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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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July 31, 2007 10:29 PM

Bench play

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm faced a shaky situation in the third quarter of the loss to Sacramento when starting center Janell Burse had to exit the game with four fouls and then backup Wendy Palmer had to leave for the same reason minutes later.

Reserve center Ashley Robinson then joined backup guard Tanisha Wright as energizers to alter the momentum the Storm lost in the third quarter. Robinson had two blocks and two rebounds in the quarter and played 10 minutes overall.

"Ashley gave us great minutes," Storm coach Anne Donovan said. "It was great to see our bench come in and really hold us down a little while we rested JB."

Donovan said minutes are spread based on matchups, so Shyra Ely didn't play and rookie Katie Gearlds saw 10 minutes, attempting two shots and making one -- a three-pointer. Reserve guard Doneeka Lewis also did not play.

The Storm is off today and will resume its practice schedule Thursday before traveling to Sacramento for the final game in the regular-season series.

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July 31, 2007 7:39 PM

Aussie invasion

Posted by Jayda Evans

So, KeyArena burped Lauren Jackson paraphernalia today. The marketing staff placed "LJ for MVP" placards on nearly every seat in the lower bowl, the dance team wore green T-shirts with the same message, and the public address announcer must have mentioned Jackson for MVP about a million times before halftime. Oh, and you can't forget Jackson's favorite, the "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! M-V-P!" chant.

I know I'm a culprit of stirring the pot to find someone else (Becky Hammon) to vote for, but goodness! Add the campaign as you enter the Storm's site and this is way overboard.

"There doesn't need to be a campaign," Storm coach Anne Donovan said of her star, who has been a clear frontrunner since June.

Well, unless the Storm doesn't make the playoffs, right?

"I won't say something unspeakable," Donovan continued. "But even if that - no [there doesn't need to be a campaign]."

Jackson was surprised when she took the court for her pre-game warmup routine and saw her image everywhere. (The reverse side of the placard has a montage of photos of her, which she also liked because she looks ripped.) The placards also made their way to the training room because, "that's where I spend most of my time," Jackson said.

"I walked in and was like, 'what the hell!'" she said. "It's pretty cool they're doing it, supporting me like this."

But who would Jackson vote for?

"I wish everyone could win," she said.

Boring!

"If people didn't get injured, like Tamika Catchings would have been my No.1 choice," Jackson said when prodded by me and team broadcaster Adia Barnes. "Becky [Hammon] for sure and [Phoenix forward] Penny Taylor, but she's on a team full of superstars because I would want Diana [Taurasi] to win, too."

Barnes and I have votes, which Barnes is thrilled about, but I'm sticking to my original take and waiting until the final game is played. Even Sacramento general manager John Whisenant said he'd do the same.

"Lauren is the best player in the world and she was my pick before the season started," he said. "But how your team does counts to me."

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July 31, 2007 11:17 AM

Jackson to start

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson will be in the starting lineup tonight after an MRI on Monday revealed no damage to her right knee. The Aussie is the league's leading scorer at 24.2 points, closing in on Phoenix All-Star Diana Taurasi's WNBA-record 25.3 average from last summer.

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July 30, 2007 5:33 PM

Bonds bump

Posted by Jayda Evans

Hope you have ESPN Classic if you'd like to see the Storm game live on Tuesday. The network bumped its coverage of the game to ESPN Classic beginning at 7 p.m. in order to broadcast the San Francisco-Los Angeles Dodgers game and Barry Bonds' home-run quest.. ESPN2 will replay the Storm-Sacramento game after the baseball matchup.

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July 30, 2007 4:23 PM

Medic!

Posted by Jayda Evans

All-Star Lauren Jackson missed practice to have a MRI taken on her right knee. Jackson has dealt with the problem since playing 31 minutes in a blowout against Los Angeles on July 10. The Storm traveled home to host Connecticut at noon the following day and after the loss, the Aussie hopped a plane to Washington, D.C. for the All-Star game and the beginning of the Storm's four-game road trip.

While on the road, she crashed to the Madison Square Garden floor on a loose ball scramble, injuring her bursa sac. She returned, however, and said it was unrelated to the issue in the back of her knee. Returning to Seattle has done little to ease the pain as the Storm will have played every other day during its current three-game homestand, not giving Jackson must time to stay off her feet.

Jackson, who leads the league in scoring (24.2), was at the training facility following her appointment. She appeared upbeat, but declined to speak with media.

Teammate Betty Lennox also missed practice in order to rest, but also has a left wrist injury. It happened Friday, she said, with Indiana center "Tammy Sutton-Brown running me over.'' Lennox didn't offer any more details and will have it evaluated because she plans to continue playing.

Storm center Janell Burse is questionable because her left wrist has three torn ligaments. She expects to play against Sacramento because she didn't do anything to cause pain today, but her future is uncertain because if the pain worsens she may have to wear a cast or have surgery, which would require at least six weeks to rehabilitate.

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July 30, 2007 12:32 PM

POW

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson was named Player of the Week, again. Would say this award just needs to be named after her, but Lisa Leslie still leads in most POWs in a career at 14. Jackson is tied with Indiana forward Tamika Catchings at 11.

Jackson couldn't be denied her second consecutive POW as she scored a WNBA-tying 47 points in a loss to Washington and her career 4,000th in a win against Indiana. And, oh, she had 29 in a loss to San Antonio.

Jackson does match Leslie's four POWs received last season when the latter won MVP. But San Antonio guard Becky Hammon will be a serious contender for Jackson for MVP in these final weeks. You'd almost have to search for a way not to vote for Jackson, but Hammon has averaged 21.0 points against the Storm, including a game-high 30 Sunday, and those weren't all from outside. She drove into Jackson's paint for a few dazzling layins in those three matchups, missing one outing against the Storm because of a sprained foot.

San Antonio has swept Seattle and Hammon ranks in the top-three league-wide in scoring and assists. Plus, her team is best in the West. Shouldn't that count for something?

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July 30, 2007 12:19 PM

Bench moves

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm announced the re-signing of guard Doneeka Lewis, this time for the remainder of the season. But Lewis didn't play in Sunday's loss to San Antonio and her most minutes in the past two weeks were six in the blowout win against Indiana on Friday.

Rookie Katie Gearlds also didn't play on Sunday, which is interesting because before the game, Storm coach Anne Donovan said she's pairing down the roster to who will play during the postseason. Gearlds has had her rookie moments, but was starting to find her offensive touch and has not been used. She scored 11 against the Silver Stars in the teams earlier meeting in Texas, a game Donovan said the Storm played their best in the second half without All-Star Sue Bird.

As a No. 7 overall pick, you'd expect Gearlds to play a little. But her defense isn't the best. I sat courtside in New York when Donovan had a stern talk to Gearlds during the win about that, along with running an offense play better.

