on the court and most likely in a Sparks uniform soon.

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June 23, 2007 4:26 PM

Checking in

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm canceled practice today. The team arrived from Minnesota this afternoon and watched film of Los Angeles, its opponent Sunday at the Staples Center. They'll have a shootaround Sunday morning.

Karen Bryant, the team's chief operating officer, made an impromptu visit on the final leg of the two-game trip. No word on whether her presence is regarding players' discontent with coach Anne Donovan. Bryant said in the past that she would travel to back-to-back games and some weekend matchups because that's all the time she could spare away from her Seattle office.

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June 22, 2007 9:33 AM

Regarding Donovan

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm assistant Shelley Patterson said something interesting while trying to support coach Anne Donovan's reputation this season. Patterson mentioned that the only teams happy with their situations are Indiana (9-2) and Detroit (9-1) and their lineups are full of Olympians and All-Stars. "Until we get that caliber of player, we're all going to be [struggling to establish ourselves.]"

Thing is, the Storm does have that in its starting lineup. Lauren Jackson is an Australian Olympian who recently won gold at the FIBA World Championships. Sue Bird is an American Olympian who won Olympic gold in 2004, playing limited minutes. Iziane Castro Marques is a Brazilian Olympian. Betty Lennox is a one-time All-Star, and center Janell Burse is two days from locking up her first All-Star bid, which will be a fan-voted start.

The bottom line is the team isn't used properly. And It wasn't built right under Donovan, who has proven herself to be a poor director of player personnel outside of getting Lennox and Burse in 2004.

This isn't new, either. Does anyone remember Donovan selecting Kelly Miller over Tamika Catchings, Jackie Stiles, Ruth Riley, Deanna Nolan, Svetlana Abrosimova, and Marie Ferdinand-Harris in the 2001 draft while she was in Charlotte?

Now, Catchings was injured that year and the Sting did need to win immediately, according to folks involved in the organization at the time. And Stiles was a huge bust after her rookie year. But for one season, any one of those players would have been better for that franchise -- perhaps generating enough excitement it might have survived.

Karen Bryant, the Storm's chief operating officer, may believe in Donovan's ability to coach the team, and Donovan could alter her personality enough to mend relationships with the players that made her the first woman to win a WNBA title, but the GM duties have to be taken away if this team is going to be successful. Donovan wastes money scouting and drafting players she doesn't keep or develop. And she appears only willing to sign players that will blindly follow her. So far that path has been downhill.

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June 21, 2007 12:09 PM

Going for three

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm starters Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson, and Janell Burse lead their respective positions in Western Conference votes for the All-Star Game, based on second returns released this afternoon. Fans select the starters and voting concludes on Sunday.

For the third consecutive season the Storm ran out of paper ballots to give fans at KeyArena games. Voting can also occur online. The starters will be announced on July 3. The All-Star Game is July 15 in Washington, D.C.

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June 21, 2007 9:21 AM

Interesting post

Posted by Jayda Evans

The WNBA has a timely entry on its Web site about everybody's favorite -- refs.

Personally, not a fan of complaining about officiating for too long. Screaming at calls is one thing, it's cathartic, particularly if it's a close game and an official steps in and decides the outcome. Other than that, you have to play through and cheer on.

Players and coaches getting wrapped up in what officials are doing to them is pointless and just draws more negative attention (see Lauren Jackson the past three games).

Still, the WNBA is overdue for another intense evaluation and training for its officials. The league is in a tough spot because -- surprise -- they don't pay enough. Yet, there are still some good, passionate officials, and I'm sure the league could develop more. Asking fans to turn the other cheek is dirty play, too.

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June 21, 2007 8:55 AM

Plan ahead

Posted by Jayda Evans

My bad for not bring this up earlier, but Theatre Off Jackson in the International District is still hosting its "Storm Viewing Parties" for televised away matchups. There's no cost to catch the game on a projection big screen, but donations are encouraged and a yummy concessions stand of hotdogs and soda pop is available. Seattle's two-game trip to Minnesota (at 5 p.m. Friday) and Los Angeles (at 6:30 p.m. Sunday) will be aired there this weekend.

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June 20, 2007 10:13 PM

Usual suspects

Posted by Jayda Evans

It's no secret All-Stars Lauren Jackson and Diana Taurasi have potty mouths, especially in the heat of a game. Taurasi even tried to curse on her WNBA-regulated blog when the Connecticut-Tennessee rivalry was cancelled.

But Jackson feels the technicals she's receiving are unjust. In fact, she even made a $1,000 bet with assistant coach Shelley Patterson that she wouldn't get a tech for cursing this season.

