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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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August 31, 2007 7:14 PM

Signing off

Posted by Jayda Evans

Well, it's time to end this blog for the 2007 season and it's good timing because if I hear another announcer say (and I love you Doris Burke), "Officials are human, too," I'll ... let's just say anyone calling themselves a "professional" can be critiqued. And I don't think most are trying to bash the officials. We all just want to see an improvement because it's starting to really distract us from the game.

Anyway, Iziane Castro Marques was the most confident about the Storm's survival next summer "because of what [she] heard." So, I'm going to ride the Brazilian's optimism and look forward to blogging about the Storm again next summer.

Until then, thanks so much for the support and enjoy the remainder of the postseason. I still believe Phoenix will win it all, but I'm not sure about Detroit. They don't look like the team they were during the regular season, losing Game 1 to Indiana tonight.

Check The Seattle Times' Web site for the latest on the Storm. News to watch out for is the MVP award, the ownership's self-imposed arena deal deadline in October and WNBA collective-bargaining agreement news in January. There also should be announcements about expansion and a new Storm assistant coach. It'll be a busy offseason.

So, thanks, again, it was really interesting. Take care.

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August 30, 2007 7:43 PM

Hammon staredown

Posted by Jayda Evans

Did anyone catch San Antonio guard Becky Hammon at the end of tonight's Game 1 Western Conference Finals? She totally stared down official Lisa Mattingly, who called the (soft) foul that sent Phoenix guard Cappie Pondexter to the line for the game-winning free throws with less than three second in the game.

I believe Hammon yelled something about how Mattingly decided the game, and although the play could technically be called a foul, I have to agree. It was the waning seconds, there were over 14,000 in attendance and the teams had played each other close the entire game. Why not hold the whistle and let the teams decide in overtime? That would have satisfied all parties involved.

Instead, the WNBA heightened its biggest problem and gripe from players and coaches - officiating. President Donna Orender was in attendance and hopefully she sees the need to rectify this situation. In fact, it's one of my three wishes for the offseason: Improved officiating, higher pay for the players, and the Storm remain in Seattle - forever.

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August 29, 2007 3:01 PM

Looking for LJ

Posted by Jayda Evans

Seems the Australian national team could be in a similar state as the Storm, if the WNBA franchise relocates. All-Star Lauren Jackson said she wouldn't play in Oklahoma City, thus skipping the WNBA season next summer in order to prepare for the 2008 Olympics.

But the Opals, her national team, knows she and Penny Taylor will not be around forever, so they're looking for the next Jackson.

The Aussie plans to return to Australia next week to spend time with her family then she is returning to the U.S. to tour with the Opals. She was somber following her exit interviews with staff but didn't have many answers, saying she'll need more time to distance herself from everything and to watch the games on tape.

During the WNBA offseason, Jackson will play overseas in Russia along with Storm teammate Sue Bird.

Tanisha Wright is returning to Isreal, and forward Shyra Ely received a T-Mobile internship through the WNBA and will return Oct. 1 to work in its marketing department.

If Janell Burse decides to play overseas, and the money says she will, she'll return to the Prague team. Iziane Castro Marques and Ashley Robinson were undecided about overseas plans, but Izi is planning to miss part of next summer to help Brazil qualify for the Olympics at a last-chance tournament in July.

The league is taking an Olympics break in August and Castro Marques would return after that. Brazil could qualify at the tournament in Chile next month, but Bird's Team USA also is in the field, a tough draw to beat.

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August 28, 2007 6:48 PM

Player exits

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm began player exit interviews today. Veteran Wendy Palmer walked out of the training facility with a huge garbage bag full of personals and expressing her favorite thing about Seattle is the weather (Yeah, stick around another few weeks and see how you feel). The league original hasn't thought about her future -- yet -- just preparing for her first season as an assistant coach at Kentucky.

Rookie Katie Gearlds, an Indiana native who starred at Purdue, spoke of the difficulties transitioning from having her parents at every game to living in the Pacific Northwest with no family. She's set to play in the EuroLeague beginning Oct. 1 -- teaming with New York's Janel McCarville, recently named Most Improved Player, in Slovakia. Gearlds will compete against Storm All-Star Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson's Russian team.

Veteran Betty Lennox also plans to play overseas, but she's departing tonight for home in Missouri. She said she hasn't been there in about a year, instead getting friends and family to take care of her dogs and make her place appear lived in. Lennox plans to stay there for a few months.

Newcomers Doneeka Lewis and Astou Ndiaye-Diatta also had their interviews and final fitness tests. Lewis is returning to Louisiana and throwing a party that teammate Janell Burse is going to attend. Burse lives in nearby Slidell, La.