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July 29, 2007 4:20 PM

Foiled

Posted by Jayda Evans

The web is full of whoppers, check out this one The Sacramento Bee found on former Storm assistant Jenny Boucek.

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July 28, 2007 1:45 PM

Special visit

Posted by Jayda Evans

It's possible the Storm's added intensity on defense had to do with a pretty good defender circa 2004 returning to Seattle.

Retired forward Alicia "Chelle" Thompson is in town from Texas catching the games and catching up with old teammates. She attended practice Thursday and was introduced at the Friday win against Indiana. Thompson's presence brought a smile to players' faces, especially after a long road trip.

"It was great seeing her," said center Janell Burse, who also saw Thompson when the Storm played in San Antonio earlier this season.

Thompson was part of the 2004 championship team, a squad that was also known for its defense with Tully Bevilaqua, Adia Barnes and Sheri Sam in the lineup. They held opponents to 66.6 points a game, something the Storm would like to regain.

Seattle outscored Indiana 28-21 in the third quarter Friday, getting over that hump for a night. But the team is giving up an average of 75.6 points this season. True, scoring is up in the league, which is a good thing, but defense can be just as entertaining.

Thompson nodded when asked if she was going to give a pep talk. If so, the little extra motivation worked.

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July 26, 2007 5:59 PM

Text me

Posted by Jayda Evans

Ask anyone close to All-Star Lauren Jackson and they'll tell you she's really a shy person. And she is. The roughest part of today's practice for her was probably sitting on the sideline watching the throng of cameras and print media file into the training facility, all wanting to talk to her about one thing -- the magical 47.

She has dealt with the horde before (hello, Olympics and World Championships), but the shyness peeked out again when asked about the congratulatory calls. got received. Well, now they're text messsages, and she received 15 by Wednesday. And that's just from players in the league.

"I didn't know I had that many friends," she said with the brightest smile she's had this month.

Jackson has been in the limelight all week with the game, the Player of the Week and the feature spread in Sports Illustrated.

"It's great exposure for the team," she said. "Now, if we could only get some wins."

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July 25, 2007 8:09 PM

Number crunching

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson is 14 points shy of her career 4,000th. Impressive in itself, but then add the fact that she would be the youngest player to do so by, oh, five years!

Houston All-Star Tina Thompson, a WNBA original, scored her 4,000th point at age 31. If Jackson hits the mark on Friday against Indiana, she'd reach the plateau by age 26 and after just seven summers in the league. (FYI, she scored 17 in the team's loss to the Fever earlier this season.)

Jackson will have played 209 games by Friday, meaning she shaved 21 games off reaching the mark compared to Los Angeles center Lisa Leslie, who was 32 and had played 230 games when she reached 4,000. Others in the elite group are Detroit guard Katie Smith and Houston forward Sheryl Swoopes.

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July 25, 2007 8:02 PM

Burse update

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm center Janell Burse did injure her left wrist against Washington on Tuesday. She thinks the injury occurred early in the second quarter, but continued to play and would have finished the game had she not been benched with four fouls in the third quarter.

Burse had an X-ray at Verizon Center, which did not show any fractures. Another X-ray after returning to Seattle today also didn't show any damage. Burse is in pain, though, and will likely skip practice Thursday. She plans to have an MRI, probably after the session.

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July 25, 2007 8:47 AM

Burse injured?

Posted by Jayda Evans

Bumped into Storm center Janell Burse at a posh restaurant after the Washington game and she had her left wrist bound in a cast.

"I think my wrist might be broke," she said. "I'll tell you tomorrow."

I was shocked because I don't remember Burse leaving the Tuesday night matchup with any pain. She collected her fourth foul early in the third quarter and was benched for the remainder by coach Anne Donovan.

Burse hasn't statistically been the same since the team's three-game road trip to Houston, San Antonio, and Los Angeles to begin the month of July. And reserves Wendy Palmer (10 rebounds) and Ashley Robinson (three steals) played above their norm against the Mystics, so the team had help inside -- just from one less body.

Donovan doesn't discuss what's going on with Burse and the player's explanation is she can't find a rhythm because she's pulled so often after the slightest mistake. Maybe we'll know more today, but the Storm could be without a post that was once of All-Star caliber due to injury.

The Storm could cut guard Doneeka Lewis and find another post. But if a gem was out there, she was probably picked up long ago.

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July 25, 2007 7:59 AM

One-woman show?

Posted by Jayda Evans

There seems to be pattern falling into place as the Storm enters the final stretch of the season: Let All-Star Lauren Jackson score all of the points and everybody else play defense or get the Aussie the ball.

After watching her 47-point spectacle, who could really argue? It was gorgeous. The Verizon Center hecklers, who had never experienced such a show in the arena's history, turned into supporters with shouts like, "Jackson, damn you nasty!" She made her signature turnaround jumper, drove the paint for layins, hit a couple of runners and had her own 7-0 run at one point.

During timeouts, Jackson bent over and heaved for her life, but when Storm coach Anne Donovan asked if she needed a breather, Jackson brushed her off. She was, as Mystics All-Star DeLisha Milton-Jones said, "en fuego," and not leaving the game because the Storm had yet (and wouldn't) take a lead larger than three points.

Trailing 34-23 after Mystics guard Monique Currie hit a wide-open short jumper, Seattle outscored Washington 17-6 in the final 6:11 of the second quarter to tie the score at 40 points apiece heading into halftime.

This is where it all broke down. The players came out flat after halftime -- again. This time they gave up 31 points to a team known for second-half surges.

"That killed us," Jackson said. "We haven't been good in the third quarter ever this season."

Donovan's response was to bench guard Betty Lennox and center Janell Burse, who were not mentally there and Burse had foul trouble. It left Jackson with one less post player to get help defense from inside as Milton-Jones played the Aussie's game, scoring 17 of her final 22 points after halftime by driving right back at Jackson.

"I felt I needed to be the aggressor and attack the rim," Milton-Jones said. "She was scoring like this? I need to go right back at her because I know that defensively, her being that tall (6-foot-5), she shouldn't be able to stay in front of me off the dribble. So I just put the ball on the floor, put my head down and got to the rim."

It's one nitpick you could play on Jackson's game. Or a reason why some lean toward Indiana forward Tamika Catchings for MVP.

Jackson is a supreme scorer and rebounder, but has yet to read the defenses around her to find open teammates to contribute offensively when she's crowded. She had one assist against the Mystics and probably could have had more if she didn't just look at the basket. Catchings, who's out with a foot injury, had this versatile game where she passed, shot, stole, and rebounded the ball.

"They [Seattle] did need somebody else to help contribute, but when Lauren's hot like that, get her the ball and you almost put the responsibility on her to make the right read," Milton-Jones said. "Is this my time to shoot or is this my time to set somebody else up to make the defense not concentrate on me so much? Or burn the defense for concentrating on me like this? We had a collective effort as opposed to them just having one player having an outstanding night."

