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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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April 30, 2008 3:38 PM

Storm plans fan fest

Posted by Jayda Evans

Nothing was cooler than "Stormin' the Lake" where the Storm took over Green Lake for an annual fan fest where the team, coaches, kid dancers, and Doppler were introduced to fans. Then whomever wanted could take a loop around the lake with the players, some teased it was too long or they wore the wrong shoes.

New ownership and new marketing has switched things around this year. Instead of just seeing the players in an off-court setting, the Storm will host a "Fan Fest" where those that are interested can watch practice and participate in a player Q&A. The team held a similar event last year when Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson arrived from Russia, literally winning the SuperLeague championship days before (and I think there was a stopover to celebrate with Diana Taurasi?) Anyway, the crowd enjoyed asking the players questions and watching to see if any would eat a chocolate cupcake. Although Bird and Jackson won't be at this session, here are the details:

STORM HOSTS FAN FEST AT KEYARENA
Free event includes opportunity to see team practice at KeyArena

SEATTLE, Wednesday, April 30, 2008 --The Seattle Storm will host 'Storm Fan Fest' on Sunday, May 4 at KeyArena from 1-4 p.m. This event is free and open to the public and features an open practice for fans to catch an early glimpse of the 2008 Seattle Storm. There will also be a variety of fun activities for fans both young and old, including a chance to learn the game from professionals in a Basketball 101 session.

"We're excited about the start of the 2008 season, the great team we will have on the court and the new services for our fans," said Storm CEO Karen Bryant. "The inaugural Storm Fan Fest is a great opportunity for our die-hard fans, as well as new fans to get to know our players, learn more about our game and get excited for the start of a great new era in Storm basketball."

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
1:00 pm --Special Storm activities on KeyArena's East Plaza including face painting, sign-making and a kids zone.
2:00 pm -- Head into KeyArena to see your 2008 Storm in a special practice that is open to the public.
2:45 pm -- Learn about the game of basketball from Storm players and coaches during a "Basketball 101" session. Fans are encouraged to submit their questions in advance at storm.wnba.com.
3:30 p.m. -- Get autographs from Storm players in attendance and shoot hoops on the KeyArena court.

Limited tickets are still available for the Storm's season-opener at KeyArena on Saturday, May 17 vs. the Chicago Sky. Opening night also headlines the Storm's 2008 theme-night games. Other theme nights include Girls Night Out on Friday, May 30, Dads & Daughters Night on Wednesday, June 11, Kids Day & Doppler's Annual Birthday Celebration on Thursday, July 10, Women of Inspiration Night on Saturday, July 12, Breast Health Awareness Night on Sunday, July 27, Back to School Night on Thursday, August 28, Go Green Night on Saturday, September 6 and Fan Appreciation Night on Friday, September 12.

Season tickets and packages are still the most affordable way to see the new Storm at KeyArena. Storm Opening Night is Saturday, May 17 against the Chicago Sky with tip-off set for 7 p.m. Information on all ticket plans can be found at Storm.wnba.com or by calling (206) 217-WNBA.

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April 30, 2008 8:56 AM

Checking in on the Chicago Sky

Posted by Jayda Evans

Exhibition games are never about the other team. That couldn't be truer today as the Storm prepares for the Chicago Sky. The Eastern Conference opponent will be without No. 2 overall draft pick Sylvia Fowles, while the Storm is playing with what will be their bench sprinkled with a few possible starters. Essentially, the Storm is getting a practice against a team that doesn't know its sets or personnel. And the players will be able to show their defense against an unknown, too.

But just to check in, here are a couple of articles to get you brushed up on the Sky's training camp.

The Storm is 9-16 all-time in exhibition games, and 2-1 last season.

UPDATE: My bad, should have shared the link to ESPN's coverage of the game. The Storm opened up by scoring only eight points in the opening quarter and trailed at the half. And it appears as if Fowels is playing after arriving from Russia on Sunday.

