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Storm-Silver Stars Preview

May 29, 2010 - 5:14 PM By MATT BEARDMORE STATS Writer

Seattle (4-1) at San Antonio (2-2), 3:00 p.m. EDT

Seattle got off to the best start in franchise history due in large part to its late-game defense. The Storm, though, are looking for that type of effort throughout the game.

The Western Conference-leading Storm look to rebound from their first loss Sunday when they face a San Antonio Silver Stars team that's also expecting a better performance on the defensive end.

Holding their opponents to an average of 17.3 fourth-quarter points, Seattle opened 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. The Storm, though, couldn't complete a comeback from 19 down in the fourth Thursday, getting as close as five before falling 84-75 at Chicago.

"From our standard our defense is below average right now," coach Brian Agler told the Storm's official website. "In the past four games we've had stretches where we play good defense but we haven't put a full defensive game together the way I expect our team to do."

Silver Stars first-year coach Sandy Brondello, who ended her five-year WNBA career in Seattle in 2003, is also looking for a more consistent effort from her team.

"I told them from the start, it's not about offense it's about defense," Brondello said following Friday's 77-71 loss to New York. "We just had too many breakdowns, pick-and-roll schemes, rotations, overhelp, not knowing our personnel when we're closing out. We just had too many breakdowns."

After getting outrebounded 38-25 and allowing 20 second-chance points to the Liberty, San Antonio (2-2) will likely need strong performances from Sophia Young, Michelle Snow and Ruth Riley on the boards against Seattle's frontcourt of Lauren Jackson and Swin Cash.

The Storm are outrebounding opponents by an average of 5.6.

Jackson, who was Brondello's teammate as Australia won a silver medal at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, is averaging team highs of 19.9 points and 8.8 rebounds. In three matchups against San Antonio in 2009, Jackson scored 15.0 points and added 11.0 rebounds per game.

Cash averaged 13.3 points and 11.0 boards against the Silver Stars last season.

Six-time All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw, acquired last week after getting waived by Atlanta, has fit in well alongside Young in her first two games with the Silver Stars, scoring 16 points Friday after posting a team-high 19 in her debut against Los Angeles on May 22.

The backcourt matchup between Storm point guard Sue Bird and San Antonio's Becky Hammon could help decide which team leaves AT&T Center with a victory.

Bird, second in the league with 6.6 assists per game, averaged 14.7 points and 4.3 assists against the Silver Stars last season, missing a 64-55 victory in San Antonio on Sept. 12 with a sore neck.

Hammon has been nursing a slight groin strain, but she is still scoring 15.0 points per game with 6.3 assists. She averaged 19.0 points against the Storm in 2009.

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