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July 24, 2007 3:41 PM

Starring Jacko

Posted by Jayda Evans

For all those who love Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson, here's a neat photo gallery just for you.

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July 24, 2007 2:59 PM

Okies

Posted by Jayda Evans

Washington assistant coach Crystal Robinson had some bold words for Seattle media.

"Seattle should be thanking their lucky stars, they are going to see 14,000 every night in Oklahoma. I guarantee it!" Robinson told radio personality Adia Barnes within earshot of The Times.

Robinson, a former New York Liberty star who retired as a Mystic earlier this season, is from the state and graduated from SE Oklahoma in 1996. Her town is about 90-minutes from where Storm guard Betty Lennox's family lives and Robinson's hometown population isn't much bigger at 250.

Robinson's theory on a successful relocation, if new Sonics and Storm owner Clay Bennett is unsuccessful in obtaining a splashy facility in the Seattle area, is that, "There's nothing to do there. Nothing."

Robinson still spends her offseason in Oklahoma and said she's enjoying coaching on the pro level, but that the players can be tough to deal with if you're not a former player yourself. She wants to coach in the WNBA for a couple of years before finding a gig on the college level.

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July 24, 2007 2:37 PM

Move it

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm guard Betty Lennox just got the boot from Mystics All-Star Alana Beard. The Washington guard has a routine of shooting buckets on both ends prior to pre-game warmups and Lennox normally shoots at her team's basket, putting on what she calls "the show" before warmups.

Well, Beard waltzed down and told her to move and that she was getting too hot at the hoop anyway. "It can't happen like that." We'll see if the heat stays for the game -- on either side.

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July 23, 2007 4:52 PM

The block

Posted by Jayda Evans

So, you've probably heard about Storm All-Star Sue Bird's shot by now. Well, you may not know she can block, too.

In the second quarter Bird guarded New York forward Cathrine Kraayeveld (a Kirkland native) on the wing and as the 6-foot-4 post attempted a three-pointer, Bird blocked the shot. OK, it was closer to Kraayeveld's release at her hip and not midair, but still a sweet play.

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July 20, 2007 1:29 PM

Conspiracy theorists

Posted by Jayda Evans

For all of those that saw Storm center Janell Burse's alleged All-Star jersey on the Wet, yep it was legit and sources offer no explanation for Burse not being the team despite leading by more than 10,000 after the second returns. Some insiders think the WNBA cherry-picks its stars, even if it comes to shaving the (Storm) fan vote, which completed all of its paper ballots for the third consecutive season.

Others believe games are thrown to help ticket sells. Well, the NBA is being investigated. It's hard to believe any WNBA official is making it rich throwing games, but...

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July 19, 2007 11:23 AM

Let's talk

Posted by Jayda Evans

It was interesting to see WNBA president Donna Orender emphatically shake her head "no" when Storm relocation was mentioned as a side note in regards to all the changes that will occur next season. Even though a direct question wasn't asked, she added, "I don't see a relocation," as a partial answer. It's the most concrete statement she's made regarding the sale of the Sonics and Storm, usually deferring to NBA commissioner David Stern or stating she doesn't know enough to comment.

It also fits a theme, as new owner Clay Bennett released a statement today declaring it's time to take a serious look at the arena situation, calling all local politicians and civic leaders to action. He requested a meeting with Mayor Greg Nickels, saying he's the "appropriate person to provide leadership and guidance."

Bennett also re-stated he wants to keep the teams here, but it all is stuff we've heard before.

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July 18, 2007 7:52 AM

As promised

Posted by Jayda Evans

Here's the Sports Illustrated feature on All-Star Lauren Jackson. Really well written if not "new" to hardcore Storm fans. Love that the K&K is getting all the national pub from S.I. and ESPN2 prior to the Storm loss on Tuesday.

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July 17, 2007 6:00 PM

Mailbag

Posted by Jayda Evans

Thought a fight was going to break out while trying to do a little investigating for Chris Robinson of Vernon, Conn. The Sun's season-ticket holder wrote, "What's more infuriating ... overly casual attire that seems to be catching on with the inactive players or a team allowing a player with a knee, Achilles, or other leg injury to wear heels."

Well, my nitpick is the former. This is a business, not a nightclub, and the players should adhere to that. The WNBA does have a dress code, which is similar to the NBA's, but Storm coach Anne Donovan takes it a step further by omitting jeans -- even if they are a high-end, dark designer pair. Some teams are lax, however. Remember Tamika Willliams' sweatpants?

The latter is what nearly broke out a fight.

"Any injury that has to do with your ankle, your heel, or your back and you're on the sideline with heels on? You're faking," said Houston All-Star Tina Thompson.

"Hold up, excuse me?" interrupted Los Angeles All-Star Taj McWilliams-Franklin inside the Western Conference's locker room on Sunday. Angelinos may remember she was recently on the sideline in heels. "I always wear heels because it helps with elevation. My doctors have said so."

"Really? I've never heard that," Thompson said, with a look of disbelief.

Apparently Italian doctors gave McWilliams-Franklin the go-ahead. But when Storm All-Star Sue Bird was told the story Monday, she stopped the interview short.

"Wait a minute. Elevation is [pulls leg above heart], you still have to deal with gravity with heels," she said. Bird had minor knee surgery July 6 and wore dressy thongs to the game. "I think something was lost in translation. Seriously, with all the knee problems I have and being bowlegged, the happiest moment in my life is when I take my heels off when I have to wear them."

But Chris, teams don't regulate the shoes, so the debate continues.

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July 16, 2007 9:01 PM

Thorny subject

Posted by Jayda Evans

So, you don't like the Doneeka Lewis pickup. After watching practice, I say give it two clicks before pressing send on that angry letter.

Lewis, who dropped the maiden Hodges upon marriage, is a better choice than second-year guard Shona Thorburn, who the Storm released after a seven-day contract to learn the system. Lewis is a fourth-year player and was forced to transition to the PG spot her second season in the league in order to get minutes. She looked good shooting and had one smooth pass to a cutting Janell Burse in the paint. She knows JB, also being from New Orleans, so some tough barriers are already broken.

Of course, the real question is why didn't Storm coach Anne Donovan, who's also director of player personnel, make this move in the first place. Any incoming PG would need time to learn the system and Lewis being more experienced (and a little more pricier) than Thorburn would give her the edge to pick it all up, to me. By this time she could have been a real asset because of the strong versatility.

Lewis doesn't know how she'll be played. She just knows she over packed for the four-game road trip and hopes she's not returning to her new home in Baton Rouge anytime soon.

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July 16, 2007 8:32 PM

Bionic woman

Posted by Jayda Evans

It's been 10 days and All-Star Sue Bird looks like the point guard circa 2004. Yes, she practiced full-on with the team and was tipping passes on defense and making jumpers on offense. It was freaky because I was under the impression that she had arthroscopic left knee surgery to clear loose particles and a small meniscus tear on July 6.