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April 29, 2008 12:21 PM

Jackson in action

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm kicked-off its media campaign this week, going with the predictable "The Perfect Storm" slogan. At the heart of every ad so far is reigning league MVP Lauren Jackson. The Aussie is in Russia with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix) trying to win their second consecutive SuperLeague championship. Spartak Moscow defeated Vologda-Chevakata 82-56 today and Jackson led with 17 points.

If you're missing Jackson (and see if you can spot the pic of Bird in the background of the video), check out this video from ABC News on Jackson wanting to win gold in Beijing this summer. Interesting note she makes regarding salary -- she makes in one season in Russia what would take "five to six years" to make in the WNBA.

Heard from an agent who traveled overseas that Jackson looks better than ever and must have dropped 10-pounds to get into even better playing shape. That's just scary if you remember how she ended last WNBA season averaging 26.1 points in her final 10 games.

Jackson's Aussies look better prepared than the Americans, especially since Team USA hasn't decided on a roster nor as really had everyone together to train. You knew it would be this way in a transition year as stars like Sheryl Swoopes and Dawn Staley stepped aside, but...Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles) isn't concerned, at least. According to this video, she only counts the Olympics as the real competition and therefore the Americans remain undefeated.

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April 29, 2008 9:45 AM

Live from training camp: Travel day

Posted by Jayda Evans

The doors are open and the Storm is running through their final preparations before taking off for their exhibition road openers against Chicago and Sacramento. Heard Saturday and Monday's practices were long and grueling. Coach Brian Agler is working the defensive angle and he'll look for that to show through against the Sky on Wednesday.

STARTING LINEUP: Looks as if Kimberly Beck, Sheryl Swoopes, Katie Gearlds, Shyra Ely, and Yolanda Griffith will be the starting five against the Sky. Ashley Robinson was a candidate at power forward, but she's running with the second team. UW product Kristen O'Neill is also with the second team along with Dee Davis, Allie Quigley, and Leah Rush.

OWNERS IN THE HOUSE: Force 10 Hoops members Lisa Brummel and Ginny Gilder are watching practice. Gilder is becoming a regular while this is the first Brummel I've seen of Brummel at practice. She's often on the road with her Microsoft gig and even missed media day. The owners said they were going to take advantage of their access, though, wanting the players to get to know them on a personal level. Different, but not out of the norm. Jack Rodgers was a minority owner of the Storm under Howard Schultz' regime and Rodgers held an annual party for the players at his Mercer Island home.

MORE ON HOSKINS: Seemingly all of the players in training camp are on the bubble to make the roster, making the opening two exhibition games pivotal. G Brandie Hoskins was an obvious cut on Saturday given her Achilles injury. She worked hard to comeback and was funny with her star struck comments about Swoopes. Another season overseas could help her make the jump to the W. "She came in a tried and worked hard, but is not quiet in good enough shape right now," Agler said. "Hopefully she'll work at it and get another opportunity someplace else a year from now. Mainly we're trying to focus on her to get in shape so that she'll be able to perform over in Europe next winter."

CASH BANGED UP: If you caught Swin Cash in Team USA's loss to China over the weekend, the star wing didn't look promising. A known slasher, Cash hasn't put up good numbers in the tournament and was 2-for-3 for five points and five rebounds in 21 minutes. She didn't appear as if she was in shape, which could open the door for a starting wing on the Storm roster. Agler said Cash bruised her knee in China, although she played. She's going to have it evaluated in Miami before joining the Storm in Sacramento for the exhibition game on Friday. "She was healthy enough to play and statistically it was one of her better games," Agler said of the game, not being able to watch it himself due to camp.

WRAPPING UP: Just a two-hour session today because of the plan to catch. The team finished by shooting free throws. While Agler gave a media interview, Swoopes gathered the team in a huddle for some final words. Agler capped that off with some instructions for the game against Chicago and Griffith added the exclamation point with a "Beat Chicago on three, 1-2-3 Beat Chicago!"

