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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 3, 2008 6:18 PM

Liberty game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

STORM WINS: It got a little dicey in the fourth quarter, but the Storm held on for a 84-71 win before 6,973 fans at KeyArena. Although the number is low, it felt like a lot more were in the stands as the crowd helped rally the Storm to a 9-1 home record. Next up is Minnesota on Saturday.

NO OLYMPICS: Cash talked prior to the game about finding out she's not going to be one of the final three named to the team. Bird also talked about the disappointing news for the teammates, saying, "it's a bummer. Swin has been on the comeback trail with last year and she's hit her stride. For her to kind of fall short and not make the team is upsetting."

MORE STANDING Os: Bird and Jackson received standing ovations as they left the court with 23 and 33 points, respectively. There's 49.5 seconds remaining and the Liberty did managed to inch their score to 70, but they're still down 14 points. They've had 20 turnovers, which the Storm converted into 15 points and the Storm has outscored the Liberty 48-16 inside -- that's the equivalent of getting dunked on to me.

LIBERTY CHALLENGING: The Storm is losing focus and has allowed the Liberty to crawl within 74-67 with 3:40 remaining in the game following a three-pointer by Christon over Griffith. Moore just fouled Griffith, who has made both free throws to keep the Storm ahead. Bird also hit a bucket after a Liberty traveling call to make the score 78-67 with 2:39 remaining in the fourth.

CONGRATS TULLY: It's a little off topic, but I just learned that former Storm PG Tully Bevilaqua was finally granted a nod to be an Australian Olympian. The team was named today and here's the link.

ROBINSON QUESTIONABLE: A-Rob left the game early in the third quarter due to a injured right ankle suffered on the land of a made putback. She is questionable to return. It's the same leg that has trouble her with Achilles tendonitis this season. UPDATE: Robinson told Agler she's "fine." I'll have more from practice on Friday.

STANDING O: OK, folks really love O'Neill. She just checked into the game at the 3:30 mark of the third quarter to a rousing standing ovation. It's actually a moment in history as Kraayveled and Mitchell are also on the court, representing all of Washington's players in the WNBA. The Storm is still hot, leading 66-47 behind Jackson's game-high 30 points.

ACTION JACKSON: Seriously, LJ is possessed tonight. The opening quarter just wrapped up and she has 23 points on 9 for 13 shooting. This is more like the 2007 player who won her second MVP title. The Storm is shooting 60 percent from the field and leads 51-38 at the break.

LITTLE MOVE?: Press row is noticing that newcomer Camille Little has seemingly trumped F Shyra Ely and G Katie Gearlds in first reserves off the bench. It could be about matchups, too, as Agler does make moves in this manner, but Little in the game now, followed by Gearlds. Storm still leads 22-14 with Jackson accounting for 12 points and four boards. This is her best start of the season.

SPECIAL VISITORS: Washington State coach June Daugherty is here, watching her former UW star O'Neill. WNBA president Donna Orender is also here for a mid-season visit. Loudest cheers are for Lelani Mitchell, who made her KeyArena debut at the 5:44 mark of the opening quarter.

Storm F Sheryl Swoopes will start tonight and coach Brian Agler doesn't believe he'll limit her minutes due to a sore right knee suffered in Tuesday's practice. Swoopes missed Wednesday's session due to the injury but worked with Agler prior to shootaround, stating she feels "fine" for the game.

Swoopes will wear a black brace to protect the knee. Agler is expected to place Brazilian F Kelly Santos on injured reserve because of the possible need for perimeter players against New York's pressing defensive attack. The coach also expects to play F Kristen O'Neill tonight, who has dozens of fans attending.

But the crowd has a heavy blue feel as Kennewick native Lelani Mitchell's friends and family are decked in New York colors and seated in Section 115. Mitchell guessed she has about 60 people here, making most get their own. C Cathrine Kraayveled also has a number of people attending, causing a mini battle between the two for teammate's extra tickets.

The vibe in KeyArena is still lively considering the Sonics news. Storm F Lauren Jackson said she was depressed about the move, knowing a lot of the front office people and she's come out like a woman possessed, shooting 3 of 4 from the field for seven points and two rebounds to help the Storm to an early 13-2 start with 5:44 remaining in the opening quarter.

Here are your starting lineups:

STORM
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Yolanda Griffith
G Sheryl Swoopes
G Sue Bird

LIBERTY
F Shameka Christon
F Cathrine Kraayeveld
C Janel McCarville
G Essence Carson
G Loree Moore

Tonight's officials are Roy Gulbeyan, Denise Brooks-Clauser, and Kevin Sparrock.

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July 3, 2008 8:25 AM

Checking in on New York

Posted by Jayda Evans

It's a dreary day in Seattle -- and that's not just because of the thunderstorms blanketing the Puget Sound with rain and lightning. The Sonics are leaving, stripping the state of half of its pro hoops teams. The Sonics and Storm are the only teams from major professional leagues to have won a championship for Seattle.

It's an odd day, too, because tonight marks a complete parallel to the Sonics' games against the New York Knicks.

In the winter, the game features two Washingtonians in Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson for the Knicks against native Sonics guard Luke Ridnour. Now in the summer, the Storm features Kristen O'Neill (Edmonds) against the state's two representatives on the Liberty in Cathrine Kraayeveld (Kirkland) and Leilani Mitchell (Kennewick).

Of course the Liberty is more entertaining on the court than the Knicks, who seemed to only create drama on the sideline or court rooms. The women will try for their second consecutive win tonight after defeating the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Liberty is a young, feisty group that's core has played together for three years. Expect lots of pressing defense and for the Storm to need steady ball-handling from its perimeter players to keep its KeyArena losses at one.

While the Storm (9-7) has picked up defensively, holding Washington to 49 points on Sunday, the Liberty (8-7) has averaged 88.6 in its past five games, making it a formidable matchup. Guard Shameka Christon is one to watch, averaging 18.4 points (including 50 percent shooting from three-point range) in her past five games.

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