"My doctor is very, I say the word liberal," said Bird of Dr. Michael Joyce of the University of Connecticut Health Center. "When I had my ACL surgery [in college], he didn't want me wearing a brace -- ever. He's a very go get 'em type of guy. I was telling people here and they didn't believe that the next day I was running in the pool."

Bird, who experienced her third surgery on the knee, was on the court shooting free throws on Friday. She progressed to adding a step or dribble pull-up on Saturday. And Sunday's rehab session was six hours because she had to watch the All-Star game and did exercises, like weaving around strength and conditioning coach Ryan Hite, who provided dummy defense.

At one point during practice on Monday in Phoenix, which was after a plane ride and about three-hours long, Storm coach Anne Donovan asked Bird how she felt and the league's second-leading assist leader (5.0) chirped back, "good."

But Bird will not dress for Tuesday's game against Phoenix, even though teammate Lauren Jackson kept saying, "I think she's good enough to play," from the sideline toward the end of practice. Donovan offered the Times no insight on Bird's timetable for return (why am I not surprised). Bird also said that the doctors and trainers are insisting she remain out for the minimum two weeks, so that puts her return at July 20.

"I feel really comfortable," said Bird, who showed off the slight swelling were the incisions were made. She has to keep that down. "I was a little anxious to see what it would be like out there with other people [during practice], but once I got into it I was fine. The big thing is how you react the next day. The one thing I'm lacking is my conditioning. I have to get that back to where I was because I felt like I was in really good shape by that LA game."

Remember that? She had 10 points and 11 assists in 31 minutes - on a bum knee.

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July 16, 2007 2:44 PM

New point

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm opted not to re-sign second-year guard Shona Thorburn to a second seven-day contract, instead picking up Doneeka Hodges-Lewis, who is in her fourth season. Hodges-Lewis, whose twin plays for Houston, was cut by Los Angeles in training camp, appearing in one game.

The apparent seven-day contract doesn't appear to cure any of Seattle's issues, however. All-Star Sue Bird is expected to be out rehabbing her left knee and Hodges-Lewis is a natural shooting guard, giving the Storm three on the roster.

Practice is this afternoon, so more to come.

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July 16, 2007 11:41 AM

The Rookie

Posted by Jayda Evans

Hung out with Adrienne Goodson during the All-Star Game. You might remember she's writing for Slam Online and boasts that her first feature in the hoops magazine is going to be on Detroit All-Star Deanna Nolan -- look for it in its upcoming issue.

While Goody is an All-Star, playing in the game when it was last held in Washington, D.C., in 2002, she was a complete newbie on Sunday, violating all of the media rules. She cheered from press row, interviewed players while they competed and whined, "wait for me!" as she headed into the restroom -- when the skills challenge began. I hollered, "We're supposed to be in our seats!" But ended up waiting for what felt like 45 minutes. I nearly missed Storm guard Betty Lennox running the course, but wouldn't have minded because I knew she wasn't going to do well, like All-Star Sue Bird. (Lennox is the kind of passer that needs an athlete to go get a ball that might be, hmm, slightly off target. I would never declare her a precision passer. Add in the horrendous travel she experienced and you saw the results). Loved Goody's continued rebellious nature, though, because I got to be by her side scooping up the dish, too.

And Goody was a hoot. I called her "rook" the entire time because she crossed over to my turf. Most players want to be broadcasters and that's cool, but I never could figure out why all of these underground poets and writers don't try sports reporting, especially after listening to them complain about how they're covered. Plus, some have the journalism degree.

Goody said she's just "trying to expose the WNBA as much as possible and in any way I can. It's unfortunate we don't have enough games on regular TV so everybody can see, because not everybody has cable or NBA-TV. I'm just trying to give it another avenue."

After the game I was put back in place when I went to dinner with Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Mel Greenberg, who started the women's college basketball poll in 1976 and was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in June. Post-game dinner is an All-Star tradition of ours that's all about swapping notes on West Coast-East Coast hoops. Of course, he talks more and I soak up the history book on tape without the book or tape. Classic moment was thumbing through his iPod on the way back to my hotel. He's got 50 Cent, Clay Walker and Celtic Woman. As I laughed at the wide range of musical tastes for a white guy born in 1947, he said, "I may get lucky on the airplane and need something for everybody."

That was the All-Star weekend, something for everybody. If I may, I'd like to thank Ed at Hotel Monaco for the wonderful room and Princess Di, my goldfish (not named by me), for keeping me company during my stay. Now it's back to regular work.

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July 15, 2007 9:49 PM

Giving answers

Posted by Jayda Evans

Former Los Angeles All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw gives definitive reason for her sudden retirement. A worthy read if you're still curious.

On another note, here's what I was looking for in nudging me toward Catch for MVP. Don't freak, just need a little help in seeing through the LJ goggles sometimes. And did you spot this photo?

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July 15, 2007 7:04 PM

Bird sighting

Posted by Jayda Evans

Leading vote-getter Sue Bird of the Storm could not make the game due to rehabilitating her left knee, but she taped a video message for fans aired on the Verizon Center jumbotron. Bird spoke of the honor and concluded by saying, "sorry I can't be there, but enjoy the game."

Bird will fly with the team on Monday to Phoenix for the start of the four-game road trip. She'll evaluate her status upon arrival, but isn't expected to return until the July 20 game against Connecticut -- at the earliest.

Houston All-Star Tina Thompson was a phenomenal replacement for Bird in the starting lineup, a move initiated by Western coach Jenny Boucek of the Sacramento Monarchs. Thompson finished with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists. She would have been MVP had the West won.

"She's a legend," said Boucek of the league original. "We take her for granted because she's been one of the most consistent performers in the WNBA since Day 1. It's great for the world to see what she's capable of doing. At least scratching the surface of what she's capable of doing."

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July 15, 2007 5:01 PM

Shoe diaries

Posted by Jayda Evans

Kicks were an underscored story at the All-Star game this weekend. Surprisingly, Grammy award-winning artist Mya had the flashiest with her fuchsia Reebok high tops worn with silver leggings and jean cutoff shorts for her halftime performance of greatest hits.

And although adidas is the official sneaker of the women's league, word on the street is they hurt too many players' feet to actually be worn by many. In fact, majority of the All-Stars are signed to a $5,000 Nike contract that allows them to wear the company's apparel. It was a cheaper system than simply signing up with the league.

So for the game, the company shipped out various orange, black, and white versions that were a little reminiscent of Halloween, for their players to wear. Minnesota guard Seimone Augustus' all black version were cool. Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson had white and orange with "LJ 15" and the Australian flag.

