My apologies, I thought we had a stringer (replacement reporter) for Seattle’s final exhibition against Tulsa, but didn’t. So, today’s story is slanted to the home team, which won 90-80. Only family and friends were permitted to watch the game, the “new” franchise wanting to surprise fans with their official debut on Saturday against Minnesota.
Despite Tulsa being together a little longer as a group on the court — Storm stars Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright had minimal practices with their team after play overseas — I didn’t expect Seattle to lose. Well, not in the fashion it did.
The Storm was outrebounded 17-10 on the offensive glass and had 33 total turnovers. You can check out the stats here (and note how Tulsa is referred to as the Detroit Shock).
Tulsa, under first-year coach Nolan Richardson, plays a pressure defense dubbed “40 Minutes of Hell.” But even when the relocated team was the Detroit Shock, the players’ aggressive style gave Seattle problems. The Storm has learned to play with more attitude over the years, but apparently the replanted opponent is still the “Bad Girls.”
Coach Brian Agler had an interesting comment after the game, too.
“We have to get players in condition and get them acclimated to playing together again,” he told Tulsa reporters. “We need to be a little bit more efficient with the basketball and rebounding the ball. Just about every aspect of the game we need to work on and get better at.”
Now Richardson may find that two-a-day training camps don’t work in the WNBA — most coaches nixed them. But the reason isn’t because of poor conditioning. It’s overuse. Players, like Wright, were winning championships overseas days before arriving, making conditioning the one benefit.
Who Agler was speaking of would be interesting to know.
“We have to use this as a learning tool,” said Wright, who had a team-high tying 15 points. “These games are designed to gauge yourself and see where you’re at, and I think that’s what we did. We saw some glaring things that we need to work on and we’re going to try to fix them in the days we have before the opener.”
Seattle returned Sunday evening and resumes practice Monday afternoon, hosting China’s national team in another scrimmage. Agler is expecting the arrival of free agent signees Svetlana Abrosimova and Jana Vesela. If both are ready to practice Monday, another cut has to be made to stay within the 15-player limit.
Agler said earlier this preseason that he wanted to cut the roster to 11 players this week anyway, preparing for Sunday’s season-opener at KeyArena. Unlike some WNBA teams, Seattle has its full roster healthy to start the 2010 campaign.
Here’s the full postgame quote transcript provided by Tulsa:
Tulsa Shock vs. Seattle Storm
“We’ve got a long way to go and a very short time to get there, but I was very proud of the young ladies today because we had an eight, nine, 10 point lead and we gave that up, got behind, but (as a result of) the pressure we tried to exert on the team, (we) came back and put it on them again… Our quickness paid off today.”
“I think we were a little sloppy and messy out there, but that’s going to take time because it’s a new team. We were playing against each other and it’s a whole new system. But I’m glad we just came out with a W, that’s all we wanted and we’re going to pick up things and work together throughout the season. But right now we’re going to take the win.”
“We came together and were high-fiving each other. I think we will be a great team if we keep playing as a team.”
“We have to get players in condition and get them acclimated to playing together again. We need to be a little bit more efficient with the basketball and rebounding the ball. Just about every aspect of the game we need to work on and get better at.”
On being out-rebounded
“I think it’s a little bit of a concern. We’re a solid rebounding team. I don’t think we’ll lead the league in rebounding but I think it starts at the defensive end. We have to limit second chance points.”
On the Shock’s style of basketball
“It takes a lot of energy and they’re playing hard right now. I can see how it can be effective. There are a lot of ways to play the game; you just have to buy in to the system. If they do that they have a chance to have some success and I think they’ve got that right now.”
“We have to use this as a learning tool. These games are designed to gauge yourself and see where you’re at, and I think that’s what we did. We saw some glaring things that we need to work on and we’re going to try to fix them in the days we have before the opener.”
“They’re a great team. It’s not that they’re a new team; they’ve come together well and they’ve been trained well and they believe it and buy in to their system.”