Burse starts the final round of exit interviews on Wednesday. Jackson is also expected to return from her extended stay in Phoenix by then. So don't expect an announcement regarding the MVP award during Thursday's Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between Phoenix and San Antonio. League sources said that will occurring during the WNBA Finals.

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August 27, 2007 9:35 AM

Switching to purple

Posted by Jayda Evans

Heard a lot of Storm fans are switching their allegiance to cheer for Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek in the Monarchs' pivotal Game 3 today. Boucek is a former Storm assistant who keeps close ties with the team. Her mother has made dinners for players like Tanisha Wright and Ashley Robinson and attends games while Boucek has been a soundboard for players this summer.

The Storm returned from Phoenix today after the disappointing first-round series sweep that appeared to have All-Star Sue Bird in tears during the web airing of the postgame press conference. The expected televised version was canned in order to bring ESPN2 viewers the men's FIBA World Championship.

Exit interviews aren't scheduled until Wednesday, but media has been warned to check back for updates. All-Star Lauren Jackson could be awarded the MVP trophy this week, too, since her plans last week were to return to Australia to be with her family. (She learned of her paternal grandmother's death on Aug. 10.) Other players have mentioned already having overseas contracts offered to them, so they may depart quickly for play elsewhere. Bird and Storm coach Anne Donovan must regroup for their Olympic qualifying tournament in Chile from Sept. 23-29.

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August 25, 2007 5:53 PM

Taurasi breaks it down

Posted by Jayda Evans

Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi recapped her win on Friday in her latest blog entry. Seems the usual suspects plus former Storm reserve Barbara Turner went out to dinner. Turner, who plays for Houston now, and Chicago forward Candice Dupree were in attendnce last night -- Dupree supporting Ashley Robinson, who was acquired via trade from the Sky last summer.

The Mercury didn't practice today; the Storm watched film and did an hour session before traveling to Phoenix. With Game 2 being a 4 p.m. tip-off Sunday, it's a tight turnaround for the Storm, which is fighting to stay alive in the best-of-three series.

Storm coach Anne Donovan commented about this but said she felt confident. All-Star Lauren Jackson described the practice as "tense" and the players appeared to have a switch finally turned on as they walked off the court to shower and board the bus to catch their flight.

In 2004, there was a similar vibe -- a leaf turning over so to speak -- as former Storm forward Sheri Sam had everyone ready to make that memorable championship run. Friday's embarrassing loss probably provided the fire this time. We'll see in less than 24 hours.

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August 24, 2007 10:42 PM

Feeling at home

Posted by Jayda Evans

Apparently Phoenix just needed to spruce up KeyArena to get a comfy feeling in order to win. The Mercury dressed up the KeyArena visitor's locker room with a massive playoff sign displaying their theme "ONE: Team, City, Goal"

The Purple definitely looked a little closer to a home locker room instead of the sterile high-school look it used to have. And it showed the nerve of Phoenix to redecorate on the road. Teams have brought in better TV sets in the past, but never in my eight years have I seen a team display their colors so proudly on the road.

Guard Diana Taurasi reiterated the theme in her postgame interview, saying it was the entire team that helped shut down the game's best player, Lauren Jackson. And it was truly the difference in the game. Phoenix communicated and helped each other while Seattle got fussy and frustrated until breaking out of a shell in the final quarter.

Now the Storm has to win on the road, which it has only been able to do five times this season. They'll practice today before departing on an afternoon flight. Hope they pack a poster.


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August 23, 2007 4:09 PM

Award watch

Posted by Jayda Evans

Got an interesting call today. Seems the WNBA is going to announce one of its prestigious awards in the Storm locker room prior to Game 1 against Phoenx tomorrow. But before everyone gets excited, it's not going to be for MVP.

The league will wait to announce that, which normally occurs during the WNBA Finals, but that's subject to change.

As for tomorrow, the only one left for Lauren Jackson to win is Defensive Player of the Year. Jackson could become the first player since Houston's Sheryl Swoopes in 2000 to win both MVP and DPY in the same season.

Given that the majority of the national experts with votes and a solid handful of voters from the various WNBA cities all said they voted for Jackson, we'll go on a (strong) limb and say good onya to the Aussie. Now use that defense to defeat Phoenix.

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August 23, 2007 3:40 PM

Ties that bind

Posted by Jayda Evans

The ties between Phoenix and Seattle run deep. But do you know how deep?

Sure, you know that guards Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird played college hoops together. And that forwards Penny Taylor and Lauren Jackson play on the Australian national team. And that Mercury guard Belinda Snell is an Aussie, too.