Jackson is being T'd-up for other violations, however. Like yanking her arm from opponents when tangled after a play (twice) and tonight's tech for having teammate Janell Burse's back on a call, which captains are typically allowed to do. Instead Jackson said she was told to "shutup" before earning the technical.

"I have not sworn at one referee, just so we get this straight," she told media after the game. "I just said, 'Mate, she [Burse] can't get through. How are you going to call a foul on that?' It's pretty funny. To me, it's just stupid. It's hilarious. It's ridiculous. I think they've got certain people in their minds that they're going to tech and make examples of and obviously Diana has already been one and I think I'm definitely the other from what I can see."

The three techs will cost Jackson $450.

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June 20, 2007 12:24 PM

Ford questionable

Posted by Jayda Evans

Detroit Shock all-star Cheryl Ford did not participate in the team's shootaround this morning at KeyArena, spending the majority of the time icing her left knee. She missed Detroit's past two games because of the lingering injury and remains questionable tonight against Seattle. Ford, daughter of NBA legend Karl Malone, is the league's leading rebounder (10.4) and her team's second-leading scorer (14.0).

Ford's absence would obviously benefit the Storm. In a six-point win against Los Angeles on Monday, the Shock's other posts were solid but struggled late in the game with Sparks veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin in the paint. Detroit all-star Katie Smith took care of what wasn't working inside, however, scoring seven of her final 18 points in the closing three minutes to give the Shock the win. A shooting guard who converted to the point, she set herself up from three-point range for her momentum-changing buckets.

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June 19, 2007 8:36 PM

Palmer out

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm vet Wendy Palmer missed practice today due to flu-like symptoms. She left the team's training facility just as media arrived, and coach Anne Donovan said she hoped Palmer would be available against Detroit on Wednesday. Palmer has been the Storm's most consistent reserve this season.

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June 19, 2007 8:12 PM

Hair-story

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm guard Sue Bird knocked the curl out of her hair on Sunday. It was a big deal because she has forever wanted bone-straight hair without having to use a straightener - or whatever else is used to achieve this look.

If you know Bird, you know she's very particular about her hair. Apparently her naturally curly locks are funky, so she used to go through a two-part process that began at home and finished at the arena to achieve the ponytail we're used to seeing.

Well, after three hours and two employees at Vain in downtown Seattle working on her head piece by piece, Bird has permanently straight hair. She couldn't shampoo it for two days, so today will be the actual unveiling of her new look. Supposedly she'll hop out of the shower with straight hair, no fuss. The cost? Vain prefers to have a free consultation to determine price based on hair thickness, but it ranges between $200 and $600. Some other places even charge $800.

"It went really well," Bird said.

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June 19, 2007 7:35 PM

Much respect

Posted by Jayda Evans

So, you've probably heard (or assumed correctly) that Storm All-Star Sue Bird smoked local columnist Jim Moore in their game of H-O-R-S-E today. I had to watch because I'm nosy and I just think it's so disrespectful to challenge someone who has been named All-Decade in their sport to a dual because you're pretty good on your "driveway court" and thus should be able to beat a woman.

Moore is cool. I really do like the guy, but I told him all of the above when I saw him. His response was that it was supposed to be something fun, an easy column to write, but even after he didn't get a single letter on Bird he had the nerve to tell me, "I know the women are great, but I honestly thought I might win." We both cracked up.

I will say I have so much more respect for Bird than I ever did before. Point guards don't get all the stats that show their worth, that's why I love it when Bird goes off, because you can see her skills. Today her intelligence was on display. Instead of trying to be a show dog to all of the observers, including cameras, watching the debacle, Bird played to keep control of the game by, as she put it, "lulling [Jim] to sleep." She made mid-range shots because "guys who can go long, their mid-range game is whacked," and only attempted a few three-pointers after Moore complained that she was "nickle-and-diming" him.

"You're H-O-R on nickel-and-dime," she retorted.

Later Moore tried again to get her to do something fancy, although one of the rules was nothing athletic (say what?). Bird didn't, responding with, "That's what professional basketball players do. That's my game."

I loved it.

Still, what does it prove? That a 49-year-old man who's going to be 50 this weekend can't beat a 26-year-old Olympian in copycat shots? I'm sure women around the world are rejoicing over this one.

It was hilarious fun, however, and the Storm made $200 for its charity, so I guess it had its place. I just wish this would settle the argument. But Bird will most likely travel to Kansas City when the organization relocates and be back on court with columnist Jason Whitlock, proving her worth again. Or maybe she'll ditch the politically correct facade and tell these guys what to do with their basketballs.