The funniest shoe story was Western Conference coach Jenny Boucek (Sacramento) who gingerly walked on to the postgame press conference stage barefoot. She wore off-white heels with a crisp brown suit with off-white trimming and couldn't take another step in the fashionable shoes after the loss.

"My feet are hurting, I hope y'all don't mind," she told the media, using a thicker version of her native Tennessee accent.

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July 15, 2007 11:56 AM

Representing

Posted by Jayda Evans

Washington third-year guard Laurie Koehn rocked the Verizon Center as she nailed nearly every three-point attempt, plus money balls, to win the second annual competition. The crowd chanted "LAU-RIE!" and she was presented a check that will go to charity.

The scene is entertaining, although there are a lot of WNBA suits roaming around. They may outnumber media, but not sure. There are some empty seats, meaning not many must have been interested in the skills challenge or three-point shootout, but president Donna Orender said the game is a sellout. Good because last season's curtain at Madison Square Garden for the league's 10th anniversary celebration was an embarrassment.

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July 15, 2007 8:18 AM

Cardinal congregation

Posted by Jayda Evans

Dominated by Connecticut and Tennessee players, WNBA fans may have to wait until Candice Wiggins enters the league to really get a Stanford overload again. But those associated with the Cardinal took center stage on Friday when U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was recognized as this season's recipient of the WNBA Inspirational Award.

Then a political science professor, Rice was named Stanford provost in 1993. So, she happily posed for pictures with Angela Taylor, Minnesota Lynx vice president of business development; Rennee Brown, WNBA vice president of player personnel; Jennifer Azzi, former San Antonio guard; and Sonja Henning, who was the Storm's inaugural staring point guard. They played at Stanford together, winning the NCAA title in 1990.

And speaking of Henning, who still hates to be interviewed, she bypassed her partner duties at her Portland law firm to become the associate director of U.S. sports marketing at Nike last month.

"Tonkon has always treated me fabulous, I had just made partner, but this was just a great opportunity," Henning said.

She hasn't made it up to Seattle for a Storm game yet this summer but was disheartened like most about the sell and possible relocation.

"I've heard so many different sides to it," said Henning, who's still physically ripped. "But the one thing I'm sure of is the Storm will be solid wherever they land. They will draw a great crowd because they're an excellent team."

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July 15, 2007 7:18 AM

Sorry Carlton

Posted by Jayda Evans

So, multi-platinum artist Vanessa Carlton was a little peeved that those who attended the AOL "Welcome Party & Concert" were a little too focused on the party aspect to listen to her beautiful modern classical tunes.

The stage at the Mellon Auditorium was set with a grand piano and flanked by jumbo screens that played a montage of player photos or went to live shots of the presentation and concert. The high celings provided a special touch as massive graphics of twirling stars were projected on the gold plated canvas. Nearly everyone was gussied up, entering the grand building on the red, er, blue carpet. That aspect was a little much as there were only a couple of cameras. If security can't hold them back without a roped off "media holding pen," then, well we've got issues.

Anyway, everyone mingled with the bigwig sponsors as the wine and martini's flowed freely with food circling the crowd like kaiten-sushi. The All-Stars were introduced after going through the standard photo session. And a comical moment was when Indiana All-Star Tammy Sutton-Brown tried to scoot away from Houston All-Star Tina Thompson on stage because both were wearing similar outfits - a belted smock top over black pants with pumps. Thompson's top was emerald and accesorized with a beaded necklace while Sutton-Brown wore cream and no jewlery, but they could of been twin mannequins at Nordi's.

Best dressed has to go to Washington All-Star Alana Beard, although Connecticut All-Star Katie Douglas was nearly unrecognizable in her strapless black cocktail dress. You can checkout the looks here.

Beard, who wore a Grecian-inspired cream dress with her faux hawk elegantly slicked back. The team's public relations spokeswoman asked if I still liked her 'do (Beard won this blog's Best WNBA Hair last season) and I had to say yes because of the versatility, but Beard promised to return the funkier look for today's game.

Best nails has to go to Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson, who got a manicure with black polish like Phoenix All-Star Cappie Pondexter, but added a white skull and cross bones design on her pinky nail. She's threatening to get a tattoo of the image, too. Guess that fits with the Marilyn Manson theme she adores.

Players' pick for best dressed actually went to Storm center Ashley Robinson, who attended to hang out with all of her Tennessee and Seattle buds. As she walked away from a cluster of All-Stars gathered in the back of the auditorium, everyone started talking about how gorgeous she is and admired how at 6-foot-4, she doesn't think twice about rocking a pair of 4-inch heels. She wore a green jersey dress and accented it with sparkly green eye shadow. Earlier while she was talking to Vols assistant coaches, I used her height like a submarine periscope to spot Jackson.

Robinson had some hilarious tales - she's one of the funniest players in the league - particularly when she talked about her and Diana Taurasi back in the day. They've known each other since age 13 and when Robinson, 24, would walk around in her cute outfits, Taurasi would sneak up from behind and de-pants her. They cracked up at the memory and then most of the players departed for dinner and the remainder of their evening.

Oh, yeah. Carlton had finished her concert by then, too.

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July 14, 2007 2:00 PM

Freebies

Posted by Jayda Evans

First cool sighting on the way to the All-Star Game was a T-shirt worn by a young female basketball player at SeaTac Airport that read, "Basketball: Invented by men. Perfected by women." Too bad that was the only sighting until reaching practice at a Boys & Girls Club today.

The Women in Faith convention was booked about a year in advance at the Verizon Center, not allowing the WNBA to hold its traditional events at the arena. In fact, they can't even hang a banner, so you really wouldn't know the game is even happening. And trust me on that, I'm staying across the street from the facility.

The WNBA can't move its hoopla in until 3:30 a.m. Sunday and the fan jam had to be a few blocks away, too, but that's good because it's in a vacant parking lot.

The convention also meant there wasn't a public practice, which irked many fans, including those who made the trip from Seattle. But Washington Mystics fans didn't miss out. Those who have been season-ticket holders since the team's inception in 1998 were invited to their practice and loaded up with freebies, including autographs from players and watching their kids participate in shooting drills.

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July 13, 2007 4:42 AM

Total downer

Posted by Jayda Evans

The All-Star break is supposed to be a happy time. Players get to escape from team stresses for a minute and, although the actual All-Stars and participants of the events have a lot of work squeezed in for them during the stretch, it's still fun (OK, to me at least).

News out of San Antonio that reigning player of the week, guard Erin Buescher, is going to undergo season-ending knee surgery is a complete letdown. We'll see if the Silver Stars remain a contender during the second half of the season and wish Buescher the best. She averaged 17 points and 3.6 steals in three San Antonio wins against the Storm this season, including a career-high 27 points and season-high-tying five steals on July 7.

Maybe now All-Star G Marie Ferdinand-Harris will get some real playing time, returning from the birth of her first child last season.

