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Wednesday, October 13, 2004 - Page updated at 12:39 A.M.

Storm
Notebook: Season is over, but little rest for Storm

By Jayda Evans, Bob Sherwin and Bob Condotta
Seattle Times staff reporters

ROD MAR / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Storm guard Betty Lennox, left, drives past the Sun's Katie Douglas in the first half last night at KeyArena.
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Oh, so you thought women's basketball was over?

Just because KeyArena closed its doors after the Storm's 74-60 victory over Connecticut last year, that doesn't mean the players are taking a break. After exit interviews and a celebration at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Westlake Center, the Storm players will make a pit stop at home before joining their offseason teams.

Only forwards Sheri Sam and Adia Barnes and rookies Michelle Greco and Trina Frierson haven't signed contracts to play elsewhere.

"I've been focused on trying to win a championship," Sam said.

All-Star Sue Bird will rest for a few months before playing her first overseas season in Russia. Center Kamila Vodichkova will also play in Russia after returning home to the Czech Republic.

Lauren Jackson and fellow Australian Tully Bevilaqua will play for the Canberra Capitals, whose season has already started.

Guard Betty Lennox, forward Chelle Thompson and center Simone Edwards are headed to Italy. Center Janell Burse is going to play in China. Greco is going to rest in her Los Angeles-area home before deciding what to do. Barnes is working on an internship with NBA Entertainment. Frierson spent the majority of the season on the injured list.

Player of the game: Storm guard Betty Lennox heard her name chanted from the rafters to the courtside seats again. And this time "MVP" was added to the chorus as she scored 14 of her game-high 23 points in the second half to guide the Storm to its first WNBA title. She was a unanimous pick for finals MVP.

Original game: Original Storm player Kamila Vodichkova got the team rolling early, scoring 12 of her 14 points in the first half. Vodichkova was the team's first pick in the 2000 draft.

Turning point: The Storm bolted out to a 21-10 run to start the second half, building a 12-point lead that it never relinquished.

Digits: The Storm held the Sun to 5-of-23 shooting in the second half, while it was 14 of 26.

Next: Title celebration at Westlake Center, 11:30 a.m., Friday.

Storm coach Anne Donovan, who is also director of player personnel, said she hadn't thought about what next season's Storm team will look like. The Storm was near its salary cap of $647,000 this season, and the organization would have to do some creative paperwork again to fit everyone back under the cap. Donovan expected the core group to return, however.

"I can't imagine not (having them back)," she said.

Vacation time

Jackson met the media afterward holding a bottle of champagne and grinning from ear to ear.

"What did you think — this is an amazing moment, right?" she said. "This moment cannot be overshadowed."

Asked what she planned to do today, Jackson smiled and said, "Sleep." Then she was asked what she planned to do last night, and she said, "Not sleep. I'm going to have some fun six months later."

Jackson's short-range plans include having surgery on her sore right foot in Seattle in the next few days.

That will likely preclude her from playing any basketball in Australia for a while, which she indicated was fine with her.

"I want to stay here a while and just enjoy it," she said.

Though she has played in the Olympics and in games all over the world, she said the atmosphere at KeyArena was unique.

"I've never played in anything like that before in my life," she said.

Money shooter

Bird didn't make a basket in the first half last night, but she wasn't cold yesterday.

After a shoot-around before the game, the Storm had its usual half-court-shot contest, and at one point $1,200 was on the line. No one made that money bucket, but Bird made one shot for $100 and another for $200.

After hitting the last shot, Bird ran around the court with her shirttail pulled over her head. Lennox screamed, "I'm a hater," because she wanted the loot.

"All my teammates are jealous," Bird said. "I'm gonna share. Ask Betty who her shoe supplier is."

Playing under cover

Bird, who had her nose broken in the Minnesota series and has been wearing a protective face mask since, thought about not wearing the mask last night. But she walked on the court with it on.

"It's a dilemma. I need it for protection. If I didn't wear it and broke my nose again, I couldn't play at all," Bird said in advance of the game. "That's what makes me wear it."

Moving on

Victory and the WNBA championship were in Nykesha Sales' hand Sunday night. The Connecticut Sun forward had the final shot from the right corner. Had the three-pointer dropped, it would have meant a dramatic shot for the title.

After the Sun lost last night, she was asked if she thought back on that shot.

"No, I think I put that behind me the next morning," she said. "What's done is done. We lost the game and if I kept thinking about that I would be distracted on what I had to do today."

Notes

• Bird has now won an NCAA title, an Olympic gold medal and the WNBA title. Asked after last night's game to compare them, however, she declined. "They are all different for different reasons," she said. "I'm not into comparing. I'm just here to enjoy the moment."

• For the first time in the league's history, the WNBA sold out all three games of the Finals.

• About 200 people signed up for season tickets for next summer during the Storm's playoff run.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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