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May 24, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Storm heads to LA for exhibition opener

StormWheeties.jpgDay 10 of Storm training-camp concluded with a rare halfcourt shooting game. Normally the playful shooting for $50-100 bucks is saved for the regular season, but after telling his players they executed well in the morning session, coach Brian Agler decided to put some money on the line for a little fun.
Didn’t catch who won because interviewing also began at the same time. Rookie C Krystal Thomas opted out of the game as she’s also done in college at Duke, sticking to a traditional post range.
“I always did some layups and sat down,” she said of her college days.
Thomas shagged rebounds for newcomer Sharnee Zoll after speaking with media. Both are expected to get plenty of playing time when Seattle plays Los Angeles on Wednesday at noon in Carson.
Agler is going to rest All-Star guards Sue Bird and Katie Smith for the game, starting three-time MVP Lauren Jackson, All-Star Swin Cash, Tanisha Wright, Le’coe Willingham, and Camille Little.
“We want to get them at 100 percent,” said Agler of why Bird and Smith aren’t playing. The players have proclaimed themselves healthy prior to entering camp, but will be relied upon a lot during the season, so Agler is trying not to wear them out.
“I don’t know how much we’ll play (the other returnees) in terms of the number of minutes, but we may play them in a long stretch. Like majority of the first half.”
Most of the players are ready to play someone else other than the male practice squad and each other. Willingham and Wright played together in Israel, winning a league and EuroCup title, and developing a smooth two-man game.
Getting time to stretch that out within Agler’s system could be shown in LA along with Willingham’s improved play with the Storm. She dropped weight entering the second and final year of her contract.
“It’s easier when you have a year under your belt in the Agler system,” Willingham said. “Last year it took me a little time to get adapted to how things where. It took me a few games. It’s really good that I’m here for the whole camp and that I have a year under my belt. I feel like I’m just flowing right into everything.”
But make no mistake about lineups and rotations. Agler is still walking his line of getting the team ready to defend the 2010 championship and evaluating talent for his final roster. He’ll probably integrate rookies in with new players to see if there’s much on-court chemistry and could finish the game with the newcomers.
“I’m really excited to see my family, work hard and play hard whenever I get in the game,” said former Arizona star Ify Ibekwe, who’s a native Californian expecting her entire family and former coaches in attendance.

The Storm’s Wheaties box, commemorating the 2010 WNBA championship, is out. The above photo was released by the team via Twitter on Tuesday.



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