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Women's Hoops

The latest news and analysis on college and pro women's basketball.

September 9, 2008 at 6:08 PM

Monarchs game thread

GAME OVER: Bird was limping on an aggravated right ankle and took a knee to her right thigh. She said she’s fine and that the ankle has been bothering her for about a week, flaring up at the most inopportune time. Maybe that had something to do with her 3-of-9 shooting. Maybe it was the Sacramento defense. Either way, the Storm couldn’t get any of their final buckets to drop, losing 77-74. Bird’s final three-point attempt was blocked by Kara Lawson, but she didn’t give any credit to Lawson, saying she flung the ball and if it had dropped, “It would have been the shot of the century.”
Arco Arena went nuts, though. The Monarchs clinched their sixth consecutive playoff berth and did so against their former star, Yolanda Griffith. Yo was amazing, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Seriously. This is a loss, but if that type of effort is what Griffith has under her belt and if Wright doesn’t let these silly turnovers shake all the confidence she built this season, the Storm could win a championship with just these nine players. But I’m sure they’ll welcome back Jackson at practice on Thursday anyway.
WRIGHT IS WRONG: Wright has done some amazing things in the game, but those turnovers are killing the Storm. She’s had four in this quarter and the one with less than 35 seconds remaining was right to Powell, who streaked down the court for a would-be layin. KG fouled her, but Powell made the ensuing FTs and the Storm is down 75-74 with 21.5 seconds remaining. This is one of the more entertaining games the Storm has played this season. But they have 24 turnovers versus 28 made field goals. Not good.
KG4THREE: Big time KG hit another three-pointer to tie the game at 68 points apiece with 4:10 remaining. And I’ll stop making predictions now. The Storm has a lot of fight, and Griffith is another key, grabbing another rebound to convert it into a layin to give Seattle another lead at 70-68.
TIMEOUT: Yeah, I don’t think the Storm is going to win this one tonight. Bird said Agler is the best X’s and O’s coach she knows, designing plays for his team to always score out of the timeout. But even if Seattle manages to get a bucket, I’m sure Boucek will find a way to get her team to respond. Sacramento is just on tonight, wanting that berth. They lead 67-61 with 6:59 remaining in the game.
KG4THREE: Gearlds just nailed a needed three-pointer from the left side to tie the game at 57 points a piece. But a turnover converted into a three-point play by Powell put the Storm back down again. Score is 60-57 with seconds remaining in the half.
AWFUL CALL: Ashley Robinson had a clean block that the officials called a foul. It was Olympic volleyball spike-like. Anyway, Monarchs forward Laura Harper missed the free throws, so the basketball gods evened the score. Seattle closed to 55-52 with 1:46 remaining in the third quarter.
WRIGHT BACK: Wright’s goregeous jumper that only hit net helped the Storm pull to 51-50. Seattle is using improved shooting to counter bad rebounding to get back into the game. The Monarchs also have a lineup on the floor right now that has a total of six years of experience.
END OF FIRST HALF: Well, Agler spoke of rebounding being important at shoot-around this morning and the Storm has responded by having exactly one offensive board. Couple that with 41.4 percent shooting from the field and you can understand why Seattle is down 44-34 at the break. They’ve won every kind of way this season, so the deficit means little, but Sacramento is the type of team that can make it really hurt. Credit Wright for her play She has 11 points, a team-leading four rebounds and two assists. She was the sole player to grab an offensive board.
HAIR REDO?: Imagine the horror when a black stringy thing came flying at press row during the Monarchs’ offensive spurt. The first thing I thought of was Lisa Leslie and her ponytail, but this time it was just Crystal Kelly’s headband. A reporter scooped it up off the scorer’s table with his pen and returned it to the Sacramento bench. But when we thought the flying things were over, an orange ball came bouncing at my computer during a timeout. I think anyone from Seattle is being targeted tonight. Pray for me. Storm is down 43-32 with 51.9 remaining in the half.
BIRD FEED: Every time the Storm ties the Monarchs, Sacramento unleaches its offense. This time the Monarchs went on a 7-0 run, and Bird was burned by two buckets by A’Quonesia Franklin. It was horrible defense. Seattle is down 37-30 with 2:15 remaining in the half. They are being outrebounded 17-10 and have 10 turnovers for 11 Sacramento points. Make that 40-30 with 1:48 remaining.