But did you forget that Iziane Castro Marques played in Phoenix? What about how Storm center Ashley Robinson and Taurasi have been playing against each other since AAU? (And Robinson began her career with the Mercury.) Then there's the fact that Storm reserve Tanisha Wright and Kelly Mazzante played college ball together at Penn State. Storm reserve Wendy Palmer was a teammate of Jen Derevjanik in Connecticut when the Sun lost to the Storm for the 2004 title. Seattle coach Anne Donovan drafted Phoenix guard Kelly Miller in 2001 while in Charlotte. Plus, Phoenix trainer Tamara Poole worked under former Storm coach Lin Dunn during Seattle's inaugural season.

The whopper is that I used to babysit assistant coach Julie Brase, or at least she was Brase when I was trying to entertain her and her brother as kids. (Now it's Brase-Hairgrove.) You may know of her grandfather, Arizona coach Lute Olson. My dad was one of his assistants and Brase's dad was our dentist. A couple of times I had to watch over the troupes.

Yes, there are few secrets in this series.

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August 22, 2007 11:42 AM

Playoff predictions

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm is off today, getting its final rest before the postseason begins. Here's what I'm predicting will go down in the weeks ahead:

East

No. 1 Detroit vs. No. 4 New York: While the Liberty was entertaining this season and will be for summer's to come, they're a little ahead of themselves. The Shock will crush them 2-0 to advance.

No. 2 Indiana vs. No. 3 Connecticut: I'd like to reserve the right to change my pick if Tamika Catchings is able to miraculously return completely healthy Thursday She won't, so Connecticut will win 2-1. But if she does...

Eastern Conference Finals

No. 1 Detroit vs. No. 3 Connecticut: This will be an entertaining series with coaches flopping all over the place at bad calls and plenty of scowls from Lindsay Whalen and Deanna Nolan. In the end, the Shock will move onto their third consecutive WNBA Finals with a 2-1 series win.

West

No. 1 Phoenix vs. No. 4 Seattle: Love to believe the Storm can get its act together in a week, but.... The Mercury is playing its best basketball and has too many scorers for just Lauren Jackson to stop. If the Aussie's teammates chime in to play a little defense, then maybe. Still it's Phoenix's summer and they'll advance 2-1.

No. 2 San Antonio vs. No. 3 Sacramento: The Monarchs are an impressive group with Kara Lawson off the bench and Nicole Powell in the starting lineup. But defense wins championships, right? San Antonio is a strong team with a defensive mind-set that will help them get past this series 2-1.

Western Conference Finals

No. 1 Phoenix vs. No. 2 San Antonio: Again, it's the Mercury's summer. It advances 2-1.


WNBA Finals

No. 1 Detroit vs. No. 1 Phoenix: I realize the Mercury gave up 111 points to the Shock earlier in the season, but something says that won't happen again. It'll be another entertaining series with two coaches that may move on the NBA after appearing in the Finals -- Mercury coach Paul Westhead as a victor. Phoenix wins 3-2.

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August 20, 2007 9:37 AM

Early postseason plans?

Posted by Jayda Evans

Word is that Storm assistant coach Heidi VanDerveer has accepted a position to coach at San Diego State next season, leaving her pro duties behind. VanDerveer was with Seattle the past two seasons and has worked in the league as an assistant for six. She also had brief head coaching duties in Minnesota (2002) and Sacramento (1999).

While this looks good for coach Anne Donovan, it's also a strain as she'll have another busy offseason between Team USA duties and finding another replacement assistant for the Storm. The team will still have newcomer Shelley Patterson on its staff, however.

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August 20, 2007 8:17 AM

I voted!

Posted by Jayda Evans

You don't get a cool little sticker when you vote in the WNBA, but here's what I sent to the league office as my final ballot. Not too far off from my midseason picks, still irked at my MVP vote, though. Everything says Becky Hammon, but the hand wrote Lauren Jackson. You do realize this means the Aussie could run off with all the awards and championship and not even return next summer. Oh well, at least she had a fabulous final run and I was a witness. Here's the list:

All-WNBA 1st Team
F Deanna Nolan, Detroit Shock
F Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
C Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm
G Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
G Becky Hammon, San Antonio Silver Stars

All WNBA 2nd Team
F Sophia Young, San Antonio Silver Stars
F Penny Taylor, Phoenix Mercury
C Tammy Sutton-Brown, Indiana Fever (can't wait until all the young centers in the league start challenging for this position)
G Katie Douglas, Connecticut Sun
G Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx

MVP
1. Lauren Jackson
2. Becky Hammon
3. Deanna Nolan
4. Diana Taurasi
5. Tamika Catchings

Defensive Player of the Year
Lauren Jackson, Seattle Storm

Rookie of the Year
Sidney Spencer, Los Angeles Sparks

Coach of the Year
Dan Hughes, San Antonio Silver Stars

Most Improved Player of the Year
Janel McCarville, New York Liberty

Sixthwoman of the Year
Plenette Pierson, Detroit Shock

Sportswoman of the Year
Vickie Johnson, San Antonio Silver Stars


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August 18, 2007 10:56 AM

Two in the books?

