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Women's Hoops

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

June 30, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Mailbag: Were Bird and Jackson really benched?

Agler.jpgMVP Candace Parker tweets she’s back at practice. Minnesota is rebounding from losing star/leader Seimone Augustus, but what’s the most popular question here? Whether stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson were benched on Sunday. Oh, and one call for Storm coach Brian Agler’s head.
Won’t touch on the latter, that’s just ridiculous after one loss. Not even if that loss was by 27-points. It was one game and the Storm is tied for first in the West — enough said.
As for the benching, yes they were. I watched and was struck by the call for a split second. Seattle had no momentum — going scoreless the final 1:47 — and was down 22-points at the end of the third quarter.
In 2007, Seattle was in LA and about 18-points separated the teams and then-coach Anne Donovan kept Jackson in the game. I remember asking why and if she was concerned about Jackson’s health. Unfortunately, Jackson ended up getting injured later that week. I harped of overuse.
Ironically, Agler (pictured right by the WNBA) asked the same question of me, saying his staff made a judgment call to go the conservative route, and wouldn’t I grill him, too, if someone ended up injured when the team was down big? Yep, I would.
“There’s logic both ways,” said Agler, who also didn’t play Swin Cash, Tanisha Wright, or Camille Little, yanking Janell Burse early in the fourth. “Obviously you don’t want to portray the bad message of we’re just giving up because the people that played didn’t play that way. But we also have to take into consideration a lot of things — do we keep playing these key people or do we change gears a little bit and give some other people some playin time knowing that was our ninth game of the year? We decided to take the more conservative route.”
Reserves Katie Gearlds, Shannon Johnson, Suzy Batkovic-Brown, Ashley Walker, and Ashley Robinson were outscored 15-10 by a mesh of the Sparks’ stars in the fourth quarter. The spin is positive exposure for Walker, a rookie who’s playing a new position at small forward, and Batkovic-Brown, who hasn’t been with the team a month.
Plus, after Wednesday’s game in Phoenix, the Storm will have six days before it plays a stretch of four home matchups. Agler may give the team two consecutive days off, one being a travel day, and that could do wonders as it approaches the thick of the season.
“It’s been a long time since our team has had just one complete day off,” Agler said.

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