NBA FRIENDS: Kings guard Bobby Jackson is in the house and teammates Bobby Brown, Donte Greene and Jason Thompson are seated courtside. It brings up a question I’ve always wondered: Do you care that they attend WNBA games? During the Olympics it seemed a makeover was under way with the men and women’s teams mixing so much. The WNBA players could use the celebrity of the NBA to help further establish their league while the NBA can use the WNBA as goodwill. It always makes me see a player in a different light when I see them at their sister WNBA team’s games. Especially when their city doesn’t have a team and they show up. And it’s really cool when they’re like Kevin Garnett used to be in Minnesota — cheering and losing themselves in the action. But on the other hand it’s all still basketball, so why shouldn’t they be at the games? Just a thought.
WRIGHT STUFF: Or should we return to the T-Pain nickname? Wright bodied Powell to force her into a miss and then got the ball ahead to Little for the Storm’s own layin. That was after Wright found Little on a backdoor cut. It was a series of impressive plays by Wright that give credibility to her being on the list of Most Improved or Sixth Man awards. Her effort helped the Storm tie the game at eight points apiece with 3:53 in the opening quarter.
OPENING A BAKERY?: The Storm has started off with two turnovers, a growing trend in its games since the Olympic break. It’s slightly understandable because the team is playing with yet another new lineup, but…Lawson made a layin off the first turnover and roared after the bucket. Not good for the Storm when Lawson is hyped. Storm is down 6-2 with 6:43 remaining in the first quarter.
HEY YO!: Griffith, a former Monarch, received a rousing applause from her former home crowd. Griffith played nine seasons in Sacramento, earning the Finals MVP award during the 2005 title run.
Well, there’s no need for Storm G Sue Bird to do Phoenix G Diana Taurasi any favors. The Mercury couldn’t handle its own business, losing to Detroit today on ESPN2. The loss makes Phoenix the first defending champion to not advance to the playoffs the following season.
Sacramento had the game on in its locker room. The Monarchs need one loss from Phoenix and Houston or their own win to clinch the fourth and final berth in the Western Conference. But even though the team knows about the Mercury loss, coach Jenny Boucek, a former Storm assistant, still wants to destroy the Storm tonight.
Her team is a little out of whack, dealing with injuries all season that had her often changing lineups mid-game. During the Olympic break F Rebekkah Brunson (knee surgery), G Kara Lawson (Olympics), G Ticha Penicheiro (dislocated collar bone), G Scholanda Robinson (knee), and G Chelsea Newton (abdominal) were all out. They have since returned along with F DeMya Walker, who is making her way back from a torn ACL suffered overseas.
“Our 2005 championship season was like this,” Walker said. “When we finally got to the FInals, everybody was healthy. And it was like, ‘Wow! We have answers for everybody.’ It felt really good, and that’s kind of how we feel right now. We battle through it, people have to step up and then finally everybody gets together and everybody gets healthy and no one understands why you’re on the roll.”
Boucek said the absence of the regulars helped the younger players get special attention to develop their games. The same can be said for the Storm, which missed four players due to the Olympics and sometimes Swoopes due to injury. Now the reserves are filling in and keeping Seattle at the same high plateau.
A win tonight would seal at least second place in the West because San Antonio continues to win, defeating New York tonight.
Talked to a few print/radio media members about the regular-season awards and we’re all having the same trouble whittling our lists. Sacramento was no help for me, either. Boucek said she doesn’t think that way, but did give Storm coach Brian Agler a lot of props, while Walker is snubbing the whole deal.
“The Monarchs don’t get enough respect, so I stay away from those things,” said Walker with Lawson, one of the least respected players in the league, sitting atop an adjacent training table. “We don’t get respect because we play together and don’t isolate people as much and put people up on a pedestal. As a result, we don’t get nearly enough attention, and as a result, I don’t pay attention.”
Well, then. Here’s the starting lineups:
STORM
F Camille Little
F Katie Gearlds
C Yolanda Griffith
G Tanisha Wright
G Sue Bird
MONARCHS
F Nicole Powell
F Crystal Kelly
C Adrian Williams-Strong
G Kara Lawson
G Ticha Penicheiro
Tonight’s officials are June Courteau, Scott Twardoski, and Byron Jarrett.

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