Posted by Jayda Evans

Considering how Minnesota All-Star Seimone Augustus will conclude her sophomore WNBA season against one of the best defensive teams in the league in San Antonio on Sunday, I believe Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson's hold on the league scoring title is safe.

Jackson, averaging 23.8 points compared to Augustus' 22.9, said she didn't care, after posting 32 points in a blowout win against Los Angeles on Friday. While playoff-bound teams like Detroit are relaxing their stars, the Storm continued to play huge minutes. Jackson was her usual dominant self, playing 34 minutes.

The Aussie set franchise records with 16 free-throw attempts, making a career-high 15. She also had 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals, which will help her retain the rebounding title (9.7) and blocks title (2.03). Only the scoring and rebounding leaders are awarded cash at season's end, however.

Also impressive has been the play of the bench lately. Tanisha Wright scooped up Betty Lennox and Sue Bird's minutes, helping to break the game open with nine points in the final quarter against Los Angeles. Newcomer Astou Ndiaye-Diatta also looked more comfortable in the lineup.

And the biggest stat lost in the emotion of finishing up an odd summer in Seattle is that Brazilian Iziane Castro Marques finished with 24 points for her sixth game of scoring 20 points or more. The Storm in that span? Oh, 5-1.

The team finally came around, but Phoenix is going to be tough. Sacramento is full of aging, yet wise veterans and they couldn't even slow the Mercury with their noted defense. Hopefully Seattle won't have this reaction following Game 1 of their playoff series.

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August 17, 2007 7:30 PM

Player visit

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm third-round draft pick Brandie Hoskins flew in today to watch her team's season finale. She paced the sideline during pregame with injured center Janell Burse dressed in all pink.

Hoskins, who is preparing to graduate from Ohio State, couldn't play this sesaon because of a season-ending left Achilles tear. She said rehab is going well and she should be at training camp next season. She's leaving Saturday to complete finals at school. (The Buckeyes are on a quarter system, FYI.)

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August 17, 2007 2:15 PM

Catchings and Swoopes to return

Posted by Jayda Evans

Both Indiana All-Star Tamika Catchings and Houston star Sheryl Swoopes are expected to return from injuries. One for the season finale and the other for the postseason.

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August 17, 2007 11:03 AM

WNBA coverage links.

Posted by Jayda Evans

Yes, you can get WNBA coverage here (particularly if you follow the Storm) at The Seattle Times or by going to the league's Web site, but I should have told you about two other solid sites that round up the league's news, too.

For more on the Storm, you can go here. For league-wide and college hoops articles that have national appeal, try here. Either way, as teams head into the playoffs, these are other ways to stay connected.

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August 17, 2007 10:46 AM

Impressive stat

Posted by Jayda Evans

Detroit guard Katie Smith, the most prolific scorer in women's pro basketball, reached 6,000 points in a loss to Minnesota on Thursday. Smith has accumulated the points through the defunct ABL and WNBA. Lisa Leslie is second, with 5,412 points in her 10-year career.

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August 17, 2007 10:40 AM

Phoenix is burning

Posted by Jayda Evans

There will be a lot of hoopla at KeyArena tonight as the Storm closes out its season, but everyone will also be looking to the Phoenix-Sacramento game to figure out what's ahead. Here's a preview of what needs to happen for the Mercury to win the West.

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August 16, 2007 4:44 PM

Prelude to the playoffs

Posted by Jayda Evans

The WNBA announced the Eastern Conference playoff schedule. No surprise since the teams are situated despite the regular season not ending until Sunday.

The Storm, although dead-locked at fourth in the West, could have to wait well past its finale on Friday to learn their playoff schedule.

Phoenix and Sacramento will battle each other in prelude to the postseason in a home-and-home conclusion to the regular season on Friday and Sunday. Add San Antonio's apparent soft finish against struggling Indiana and youthful Minnesota and scenarios could make playoff seeding decided by tiebreakers.

Anyway, the Indiana-Connecticut series is next Thursday and Saturday. Defending champion Detroit faces either Washington or New York (Liberty are currently winning on NBATV, FYI) on Friday and Sunday on ABC.

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August 16, 2007 10:28 AM

Donovan reading

Posted by Jayda Evans

It appears Storm fans aren't the only ones weighing in on coach Anne Donovan this season. Online columnist Clay Kallam and blogger are also giving their opinions regarding her status as Team USA coach. Donovan said recently that she's glad she has the national team role because it allows her to keep her head in basketball and not worry as much about whether her WNBA team's future will be in Seattle.

