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September 10, 2008 at 2:47 PM

Off Day

It’s Wednesday, which means the Storm should be announcing F Kristen O’Neill has been signed to a record seventh seven-day contract this week. She was signed to her sixth on Friday. O’Neill, the former Washington standout, played about three minutes in the loss to the Monarchs on Tuesday due to foul trouble and a depleted lineup with starters Swin Cash (back), Sheryl Swoopes (concussion) and Lauren Jackson (ankle) nursing injuries.
At first I understood the reason behind coach Brian Agler not signing O’Neill for the remainder of the season. Not fully knowing, but believing, how the others would respond without Jackson, you want to leave your options open. But after the team showed it was ready to be a championship-style bench, O’Neill should have just been given a full contract for the remainder of the season. It’s a moot point now, but last night’s performance is a perfect example. She was that peg you could just put in that knew where the pass was supposed to go, where the screen was to be made, and that rebounding is important. O’Neill missed her one three-point attempt, but grabbed a rebound, although her one foul on G Ticha Penicheiro to open the fourth quarter could have led to a three-point play had Penicheiro made the ensuing free throw.
Anyway, O’Neill has proven to be a good safety net for the Storm.
The team traveled home today and did not practice. They’ve actually cut back on practice a lot lately, needing to rest the weary bodies as the postseason nears. I’m told Jackson will be back in Seattle today, after undergoing minor ankle surgery in Australia on Aug. 28. She is expected to attend practice on Thursday, but is not expected to play until the WNBA Finals — should the Storm advance.
It’ll be interesting to get hear her thoughts on the league since she’s been a spectator for about a month. As poster Laura mentioned, the Storm isn’t getting much national attention despite all they’ve achieved with an old roster. They were pegged to win a championship, not to place last in the West like Sacramento. But remember Los Angeles was all the rave by GMs and coaches across the league.
Well, my pick for Coach of the Year is going to be Agler for his in-season moves (Camille Little) and dramatic changes in the offense, getting the Storm to finally play like the dominate team you would expect with names like Jackson and Sue Bird on the same roster. But I’m back to San Antonio G Becky Hammon for MVP because they’ll probably win the West. The MVP has to come from the West because it is crazy competitive this season.
Indiana F Ebony Hoffman will end up somewhere on my ballot, just don’t know where. And I’m still waffling on the rest, especially Defensive Player of the Year. I could easily go with Yolanda Griffith on that one because I don’t think the Storm plays the type of defense it does without her sideline coaching and example on the court. And defense definitely propelled the team to a franchise-best 21 wins.
I know you’ll kill me for not leaning toward Bird. Please remember the season isn’t over and I never fill out the ballot without all of the games being logged. But Hammon continues to do whatever it takes to keep the Silver Stars ahead and they won the regular-season series 2-1 against the Storm. Something has to tip the vote one way or the other and I’m going with standings since both teams are loaded with talent. I know Bird’s talented teammates often went MIA, but when you go back to when the Storm was fresh with a full roster, Hammon’s team won.
Oh, and Candace Parker is my pick for Rookie of the Year, as if there was any doubt there.



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