Storm coach Brian Agler announced his much anticipated roster Friday and many were surprised to see a different Ashley on the final list of 11 players. Agler, who’s also director of player personnel, retained six-year veteran Ashley Robinson (pictured right by the WNBA) and cut Ashley Walker, the team’s 2009 first-round draft pick. Training camp invitees Aja Parham and Loree Moore were also waived.
Walker was limited to 13 games her rookie season due to a toe injury. Adding to her struggles was the need to transition from power forward to the wing position. She did so, playing overseas in Israel. But despite an impressive camp, she couldn’t retain her spot against unproven international newcomers Abby Bishop (Australia) and Jana Vesela (Czech Republic), and vet Svetlana Abrosimova (Russia).
All were more versatile and possesses a bankable three-pointer — a need for the Storm. Plus Vesela and Abrosimova have more experience, the latter playing eight seasons in the WNBA before taking 2009 off to rest.
Yet message boards, including this one, howled for Robinson to be cut. True, she’s 6 foot 4 and the team’s only real center. Yeah, she can shot block. Of course she’s incredible in the community with her winning personality and great looks.
But fans and media (OK, it’s just me) want out of the opening round of the postseason and didn’t want a glorified cheerleader clogging up space, right? Just look at her career stats!
The few times I do have the opportunity to view practice, I can tell you “cheerleader” or “chemistry glue” isn’t a fair description of Robinson. She hasn’t shown it in games, but she does do more to help posts Lauren Jackson and Camille Little prepare for matchups than Walker. Especially on the road when Seattle can’t practice against its male squad.
And Robinson has had her moments. KeyArena game-ops doesn’t have “Smack that” in the rotation for nothing.
So, we made our predictions and were wrong. Let’s take a collective big gulp and move on because this remains the best bench in Storm history and opening night is Sunday at KeyArena.
The focus now needs to shift to you know who.
Here’s your 2010 final roster:
25 Svetlana Abrosimova F 6-2 164 7/9/80 Connecticut ’01 8
10 Sue Bird G 5-9 144 10/16/80 Connecticut ’02 8
5 Abby Bishop F/C 6-3 191 11/29/88 Australia R
2 Swin Cash F 6-1 170 9/22/79 Connecticut ’02 8
15 Lauren Jackson F/C 6-5 196 5/11/81 Australia 9
40 Alison Lacey G 6-0 155 12/26/87 Iowa State ’10 R
20 Camille Little F 6-2 188 1/18/85 UNC ’07 3
43 Ashley Robinson C 6-4 189 8/12/82 Tennessee ’04 6
7 Jana Vesela F 6-3 195 12/31/83 Czech Republic R
34 Le’coe Willingham F 6-0 208 2/10/81 Auburn ’04 6
30 Tanisha Wright G 5-11 168 11/29/83 Penn State ’05 5