FINAL STRETCH: Seattle is up 39-37 headed into the final quarter. Little and Thompson has eight points apiece. Seattle is shooting and icy 26.9 percent from the field. I’m out to focus on the daily story. Check our Saturday paper for the final wrap.
A FIRST: The Shock were awarded the first defensive three-second violation at KeyArena. Wright made the FT on the technical foul to put Seattle up 38-32. MacKay checked in with 2:46 on the clock, making her first appearance in the game.
NEW LINEUP: The second half is underway with Quinn, Johnson, and Little starting alongside Sanford and Strick. Seattle is up 32-25 with 7:12 on the clock.
SWAG: In her second year, you can see the confident swagger in Strick, the 2012 No. 2 overall pick. She played a season in Turkey, which helped her play. Knowing her teammates has also helped her look good in the exhibition game. She has three points and six boards in 16 minutes. Little and Hawkins have six points apiece to lead the Seattle scoring. Glory Johnson has game-highs in points (10) and rebounds (10). The Storm is up 28-25 at the break.
NEW LOOK: Thompson nailed a three-pointer, so the WNBA inching the line back this season is no biggie to her. The Shock are 0-for-10 from three-point range, however. The defensive three-seconds rule takes some adjusting as a viewer and with all of the bricks this quarter, it’s obviously not generating more offense as the league hoped. Seattle is up 24-21 with 3:29 remaining in the half. Hawkins has six points off the bench to lead the Storm. The Shock’s Glory Johnson has six points for her team.
QUICK CATCHUP: Johnson, who’s 5-foot-3, did a stutter-step move in the lane to elude the defense and score a layin that got the crowd excited. Strick collected a steal on the other end and Seattle is tied 17-17 with the Shock at the end of the opening quarter. Johnson has always been a pest to deal with while Milli normally takes a minutes to get warmed up, but it’s the young-guns injecting fluidity into the Storm offense. Seattle is 5-of-18 from the field while Tulsa is 5-of-16. The Shock lead the rebounding battle 15-12.
HAWK EYE: The rookie is muscling in the buckets to improve Seattle to a 16-9 deficit. Tulsa appears to be settling down after a fiery start. If you’re keeping score, Diggins has two turnovers, two fouls and is 0-for-2 from the field. Credit goes to the patent Johnson defense.
BAD TIMING: To put it nicely, the Storm offense needs work. The connects are just a hair off, but the misfire looks bad. Rookie Tianna Hawkins scored Seattle’s first field goal of the game under the hoop with 3:57 on the clock. It’s 16-5 after the three-point play.
SHORT: The Storm is down 10-2, leaving a lot of buckets short. They’re 0-for-8 from the filed. Thompson scored the team’s only points off a pair of FTs. Agler substituted in forwards Shekinna Stricklen and Nakia Sanford for Little and Wright.
NICE EDIT: Game Ops debuted it’s new highlight video played on Storm Vision before pregame intros and successfully found clips where Bird, Jackson and Katie Smith weren’t spotted. I did see a Belinda Snell cameo, but you can’t omit everyone in a team sport.
“That was back in the day,” said Tulsa rookie Sylar Diggins said when reminded of Notre Dame’s trip to KeyArena to play in Seattle University’s inaugural Holiday Hoops Classic. The round-robin also featured Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount. A lot has changed for Diggins since that 2010 game from a global recognition to creating a trend with her warrior-like headband.
In the Storm’s exhibition game against the Shock, however, Diggins is another obstacle the home team needs to handle in preparing for a tough WNBA season. And not because Seattle is without All-Stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson. The league talent is deeper and the Storm needs to “develop an identity A.S.A.P,” coach and GM Brian Agler.
Captain G Tanisha Wright is playing her first organized game since Seattle lost Game 3 of its opening round playoff matchup against Minnesota in October. Wright rested the entire offseason due to chronic knee injuries. She said the break helped, but didn’t play in her team’s opening exhibition game at LA on Sunday to extend the rehabilitation. Wright, who’s trying to avoid surgery, participated in about half of each of the team’s training camp practices.
“It’s to the point now where we’re trying to get ready for the season,” said Agler, whose team’s season-opener is at LA on May 26. “It’s harder for Tanisha, since she’s basically taken the whole winter off, to continue to work on getting her timing back and get back in the flow of things. The first week of practice you could see she was trying to shake the cobwebs a little bit. But the last week of practice she’s starting to feel better and getting her legs underneath her.”
Wright will start alongside PG Temeka Johnson with Camille Little, Tina Thompson, and Noelle Quinn in the front court. F Alysha Clark won’t play due to a back injury. Storm trainers believe the injury isn’t serious at this point.
In addition to seeing the veterans play about 20 minutes together, Agler wants another look at 2013 second-round draft pick Chelsea Poppens, training camp invitees Cierra Bravard and Samantha MacKay and 2012 third-round draft pick Keisha Hampton.
The Shock did not travel Nicole Powell, Scholanda Dorrell (knee), and Tiffany Jackson-Jones. Shock coach Gary Kloppenburg, a former Storm assistant, is likely to make his roster cuts soon after the game.
A normal exhibition-game crowd is filing into The Key. Let’s get it going here with your starting lineup.
F Candice Wiggins
F Glory Johnson
C Courtney Paris
G Skylar Diggins
G Amber Holt
F Noelle Quinn
F Tina Thompson
F Camille Little
G Temeka Johnson
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Clarke Stevens, Cameron Inouye, and Cheryl Flores