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The latest news and analysis on college and pro women's basketball.

May 19, 2007 at 10:53 PM

Getting the point

Storm guard Sue Bird wasn’t supposed to play tough guards until she traveled to San Antonio to play Becky Hammon or Sacramento to see nemesis Ticha Penicheiro. But a rookie drafted out of community college ball roughed up the All-Decade player in the first half of the season opener tonight.
Houston changed its starting lineup twice before deciding to play expected starter Ashley Shields off the bench. Nice move, because when she checked in, Bird’s game left. Built strong and quick, Shields drew Bird into two quick fouls, which sent the veteran to the bench for the entire second quarter.
Bird said it was hard to get warmed back up after sitting that long, but once she did, she scored eight points in the critical fourth quarter to help the Storm win. And as for Ashley, the rookie did have 19 points in her debut, but shot 1-for-9 from the field in the second half for six points.
“We were a mess in the beginning defensively,” Bird said. “How I guarded Shields totally changed. She’s a very aggressive player, offensive-minded and strong. She can get in there, take the hit and finish. I kind of saw that she wasn’t as comfortable with the ball in her left hand, so I was completely guarding her to the side, making her go left [in the second half]. We also talked about help [defense] and that was there and she did go left. It prevented them from getting those easy baskets.”
Shields, a 5-foot-10 guard, was drafted eighth overall from Southwest Tennessee Community College.
“It was a big step for me,” Shields said of her debut. “Everybody had a great first half – we hustled, played together and motivated each other. We kind of relaxed in the second half. But as a rookie coming in, I think I played pretty well.”

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