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June 19, 2007 12:27 PM

One wish

Posted by Jayda Evans

Actually it's two, but Ray-J (who sings the popular ballad) can't count either, if you check out his lyrics. Anyway, mine would be an end to people opposed to women's pro hoops using the argument that they couldn't beat a top-rated boys high school team and male sports reporters challenging the women to a game of H-O-R-S-E in order to solidify their feelings about the WNBA.

In case you don't know (lucky you), Storm guard Sue Bird was challenged by P-I columnist Jim Moore to a game of H-O-R-S-E. Moore is a cool cat, but I had to ask Bird if she was tired of always playing games with the media instead of being covered by the media. In typical Bird fashion, she nodded in agreement as she sighed, then quickly added, "no one will play me one-on-one because they're afraid they might hurt me. Or I may hurt them." A cynic would say Bird's bum left knee was a little too timely, seeing how the match was to be played the day she had an MRI. It was rescheduled for this afternoon, however, despite my hope it was canned forever.

Bird-Moore accompanies the latest, a solid discussion on this blog about boys varsity vs. WNBA. A commentor, who didn't offer their full name for publication, wanted my opinion on the matter. I have the same response for both scenarios, what does this prove? Seriously.

Basketball is one of those unique games where on any given day a visibly lopsided matchup can end in upset. That's why the postseason is played in series and coaches stress focus against the weakest foes. So, yes, there probably is a scenario where a boys team could beat a WNBA team -- have you seen kids today? But why does it matter? The women still play against women. And if you're saying their competition is no better than WWE, emphasizing "entertainment," I'm a little lost on the point. WWE is a billion-dollar business that packs arenas all across the nation -- think the WNBA wouldn't want a little piece of that action?

Bottom line, the league is something different. If you want to keep bringing up the same snide remarks, that's cool. In case you haven't noticed, it hasn't stopped the women from playing. So, can we blow these candles out?

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June 18, 2007 12:12 PM

POW

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson was named the Western Conference's Player of the Week today. Chicago Sky forward Candice Dupree was honored for the Eastern Conference.

Jackson averaged 22 points and six rebounds, shooting 49 percent from the field, as the Storm went 2-1. Jackson also recorded her third 30-point game of the season in a win Friday against Houston. It's her eighth POW in her seven-year career. That's cool, but tucked in this one is one of the Storm's worst games ever - the 28-point loss in Indiana. Jackson has led her team to conquer friend/enemies Tina Thompson and Diana Taurasi. But Fever forward Sheri Sam and Tully Bevilaqua? Not a chance. That four-point fourth quarter that ties a WNBA all-time low will never be forgotten.

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June 17, 2007 3:20 PM

The backcourt rests

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm guards Sue Bird and Betty Lennox skipped practice today. Coach Anne Donovan said it was strictly precautionary and hoped with Monday being an off-day that both would be well-rested to practice on Tuesday and face the defending champion Detroit on Wednesday at KeyArena.

Bird is managing swelling in her left knee while Lennox had an old right Achilles tendon problem flare after scoring 18 points in a win over Houston on Friday. Those that did practice worked on their schemes against the zone - a tactic Indiana executed perfectly again on Saturday to hand Detroit its first loss of the season. Last week, the Fever implemented the zone during a 28-point win over the Storm.


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June 17, 2007 2:59 PM

Basketball dads

Posted by Jayda Evans

One time last winter I noticed Sonics All-Star Ray Allen changed up his routine and drove his black Porsche to practice. Later, he rushed off the court and told the awaiting media they needed to hurry because he had to pick his daughter up from school. Tierra, 14, had just relocated from South Carolina to live with Dad.

As I wondered how blasé kids are about their parents' cars since everyone goes broke to buy the latest, especially considering gas these days, the scene kind of reminded me of when I was growing up. My Dad, then an assistant coach at the University of Wyoming, dropped me off at school in his white Trans Am. When the engine roared, kids stopped running around on the playground, and suddenly I was no longer the black girl with cooties, but someone all the boys wanted to square dance with.

It's fun having a Dad in the biz. Tierra's obvious connections provided her with the chance to roam through the Storm locker room on Friday with center Ashley Robinson as she collected autographs and saw the sights.

Not that the training room and whirlpool are all that exciting, but who knows what it may inspire. A basketball and volleyball player at a private eastside school, Tierra was named Most Athletic 2007 in Bellevue.

Today, she and her two younger brothers loaded Dad up with a laptop computer and iPod Nano for when he runs. Tierra has told people Ray is a great Dad. I know how she feels because I have a great Dad, too -- Happy Father's Day Daddy!

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June 15, 2007 8:24 PM

Say what?

Posted by Jayda Evans

It can sound a little like homer-ism when you automatically take the side of the player you cover, but when Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson talks about a discrepancy with officiating, it's true. At least it was tonight against Houston.