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August 16, 2007 10:04 AM

Found it

Posted by Jayda Evans

So, remember that story a few years back about a Storm front office employee selling their 2004 championship ring on eBay? I thought it was a lie because I couldn't imagine selling such a historic item (Yes, I'm one of those dodos that would keep Barry Bonds' 756th homerun ball, too).

I even brushed off Liam O'Mahony, the former public relations head for the team that season, when he told me he sold everything online because he wanted to forget the memories. That was a while back when he stopped by a Storm game in Phoenix, where he had relocated.

Well, I found the ring and the stories are true. Greg Valero of Long Island was the high bidder, around $1,500 according to sources, and wears the ring proudly. He's a Storm season-ticket holder who lives in New York, but makes it to Seattle a few times during the summer to catch live games. Otherwise he's been known to give his KeyArena seats away as charity to Betty Lennox and Adia Barnes' foundations.

I noticed Valero wearing the ring at the Storm's home game against Sacramento in July. Couldn't believe he had it. Even though I don't root for the team, the fake version the organization handed out as a promotion for fans and media still rests in its green velvet case and plastic wrapping. At least O'Mahony's diamond and emerald staff version found a happy home.

It's just weird how the same symbol can recollect such different feelings.

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August 15, 2007 9:59 AM

Bold words from OKC

Posted by Jayda Evans

Is it October yet? I'm so tired of this arena runaround. And apparently the Oklahoma media is getting fussy with us. The upshot is that it's put up or shut up time for Seattle, that it's not the OKC owners' fault. But there doesn't appear to be any good faith negotiating involved in these talks. Sorry, there's not even any talking going on -- just press releases and owners spouting off to various publications.

Players like Lauren Jackson may be able to keep the faith, although she said she hasn't heard a peep from ownership lately, but I can't. I've said it before, Clay Bennett wants the region to give him a $500 million arena in order to keep our teams and I don't think it's just. I know this is all about suite sales and having a splashy place for sponsors. Yet $500 million for a facility is ludicrous. And if that's the only way Bennett will stay, especially since the recent betting scandal dampens possible relations with the Muckleshoots, then, again, be gone. But not until the current lease is fulfilled and Seattle enjoys its final three seasons at the Key.

The city has already had two startup pro women's hoop teams. I know if it can find the approximate $10 million for another and, when we're ready, I'm sure a smart businessperson will see that Seattle is a spectacular place for an NBA franchise, too. Especially if they're willing to put in a little honest effort and money toward the final goal.

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August 14, 2007 10:06 PM

New look?

Posted by Jayda Evans

You may have noticed a new tattoo Tuesday on the back of Storm forward Lauren Jackson's left biceps. While she plans to get more ink, that was a fake bought a costume shop near KeyArena. Still, the marking was a pretty cool graphic with a skull inset in the middle. Jackson said she was giving the look a test run and may place a real version in the spot at a later date.

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August 13, 2007 1:50 PM

What to cheer for

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm radio broadcaster Adia Barnes was buzzing around the team's training facility today, airing her wants for the postseason. The former player, who helped Seattle win its 2004 title, said Phoenix is the best opponent in the opening round.

The Storm has no control over who it faces since its final two games are against the Western Conference's worst teams in Minnesota (Tuesday) and Los Angeles (Friday). But if players and fans truly want the Mercury, here's what to root for as the 2007 season draws to an end.

Phoenix's magic number to clinch the conference title is three, meaning any combination of Mercury wins and San Antonio losses will give them the top seed. Then Phoenix and Seattle would play a best-of-three opening round beginning either Thursday or Friday of next week. Game 1 would be in Seattle and the other two would be on the road.

Phoenix needs one win to secure home court in the opening round over Sacramento.

The Storm doesn't have to worry about Sacramento and Phoenix does look good because they're young like Seattle and the Storm won the regular season series 2-1, scoring a franchise record in points in both wins. Seattle was swept 4-0 by San Antonio and does not match up well against the Silver Stars, especially since San Antonio can play defense.

"It's hard to outscore people," said center Ashley Robinson, who's replacing Janell Burse in the starting lineup.

Either way the Storm has to play a lot better to avoid being sent home early for the third consecutive postseason. In fact, that's probably a better thing to cheer for right now.

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August 11, 2007 5:10 PM

Supporting Jackson

Posted by Jayda Evans

Indiana guard Tully Bevilaqua wore a black band around her biceps in honor of the passing of Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson's paternal grandmother. Jackson, who's Australian like Bevilaqua, was in her native home this week to tend to her grandmother before she passed on Friday.

Storm personnel were dressed in black to support Jackson at tonight's televised game against Washington. It's the second time Jackson has lost a grandparent during a season, the first happening in 2004 when she lost her maternal grandmother on the eve of the championship run.

