Storm needs a win - and help

06/29/02 Sioux Falls Argus Leader

Team can keep slim playoff chances alive

The math nerds at the NIFL office tell us that the Sioux Falls Storm does indeed have a chance of slithering into the playoffs. But it's a paper-thin chance. And, frankly, that's probably the only kind of opportunity the Storm deserves.

Coming off last week's sour 53-46 road setback to the Wyoming Cavalry (record: 3-10), Sioux Falls was a bit surprised to still be in the running for one of the Pacific Conference's four postseason berths. And while a number of things must work out just so for this long shot to come through, its tenuous grip on survival seems to have enlivened the Storm.

"Practice last night was really good," Sioux Falls coach Mike Aldrich said Friday. "Guys were flying around, going hard, having fun. ... When you're focusing so hard on trying to win a game, sometimes that fun factor leaves you a little bit. We maybe lost that a little."

The Storm (7-6) will conclude its regular season tonight, welcoming fellow South Dakota club Rapid City (6-7) to the Arena. The game gets under way at 5:05 p.m. and will be televised live statewide on PAX-TV.

Assuming Sioux Falls beats the Red Dogs, it still needs a boatload of assistance. Its unwilling accomplices are Lincoln, Omaha and Sioux City. If two of those teams lose in both of their final two games, the Storm would grab a wild-card bid.

"We obviously need some help, and our loss out in Wyoming didn't help our cause," Aldrich said. "But, mathematically, we're still alive. So it's kind of one of those deals where if we can go out and play a good ballgame on Saturday night, and if we come away with a win, it's going to be a matter of watching the scoreboard."

While the Storm has cooled after starting the season 4-0, it still hasn't lost its touch at the Arena. Sioux Falls holds a 5-1 home mark entering this game. The other side of that, of course, is a 2-5 away record.

"It's not a matter of us being a terrible road team," Aldrich said. "Really, it comes down to our guys playing with so much energy and enthusiasm when we've got those 4,000 people behind us."

That factor should help the Storm accomplish the most crucial part of the calculation: a win tonight. Otherwise, the math nerds can toss their slide rules in the trash.
 

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