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July 12, 2007 9:33 PM

Fashion Police

Posted by Jayda Evans

No, this isn't about Storm assistant Heidi VanDerveer or Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek, who's heading the Western Conference All-Star squad this weekend.

Actually it was Los Angeles coach Michael Cooper on the prowl before his team lost to Seattle on Tuesday. He pointed at forward Shyra Ely's black compression leggings during pregame warmups and shouted, "Hey! You know that's a fine, you can't wear that."

Ely quickly retorted, "Nope, medical clearance."

She has slight leg and knee soreness and passed the WNBA's medical statute to wear the gear. All-Star Lauren Jackson wanted to wear them to begin the season since they stave off her leg woes, which she hasn't experienced in months. But she hasn't had trouble in months, so she can't get the clearance.

Then what was up with the white legging covering her right leg Wednesday? She had lower hamstring soreness and it was the only quick remedy to get her on the court. She isn't expected to need it during the second half of the season, however. If so, she'll have to get the clearance.

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July 11, 2007 4:33 AM

Channeling skills

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm guard Betty Lennox has been wearing teammate Sue Bird's shoes in practice, trying to protect the last pair of kicks that don't bother her swollen right Achilles tendon, which Lennox only wears during games.

So, she's literally stepped into the All-Star's shoes as she plays some point guard to help Seattle as Bird recovers from left knee surgery. Lennox already defended the opponent's point guard this season.

The WNBA is taking the replacement point a step further, inviting Lennox to participate in the All-Star Game's "Skills Challenge" this week. Lennox has agreed to participate.

Bird has participated in the event the past two midsummer classics, winning the inaugural challenge in Connecticut and finishing second to Minnesota All-Star Seimone Augustus last summer.

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July 10, 2007 5:26 PM

Brief point

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm signee Shona Thorburn made her debut against the Sparks, first entering the game in the second quarter and playing one minute. She finished with two points and two turnovers in five minutes overall, looking a little jittery with the ball.

"I don't want to say I was nervous, but maybe a little over energized," Thorburn said. "I'm still concentrating on the plays I learned. But it was fun to be out there."

A 2006 first-round draft pick, Thorburn has only had two practices with Seattle. She was signed on July 5 and her contract expires on Wednesday. Storm coach Anne Donovan said her point guard pickup "did good with the minutes she had," but still declined to say whether Thorburn will be retained for another seven-day stint or even the remainder of the season.

Thorburn is security as All-Star Sue Bird recovers from minor left knee surgery. Bird is hopeful to return for the July 20 game after the All-Star break, but the team will not really know her progress until they see her upon return from Los Angeles today. In her absence, Tanisha Wright and Betty Lennox have been sharing Bird's offensive duties

It appears the Storm won't be able to have center Tye'sha Fluker return because she's doing well in Los Angeles and could nab another seven-day contract there. Plus, Donovan rarely returns a player she's cut. The Storm could test-run another point guard or hold at 10 players, saving money until another unexpected injury calls for them to find a replacement - although that's highly unlikely.

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July 10, 2007 12:24 PM

Insane!

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm is experiencing their first dip of the season with "camp day" in Los Angeles, as 10,000 kids have filled Staples Center. The Sparks didn't include the game as part of their season-ticket package, but the kids are currently making up for the empty seats with ear-peircing screams. It's, in a word, insane. They screamed during the national anthem and haven't stopped. And unlike past seasons, the new owners didn't give the media earplugs -- rats!

Oh, and Sparks forward Jessica Moore made it worse by telling the kids to be as loud as they possibly can and "don't stop until the game is over." Thanks, Jessica.

Seattle is having fun with it, laughing each time the kids scream when the jumbo tron cues "NOISE." Let's see how the players feel Wednesday when the have to play a noon "camp day" game at home -- the oddest back-to-back set in pro hoops.

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July 9, 2007 11:59 AM

All-Star reserves announced

Posted by Jayda Evans

Was sent a link to the expected All-Star reserves, although it's not supposed to be announced until later today. Why the delay, I don't know. Oh, wait. It's public now.

Anyway, no other Storm players were named and Phoenix F Penny Taylor is on the list, so no tattoo for teammate Diana Taurasi. Glad Houston F Tina Thompson is on the list as well as Asjha Jones of the Connecticut Sun. But I can't believe New York has no one. That's just wrong and a total flub by the Eastern Conference coaches. Especially since Indiana F Anna DeForge is a starter -- although that's the fans' fault.

WNBA president will name injury replacements for Storm guard Sue Bird (knee) and Detroit forward Cheryl Ford (knee) soon. Let's hope a Liberty is in there.

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July 9, 2007 9:12 AM

Midseason awards

Posted by Jayda Evans

Man, just lost the first version on a computer crash. Anyway, I have a vote for postseason awards and here's where I'm headed as the Storm is just a game past the midway point. Sorry if there's no oomph, still a little bitter at having to re-type all of this. Yes, I'm hitting the "save" button more often from now on. Enjoy:

MVP: Storm F Lauren Jackson. I know there's talk about Tamika Catchings, and she's an incredible player who plays beautiful team ball, but Jackson is the best player in this league, period.

Defensive player: Jackson. I'll probably switch this to Catch by season's end, but with the way Jackson has been hustling around the court on the defensive end in the absence of Sue Bird the past two games, I want to give a little credit. But Indy worked over Seattle in June with Catch doing most of the damage. Jackson does lead the league in blocks (2.1) as well as scoring (22.6).

Rookie of the year: Los Angeles G Marta Fernandez. Her game is sweet even if it's inconsistent at times. Shoot, she's a newcomer. When she comes to your town, make sure you buy a ticket to the game. She'll have you dreaming about what a power the Sparks would be if Lisa Leslie (maternity leave) and Chamique Holdsclaw (retirement) were around.

Most improved: New York is back to defeating the league's top teams and in the middle of it all is Liberty F Cathrine Kraayeveld. She worked her tail off to come back a better player this season and it shows. I'd also like to give a nod to her teammate Janel McCarville, who still doesn't look like a No. 1 overall draft pick, but isn't an eyesore either. Sacramento F Rebekkah Brunson is a close second, but I definitely want to wait to see if she tapers off like others are predicting. I love watching her play and don't expect her to, however.

Sportsmanship: No one is cooler than Catchings. She does an excellent job in representing the league and her teammates whether it's on BET's "Rap City: The Basement" or in union meetings.

Coach of the year: It was F Candice Dupree who said her Chicago Sky would win 20 games this season. They're a little behind at 8-10, but coach Bo Overton has the second-year expansion team in the playoffs if the postseason were to begin today. And they should be there still when the season ends in August. A close second is Liberty coach Pat Coyle and Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek.