Jackson earned her second tech of the season after getting wrapped up with Comets guard Hamchetou Maiga-Ba. Jackson did the typical jerk of the arm away from her opponent after the rebound bounced away from the players and they started to head down court. Standard move you see all the time. There weren't even any theatrics, but a technical foul was called.

In the third quarter when Comets forward Latasha Byears did the same move to Janell Burse's bum left shoulder, however, no call was made. And Byears has a history (just ask former Storm guard Michelle Marciniak about getting hit in the head with the basketball by Byears back in the day). Oh, and later in the game she gave the KeyArena crowd an undesirable finger wave.

To spin the words of Will Smith, officials just don't understand.

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June 13, 2007 4:29 PM

Check that

Posted by Jayda Evans

Uh, the good vibes before the Indiana game were squashed by the second quarter -- the Storm didn't hit a bucket until Lauren Jackson's turnaround jump shot with 2:28 remaining. The Storm was outscored 29-4 in the period and is down 50-30.

Storm coach Anne Donovan ran Jackson at small forward for the first time this season. I'll ask after the game if that had anything to do with the interruption in play that had Seattle up by eight in the opening quarter.

The Storm's point total in the second quarter is a franchise low, but Seattle was down by 22 in the season opener and rallied to defeat Houston, which was a franchise record for comebacks.

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June 13, 2007 3:28 PM

Good times

Posted by Jayda Evans

It's nothing new for players to huddle with their opponents before a game, saying "Hello" to friends and making plans for later. But Seattle's version today in Indiana was a little more special.

With the addition of former Storm forward Adia Barnes to the team's radio broadcast and forward Sheri Sam to the Fever roster after the folding of Charlotte, seven of the 12 players that brought Seattle its first major pro championship since 1979 were reunited on the same court.

Barnes, Sam, Lauren Jackson, and current Fever guard Tully Bevilaqua posed for a photo prior to tipoff with Jackson making bunny ears behind Bevilaqua. Betty Lennox and Janell Burse caught up with Bevilaqua and Sam and Jackson, Bevilaqua, Barnes, Sam and Bird had a long talk before beginning stretching.

While Karen Bryant, the team's chief operating officer, still contends Sam, Bevilaqua and center Kamila Vodichcova leaving via free agency for max deals elsewhere after the 2004 title was mostly beneficial for all parties involved (Vodichkova is out of the league due to pregnancy and battled injuries in Phoenix), I still wonder if the Storm could have had one more title if the group was retained. Bryant said there wasn't money for such a move, but if you look at it now, Burse, Lennox, Bird, and Jackson are all making the max ($93,000) and Wendy Palmer and Iziane Castro Marques aren't far off. Considering the team's state now - new owners and the possibility of relocating - I asked if she'd do things differently knowing what Bryant knows now. Of course she said "no," pointing out that the Storm remained entertaining in advancing to the postseason the past two years and has a bright future.

"It's a great feeling," said Bryant as she watched the mingling. "Being able to reunite with players who helped deliver our organization, our fans, and our city one of the greatest moments in Seattle sports is great. It's something we'll always share."

Former Storm coach Lin Dunn was her usual funny self when I ran into her before the game.

"Welcome to Seattle, Jayda!" she said.

"Seattle?" I responded, and we both laughed. She was just talking to Jackson about Seattle and was still in an Emerald City sate of mind, I guess. Jackson will do that to you. Indiana agrees with Dunn, though, she's a little slimmer and joked that Bevilaqua has helped.

"I'm on the Tully Bevilaqua red wine and vinaigrette diet," she said.

But Dunn isn't boxing like Bevilaqua, however.

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June 12, 2007 4:28 PM

Official word

Posted by Jayda Evans

Everyone knew former Houston Comets guard Janeth Arcain was going to call it quits, but she danced around the specific words until now. Along with being a Brazilian Olympian and part of their organization for 21 years, Arcain won four WNBA titles. Storm forward Iziane Castro Marques now becomes the face of Brazilian basketball.

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June 11, 2007 1:58 PM

Easy street

Posted by Jayda Evans

The people of Beech Grove, Indiana, are preparing to rename the street in front of the town's high school after native and Storm rookie Katie Gearlds on Wednesday. The official name will be "Katie Gearlds Way," to match the "Welcome to Beech Grove, home of Katie Gearlds" sign as you enter the town.

Gearlds was humorous about the honor, saying she still has a lot of friends at home who campaigned for her. They even want her to run for mayor after her playing career is over. "I'm not into politics," Gearlds said after practice today. She did attend high school with the current Mayor Joe Wright's son. But Gearlds isn't in the loop anyway -- she just discovered what her hometown was planning last weekend.