Jackson was at shootaround and is expected to start tonight. She's currently taking warmup shots with assistant coach Shelley Patterson. Jackson scored a WNBA record-tying 47 points in a one-point overtime loss to the Mystics in July.

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August 10, 2007 8:08 PM

Jackson returns

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson returned from her native Australia today. The team did not practice, so she is expected to join everyone for shootaround Saturday and start against Washington that night.

Teammate Janell Burse is out for the season after having a second evaluation on her injured left wrist today. She tore three ligaments and will undergo surgery on Tuesday.

Teammate Betty Lennox wanted to have an MRI on her left wrist today, but scheduling prevented that examination. She is expected to have one soon, however. She's feeling pain in the wrist, but said she would continue to play.

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August 9, 2007 3:26 PM

Harding for what?

Posted by Jayda Evans

The second round of award campaigning is starting to fill up media mailboxes and was surprised to see Minnesota rookie Lindsey Harding pushed for the Rookie of the Year award.

Harding will have missed the final 14 games of the Lynx's season due to tearing her left ACL. But as of today, she still leads all rookies in averaged minutes (30.1), starting at point guard in 20 games of the last-placed Minnesota, points (11.7), and assists (3.9).

Minnesota is making the argument that Seattle's own Brandon Roy missed 25 of his Portland Trailblazer's 82 games and won the NBA's ROY award. Plus, in 2005, MLB's best slugger, Ryan Howard, National League Rookie honors after playing in only 88 of their 162 games. Yet, it still feels like a sympathy vote to me.

There was no one better than Roy in his rookie class. In the WNBA, you can make fair arguments for Chicago's Armintie Price, who's helping the Sky make a playoff push, and Connecticut's Evanthia Maltsi, who started two of the past five games and helped the Sun during their recent four-game win streak.

I feel for Harding, but impact counts too. I don't feel she's being punished because of the injury. Personally, I would have never discounted her strictly for that, especially since I know she played in over half the team's games. But I would have knocked her down just as I did teammate Siemone Augustus last season because her team isn't winning. Guess I'm a stickler for that.

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August 9, 2007 3:00 PM

More on officiating

Posted by Jayda Evans

Checkout these two stories on the league officiating. Some have said it'll be the death of the league and the first link says it's driving away the male fan. I still believe you have to play through officiating, but as a fan, I would want to enjoy the game. And that means officials should be like my grandmother used to tell me children should be seen, not heard.

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August 8, 2007 3:29 PM

The Hubby toss

Posted by Jayda Evans

Officiating has been a hot topic this season, whether in the NBA or WNBA. Sacramento All-Star Yolanda Griffith has gone off. Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson has called them terrible. And now Connecticut All-Star Katie Douglas' husband has been tossed for complaining about calls. Read all about the drama here.

I cornered Dee Kantner, supervisor of officials, at the All-Star Game in July, trying to casually ask her about her crew this season. After telling me they are evaluated after every game she added that she hasn't heard of any complaints this summer. I laughed as she disappeared quicker than one of crew's whistle on an obvious charging foul.

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August 7, 2007 10:04 PM

Honoring 35W

Posted by Jayda Evans

Talked to a few natives and they confirmed my feelings upon arriving in Minneapolis for tonight's game, downtown and the vibe around the city is definitely somber given the recent collapse of the 35W bridge. Folks are still fuming at government officials and the local papers are filled with stories.

The Lynx are planning to have the kids from the school bus at an upcoming game. The group was too busy to make the Storm matchup, but front office personnel said they'll most likely make the final home game on Aug. 19. In the meantime, players wore "35W" decals on their shoes. Minnesota held a moment of silence for the victims on Saturday.

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August 7, 2007 8:53 AM

New post arrives

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm signed seven-year veteran Astou Ndiaye-Diatta to a seven-day contract today and she practiced with the team at shootaround this morning, staying on the court longer with assistant coach Shelley Patterson to learn some plays. Ndiaye-Diatta, a native of Senegal, has career averages of 7.4 points and 4.1 rebounds.

Coach Anne Donovan, who is also director of player personnel, expects Ndiaye-Diatta to play tonight against Minnesota since Seattle is without starting frontline Lauren Jackson (family illness) and Janell Burse (left wrist). Ndiaye-Diatta said her experience in the league will help, plus her duties aren't that complex.

"It's mainly defense, rebounding and, of course, take the shot when it's there," she said.

Seattle appeared cohesive with Ndiaye-Diatta on the court, although at times there was crowding in the middle as Ndiaye-Diatta adjusted to her place in the schemes.

Storm veteran Wendy Palmer, who played one season with Ndiaye-Diatta in Detroit, also stayed on the court a little longer to get some more shooting in, knowing her offense will be needed tonight.

