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Women's Hoops

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

September 22, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Mailbag: Can Storm players document their bruises?

SeattleStorm.pngI’m guessing Storm F Le’coe Willingham and myself are the only people in Seattle gearing up for the Western Conference finals Thursday on ESPN2. You know my reason and Willingham shared that Minnesota G Alexis Hornbuckle is her partner, wedding bells coming, so she’s only still paying attention to the WNBA playoffs to support her.
Otherwise talk from Storm fans and players since I returned from getting married has been about the physical opening-round series loss to Phoenix. The Mercury face the Lynx at 6 p.m. PST.
From the Twitter file, Vicki595 asked “Can you ask the Storm players to document their bruises? Because they were mugged the entire series.” Only I didn’t need to ask, each nick, scrap, and bruise was apparent as soon as the players sat down for final interviews on Wednesday.
F Lauren Jackson was the worse. Both elbows were a shade of purple that would even make University of Washington fans cringe. PG Sue Bird had a bruise shaped like an island on her right forearm. Willingham said she was playing with a bruised left rib and G Katie Smith’s head was marked up, but was the only player to call it “fun.”
“My knees are amazing, too, they’re like purple and blue,” said Jackson, who declared herself 60 percent healthy during the series due to June hip surgery. She said if the Storm had advanced, she mostly likely would have missed Game 1. “It was interesting. It was physical and everybody knew I had some sort of pain. You couldn’t sort of shake anyone off you. It was just a constant and I don’t think I’ve ever played like that.”
Surprisingly to some onlookers and commentators, there were no public fines to either team for behavior toward officials or body shots to each other. Yes, both sides were guilty in delivering blows. “You have to match it, you can’t get beat up,” said Willingham, who won a title with Phoenix in 2009.
The most volatile player was Mercury G Diana Taurasi, who cursed to the KeyArena rafters four times as she fouled out with 6:40 remaining in the fourth quarter. None of the Storm players were surprised by her behavior, however. Jackson even added that she has a potty mouth, but now that she’s 30, her mother has told her to tone it down.
“Diana has a potty mouth, that’s a fact,” said Storm C Ashley Robinson, who’s known Taurasi since AAU ball. “She needs to stop cussing like that, she’s almost 30. But she’s exactly how she is on the court (off it), but she’s not mean, she’s not nasty.
“I think it’s hard for people to know that she really means the best. She competes hard. I swear it’s like Tourettes, she gets caught up in the moment and before you know it she’s cussing. But it’s also why a lot of people love her. You probably don’t want your kids cussing but you want your kids competing as hard as she competes.”
Smith added that the Taurasi factor brings entertainment and characters to the league, which is a positive. Yet Smith, a 13-year veteran, added she’s never seen a player get away with talking to officials the way Taurasi has done since entering the WNBA in 2004 as the first overall pick to Phoenix.
“I told her she got extra hits in and she’s like, ‘Naww,'” said Smith of a conversation she had with Taurasi during the pivotal Game 3. “I have a lot of respect for D, she’s a good, good friend.
“She gets away with the (cursing), so there’s nothing we can do about it. We all handle ourselves differently. The refs don’t say anything…I think if you do it enough, you can’t ‘T’ her up for everything. The same way with fouls. You can’t call them all.”
It’ll be interesting to see if the physical play and cursing continue against Minnesota on Thursday. or maybe it’s just something Phoenix saves for Seattle.
Anyway, in case you missed it, here’s where the Storm plans to spend its offseason.

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