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April 25, 2008 12:58 PM

Live from training camp: Storm scrimmage

Posted by Jayda Evans

So, I'm running out of battery juice and I'm not sure how long this will last, but we've been let into the practice facility and the team is playing full-court against the male practice players. On the floor now is Shyra Ely, Ashley Robinson, Katie Gearlds, Yolanda Griffith, and Kimberly Beck at the point.

Beck, the rookie third-round pick, has been picking up her game in camp. She's playing with her lower right chin in a big bandage from an earlier injury. She said she can't tell too much about how she's doing, yet, but she's trying to show her defense and keep the turnovers down.

VETS BACK: Sheryl Swoopes is ridding the bike now, but she returned to action with Griffith today. Both were out on Thursday just to give the veterans a break going into the regular season. The Storm opens exhibition play on Wednesday in Chicago and coach Brian Agler said he hasn't decided how he'll use the two in the game.

NEW 'DO: Geeky, but one of the things I was looking forward to about Swoopes joining the Storm was the change in her hairstyles (yes, I realize this has nothing to do with hoops). Well, she's on style No. 3, ditching the Media Day curls for a longer, straight look. At her press conference, it was in a cute bob.

SPECIAL GUESTS: Swoopes' family is watching practice baseline with the media.They're here just for the weekend. Swoopes said after the session that they weren't supposed to be here, but when she took a photo of herself in son Jordan's Seattle-based room and sent it to him, he called crying about wanting to be here. "Thank God for frequent-flier miles!" Swoopes said. They're expected to make another weekend visit and be here for the opener.

PLAY STOPPED: The Storm is working through the offense in slow motion. Agler pulls the entire team together to huddle and go over pointers he thinks all should know and then lets five run through the set. Beck, Swoopes, Griffith, Gearlds and Robinson are on the court now

HIGH-FIVES ALL AROUND: One cool thing I'm noticing about this team is that they're all really pulling for each other even though it's stiff competition. Yo made a strong move underneath the basket to end the session and everyone crowded around to give the five on the floor high-fives. The group is real chatty and from what I can overhear, they like hanging around each other afterward, too.

DECISIONS COMING: Camp ended and Agler said he's going to roundtable with his staff this afternoon to decide the first set of cuts. Guards are overflowing at camp and the shaving could come there. Agler is also expecting Doneeka Hodges on Sunday and Swin Cash on Wednesday and doesn't want his active count to reach too high. Teams have to have active numbers whittled to 15 by Tuesday.

RICE UPDATE: Talked to Katie Gearlds about the whole "white on rice" quote overheard by Agler on Thursday and she confirmed that it was directed at her. "He's trying to make me a better player on the defensive end. I told him I appreciate it because I want to become better, I want to find a way to help this team win. For that to be the case, I need to be on the floor and be able to guard people. We talked about it a little bit yesterday and he said he's going to be on me and I said 'Thank you' because I know he's caring. He can continue to be white on rice and I'll continue to try to get better."

CAMP STARS: Beck got the nod today, running the point with confidence. Washington standout Kristen O'Neill also had a rep at PG, but Agler said he hadn't seriously thought of her there so it just adds to the decisions his staff has to make.

QUOTEABLE: "What you about to do in your church socks on?" said Robinson to Jordan, who found a pair of Storm practice shorts and was going to wear those with his tan socks to play ball after practice. But he opted for jeans to play against Mom and the PR staff.

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April 25, 2008 11:07 AM

Mailbag: New TV station for Storm?

Posted by Jayda Evans

A poster asked a good question this week regarding the Storm's television package under the new ownership. I talked to the owners and CEO Karen Bryant about when the Storm will be on TV locally and they said an announcement should be made next week.

The Storm could announce a new flagship station, parting ways with FSN. Fox Sports Net is carrying more Mariners games, their moneymaker, and those conflict with when the Storm plays. Bryant said she's currently in discussions with FSN and another unnamed station.

