STORM WINS: Seattle played some awesome defense on Douglas and Catchings and hit the boards to pull out their best win since defeating LA in triple overtime on July 22. Jackson said she’d like to wait until this game to see if her team has really improved from the Detroit game and I’d say yes. Great win for the Storm — 74-60. Bird was the high scorer with 16 points and five assists while Burse added 14 off the bench with seven rebounds. All five Storm starters finished in double-digits, however. Catch and Douglas were a combined 8 of 24 from the field. Indiana has lost back-to-back games for the first time since the beginning of the season when a win against Seattle ignited an 11-game streak.
BIG TO BIG: Burse lost her first assist of the year, but it was cool to see her pick up a steal and dribble all the way down court to dish off to Jackson for what she thought was going to be an Aussie shot. Instead, Jackson slightly bobbled the ball and dished it back to Burse, who made the bucket with 7:01 remaining. Indiana called a timeout, down 63-48, and game operations cued the music for the train song, sending hundreds of kids to the court.
END OF THIRD: Burse is having a great game off the bench and no one is even foul trouble. She’s seen 17 minutes of play and has 10 points on 3 of 6 shooting with six boards. Her old-fashioned three-point play with 1.5 left in the third put Seattle ahead 57-46. Cash is also having a strong game with nine points and nine boards. Douglas is still below her average with nine (3 of 9) and Catchings has eight (3 of 9).
SEATLLE CRUSHER?: It’s been a while since the Storm put their throat on an opponent and crushed them when they already had the lead. Tonight might be a return to that type of ball. With Bird hitting and Douglas and Cathings still having trouble getting touches, Seattle leads 50-33 out of the break. There’s 4:31 remaining in the third.
END OF HALF: Seattle broke out with a 17-1 run to close the half ahead 37-25. The defensive has been impressive, which allowed for some great offensive plays. At one point Burse was on Douglas, negating a shot. But collectively, the Storm has held the star to 1 of 5 shooting. Catching is also 1 of 5 from the field. Rebounding has been key for Seattle, Cash leading the way with seven. It was her three-pointer with 2.4 seconds left in the half — after Seattle forced a shot-clock violation — that sent KeyArena threw the rough. As in Detroit on Tuesday, however, adjustments will be made by Dunn. We’ll see if the Storm can handle it to close out with a needed win.
FAKIN’ THE FUNK: Wright anticipated Douglas’ charge to stop her fastbreak layin, pausing like a pro to make the easy bucket as Douglas steamrolled out of bounds. Smooth. In the play before, it was Burse who picked off an Indiana pass and eventually collected a fastbreak dish from Cash for a layin. Both plays helped the Storm move ahead 27-24 on a 7-0 run with 3:29 remaining in the half.
THREE BALL: A three-pointer by Bird, where she was open and able to square her body to the hoop, pulled Seattle back into the game. The Fever leads 24-23 with 4:25 remaining and Seattle has the ball again.
BENCH PLAY: It’s small, but the Fever reserves have helped their team build a 22-16 lead with 6:02 remaining. Seattle is making a host of one-and-out trips to the basket, not rebounding and then getting beat in transition. The Storm is shooting 26.1 percent from the field while the Fever “improved” to 33.3 percent.
END OF FIRST: Both teams are shooting under 30 percent and I would love to say it’s because some throwback defense is being played. It is, but it’s not the reasoning for the missed layins. I don’t know what to say about those, except WOW. The good defense was blocks by Catchings and Cash to negate baskets and Seattle is winning the rebounding battle 15-13. But the Storm is down 5-0 in second-chance shot scoring. Indiana leads 16-14.
BLOOPER REEL: Whoa! Indiana missed, oh, four bunnies in a row. Coach Lin Dunn just turned her back on the court and shook her head at the bench. Probably reminded her of 2000 in Seattle. The payoff was Douglas was fouled and made the ensuing FTs to tie the game at 14 points apiece. And Seattle wasn’t without its bloopers. Burse and Wright missed equally bad bunnies in an earlier possession.
TIE GAME: Was just about to talk about the Storm’s rebounding and aggressive play on defense, forcing Indiana into some uncharacteristic mistakes. Then Indiana started to click with its own push to tie the game at nine points apiece with 4:26 remaining in the opening quarter. Bird and Jackson have tossed up some airballs and Hoffman is looking good. Neither team’s stats are that impressive, however.
NEW THREADS: Former Storm reserve and Washington star Kristen O’Neill is moving into the coaching biz. New Seattle University coach Joan Bonvicini dropped by to say she hired O’Neill will join Joy Hollingsworth, a former Arizona player, as Bonvicini’s assistant coaching staff. O’Neill is scheduled to be at the Storm game tonight where the announcement should be made. When asked if O’Neill had enough experience, Bonvicini was scoffed at the question. O’Neill will definitely be a motivator in the gym, so the Redhawks should have an interesting tenure under Bonvicini.
Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson skipped her scheduled acupuncturist appointment on Friday, re-setting the session for Monday morning. After practice and receiving treatment, the nine-year veteran opted to rest at home instead of drive to Bellevue.
Plus, she hates needles, so I doubt the idea of being strategically poked was appealing for a Friday night when friends are in town. Especially friends like Indiana PG Tully Bevilaqua.
Bevilaqua heads the Fever and Spokane native Briann January is playing off the bench or by the Australian’s side to form a formidable backcourt. Add MVP-candidates Katie Doulas, Tamika Catchings and Ebony Hoffman and it’s easy to understand why Indiana is the league’s top team.
The Fever’s game plan, like most of the league, is going to be to deny Jackson the ball and take the crowd out of the game. Meanwhile they’re going to crash the boards and use their multiple options to get scoring rolling.
A fan in Section 108 sign actually says Seattle’s key best. The poster reads “Is there a problem here? Missed shots: 877. Off reb. % .222.” Yeah, as long be stated, the Storm need to rebound. And Seattle particularly needs to limit second-chance shots for opponents.
The Detroit win at the end of the three-game road trip was a good move in the right direction. But it’ll be tonight’s tough matchup to see if a change was truly made.
There’s a lot going on around KeyArena tonight. The honored Bevilaqua for being a member of the organization’s All-Decade team prior to tip-off. She’s also part of Indiana’s All-Decade team. And the Storm has members of the U.S. Army back in the building among other dignitaries.
So, let’s begin the festivities with your starting lineups:
F Tamika Catchings
F Ebony Hoffman
C Tammy Sutton-Brown
G Katie Douglas
G Tully Bevilaqua
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Camille Little
G Sue Bird
G Tanisha Wright
Tonight’s officials are Michael Price, Amy Onner, and Maj Forseberg.