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:
F Camille Little
F Tanisha Wright
C Lauren Jackson
G Sue Bird
G Shannon Johnson
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.