All-WNBA first team: I'm cheating and putting Jackson at center to have Catchings and Dupree surround her in the frontcourt. In the backcourt I've got Detroit guards Deanna Nolan and Katie Smith. I love Phoenix G Diana Taurasi, but I need someone to run my team and no one is better than Smith right now, except for maybe San Antonio G Becky Hammon.

All-rookie first team: I've got guards Fernandez and Lindsey Harding (Minnesota), with San Antonio F Camille Little, Storm F Katie Gearlds and New York C Jessica Davenport up front.

Well, that's it. It's been an interesting first half, so I can't wait to see what the final dash brings. But tell me what you think, especially those on the "Catchings for MVP" campaign. I hate that she's always a runner-up, so give me some pitches to change my mind.

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July 9, 2007 8:38 AM

Bird speaks

Posted by Jayda Evans

My bad, I said Storm guard Sue Bird's procedure was two hours and it was actually 45 minutes. Here are the details from the Bird's mouth, er, fingers since it's a blog entry.

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July 7, 2007 6:51 AM

The return of Greco?

Posted by Jayda Evans

Turns out Michelle Greco and the Storm were talking about a possible return for the former reserve point guard, according to sources. Greco, a UCLA product, was cut for Italian Francesca Zara and the Tanisha Wright experiment after helping the Storm win their 2004 championship. Greco played a total of 73 minutes in 13 games as Australian Tully Bevilaqua was All-Star Sue Bird's main backup that season.

Greco has been overseas winning titles or leading various Italian teams to finals (and out playing Zara in some cases). But she hasn't had much interest in returning to the WNBA - unless it's Seattle where she knows the system. Greco feels like many players who aren't top-tier: The money and respect sometimes is better overseas, so why run your body through year-round play for pennies in America?

Well, the Storm wasn't and hasn't been interested, anyway. Greco would be in her second year of eligibility, the same as recent seven-day signee Shona Thorburn. And Greco is stateside at her Los Angeles home. Plus, again, she's familiar with the schemes. But, as Storm coach Anne Donovan said, the staff was intrigued by Thorburn in college at Utah and wanted a closer look.

Greco's cool with the choice. She's going to continue playing in Italy, where she earned citizenship, and is working with a fellow UCLA alum, who's a chef, to open a restaurant within the upcoming year. She's thinking of calling it - wait for it - Greco's. How catchy!

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July 6, 2007 11:22 AM

Successful surgery

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm All-Star Sue Bird had successful surgery to remove loose particles in her left knee this morning. Dr. Michael Joyce performed the procedure at the University of Connecticut Health Center, where Bird had her previous surgeries her freshman season in college and in 2003 as a pro.

Bird's timetable for a return remains two weeks. She'll return to Seattle on July 10 and miss the Storm's current three-game road trip, a home game against Connecticut, the July 15 All-Star game and possibly the Storm's July 17 game in Phoenix.

Seattle is 2-2 all-time without Bird in the lineup.

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July 6, 2007 9:18 AM

Hello playoffs?

Posted by Jayda Evans

The WNBA is just hitting the halfway mark, but with the latest news out of L.A., the current standings may be your four Western Conference representatives for the postseason.

Sparks coach Michael Cooper is saying he doesn't want reigning MVP Lisa Leslie to rush back after delivering her first child in June just to be half the player she was. L.A. lost 57-56 to Indiana on Thursday, scoring less points than hotdogs eaten (66-63) in a New York contest on the Fourth. But even before the miserable game, Coop had glimpses into a dark second half, apparently.

Sitting below the Storm at 7-10, Coop insisting Leslie not return could be the best thing for Seattle (9-7). It can continue with its inconsistent play and always be buoyed by L.A., Minnesota (5-12), and Houston (4-12), who don't seem to have the pieces or are too young to make a serious run at the final playoff slot. The Storm also has a chance to improve on its fourth-place position. Only 1 1/2 games separate Seattle from first-place Sacramento (11-6).

Yet, while Coop sounds convincing, I still say Leslie will return. The pull might not be the postseason, but her national team desires. Team USA has yet to qualify for the 2008 Olympics and, according to Leslie's mother, the three-time Olympian wants to be in China beating Australia for gold. Leslie can train all she wants at home, but the best game action is the WNBA. Especially if she wants to join the national team for its attempt to qualify for the Games in Chile in September.

In other Sparks news, former Storm center Tye'sha Fluker was signed by L.A. on Thursday. A native of Pasadena, Calif., I'm sure she's happy to be back home and in the league. Fluker was cut by Seattle on Monday to make room for PG Shona Thorburn, who's providing backup while Sue Bird has knee surgery.

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July 5, 2007 6:53 PM

Not again

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm signee Shona Thorburn is with the team and could play in tomorrow's game despite only have practiced with the team once. She'll also have a walk through Friday morning at shoot around and teammates said they were going to work with her at the hotel tonight.

One thing you won't see (unless Storm coach Anne Donovan is pulling my leg) is rookie Katie Gearlds at the point. You may recall this experiment when guard Tanisha Wright (groin) was injured and Sue Bird was playing overseason during the exhibition season. Even Gearlds' family chuckled at that idea as she started at the point in Indiana. The Storm lost. But they also lost there during the regular season with Bird.

Seattle's best option may be to let guard Betty Lennox handle the ball more. She's improved and has already done a solid job to setup Iziane Castro Marques and Janell Burse this season.

Regardless, the most important thing is going to be getting All-Star Lauren Jackson the ball. If she doesn't struggle early to get involved, the Storm can gain confidence and just might make it through this stretch without their court leader in Bird.

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July 5, 2007 6:17 PM

Star-Spangled ritual

Posted by Jayda Evans

Ever wonder what athletes think about during the national anthem? I have simply because they hear it so much more than the average person. Dawn Staley, who retired from the WNBA last season, said the anthem obviously takes on more meaning at the Olympics but sometimes you can drift during the regular season.

My father played ball and once told me that he used to count the stars on the flag and that's how many points he'd have that night. "I'd slow down when I got to 30," he joked. So, I decided to ask a few WNBA players if they have any routines. Here are some responses collected the past two summers:

"I thank God for the opportunity and then at the end I say 'hello' to my teammate Kim Perrot; kiss my hand, then my heart and give her a little wave to let her know that I'll always miss her," said Houston forward Tina Thompson. Perrot helped the Comets win their inaugural two championships before dying of cancer in 1999.

"I like to see how long it takes them to sing it," Detroit guard Denna Nolan said. "Some of them make it last a long time. I use the game clock to time it. One time it was four minutes. I was like, 'Dang!'"

"I know the words now, but I don't sing them," said Storm forward Lauren Jackson, an Australian native. "I visualize my shot. My old coach, when I was 14, used to have us do that. She'd turn off the lights and have us visualize our shots. I still do it."

"I just pray," Phoenix forward Tangela Smith said.

"I stand the same way and wish for no injuries on either team and, if I have people coming to the game, that they get there safely," Connecticut guard Lindsay Whalen said.

