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June 9, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Game thread: Seattle at Indiana

BOARD GAMES: Seattle dropped the game 73-66 because of two things: Allowing 15 offensive rebounds and committing 19 turnovers with just 15 assists. Bird barely waited for the questioning before stating, “Tully is a great defensive player, but I’m going to have to take credit for all of my turnovers,” she said of the five miscues. “They were all in my control and that’s actually more disappointing than anything else. They were all pretty much off passes, passes I should have completed.” Seattle plans to take Wednesday off, staying in Indianapolis and picking back up again on Thursday in preparation for Friday’s road game against Minnesota. Jackson was the leading scorer with 21 points while Cash finished with 14 off the bench. You’ll probably see her in the starting lineup on Friday given Johnson attempted one shot and is scoreless for her second consecutive game. As for Griffith, she’s going to be evaluated further on Wednesday. The Fever were led by Douglas’ 20 points. Hoffman added 18. “We’re a much better team when we are awake and not still on the plane,” Dunn said.
DOUGLAS BACK: Douglas got a rousing ovation when she checked back into the game with 4:46 remaining. The Fever lead 67-58 and the Storm needs to get some defensive stops in order to have a chance at winning this one. Like that 17-footer Douglas just hit? Shouldn’t have happened.
MORE FOULS: Now Cash has five (Little has four) and Seattle gave Indiana four chances to connect on a basket, pulling ahead 61-54. Sutton-Brown also has five fouls (Catchings and January have four apiece). Seattle is getting outworked 13-6 on offensive boards and has given up 18 points on 18 turnovers.
WANNA BET?: Obviously forgetting the trouble NBA officials recently got into for betting, Fever Coach Lin Dunn offered to bet Eric Brewton “50 bucks” that he got a call wrong. It sent Burse to the line and she made the FTs to pull Seattle within 59-54 at the end of the third quarter. Douglas, meanwhile, suffered a left eye contusion and may return. It looks nasty.
THAT’S GREEK TO ME: Not sure how that’s not a foul. Gearlds did jump straight up to block the 5-foot-3 Erica White’s shot, but I think there was contact. KG screamed like, well, KG and hustled down court. It is her town, after all. The Storm didn’t get much momentum from the play, trailing 59-53 with 00.2 seconds left in the quarter. A fan belted “When do you start playing like Detroit?” And Gearlds, who played her offseason ball in Greece to work on her defense, just got a congratulatory smack from Ashley Robinson, the resident shot blocker.
FOUL TROUBLE: Forgot to add that the foul trouble of Catchings (four) also changed the complexity of the game. Seattle was able to keep it close with her on the bench. She just hit a bucket to pull Indiana back ahead 51-49 with 2:44 left in the quarter.
NICE CUT: Seattle was looking for a high-low pass with Burse, but instead found a score with Jackson cutting in the paint and collecting an assist from Cash. Jackson drew the foul and Seattle is up 48-46 with 4:32 remaining in the third quarter. It has been tight play after the half, but Johnson has made some tacky mistakes that cost the Storm a chance to get a little lead.
TIE GAME: It’s been slow and steady, but the Storm is on a 14-4 run to tie the game at 36 points apiece after a three-pointer by Jackson. Missed shots by Indiana and the Storm driving inside and finally getting some calls (credit Agler for that), are what’s behind the push. It was also a good lineup of Little, Cash, Gearlds, Bird, and Jackson on the court. But Indiana takes a 38-36 lead into the break after Sutton-Brown made 14-footer at the buzzer.
HEY ROOKIE: Spokane’s Briann January was pulled from the starting lineup, but she’ll work her way back if she keeps this up. Cash missed the cover on a screen to allow a three-pointer by Douglas and then January picked off a Storm in-bound pass, quickly giving it to Douglas for another open three-pointer. January also drew a foul on Wright and the Fever lead 30-20 with 5:52 left in the half. Agler wants fouls, but actually his team is a step slow and Bird appears as if she’s playing a little timid.
GRIFFITH GONE?: In a non-collision incident, former Storm C Yolanda Griffith’s left ankle crumpled and she had to be carried off the court in a time out. with 1:47 remaining. Storm was just finding its groove with the lineup of Janell Burse, Wright, Jackson, Cash, and Gearlds. Seattle is down 18-13, Cash is 4 for 4 from the field. There’s 51.1 seconds on the clock. UPDATE: Griffith is questionable to return.
CASHING IN: Cash hit her first attempt and Seattle seems as if it’s trying to press a little harder. It’s really physical on defense and Jackson is getting triple-teamed inside the paint, with no help from officials. A jumper by Hoffman gives the Fever a 12-4 lead with 4:12 remaining in the opening quarter.
OLD TIMES: Man, I remember watching practice when Bevilaqua would get on Bird like this defensively. Nothing as changed, except Bird is better. But Bevilaqua is wiser. She picked off Bird’s dribble and drew her into a second foul.
FIRST PLAY: Storm coach Brian Agler expected this, two minutes into the game and Seattle has been able to run their first play. They just completed it with Jackson missing at the top of the key, but they got the offensive rebound. It seems as if both teams are settling down now. Fever lead 2-0 with 7:53 remaining.
WNBA president Donna Orender met with Indiana officials all day today and remains positive about the franchise, which is celebrating its 10th season along with Seattle. There are swirling rumors that a new owner will have to be found if attendance doesn’t increase this season and newspaper reports quoting owners that they are committed to the season, but uncertain about the future.
Cutbacks aren’t visible. In fact, The Fever is the only team to hand out a printed media guide. It’s black-and-white, but it’s a hardcopy media guide.
“I’m not going to comment on conjecture or whatever,” Orender said. “What I am going to comment on is the WNBA and the Indiana Fever. What’s important here is to really be able build on the connection in this community. I think what you’re hearing them say is, ‘We really do believe in this. We know how important it is. We can feel that and we want it to work.’ So, if you’re a fan, come on out. That’s what they are saying.”
Orender continues to point to history where even today leagues like the NBA are questioning stability in ownership (Charlotte) or placement of franchises like the MLB’s move to Anaheim or the NFL wondering about a return to Los Angeles.
“For any league to build its foundation, there is this series of movement between cities and owners so you can find your leveling place,” Orender said.
Tonight’s game is the WNBA’s launch on ESPN2, the beginning of a multi-million dollar broadcasting rights agreement between the league and the network.
The crowd is sparse to start. There’s a smattering of Storm fans in green and some of those are F Katie Gearlds’ family. She’s a native of Beech Grove, Indi. and will have an opportunity to hang in her stomping grounds when Seattle takes a day off in the city on Wednesday. Gearlds also said her family is going to pickup their new puppies, golden retrievers that they plan to name Hondo and Lucy.
But first there’s a game, so here are your starters:
STORM
F Camille Little
F Tanisha Wright
C Lauren Jackson
G Sue Bird
G Shannon Johnson
FEVER
F Tamika Catchings
F Ebony Hoffman
C Tammy Sutton-Brown
G Katie Douglas
G Tully Bevilaqua
Tonight’s officials are Sue Blauch, Denis Brooks-Clauser, and Eric Brewton.

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