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August 6, 2007 1:36 PM

Swoopes! Where is she?

Posted by Jayda Evans

Houston sources say all-star forward Sheryl Swoopes is "unofficially" retired, but that the club is holding out on the announcement until the end of the season.

But the Comets' public relations staff said Swoopes still is planning to return to the team.

Swoopes has been suffering from a lower back injury since the third game of the season, not playing since going 1 for 5 from the field in 32 minutes of a loss to San Antonio on May 29. The three-time league MVP recently strained a nerve ending in her right leg, which has delayed her comeback.

The Comets are 10-18 and currently out of the postseason picture at fifth place in the Western Conference. Yet, with the Storm (14-15) playing without All-Star Lauren Jackson (family illness) and center Janell Burse (left wrist) this week, there is a chance for Houston to sneak up and grab the fourth and final berth.

Houston plays a tough schedule with five of its final six games against teams jockeying for postseason positioning. Three are at home.

Seattle, which owns the tiebreaker against Houston at 2-1, plays its final three games at home against Washington, Minnesota and Los Angeles.

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August 6, 2007 1:16 PM

Jackson and Burse out

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm starting post players Lauren Jackson and Janell Burse will not play in the team's trip to Minnesota and Detroit this week. Jackson returned to her native Australia to be with an ill family member and Burse is hampered by a left wrist injury, which she'll undergo surgery on to repair Aug. 14. She remained in Seattle and will be examined again on Friday.

Jackson, the league's leading scorer (23.8), is expected to play in Saturday's home game against Washington. Burse, who was sore after the loss to Sacramento on Friday and could play only 15 minutes in the win against Phoenix on Saturday, remains day to day until her surgery.

Burse said she can't cause too much more damage to the wrist by playing, it's just a matter of how much pain she can handle. But waiting until after any possible playoff run would cause worse long-term problems.

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August 4, 2007 6:01 PM

Team poster time

Posted by Jayda Evans

You'll love the Storm's new team poster even though some of the players aren't too keen on the panel of them in street -- make that club -- clothes with a cartoonish illustration of them as a backdrop. It's reminiscent of the 1980s video "Take on Me" by the group a-ha. Remember that?

Anyway, the best thing about this one is that all of the players have legs. And although you'll take that differently once you see forward Shyra Ely, I'm actually talking about the fact that in one of last season's fun team photos, center Ashley Robinson was actually missing a limb. They make a strong comeback this year, however.

Another background tidbit are guard Betty Lennox's shoes. Yes, her feet aren't that big. She said she had to borrow a pair.


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August 4, 2007 1:59 PM

Tats to tape

Posted by Jayda Evans

You could have an hour-long debate on favorite tattoos in the WNBA. Is it Detroit guard Deanna Nolan's Chinese characters or Storm forward Wendy Palmer's praying hands?

Well, Washington guard Alana Beard may have added a twist to body art. During Friday's win, where Beard led with 24 points, she wore a wicked design of athletic tape. It was described as a Japanese technique by the game's broadcasters that has also been used in the NBA, but I didn't notice.

Beard used to wear a black compression sleeve over the injured left shoulder, but if this taping style works, maybe it'll catch on across the league. And players will have another way to individualize themselves. Oh, I can hear the WNBA fashion police discussing a rule now.

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August 4, 2007 1:36 PM

Dear ESPN2...

Posted by Jayda Evans

I was thinking of writing you sooner, but I know you have bigger things to think about with Barry Bonds and the start of football season looming. I just wanted to thank you for altering your schedule a little to air Indiana at Chicago nationally on Aug. 7.

See, it is playoff time and looking over your previous schedule, you had some duds lined up. Not that either of us are here to promote the WNBA (although technically you did just buy their rights so one would expect you to put the best game out there, but I digress). It's just not the way any fan wants to dive into upcoming postseason play. So, thanks for canning that Phoenix-Los Angeles matchup for Indiana-Chicago.

And after watching Chicago's loss against Detroit on Friday, I have to say their college arena looks great on TV. Still not a fan of WNBA teams playing on college campuses, but the Sky has worked to create their own identity there. Coupled with them having the former Bulls arena announcer and those awesome drummers, and it's definitely a cool vibe to watch basketball.

But this is about you, ESPN2. Thanks, again, for the unexpected attention, err, treat as the Sky try to advance in just their second season of existence. And, I know this is a stretch, but if Washington is out of the picture by Aug. 19, could you possibly consider nudging sister station ABC to air the Sacramento-Phoenix or Detroit-Indiana matchup instead? I know the time has to be changed and the crews' flights have to be swapped, but it's the final game before the postseason. Shouldn't you show your best stuff?

