The Storm defeated Los Angeles 61-60 in an exhibition matchup on Sunday and promptly cut centers Ashley Gayle and Lindsay Taylor afterward. The posts performed well in training camp, Taylor improving greatly since her last Storm in Seattle in 2006. But with the arrival of Belgian C Ann Wauters and Polish C Ewelina Kobryn, there wasn’t room.
The roster stands at 14 with 12 currently in camp. Spanish PG Silvia Dominguez continues to have trouble getting cleared for a visa while Australian F Lauren Jackson is training with her national team for the London Games. Storm coach Brian Agler, who’s also general manager, believes he’ll carry 10 players until Jackson returns after the league-wide Olympic break in August.
He said Sunday he’s going to make a decision regarding Dominguez this week. She’s won two consecutive EuroLeague titles, but the Storm would be the 25-year-old’s first WNBA experience. Waiting when every regular-season game counts, especially since Seattle plays 12 on the road before the Olympic hiatus in July, is a big gamble.
“You don’t really know what you never had,” Bird said of Dominguez possibly not playing in the league this summer. Bird played against her Ros Casares team, which also starred Jackson and Wauters. “For me personally, having another point guard on the team, there is value to that. On an 11-man roster, that doesn’t always get done. It would have been nice to see how she would have adjusted, if it would have worked.”
At 5-foot-6, Dominguez is said to use her quickness to compensate for her height.
“She’s one of those point guards where she can do enough damage on offense where teams have to respect her three-point shot,” said Minnesota All-Star Maya Moore, who played with Dominguez in Spain this offseason. “She can get in the paint and dish it off, hit a floater and she’s tough. She’s willing to communicate and make sure everybody knows what they’re supposed to be doing. I enjoyed playing with her. She would compte in this league.”
Agler appeared to evaluate his guards more against LA in preparation for a Plan B. Returnee Allie Quigley saw 19 minutes against the Sparks, shooting 1-for-8 from the field for four points, three assists and three turnovers.
Prairie High alum Ashley Corral (USC) saw 13 minutes late, looking strong with the ball. She was 2-for-4 from the field, scoring the game-winning basket in her total five points one assist and no turnovers.
As a group, Agler said the newcomers “responded better than we did Friday.” The Storm committed 39 turnovers in a 86-60 loss to Tulsa on the road in the exhibition opener.
“You don’t have to talk about it, everyone knows what’s going on,” said Quigley of how the Dominguez situation affects her chances with the Storm. “It’s this unspoken thing where you try not to think about it and play your best every day.”
In addition to Dominguez altering plans, Agler has a possible Svetlana Abrosimova signing in the balance. The Russian star was a reserve for Seattle’s 2010 title team. She can add outside shooting, experience on the wing and can handle the ball for more versatility in the backcourt with Bird, Tanisha Wright, and Katie Smith.
A major issue with Abrosimova, however, is salary. She’s a nine-year veteran and the league minimum is $54,000. The WNBA salary cap is $878,000 and $105,500 is portioned for Jackson, although she’ll only be paid a prorated amount determined by games played once she returns.
“We’re in conversations with her,” Agler said of Abrosimova. “We’re looking at a specific point where we could add her to the roster. And if we have more discussions with her and her agent, we’ll just go from there. It depends on salary and those kind of things. She’s got prior engagements, so she won’t be part of our team the first game. I don’t have the date, yet.”
Agler would like to have the roster set by Wednesday to prepare for Friday’s opener against Los Angeles at KeyArena. The team was given a gift, of sorts, in that LA moved its home opener against Seattle to Tuesday instead of Sunday. That gives the Storm more time to patch it’s scattered roster together before really getting into the WNBA schedule.
So, it’ll be another busy week. I’ll keep you posted with the latest. Until then, here’s a tweaked video I took of Sunday’s exhibition. There were 4,628 in attendance.