The Jamaican shake is back. Franchise original Simone Edwards rejoined the team Friday after an offseason full of speculation about her retirement. But isn’t that always the case with Edwards?
Well, it has been at least since Storm coach Anne Donovan took over the team in 2003. Edwards, 32, was moved to deep bench and expected to retire years ago because of the influx of talent in the WNBA and her inability to translate her international success to the WNBA. Yet, Edwards continues to find a way onto the Storm roster, either because of her locker-room demeanor or talent in the post that’s better to rely on in a 34-game season than waiting for a rookie to bulk up and adjust.
COURTESY OF SIMONE EDWARDS
I expect Edwards to be on the team again this season, unless former Houston center Tiffani Johnson unseats her. Or her comments in the newspaper Jamaica Gleaner are true. There, Edwards said she wants to participate in the 18th annual Caribbean Basketball Championships (June 12-18) and that injuries (she suffered from a foot injury all last season) could stall her career overseas, which she doesn’t want to give up on yet.
“I was able to stick with it until I won a championship and I’m ready to retire from the WNBA now. I need to think about being able to play longer professionally overseas,” she told the Jamaican paper.
As far as the other post players go, power forward Wendy Palmer is already signed to a two-year contract and could see a lot of minutes playing behind Lauren Jackson because of the Aussie’s shin injuries. Yet, young posts Dalila Eshe, the team’s second-round draft pick, and Lindsay Taylor, a 6-8 free agent pickup who played for Phoenix in 2004, are suffering from nagging injuries that could bug Donovan enough to cut them from training camp.
Eshe, 6-3, suffered a knee injury Friday, missing practice this weekend, and Taylor entered camp with right Achilles tendinitis. Neither have stood out much, aside from Taylor being mobile, with a lot of promise. Donovan said the look of her prospects has her second-guessing keeping 12 players on the roster as she had hoped, now it’s whether she has five quality posts and seven quality perimeter players.
With that in mind, here’s my early depth chart for the Storm after a week of camp:
• Point guard: Sue Bird, Tocarra Williams.
• Shooting guard: Betty Lennox, Tanisha Wright.
• Small forward: Iziane Castro Marques, Barbara Turner.
• Power forward: Lauren Jackson, Wendy Palmer.
• Center: Janell Burse, Simone Edwards.
• Reserve: Shaun Gortman.
Meanwhile, battling for numbers is not Palmer’s style, so there was no surprise when the nine-year veteran didn’t challenge Bird for the No. 10 jersey Palmer wore with San Antonio last season. She actually wore the number only because All-Star Marie Ferdinand had a stronghold on Palmer’s favorite number (3). That’s what Palmer will wear for the Storm this season.
“It stands for the big three in my life,” Palmer said. “God, me and family.”
… but Suzy Batkovic is not
Returning for her sophomore season in the WNBA was a constant topic for Aussie center Suzy Batkovic and Jackson. Batkovic made comments last summer about wanting to start her rookie season. Instead she averaged 6.9 points in an average 15.9 minutes playing behind Janell Burse.
But Batkovic might have returned had the World Championships not been scheduled for September in Brazil. The Australian national team encourages its players to stay home to train, making it a rule for the younger athletes, yet can only control the veterans so much, since the Opals don’t pay their players.
“She’ll be able to work on her game a little bit more than she would over here,” said Jackson of Batkovic. “They [the Opals] need some of their prominent players to stay at home, and that was her choice. It’s the same with everyone. You have to make sacrifices and choices. I chose to come over her and sacrifice the Australian team, but saying I will be at Worlds, that’s why they [the Storm] are managing me now.”