Just before the 2011 WNBA All-Star break, the San Antonio Silver Stars (11-6) came to KeyArena and took a beating at the hands of the Seattle Storm (10-8).
And even though the Storm still have only one home loss in what has been a difficult season, the likelihood of the Silver Stars taking another loss that significance seems relatively low.
Silver Stars guard Becky Hammon was named WNBA Western Conference Player of the Week for last week, in which she shot 11-for-15 from the 3-point line over the last two games and helped her team to a 2-1 record after losing to the Minnesota Lynx.
Most importantly, the Silver Stars are currently in second place in the Western Conference and the Storm have yet another opportunity to gain ground on a conference rival, with the team still trying to hit a consistent stride after hitting a major road block in Minnesota.
"We've got a lot of good players on our team," said Storm coach Brian Agler after their 89-72 win against the Tulsa Shock. "We only had one full season with Lauren and that was last year and you can see what happens when you get her. But we've also been successful without her. Our record doesn't really indicate it right now just because we've played so many road games. It's hard to win on the road in this league. Now we've got 10 of our last 16 games at home and hopefully we'll take advantage of that."
With Jackson out, Bird has assumed a larger portion of the scoring load, averaging a career-high 15.6 points per game and coming off of a 29-point performance against the Tulsa Shock in which she and Swin Cash (23 points) carried the team. However, those imbalanced efforts have not always translated into wins this season and the Storm need contributions from their bench and other starters to win games.
So that's why the much-improved contribution from center Ashley Robinson, who is averaging career-highs in points (4.3) and rebounds (4.3) per game, is so important.
Seattle Storm's Ashley Robinson Taking Advantage Of Her Opportunity To Shine - Swish Appeal
The eight-year pro has posted career-highs in points and field goals this season and even went for a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double at Chicago on July 19th in her first start of the season. Robinson has been averaging over 21 minutes a night in her last ten games.
"I don't think it's my peak, but I know it's my highlight of my basketball career so far," Robinson reflected on the season. "Last year was great to win a championship, but I said this year I want to contribute on the court and I'm getting that chance. I'm trying to seize the moment and make the best of my opportunity. It's been really rewarding and fun to get to play and I'm glad we're winning too."
There is no team in the WNBA that is more of what one might call a "chemistry team" than the Silver Stars and the Storm will have to find a balanced attack of their own tonight to get another home win.