It used to be that the WNBA required teams to air at least six games, but league PR said that's no longer the case. New York is still lucky, using their MSG station to carry all of its games, other teams still try to carry six. Bryant and Force 10 Hoops hope to have that many, too.

The Storm will air nationally on ABC on May 24 at San Antonio, coach Brian Agler's former team. And on Aug. 31 on ABC at Connecticut -- give you two guesses why. The Sept. 14 game at Los Angeles will be on ESPN2 -- and, again, do I really need to give you the story lines that will be hyped for that matchup?

So, if Bryant adds six other dates, that would put the Storm at the norm for past seasons despite transferring to independent ownership. No word on the team airing a home game, though. I've heard complaints about that in the past, but I guess Force 10 Hoops would rather you be at KeyArena.

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April 24, 2008 4:03 PM

Wright's team loses Game 2

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm guard Tanisha Wright has been playing well in Israel, winning the league's MVP award, but her team lost Game 2 of the Finals today. Read more here and check out the photo of Wright in action. Game 3 is Monday.

According to Storm center Ashley Robinson, Wright has been texting her teammate non-stop to hear the latest about training camp because she misses Seattle. But Wright usually sends those texts at 3 a.m. local time and Robinson is dead asleep.

"She was mad at me, but finally we talked yesterday so she said now she can finally get some rest," Robinson said.

Apparently Robinson has upset more than Wright. In speaking about her decision to return to Seattle, Robinson didn't mention point guard Sue Bird. Bird, who scours the Web like she does opposing defenses, promptly sent a snippy text to Robinson after reading the article.

"Sue wasn't happy about that at all," Robinson said with a laugh. "But we were really talking just about the posts. She sent me the quote that I said, so when I woke up I had an e-mail and a IM from her. So, just to put it out there, Sue is my BFF, I love her so much!"

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April 24, 2008 2:11 PM

Live from training camp: Agler gets defensive

Posted by Jayda Evans

Players were in a huddle wrapping up practice by the time media was let in today. Heard from the public relations staff that a little snafu happened on when we were supposed to be let in and that it wasn't coach Brian Agler's request to keep us out.

Plenty could be heard behind the closed doors, however. Agler was stressing his defense and dishing out the commentary like Sonics broadcaster Kevin Calabro. At one point Agler said, "I'm going to be on you like white on rice." A humorous old ditty that I guess was directed toward G/F Katie Gearlds, but Agler wouldn't share the context and Gearlds wasn't available to ask. Agler has said that he wants to focus on Gearlds' defense, so it could just be that.

Vets Yolanda Griffith and Sheryl Swoopes didn't practice because "we're looking at the bigger picture with them," Agler said. "Making sure they're ready and fresh. We would defeat the purpose if we came in and practiced them six straight days." Instead the legends did cardio and they'll practice the next two days then be off with the rest of the team on Sunday.

The team will be without rookie G Daphanie Kennedy this weekend. She requested permission to return to California to walk with her graduating class at Pepperdine. Kennedy, who continues to make strides in camp, is the first of her family to attend college and earn a degree. She's also the only rookie to request to leave camp for graduation, but Agler said he'd allow any to leave and wouldn't hold it against any player in terms of his staff's evaluations.

"I think that's really important that they get a chance to do that," Agler said. "She [Kennedy] reminded me again today that she's going to go after tomorrow's practice. It's a big day in their life -- not only for them, but their families. It gives them a chance to get back and go through that with their friends and family. She'll come back in here on Sunday and be ready to go on Monday."

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April 24, 2008 8:07 AM

Cash on TV

Posted by Jayda Evans

You can check out Storm forward Swin Cash on NBA-TV today. She's playing in Beijing with the U.S. National Team, which played China this morning. You can see the stats here (scroll down), or watch a replay of the game at 1 p.m. (PST) on NBA-TV. Going into the game, the USA was 3-1 in the Good Luck Beijing Tournament, losing to a Lauren Jackson-less Australia in the opening game. Cash was 3-for-10 for seven points and four rebounds in 26 minutes of that matchup. She's expected to join training camp in Chicago for the exhibition opener on April 30.

