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June 5, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Looking back on the Storm’s opening weekend

KatieOpener.jpgThe Storm is off Sunday, winning its season-opener 78-71 against Phoenix on Saturday before more than 11,000 fans. A highlight for the crowd seemed to be when new addition Katie Smith checked into the game with 5:09 remaining in the first quarter, replacing G Tanisha Wright in the lineup.
I’ve covered a lot of games at KeyArena and I seriously don’t think the crowd has had a bigger reaction to one player coming off the bench. Not Sheryl Swoopes, Yolanda Griffith or even Michelle Marciniak.
“It’s nice that they’re excited that I’m on their side,” said Smith of what is now being lovingly referred to as the Storm Crazies. “They kind of welcome anybody that comes their way that’s part of their group. The whole ‘Hangover,’ you’re part of the wolf pack now.
“It’s also an appreciation. I played in the (defunct) ABL, I played out here. You’ve got a lot of people who’ve watched women’s basketball for a long time and respect the game. For myself, Sheryl Swoopes when she was back in here (with Tulsa) and Betty (Lennox) when she part of this organization — they (Storm Crazies) really do respect the game and the people who’ve been pioneers in the game. This crowd, they know what they’re cheering for.”
Smith, who also turned 37 on Saturday, made quick demonstration of her value, helping the Storm turn a three-point deficit when she entered the game into an 11-point lead when she left with 5:20 remaining in the second quarter (32-21).
She was 3-for-6 from the field for eight points, three boards and one steal in the opening half.
The offensive production didn’t carry after halftime, teammate Lauren Jackson coming alive with F Le’coe WIllingham, Camille Little and Swin Cash pulling the Storm through. Smith’s 0-for-4 showing in 15 minutes after the break is what tempered her enthusiasm in postgame interviews.
“I had good looks, didn’t knock ’em down,” said the WNBA’s fourth all-time leading scorer. “But there was no let-up. I think our bench is really, really soild. It’s nice because we really don’t lose anything. We’re going to have to keep that up throughout the year.”
In case you missed it, there were a slew of stories discussing the Storm’s depth and Smith to preview the organization’s 12th season. You can read through all of those pieces in a collection gathered on the Storm’s website.
As for the game stories, here’s some found Sunday morning:
— News Tribune columnist Dave Boling says Little played big.
— Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley says Little is example of Storm’s improved role players.
— Aaron Lommers of the Everett Herald covered the opening game. And I hear he’ll be writing a blog this season. Look for it.
— The Associated Press had the game story that went national.

*PHOTO CREDIT: Katie Smith made her Storm debut on Saturday by Dean Rutz of The Seattle Times.



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