Gearlds has been scooping up the tickets for her two-game stint back to the Midwest. She's set up for 18 in Chicago and is stopping at 60 for Indiana.

"Everyone else is one their own," she said.

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June 11, 2007 1:05 PM

Bird lovers

Posted by Jayda Evans

Goodness. Write one sentence and there's a mini war. For the record, what I meant in the previous blog about Lauren Jackson and Betty Lennox being the only Storm players who can create on their own is exactly that. I'm not dogging Sue Bird, but Bird rarely steps outside of coach Anne Donovan's system to create her own shot. If she did, she'd have more nights like she did in Sacramento (21 points) on Thursday or the playoffs in 2004.

I realize Bird has to be a distributor by position, but I think she could also freestyle more. Jackson and Lennox do - sure it gets them pulled from the game - but it generates offense. And when you get to the playoffs, facing a team a maximum of five times by the time you reach the Finals, you need to do something different because everything else has been scouted. Again, creativity comes into play.

So, it's not a knock on Bird. She's All-Decade. But she can also be orchestrated and I think that hurts the team more than it helps sometimes.

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June 9, 2007 10:18 PM

Wright back?

Posted by Jayda Evans

I've read your comments and I'm getting the feeling that Tanisha Wright as a point guard is not a favorite among Storm fans. I'd rather see her at shooting guard and get a real backup PG, too. I wouldn't want to let go of Katie Gearlds just yet and it's not wise to let go of Betty Lennox, especially if you want to win a title. As Detroit's Deanna Nolan showed, you need players that can really step up at playoff time to get the championship. Outside of Lauren Jackson, Lennox is the only one who can do that.

But Wright has done some good things in the past two games. She gave Sue Bird an excellent break in Sacramento, only committing one turnover during an approximate three-minute span between the first and second quarters. And Wright was solid again tonight at the point. Storm coach Anne Donovan even ran Wright again at shooting guard with Bird, which worked well. So maybe people are venting a little too early?

Donovan is still trying to get a grip on all of her talent and how to use the pieces - a good test run for the Olympics if Team USA gets that far (remember Jackson's Australia won the automatic bid. Donovan is Team USA's coach). Donovan went nine players deep in the opening half when the game was being decided, and it flowed well. Later deep reserves Tye'Sha Fluker and Shyra Ely got some minutes.

And that's all the reserves seem to need to develop that chemistry everyone says is missing so far - time in a live game together. A blowout also helps make that happen.

"Our starters aren't always going to be able to play as many minutes as they play," said Wright, who finished with four points and three steals. "The more we can get out in games like this and get experience, it'll be better off for us in the long run. It's definitely important."

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June 9, 2007 7:59 PM

Birthday nod

Posted by Jayda Evans

If you don't know Clarence Lennox, you haven't been to a Storm game at KeyArena. Lennox is the older brother of shooting guard Betty. His seats are courtside across from the visitor's bench, and you can't miss him because of the array of colorful suits he wears, which always have a coordinated belt, shoes and top hat. He's straight up fly.

Anyway, it was his birthday this week, and KeyArena gave him a warm celebratory reception in the second quarter. Clarence's color of choice for the big day? Powder pink and black. I believe he's 61. Happy Birthday, "Broadway!"

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June 8, 2007 3:18 PM

CK Watch

Posted by Jayda Evans

Looking to escape the losing muck of the Seattle Storm? I suggest turning your Washington allegiance to Cathrine Kraayeveld's undefeated New York Liberty.

While Indiana was a great test the other night because of the Fever's defense, the Liberty plays Detroit tonight.

The Shock (4-0) are feisty veterans on defense and they can score, although they have trouble controlling the ball, so the youthful New York team will really see where it is among the league's best.

And because Kraayeveld is a local product, you might be able to feel good about cheering on a win for one night. Oh, but of course you have to have cable, specifically NBATV, in order to enjoy this clash of undefeated teams. Tip-off is at 4:30 p.m. PDT.

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June 8, 2007 12:53 PM

Jackson back

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm star Lauren Jackson is currently practicing with the team. She missed the past week, including Thursday's loss at Sacramento, due to an undisclosed illness. I'll have more on this in Saturday's newspaper.

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June 7, 2007 10:38 PM

Where's the rebound?

Posted by Jayda Evans

Looked at the stat sheet and thought there was a misprint. Yes, I watched the game, but Storm center Janell Burse didn't have a single rebound in nearly 30 minutes? Unbelievable.

Burse and Jackson are the only players averaging double-doubles in the league. Burse said there was a lot of pushing and shoving under the hoop, which is why she lost her cool and was given a technical in the first half (which will cost $150), but she's got to be used to that by now. Plus she's strong enough to play through it.

