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May 20, 2008 at 6:23 PM

Monarchs game thread

STORM WINS: Unlike the Sonics, the Storm has chosen the fourth quarter to click and finally play. The Supes choose that time to lose most of its games. But those were young players and the Storm are vets that should know how to get off to a good start. Still, a win is a win. The undefeated Storm heads to Phoenix tomorrow.
SWOOPES OUT: Swoopes tweaked her ankle and was replaced by Wright. Williams-Strong is holding ice to her neck. Storm leads 66-60. UPDATE: Swoopes wanted to reenter the game after tweaking her left ankle, but Agler decided to hold her out. She was in the training room getting treatment, but it’s not supposed to be a serious injury. Doctors are still determining whether X-Rays need to be taken.
WILLIAMS-STRONG DOWN: Williams-Strong is on the court after colliding with Jackson. She walked to the bench on her own, but the Monarchs trainer is holding a towel under her neck and not allowing her to move her head.
KG 4 THREE: No, this is not a glitch. KG is hitting threes like Shaq does tip-jams – easily. The second-year guard has three in the fourth quarter to help the Storm build a 56-49 lead. Nothing feels safe though. Lawson, Powell, and Kim Smith can shoot deep for Sacramento and they play better defense. We’ll see if the Storm can ride this wave to a win.
KG 4 THREE: Katie Gearlds started the fourth quarter and hit a three-pointer. Couple that with an old-school three-point play by Cash and the Storm has pulled within 47-45. Griffith tied the game at 47 points apiece. KeyArena is on its feet again.
END OF THREE: The Storm isn’t getting any calls and the fans are letting the refs hear it. KeyArena isn’t nice to refs, anyway, but some of the calls really are questionable. Too bad Dee Kantner isn’t here to witness this. Seattle is struggling, regardless, with defensive assignments and to find an offense. They trail 45-39 heading into the final 10 minutes of play. The Monarchs look good. And they sometimes have three rookies on the court at once.
GOING DEEP: Agler has had it, apparently. He went deep on his roster, bringing in rookie Kimberly Beck and Kelly Santos. The change, moving Bird to SG, worked briefly. Jackson got a bucket and Cash picked up a steal. The Storm is still down 34-21 with 2:20 before the half.
TALK IT OVER: The Storm is getting pounded by a 13-0 run. The Monarchs are hitting from the outside and inside. Powell is the real pill. She’s playing the power forward role a little this year and even though she’s a natural wing, her ability to bang inside and still swoop outside for a money three-pointer is going to cause major problems this season for opponents. Jackson and Cash have guarded her, well, lets just say they’ve tried to guard her. Powell is just 2-for-5, both baskets coming during the run to put the Monarchs ahead 29-17.
GET A REBOUND?: The Storm is getting outrebounded 16-6. It hasn’t hurt them too much, they only trail 18-15. But Seattle certainly can’t keep this up and expect to win. LJ is ineffective again, going 1-for-3 from the field. Agler said prior to the game that she is probably still trying to get her legs after arriving from Russia last week and learning a new system. Jackson even commented that it was going to take her a minute to adjust to all of the changes. She also said it takes a lot to come down from the “high of winning a championship.” She won the Russian Superleague title earlier this month and a EuroLeague title, being named the Finals MVP.
PERFECT SHOOTING: Bird is 3-for-3 and despite two costly turnovers, she’s keeping a head on the Storm. Reserve C Ashley Robinson is providing some nice defense, getting a tip block. And Griffith must have told her new teammates something, because they’ve been able to run their offense against Sacramento’s noted D and aren’t showing signs of frustration. That wasn’t the case in the past. Then again, it was Griffith that most of the Storm players were frustrated with. Storm is ahead 15-14 headed into the second quarter.
HOT SHOOTING: Lawson is keeping the Monarchs in the game. She’s 3-for-4 from the field, making two three-pointers. The Storm is ahead 11-10 with 3:47 remaining in the opening quarter.
MISMATCH: Wright, at 5-foot-11, was just playing defense against Williams-Strong, who’s 6-5. The Monarchs couldn’t capitalize on the mismatch inside, but Lawson did hit a three on the possession. Wright was replaced by Cash at the 7:35 mark, collecting two fouls to open the game. One was a shoddy call, however.
AUSSIE VISIT: Jackson’s mother Maree, is seated courtside with CEO Karen Bryant and owner Anne Levinson.
WELCOME BACK: Former Storm assistant Heidi VanDerveer is in town for the game. She left following the 2007 season to become the associate head coach at San Diego State University and is currently the head coach at Occidental College. And speaking of the whereabouts of former Stormies, congrats to Semeka Randall for becoming the Ohio University coach and being inducted into their Hall of Fame. Now I’m really happy I kept my Randall lunchbox.
LINEUP CHANGE: G Tanisha Wright is going to start in place of F Swin Cash tonight. Coach Brian Agler is making the change because Cash was unable to participate in Monday’s practice due to attending a funeral in Pennsylvania. She returned this afternoon. Agler said the swap shouldn’t alter the Storm’s game plan much because the system allows for interchangeable parts. Cash was surprised when told she wouldn’t be starting shortly before media availability. “Either way, it doesn’t matter to me,” said Cash, who had 13 points and eight boards in the opener. “At the end of the day, my job is to do whatever I can once I get out there on the floor.”
Things are lively in the Storm locker room. The players are watching the Detroit-Celtics playoff game while they stretch and get ready for the game. G Sue Bird is really into the game, however, squirming at every Ray Allen miss. “I want him to play well,” she said of her fellow Connecticut alum. Allen is currently 3-for-7 from the field, helping to tie the game at 32 points apiece.
ESPN2 is in the house, returning former WNBA center Rebecca Lobo to the sideline. Lobo is pregnant – again! “I can’t go two WNBA seasons without being pregnant,” she joked. She already has two children and will miss the postseason to give birth to her third.
Here are tonight’s starters
F Tanisha Wright
F Lauren Jackson
C Yolanda Griffith
G Sheryl Swoopes
G Sue Bird
F Nicole Powell
F Rebekkah Brunson
C Adrian Williams-Strong
G Kara Lawson
G Ticha Penischeiro
The officials are Sue Bauch, Daryl Humphrey, and Shelley Nakasone.



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