Storming into the home stretch

Saturday night, the choice was easy. Just one WNBA game that evening, Tulsa at Seattle. No problem picking what to watch, right?

Ugghh. I just couldn’t do it. Normally, I take every opportunity to see games … but this wasn’t really a game. Unless you’d also call what cats do to mice a “game.”  OK, it wasn’t exactly that brutal. No deaths involved. But the Storm players, after two consecutive losses and nearly a third, were looking to put the hammer down hard again.
And who better to provide them that opportunity than the Shock, for whom the trip out to Seattle meant a plummet back into the dungeon. Doomed?  Maybe the Shock didn’t feel that way as they made the flight into Seattle. No, it took about a whole minute on court for Tulsa to know this was truly Mission Impossible.

“There’s not much you can say when you get beat by 50,” Shock post player Nicole Ohlde told the Associated Press reporter after the 111-65 loss. “They came out with a ton of energy to begin with, and they had a great crowd. We just got ourselves in a hole, and it just kept getting worse and worse.”

For the record, Ohlde was exaggerating a bit; the Shock lost by just 46 points. OK, so it was the largest margin of victory in WNBA history .. but it wasn’t 50. At least that’s something.

Well, not really.

The end of Ohlde’s quote successfully, in my opinion, walks that tightrope between euphemism and delusion. She didn’t say the Shock dug themselves a hole, as that would imply they really had much to do with this. No, they got themselves in a hole … which in this case meant they arrived at Key Arena. The Storm did the rest.

I couldn’t help but recall a game from Ohlde’s Kansas State career, when she was a sophomore and the Wildcats were the new sensation of the Big 12 but still a very young group. And they went to Colorado on Senior Night … and it got ugly quickly for the visitors.

After the game, then-freshmen Kendra Wecker said the Wildcats had dug themselves a hole “the size of the stinkin’ Grand Canyon” by halftime. (Yes, some quotes stay with you forever.) But in that case, much like the Shock with the Storm, I think the Wildcats were more or less a non-factor in the creation of the hole. The Buffs dug it and shoved K-State in it.

OK, back to present-day …was this game good for the Storm? Sure. As Seattle closes in on home-court advantage throughout the postseason, questions have arisen about how much the starters have played, how much the bench will contribute, etc. The Tulsa pounding gave the reserves plenty of time on court and the starters plenty of time on the bench. There are two weeks left in the regular season, so it’s time to fine-tune for a team looking at securing the franchise’s second WNBA title.

However, it would probably not be accurate to call it a “payback” for last Tuesday’s stunner in which the Shock beat the visiting Storm in Tulsa. I say that because it’s not as if the Storm felt some big grievance against the Shock. There was no, “Jeez, just wait until you guys come out here … will we ever get you for beating us!”

Who could work up much anger for the Tulsa Shock, you know?

This team, as has been well-chronicled, is about as far as you can get from the Detroit Shock. The former franchise and the new one have absolutely nothing to do with each other anymore. Whatever ties that might have bound them together have been cut or traded away. And it didn’t take long.

There’s really nothing left but the five letters _ S-H-O-C-K _ to link the organizations.

So, anyway, I didn’t watch Saturday’s Storm-Shock game. And not just because I’d rented out Season 2 of “Night Gallery” (although I did, in fact, do that.) But even without the opportunity to watch Rod Serling’s warmed-over, color-version attempt at replicating “The Twilight Zone” while featuring several of the top TV hacks of the 1970s, I would have passed on Storm-Shock. There are just some clobberings you really don’t need to witness. Continual checking of the carnage, er, score on my Blackberry reassured me I was making the right decision.

*-RADIO DAYS: The “She’s Got Game” show at SportsRadioKC.com won’t be live on Monday; there will be a replay. But I’ll be back with Brenda VanLengen in the studio on Friday, just an hour earlier. The show will now be at noon Central time instead of 1 p.m.

*-A  LOOK AT MJ: Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated, my pal and favorite writer, worked a trip to Tulsa into his ludicrously busy schedule last week. He did the driving and I navigated, as I’ve kind of gotten used to that trek this summer. Actually, I wasn’t really needed for navigation, as his car’s GPS can do that by itself … except the smarty-pants, know-it-all car didn’t actually know about the shortcut. And I did.

Joe will be writing about Marion Jones, and I’m sure it will be  a great, insightful and thoughtful piece. Even if you think you’ve read all you want to about MJ, I feel certain that Joe will add a perspective you won’t want to miss. I will link to it as soon as it’s up.

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About mvoepel

Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women's college basketball and other college sports for ESPN.com.
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3 Responses to Storming into the home stretch

  1. norwester says:

    As a Storm fan, I call it entertaining. I have nothing in specific against the Shock, and would in fact love the team to be successful, proving the small-market franchise is viable. However, they made some borderline distasteful comments in the media post-win over the Storm, and the Storm used it to fire themselves and the fans up. If you make your bed you’ve got to lie in it. That’s sports.

    Meanwhile, when you’re so close to WNBA records, why would you hesitate to break them if you could (i.e. margin of victory and rebounds in a game)? If it’s a run of the mill blow-out, sure, but if you’re close to the mark: go for it. And I don’t feel like I’m just saying that as a homer, though it would be painful to be on the other side.

  2. Greg says:

    What you gloss over was the Storm’s shocking display of poor sportsmanship. Coach Agler needed to reign them in and have them run down the clock. Instead, they were hoisting early threes until the final buzzer. Absolutely shameful.

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