I wanted to pin that on the loss -- the Storm was outrebounded 35-27 overall -- but Seattle actually outrebounded Sacramento 7-5 in the final quarter when a Sue Bird three-pointer cut the lead to two points. Still, it's a shocker that Burse was pushed around like that.

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June 7, 2007 7:15 PM

A slam dunk

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm's televised matchup against Sacramento is a hard draw with Game 1 of the NBA Finals also airing tonight, not that there's much crossover in fan viewing between the two teams. But Sacramento Kings players Ron Artest and Ronnie Price picked the WNBA over their own league, sitting courtside. Artest is a regular at Monarchs games.

And for an added bonus, Monarchs forward Rebekkah Brunson dunked for the home crowd during warmups.

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June 7, 2007 12:52 PM

An admission

Posted by Jayda Evans

Well, the Storm is feeling the same thing most of you see when watching the 2007 version play - there's a chemistry problem. It's not off the court, the players enjoy being around each other, but on the court both Storm coach Anne Donovan and co-captain Sue Bird said there are issues.

"The biggest thing is our chemistry, working together on the floor, especially when things don't go well," Donovan said. "They need to really like bear down and figure it out together. That's going to come as we play more together."

The team played Sacramento (tonight's opponent) without Bird and co-captain Lauren Jackson in its final exhibition game in May and won. But the Monarchs were also without some of their players. Perimeter shooting was key, but Bird, Betty Lennox, Iziane Castro Marques, and Katie Gearlds are all struggling with their outside shot.

The players appear frustrated until practice concludes, including this morning's shoot around. Donovan pulled everyone in a huddle and questioned them, stating, "This is your job."

I think Donovan is also at fault for the chemistry problems. The practices are some of the hardest and longest in the league with a demand on perfect execution every time a drill is run. While understandable, I would have ran a mini-training camp with Jackson and Bird, too during the seven-day layoff. But the players are pros who deserve a break, especially considering the league's cramped schedule. Across the league I hear stories of coaches surprising players with a cancelled practice and a trip to the movies or mall. Donovan has had her players go bowing and to the mall in the past, but rarely is this in lieu of practice.

It'll be interesting to see what happens tonight in the televised game. It could be the start of an awful, downward slide for the team. Jackson is unavailable (illness) and Bird remained ambiguous with her left knee status, stating "shoot around was a good test to see where I was. It's not where I want it to be, but hopefully it's good enough to play. Not really a maybe, I would say yes, but you never really know with these things."

Donovan is still leaning toward Wendy Palmer to start in Jackson's place.

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June 6, 2007 1:43 PM

Jackson out

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm forward Lauren Jackson will miss Thursday's game at Sacramento due to an undisclosed illness. She missed her second consecutive practice today because she isn't feeling well and did not travel with the team. Jackson will see the Storm's doctor this week and her status will be updated by Friday. Her absence has nothing to do with her shins or foot.

Storm coach Anne Donovan will most likely start forward Wendy Palmer in Jackson's place. Seattle is 2-10 all-time in Sacramento and has lost its past two games.

Guard Sue Bird returned to practice today, wearing a sleeve on her previously swollen left knee. She traveled with the team and is slated to start on Thursday, but will need another MRI later this week.

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June 5, 2007 6:37 PM

Another look

Posted by Jayda Evans

Had a hard time jumping on the New York bandwagon because they're first three wins were against teams with a combined 2-14 record at the same point. But I just caught the Liberty-Indiana game and, yeah, NYC deserves to puff its chest.

Washington native Cathrine Kraayeveld keyed the fast start in the fourth quarter to break the game open (her parents attended the game at Madison Square Garden). And Storm reject Ashley Battle scored a team-high-tying 15 off the bench for New York, which is also a season high for her, adding in seven rebound to help dissect the Fever.

The win keeps the Liberty undefeated (5-0) and is the first loss of the season for the Fever, a squad many picked to win the WNBA title this season. Detroit, New York's next opponent on Friday, is the only other remaining unbeaten.

The Liberty is young, but they execute their offense well and Kraayeveld is blossoming. What do you think? Is she All-Star worthy in the Eastern Conference?

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June 5, 2007 12:11 PM

Swiss Husky

Posted by Jayda Evans

Former University of Washington guard Cameo Hicks signed to play overseas in Switzerland. Hicks, who was cut during Storm training camp, will depart Sept. 10 and play in the league through April. She hopes to join another WNBA team's training camp roster next summer.

Hicks, a two-time first-team All-Pac-10 honoree, graduated from UW's business school on Monday, earning a business and administrating degree with an emphasis on marketing. Along with coaching, Hicks said she has an interest in becoming an athletic director, possibly returning to college to earn her master's degree. Currently she's focused on making it to the pros, however.