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August 3, 2007 2:00 PM

More on Catchings

Posted by Jayda Evans

Indiana is still waiting the return of All-Star Tamika Catchings. For those wondering how the rehab on her injured left foot is going, here's an update from the team's trainer.

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August 3, 2007 11:30 AM

The nominees are...

Posted by Jayda Evans

The WNBA is awarding its inaugural Sixth Woman of the Year honor this season and Sacramento plans to nominate All-Star guard Kara Lawson, who makes the decision tough. Have you seen her numbers? But, as a voter, I've also got to look at Detroit forward Plenette Pierson . And anyone wearing a New York Liberty jersey, probably because I feel they were wronged an All-Star representative, would have to be considered for Most Improved, regardless of the recent seven-game losing streak. The Monarchs' pick in Rebekkah Brunson is a tight , Storm fans saw how she collected nine offensive rebounds to keep Seattle at bay, and we'll see what she does tonight.

The only rule for the new award is that they sub more than they start. As The Sacramento Bee reports, there are 12 national media members voting along with three reps from the individual teams. Storm radio broadcasters Alan Horton and Adia Barnes join me as the voters out of Seattle. Horton and Barnes are already clear they're voting Lauren Jackson for MVP, but haven't been public about the other categories. Ballots were recieved today and are due Aug. 20.

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August 3, 2007 9:53 AM

Seizing the postseason

Posted by Jayda Evans

So, Phoenix could join Detroit as the second team to clinch a postseason berth if Los Angeles losses at Houston tonight. Should the Sparks win, then the Mercury could clinch with a win at KeyArena on Saturday in the Storm's second game of their final back-to-back set of the summer. The Mercury set themselves up nicely for their first berth since the 2000 season with a win against San Antonio on Thursday, also overtaking the Silver Stars for first in the Western Conference.

This is interesting for the Storm because Phoenix and all of its close ties to Seattle appears to be a better first-round matchup, if the Storm can hang on to their current fourth-place standing. The series is tied at one game apiece with each team winning on its homecourt -- Phoenix during so against a Sue Bird-less Seattle on July 17.

But don't forget what happened last summer when the Storm believed it could pick a solid opponent to get past in the best-of-three opening round, thinking L.A. was a better matchup than the then No. 2 seed Sacramento. Seattle, which won the 2006 L.A. regular-season series 2-1, gained the advantage by defeating the Sparks 84-72 in the opener at KeyArena, only to get badly swept in Los Angeles. It was the second consecutive year the Storm was booted in the first round.

Phoenix has finally learned a little defense can back up all of that potent offense and the team of superstars, as the Storm's Lauren Jackson calls them, is jelling like Detroit's lineup of All-Stars. The Mercury will be just as scary as San Antonio. Or Sacramento, tonight's Storm opponent. All are currently within 1 1/2-games of first. The Storm is 4 1/2-games out with seven remaining.

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August 2, 2007 6:07 PM

Storm fans overhaul Jamaican school

Posted by Jayda Evans

I guess if Oprah can do it in Africa, Storm fans can do it in Jamaica -- overhauling a school for deserving students that is.

Fans at stormfans.org raised over $1,000, which converted to $75,000 Jamaican dollars, to have one of their own dye her head red and use the proceeds (the money, not the hair) to fix up a school in former player Simone Edwards' country.

I hear Edwards was overwhelmed by the generosity, but most likely not surprised since Storm fans have pooled together cash to pay for fines they feel were unjust and to help both Edwards and center Janell Burse when hurricanes ravaged Jamaica and Louisiana.

For photos of the fans' most recent work, check out the site here. Good onya, y'all!

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August 2, 2007 1:09 PM

Long bus ride

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm players were clueless to starting center Janell Burse's impending surgery. It's been in discussion since she injured the wrist in a loss at Washington on July 24, but teammates found out with media today. All-Star Lauren Jackson seemed the most stunned, stating that she's going to have to discuss it with the other players as the team heads to the airport to catch their flight to Sacramento now.

Burse is the second player to have surgery this season, following point guard Sue Bird (knee). You have to reach back to forward Adia Barnes' torn ACL and Kamila Vodichkova's foot injury to close 2003 for the last time the Storm lost such critical pieces to the lineup.

The good news is that Burse does expect to start against Sacramento, despite aggravating the wrist toward the end of practice today. She's listed as day-to-day.

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August 1, 2007 7:56 PM

Educational viewing

Posted by Jayda Evans

Heard the Title IX discussion before the Storm's loss to Sacramento was a success. There was a reported packed house, but if you missed it, you can check it all out online here.

Storm coach Anne Donovan spoke before the game about being a "Title IX baby." Her favorite way to describe the law's impact is that when older sister Mary graduated high school two years before Donovan did in 1979, Mary, an equally talented center, was offered two scholarships while Donovan had about 250 lined up.

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