"In Seattle, we're usually in the same spot, so I time it so that I look up and see this blue light and when it goes in my eyes, I look away," Storm guard Sue Bird said. "It's a habit."

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July 4, 2007 9:14 AM

About last night

Posted by Jayda Evans

A reporter walks into a bar and what should she see? A Storm signee staring back at me.

"I've been trying to duck and dodge y'all all night," Shona Thorburn said when approached.

Darling, you can't avoid moi by hiding in a bar. Especially a martini bar. Two blocks from KeyArena.

Thorburn, sipping a beer alone, gave a soft laugh at her inability to avoid the media before emphasizing "nothing has been signed yet," so she really couldn't talk about her being in Seattle or her expected seven-day contract. She did allude to traveling with the team today to Houston, so even though the WNBA front offices are closed for the holiday, the deal could have been reached.

A native Canadian, Thorburn said she's been at home in Denver working out, waiting for her agent to give the call about another possibility in the league since being cut by Minnesota in May. The Lynx were overloaded in the backcourt with the draft-day aquitition of Lindsay Harding. Thorburn also spent a little time in Utah and recently signed to play overseas in Spain.

"Things are good," said Thorburn, who attended the Storm win against Los Angeles.

After the small talk, I left her to her beer because a martini, err, friends were calling my name. Even though not many on the Storm are familiar with Thorburn, she seems as if she'll be a good fit. Once everything is signed.

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July 3, 2007 6:46 PM

Bird surgery

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm guard Sue Bird is going to have surgery Friday on the left knee that has caused her problems with persistent swelling since June 3. Her Connecticut doctor recently returned from vacation and spent the past three weeks discussing and evaluating MRIs sent to him by the Storm, but arthroscopic surgery is the only solution to solve the problem. The same doctor performed Bird's other two surgeries her freshman year in college and in 2003 as a pro.

Bird is expected to miss four games, plus the All-Star Game on July 15.

Because of the possible surgery, the Storm signed point guard Shona Thorburn to an expected seven-day contract, according to several sources. She's in Seattle, but not expected to join the team until after a back-to-back in Houston and San Antonio so that she has time to practice and adjust to the new system.

Thorburn was selected by Minnesota with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft, but cut by the Lynx on May 14, 2007.

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July 3, 2007 12:23 PM

Tiny hint

Posted by Jayda Evans

Scratch Yolanda Paige or any of the other free agents that were cut during Storm training camp as possibilities for a return. Several sources said the team is going in a different direction to find a guard to replace center Tye'sha Fluker on the roster.

The signing could be announced as early as Wednesday, but the potential player is not expected to play in the team's back-to-back road trip in Houston and San Antonio this weekend. She could play in the matchup against Los Angeles on July 10 at the Staples Center because the Storm will have time to practice and get her adjusted to the new system.

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July 3, 2007 7:53 AM

Mailbag

Posted by Jayda Evans

Brett Smith of Seattle writes, "Any idea who that team of girls in the blue sweatsuits were at the Storm game [Sunday night]. Were they a junior national team or something?"

Basketball teams sure do stick out, huh? But the group isn't quite ready for the national level. The 25 high school ballers actually are attending a Nike camp in Portland and drove up for the Storm's game against New York. College standouts Sylvia Fowles (Louisianna State) and Charde Houston (Connecticut) were group leaders, serving as camp counselors. (If Storm coach Anne Donovan has her way, Fowles will be on the 2008 Olympic team).

The girls had a photo-op with All-Stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson after the game. Both are sponsored by Nike and when Bird offered a pair of her kicks, you would have thought you were at a taping of one of Oprah's charity giveaway shows the shrills were so loud. One player, who had to be 6 feet 6, shouted to Jackson that she knew they wore the same shoes, so Jackson had someone grab a pair of hers to give the girl.

"I'm glad I'm going to be retired before they start playing in the league, they're huge," said Jackson, a 6-5 power forward.

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July 2, 2007 8:45 PM

Welcome back?

Posted by Jayda Evans

When a slew of free agents went through the Storm training camp doors in May, coach Anne Donovan notified them they were in a pool of potential signees should the team suffer an injury or need a replacement.

Guard Yolanda Paige, a traditional point guard, could be receiving a callback.

The most glaring problem with the Storm rotation is the use of Tanisha Wright as a backup PG. Donovan might want to bring in a true PG to run the second unit and take some of the pressure off All-Star Sue Bird, who has yet to be consistent and has swelling in her left knee. Wright could then be used as a backup shooting guard, which would be a better fit given her ball-handling skills.

Wright also is solid protection for any injury Betty Lennox may suffer. Lennox continues to mentally block out the tendinitis in her right Achilles, averaging 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists the past five games.

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July 2, 2007 6:16 PM

Touching tribute

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm plans to honor Carly Stowell before Tuesday's game against Los Angeles at KeyArena. Perhaps you've heard of the 14-year-old basketball star who died while preparing to participate in a Deep South Classic for the Seattle-based Emerald City Legends 15U club team in Raleigh, N.C., last April. Stowell, a freshman at Kentlake High, had such a promising career, Notre Dame made it clear they wanted to sign her once eligible, according to sources.

Stowell's parents and two brothers will be in attendance for the Sparks game. The family is in the process of establishing a music/athletic scholarship through its foundation in Stowell's honor. More information is available via e-mail at cdsfoundation@ix.netcom.com soon.

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July 2, 2007 5:02 PM

POW! POW!

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson was named player of the week for the second time this season. Jackson averaged 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field to help the Storm win two of three games.

Jackson, who leads the league in scoring (22.7) wasn't feeling so hot about her previous honor, saying others played better. Our bet is she'll feel good about this one, especially because it includes one of her five 30-plus games this season. (FYI, the record for most 30-point or more games in a season is eight.)

The Australian has earned nine POW honors in her seven-year career.

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July 2, 2007 10:43 AM

Fluker cut

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm cut Tye'sha Fluker following Sunday's win against New York. Fluker, a 6-foot-5 center in her second WNBA season, was the only person not to play in the 31-point win and received minimal minutes this summer, averaging 3.2 in nine games. She was a dispersal draft pickup from Charlotte's roster.

Seattle has until July 24 to make any trades and could be looking to add a true backup point guard or a versatile guard to protect itself against injuries to Sue Bird (left knee) and Betty Lennox (right Achilles). But Karen Bryant, the team's chief executive officer, said on Sunday that the Storm would move ahead with the roster it had.

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July 1, 2007 5:28 PM

Injury update

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm center Janell Burse dislocated her right pinky finger during the final 20 minutes of shootaround this morning. The finger was popped back into place and she plans to play with the finger taped. Teammate Betty Lennox will also start despite having an MRI on her right Achilles on Saturday, which caused her to miss practice. The results showed no new damage, just swelling.

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