"I'm really excited," said Hicks about playing overseas. "Until I leave, I'm going to hang out with my family in California and have some fun."

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June 4, 2007 6:07 PM

Injury updates

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm guard Sue Bird had an MRI this afternoon and the test showed no interior damage. She's listed as day to day.

Meanwhile, Sacramento forward DeMya Walker will be out for the remainder of the season due to a patellar tear in her right knee. After further evaluation, she's going to schedule surgery for later this summer.

Walker, a 2005 All-Star, was a key part to the Monarchs' championship that season. Storm coach Anne Donovan said she doesn't expect Sacramento to be hurt too badly when Seattle plays the Monarchs on Thursday because Rebekkah Brunson (shoulder) has rejoined practice after injury. I'm not quite certain Sacramento can survive without Walker, especially because center Yolanda Griffith is showing signs of aging.

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June 4, 2007 1:38 PM

Salty wound

Posted by Jayda Evans

San Antonio guard Becky Hammon was named the Western Conference's player of the week today, a partial gift from the Storm, with a victory at KeyArena included in the Silver Star's 2-1 stretch.

Hammon did struggled in Saturday's game, not finding the ease she had last week, but it was the only game this season where she wasn't San Antonio's leading scorer. She shot 47 percent from the floor this week, including 10 for 23 from three-point range.

The Silver Stars currently lead the Western Conference at 4-2. But before anyone throws a party, remember this is the same point last season where San Antonio went 2-6 in its next eight games and finished the summer at 13-21.

Maybe Hammon will change that.

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June 4, 2007 12:38 PM

LJ, Bird sidelined

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm All-Stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird did not practice today.

Bird missed her second consecutive practice, today because of swelling in her left knee. She participated in a non-contact drill at the beginning of the session then left to be examined by team doctors. Storm coach Anne Donovan said there was noticeable limping. Bird missed Sunday's session due to a right thigh contusion sustained in Saturday's loss to San Antonio.

Jackson missed practice because of an undisclosed illness. She was at the training facility, but media requests to speak to the team's leading scorer were denied.

Both Bird and Jackson were to participate in a photo shoot this afternoon with Sonics All-Star Ray Allen and his daughter as part of the league-wide "Dads and Daughter's" campaign, where fathers are encouraged to take their children to WNBA games. The photo will likely now only include the Allens.

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June 4, 2007 8:15 AM

Nemesis gone?

Posted by Jayda Evans

Seattle travels to play Sacramento on Thursday. The Storm could find Arco Arena a more pleasant place after the unfortunate news of forward DeMya Walker's possible season-ending knee injury. Walker suffered the injury in the Monarchs win Saturday against LA.
Walker has been a defensive (and sometimes offensive) pain for the Storm in the past. Seattle hasn't won in Sacramento since 2004, posting a 2-10 all-time record at Arco.

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June 3, 2007 1:45 PM

Bird out

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm guard Sue Bird didn't practice today, a precautionary measure due to a right thigh bruise. Bird suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss to San Antonio. She is expected to return for practice Monday.

Guard Betty Lennox practiced after hitting her head hard on the court in the final quarter.

Both guards struggled against San Antonio. Defending off-ball screens and shooting the ball are becoming the main reason Seattle isn't effective against San Antonio this season. Lennox is a combined 5 for 18 from the field against the Silver Stars while Bird, who is shooting a career-low 33.3 percent so far this season, is 7 for 21 in two games.

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June 2, 2007 10:16 PM

Brazilian defender

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm finally started requesting for their fans to write-in Iziane Castro Marques as a nominee on the All-Star ballot, a smart move after the faux pas of having Barbara Turner on the league-issued official ballot even though Turner was primarily a reserve last season. Also a good move because muddled in the Storm's past two games has been some impressive play by the Brazilian Olympian, especially on the defensive end.

San Anotonio guard Becky Hammon, who scored 21 against Seattle in the first of the four-game series, was held to a season-low 12 tonight on 6-of-14 shooting from the field. Hammon also only had four assists. The Storm did switch a lot during the game, even forward Lauren Jackson ended up on Hammon at one point, but Castro Marques was one of the main players disrupting Hammon's game.

Castro Marques was also aggressive underneath the hoop, collecting seven boards. It wasn't enough, however, she was 2 for 9 from the field for 10 points - shooting quick threes. But if you take her improved defense and solid offensive games to open the season, Castro Marques surely deserves a vote.

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June 2, 2007 7:47 PM

Adding up

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm forward Wendy Palmer scored her 3,000-career point on a turnaround layin off a feed from guard Betty Lennox with 2:46 remaining in the second quarter. The bucket gave Seattle a 31-28 lead over San Antonio and Palmer was honored with a standing ovation during a timeout moments later.

