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January 7, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Storm re-signs Tanisha Wright; Kim Beck and UW’s Kristen O’Neill invited to camp

TWright.jpgAs expected, the Storm re-signed SG Tanisha Wright (pictured right), which keeps a solid-working backcourt intact with Wright flipping between shooting and running the offense with PG Sue Bird.
In addition, the team invited PG Kim Beck and Washington standout G/F Kristen O’Neill back to training camp. Once again they have to battle for slots on the final roster, but hopefully this go-round the experience of already being in coach Brian Agler’s system helps them. There are some tough guards expected to enter the draft — one UW fans saw in Kansas State senior Shalee Lehning, aka Ms. Triple-Double.
Agler said signing a back-up PG would be a priority and he’d like to have a veteran, so expect him to still be in the running for names like former Storm Tully Bevilaqua, who helped the organization win their championship in 2004. The coach is also looking at numerous posts other than prized free agent PF Lauren Jackson — in case that re-signing doesn’t work.
Agler won’t name the other free agents he’s talking to, but C Michelle Snow and PF Tina Thompson are players out there, although Thompson is expected to retire. Thompson is really good friends with Storm F Swin Cash, so it’s not far-fetched that she’d play here. That might put a crimp in Sheryl Swoopes returning, however, which may be why the guard has changed her tune about being back, according to some fans who spoke with her recently. Swoopes still isn’t really talking to media, choosing to focus on being a mom and coaching a Seattle-area youth basketball team.
But the news-of-the day — re-signing Tanisha Wright — is great for the Storm. She’s really improved her game and confidence while being in Seattle. She’s currently playing in France and it’ll be exciting to see the tweaks in her game that make her even better this summer.
Other news to look for from the Storm is the new KeyArena deal. It was supposed to be made in December, but officials were out-of-town for the holidays. An announcement is expected around Jan. 13.
The Storm owners did look at the Comcast Arena in Everett last fall, but opted to re-up with KeyArena for a reported 10-year deal.
“We’d still love to have them for an exhibition game in the future or something,” said Kim Bedier, Comcast Arena general manager. “I keep bugging them every year.”
Anyway, here’s the press release from the team regarding Wright, Beck, and O’Neill:
SEATTLE, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009 — Seattle Storm head coach and director of player personnel Brian Agler announced today the re-signing of 5-11 guard Tanisha Wright. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Wright started 14 games for the Storm during the 2008 season, averaging 7.9 points and 2.5 assists per game. She scored a season-high 17 points twice, and dished a career-high 6 assists three times. Wright owns career averages of 4.8 points, 1.8 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game over four seasons in Seattle.
“We are extremely excited to have re-signed Tanisha as it is great to know that she will be with the Storm for the next few years,” Agler said. “Tanisha is a great competitor and I know she will help us in building a championship-caliber team.
“We value high-character individuals and Tanisha has an exceptional character and work ethic. She is a great representative of the Seattle Storm organization whether in the local community or abroad. It is a great day for our franchise knowing that Tanisha is a part of our future.”
The former Penn State player was drafted by the Seattle Storm in the first round (12th overall selection) of the 2005 WNBA Draft.
“Seattle has been my home for four seasons and I feel truly blessed and excited for the opportunity to continue my career there with such amazing teammates, coaches and of course, the fans,” Wright said. “I look forward to returning in the spring to prepare for the Storm’s 10th Anniversary season.”
Additionally, guards Kimberly Beck and Kristen O’Neill have been added to the Storm’s 2009 training camp roster. Beck, selected by the Storm with the 36th pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft, played in 15 games early in the season and was later released from the team’s roster on June 28, 2008. The Storm re-signed Beck for the remainder of the season on Sept. 11, 2008.
O’Neill played in two preseason games for the Storm in 2008, averaging 2.5 points and 1.0 rebound per game; she also played in 11 regular-season games for the Storm in 2008. O’Neill played in Spain during the 2007 WNBA season. The 6-1 player from Edmonds, Wash., is fifth all-time at the University of Washington in three-point field goals made.
The Seattle Storm will open its 2009 WNBA schedule on Saturday, June 6 in a 1 p.m. matchup versus the Monarchs at ARCO Arena in Sacramento. The Storm will return to Seattle on Sunday, June 7 for its first KeyArena home game at 6 p.m., also against the Monarchs. The team’s June 7, 2009 home opener falls on the 10th anniversary of the city of Seattle being selected as one of four cities to receive a WNBA expansion team in 2000.
Storm season tickets starting at just $180, group tickets, and deposits for 10th Anniversary ticket packages are available now by calling 206-217-WNBA. For additional information about the Seattle Storm, please log on to storm.wnba.com.

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