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6/7/08 vs Detroit

Final score: Storm 75 – Shock 67 (W) (6-3)

Attendance | 7105

Anthem Watch | Missed it, but I'll play the odds and guess there were lots of extraneous notes and mispronounced lyrics.

Fan Psyche | It always sucks to be playing 5 on 8.

Game Highlight | Sue hitting a late 4th quarter three to seal the deal.

Halftime | A bunch of local CEOs getting plaques from the March of Dimes for raising money, and then they got lots of face time with Governor Gregoire who just happened to be sitting courtside.

SF.O Keyword of the Game | You call that a foul?

Game Photos | Scott E | Rick | Scott L

This game was one that had me both very nervous and confident at the same time.

The Storm's offense was able to find ways again and again to maintain a 10-ish point lead through the second half and answer every time the Shock put together a mini-run. It was impressive to see the Storm keep their composure in the face of Detroit's overly physical style of play and deluge of horrible calls from the refs.

On the other hand, the Storm's weaknesses were on full display — poor rebounding and not much bench support. I know it has to be a sign of confidence in each other's ability to shoot the ball that after every shot the entire Storm team starts running up the court, but at some point they need to realize the team as a whole is missing 50-60% of their shots. More often than not, an opportunity to rebound is more likely than a made shot. The Shock understand this and got 13 offensive rebounds. The Storm got 2.

The Shock also got a ton more out of their bench than the Storm, but I think the way Laimbeer runs his rotation really stretches the idea of starters and bench players. Three of his "bench" players got more playing time than his "starters." If you look at time on the court instead of technicalities like when the player entered the game, the Storm's 6th-9th players (Ashley, Tanisha and Shyra) played the Shock's 6th-9th players (Ford, Sanni and Powell) even, minus some rebounds (which is all Ford is good for these days).

Sue, Swin and LJ were all three just short of playing the full 40 minutes. I want to think that Coach Agler kept them on the court so much to keep the lead and to run the Shock, who were on the second half of back-to-back games, into the ground. A short-term way to win games, but effective tonight. As always, and we face this every year, our stars are going to need a break and the bench is going to have to take on more responsibility.

There is also the angle to consider that LJ is going to miss 5 games before the Olympic break. That's 20 pts and (hopefully by then) 10 rebounds that will disappear. I would think that Coach Agler would want to have the bench fully integrated and able to produce for extended minutes on court. He seems to be more interested in getting as many wins as possible now so tat we have a cushion for that stretch, even if it means forcing our starters into 38+ minute games. Who knows what the plan really is, but I would be much happier to see at 3 or 4of our bench players getting 12-15 minutes a game instead of 4-8 minutes (if that).

All of that aside, the fact that the Storm found ways to keep the Shock, and when I say the Shock I really mean Katie Smith, Kara Braxton and Plenette Pierson because the rest of them weren't doing much, at arm's length. Each of our big time players came up with big time plays in the fourth quarter, none bigger than Sue's three pointer with about 2 minutes left in the game.

The Shock were chipping away at the lead and had it down to as little as 6 — plenty close enough for a couple rebounds and quick Katie Smith threes to really ruin our Saturday night. The Storm stuck with it, however, and hit jump shots to break down the Shock's zone defense and then were able to drive and get to the line.

Swoopes, Cash, Sue, LJ, Yo and even Tanisha all hit baskets in the last few minutes to preserve and ultimately build the lead back to 12. Katie Smith started taking it upon herself to force the refs to make even more calls in Detroit's favor, but it wasn't enough to get the Shock the win.

I won't go on too much about the refs, except to say that there were some almost comically bad calls — almost comical only because of the level of absurdity. That's the thing about this newfangled video technology — we can see the play over and over on a big glowing screen and review just how wrong the refs were.

Other notes:

Governor Christine Gregoire along with a Washington Supreme Court justice were sitting courtside. People also saw Darcy Burner sitting a couple rows behind the Storm bench.

The disappointing attendance continues. People keep saying it will pick up once school is out. This was a Saturday night game, there's no reason to not bring the kids and we still barely broke 7K.

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