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April 23, 2008 1:17 PM

Live from camp: Katie Gearlds returns from Greece

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Storm just opened the doors to practice and on the court running five-on-five sets with the male practice players is guard Katie Gearlds. Gearlds arrived from Greece and her shot looks good, although it was just one attempt.

New coach Brian Agler should be interesting. He's allowing the same amount of access as former coach Anne Donovan, but is humorous when instructing, looking at the media and saying, "This part is not for print."

There are some new male faces mixed in with the old practice players. Center Yolanda Griffith is playing with a taped right hand and already told the guys to "stop pushing." Assistant coach Shelley Patterson encouraged the men to "push all day." Yolanda just got them back by swooping in for an open layup on their lazy defense.

SWOOPES BACK: On Tuesday, Sheryl Swoopes was moaning about her missing shot. Well, it has arrived. She made a nice three-pointer off a pass from second-round draft pick Allie Quigley.

O-DEFENSE: Former Washington standout Kristen O'Neill is also making press row take notice with her on-ball defense. Her shot isn't falling in drills, however. Agler likes O'Neill, though, stating on Tuesday that she's the type of player you love to have in camp.

WRAPPING UP: The players have given their media interviews and some are still on the court shooting. Agler said he's really impressed with KG and her ability to quickly pick up what the players have already learned in camp. KG could be like Shanna Crossley in San Antonio, a designated scorer off the bench. KG was supposed to be that her rookie season, but was at times pulled different ways in the description of her role. An update on Yo, it's not her wrist. She aggravated her surgically repaired thumb and is wearing the taping as a protective measure.

CAMP STARS: Quigley and Daphanie Kennedy continue to get name drops from Agler. KG obviously stands out and Shyra Ely looks like she's improved her game. KG gave a nod to O'Neill, saying her shot looked good. She was one of the players working out afterward on shooting drills.

I'll have more on KG and training camp in tomorrow's paper.

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April 23, 2008 9:18 AM

Hello and goodbye

Posted by Jayda Evans

Of all the off-seasons to not have a year-round Storm blog! Man, I've felt stifled the last few months with the sale, new owners, and goodness! All of the free-agent signings.

It's weird, but thank heavens for Sonics rookie Kevin Durant and the guys at this auto shop in Renton. They love women's hoops, so we caught up on the latest. And many in the area are still stunned the Storm left guard Betty Lennox unprotected in the expansion draft. Atlanta promptly picked her up and she could be a key piece out there. Via trade, the Dream also took promising forward Iziane Castro Marques, who is working on securing her work visa to play in the states this summer.

It's hard to look back with all the star-studded faces the Storm roster now has. Yet, Lennox wanted to say good-bye to those who supported her throughout her four seasons in a Storm jersey. Here's that e-letter and know I'm excited to be back. It should be a rocking season.

Dear Seattle,

I would like to thank all the kind people of Seattle who made my time there so special. My home away from home, The Oakwood Village apartments entire staff. They kept me safe and looked out for me every year. Thank you. The fans who supported me and my foundation. Thank for being a big part of my success in Seattle: If it was not for you I would not have made it this far.

The four years I spent in Seattle felt like home. Thank you for making me feel comfortable and bringing me into your lives, as a member of your family each night by the support and love you gave me. Continue to support the women of the WNBA, if it was not for your love and support this league would not exist. The fans play a big part of the success in Seattle and I hope some of that can rub off in Atlanta. I will carry your spirit with me always and remember your chants, love, and how you embraced me when I came to your town.

I will one day return but know my love for you all will still beat in my heart. I was hurt when I first got the message on my answering machine that I would not be protected by Seattle. And then to find out later I was leaving, but know everything happens for a reason and we all must still look forward for the positive path, even if we do not understand. Just know that B-MONEY thanks you and appreciates all that you have done for me. Keep the DREAM alive.

Much love,
Betty Lennox
B-MONEY 22

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