San Antonio coach Dan Hughes praised Palmer before the game. He coached her for one season in 2005, using her veteran leadership to help develop a young Silver Stars team.

"She plays the game like a coach," said Hughes of Palmer, who is an assistant at Virginia Commenwealth University. "She plays the game so intelligently. If anything has improved, it's her perimeter shooting. I hope she stays healthy. She doesn't have to be completely healthy against us, but for everybody else. She was a pleasure to coach."

Palmer is playing after tearing her Achilles in June last summer.

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June 2, 2007 7:00 PM

Target practice

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm busted out onto the court pegging unsuspecting fans with leather miniature basketballs, a twist to their normal routine. Press row got hit in the head, so be kind if the stories sound a little loopy in Sunday's paper.

The crowd is still respectable despite the Mariners honoring Edgar Martinez, the sixth consecutive day of gorgeous weather in Seattle, and the decisive Eastern Conference Finals all occurring simultaneously. But the audience remains about 3,000 short of opening night's sold crowd of 9,686.

Storm crowds typically struggle with attendance to start the season, picking up after graduation season in June. But larger crowds were expected during the offseason to show new owner Clay Bennett support in keeping the teams in Seattle. Of course even he is off his own bandwagon, campaigning in Kansas City and Oklahoma City, so maybe it shouldn't be surprising if there's a little apathy.

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June 1, 2007 4:50 PM

Injury free

Posted by Jayda Evans

Aside from arena inquiries, I'm sure the most annoying question to ask Storm forward Lauren Jackson is about her non-injured-but-was-injured legs. She gritted her teeth when drilled on the famous shins and foot at media day and will only oblige questions for so long in smaller groups after practice.

Jackson appears healthy and has a springy step as she runs around the court. She has supposedly setup a protocol for handling any possible future pain with Storm coach Anne Donovan that can be whittled down to the player pulling herself from a session or game at the first tinge of pain. She's only done that once since returning from play in Russia on May 11 because of a sore Achilles.

"With Anne I feel there's some sort of understanding now where if I feel I'm starting to get sore, I'm starting to get tired or whatever, I'm just going to say, 'I'm out,'" Jackson said. "Even if it's one session or one day, it's better than six months. I found with my body, when something starts to get sore, it's always leading to something. Right now, it's maintaining a level where I always feel comfortable and communicating with her [Anne]."

While playing in South Korea, Jackson went through a schedule where she had three games in one week and the teams rarely had off days. Yet, the team traveled by bus for every game, immediately returning home afterward. So, Jackson may not have a problem when the Storm makes its four-game trip after the All-Star Game in July. At least she isn't anticipating it.

"If you think about last summer, she didn't practice at all," Donovan said of Jackson's 2006 campaign. "Compared to last year, this is phenomenal. She's lighter and feels good. From a mental standpoint, she has said this is the best she has been in her career. And I'm not even thinking about who needs to play, where last year it was a need-based substitution pattern because of Lauren."

Jackson has already shown signs of slowing down to do what's best for her body. The team had a mini "training camp" this week and Jackson did her own work with assistant coach Shelley Patterson afterward. When Jackson was too sore on Wednesday, she waved Patterson off.

But the forward was back in the gym on Thursday.

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June 1, 2007 1:43 PM

A winner

Posted by Jayda Evans

Turns out Tanisha Wright's fried chicken was a hit at the Storm's team dinner on Wednesday. Janell Burse's dish was a close second.

"There was so much food, you could only take this much [quarter-size] in order to fit it all on your plate," Sue Bird said. "I didn't even get to taste everything."

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June 1, 2007 10:03 AM

A queen's feast

Posted by Jayda Evans

In the world's softest competition, the cook-off at Storm coach Anne Donovan's condo Wednesday evening was ruled a "team win" with everyone earning "top chef" honors. I was shocked Sue Bird didn't demand a winner. She's so competitive that she competes with unknowing drivers at stop lights, but after hearing about the dishes this morning, I can understand. And I'm sure Ginger, Janell Burse's miniature poodle, got the best doggy-bag ever. Scratch that, I'm sure there weren't many leftovers.

Burse whipped up some homemade jambalaya, while Betty Lennox provided cornbread and a layer cake from her brother. Rookie Katie Gearlds made chicken noodle soup (with homemade noodles) and Bird brought her famous chocolate-chip cookies and a salad. Lauren Jackson dished up a tuna casserole, which Diana Taurasi once said everyone should try. Wendy Palmer made a southern roast and Iziane Castro Marques brought a Brazilian treat.

Practice has just started, so I'll see if there was an underground consensus winner. Otherwise, I'm glad these women will never go hungry.

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