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

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June 19, 2008 1:50 PM

Party at Ely's

Posted by Jayda Evans

Storm F Shyra Ely's mother and aunt are in town this week and they're hooking the team up. After practice this afternoon at KeyArena, Ely made an announcement that all her teammates had to do was write down on a sheet of paper what they wanted for dinner and Momma Ely would whip it up tonight. Now that's a pre-game meal.

"They've done it since college," said Ely, a Tennessee alum. "They usually unpack me, too, but it's been a month. But they cook and clean and everything. We'll have catfish and cornbread and chicken -- everything."

Storm F Lauren Jackson said she requested macaroni and cheese and fried chicken.

"I love fried chicken," she said with a big grin. The native Australian almost put in a request for chitlins (pig intestines) and cracklin (fried pork fat), but didn't because her mother "makes the best cracklin."

I had to put the breaks on, wondering where an Aussie finds those traditional southern American foods.

"I've been around," Jackson said coyly before adding that she's had friends that have cooked the dishes for her and her mother did play at Louisiana State University, picking up the bayou spices in college. Plus, chitlins are just as salty and nasty as Vegemite, so...yeah, that comment got me a playful slap from Jackson.

The dinner is well deserved after the two days of practice the Storm had this week. Jackson estimated that coach Brian Agler held two hours of meetings, discussing a need for the Storm to be more aggressive with the hustle plays and rebounding. The team tweaked a lot of offensive problems and veteran Yolanda Griffith should return from a left knee and ankle injury.

"I still have some soreness in my ankle and that's the concern right now," said Griffith, who will wear a knee and ankle braces on both feet for Friday's game. She tore her ACL in her left knee while playing in Germany in 1995 and injured her right knee in 1999 during the playoffs with Sacramento. "But it's my judgement if I can tolerate the soreness in my ankle. The good thing is, since it happened, I haven't had a lot of swelling. I've been getting treatment twice a day and we'll see. I know it's important for me to help this team and be the center they need me to be. But it's also important that we be smart about the situation because we're 13 games in and still have more games left. This means that everybody has to step up even more."

The Storm (7-6) faces an Indiana (6-4) squad that's finally at full strength 10 games into the season. F Tamika Catchings has returned from a torn right Achilles and Tammy Sutton-Brown is back in the lineup. Coach Lin Dunn, Seattle's original coach, said Catchings is only 75 percent healthy and will be limited to 15 minutes of play. The Fever is 1-1 since Catchings' return.

"I'm just excited about being out here with my teammates," she said. "The first game [Sunday] was a struggle, but [the win against New York Wednesday], was a lot better. Hopefully I'll be able to keep rolling those minutes and stay out there. The end of the season is more important than the beginning."

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