Series note: The Storm conducted exit interviews on Thursday, giving me the opportunity to ask players everything from views on their season to fashion and hair tips. I’ll post conversations from each in the upcoming days. Centers Ewelina Kobryn (Poland) and Ann Wauters (Belgium) won’t be featured due to their quick return home. Here’s a conversation with shooting guard Tanisha Wright, who withstood knee injuries to average 7.9 points and 4.4 assists in 32 games this season. She’s regarded as the heart of the team and its top defender.
Q: What are your offseason plans?
Tanisha Wright: I’m going to take some time off. Let my body rest and heal. I didn’t have the healthiest season this year. It really effected me, so now it’s time to let my body do the talking.
Q: Is it both knees?
Wright: It’s mostly my left one. My right knee (was a problem) overseas and when I got back, it was mostly my left one. I hope (rest) is the situation. We’ll see when I start working out again, whether it can handle it from the rest. I’m going to Charlotte and I’ll probably be up at school (Penn State), too. I’m most comfortable (rehabbing) up at school, but since I live in Charlotte, I’ll find somebody to do the rehab, physical training and that stuff, too. I’m not in a rush right now. My original plan was to go overseas. But with the way I’m feeling at the end of the season, I don’t know how much I’m going to stick to that plan. Right now, I’m not stressing about anything. I’m just going to let it play out.
Q: You didn’t play overseason after your rookie season in 2005, but is there a concern about staying in WNBA shape this time? Getting fat and happy?
Wright: I’m not too concerned. I didn’t go overseas my first year, either, I went back to school my first year to finish my degree. My concern is when I do start back up, how my knee will handle it from taking the time off. Obviously I’ll gradually get back into it. I may not do on-court, basketball stuff but I’ll stay in the weight room, probably do more pool workouts. A lot of non weight-bearing activities to stay in shape, for sure. I’ll probably take a month off. I won’t get fat, but I truly will be happy.
Q: Do you feel confident in making it back healthy next season?
Wright: For sure. If I’m going to take the time off, I’ll definitely be back. It’ll just be a matter of what (happens) once the season starts. It’s just the rigor of the seasons and playing overseas that does it. It’s a lot of wear and tear and sometimes you need to take a break and relax. I’ll definitely be back. It’s just a matter of once the season starts, how much I can take and handle.
Q: This season has been an interesting one, how do you look back even though it’s early?
Wright: It was just a weird year. I don’t know how another way to describe it. It was just very weird and nothing ever came together because we never were together from the beginning. It wasn’t until the very end where we really got together and I think toward the end we started to play better, for sure. We got into sync more and we started to see, OK, this is what I’m used to seeing. This is Storm basketball. So, yeah, it was a very weird season. Up and down. Something we’re not used to as an organization — at least since I’ve been here for the past eight years. But through a season like this, you learn so much about yourself, your organization, how much you can go through, how much you can take. how much you can bend without breaking. I think that’s a valuable lesson and one you can’t learn or we haven’t been able to learn or go through or process in the previous years. That being said, it’s a necessary lesson for us to grow to get better, to get stronger and to come back bigger, better, badder next year.
Q: Was this as far as you could bend without breaking?
Wright: I think so. Just because, our previous years…we’ve been so successful here. Fans here have been spoiled. The organization, the city has really been spoiled for seven, eight, nine, 10 years. So, like I said, it’s just been a weird year and no one is used to it. But I think you need to go through this kind of adversity. You’ll never know how far you can go and how much you can take and push through. We pushed through a lot this year. We’ll be better next year because of it.
Q: With Camille Little, she was one of the players that seemed to improve, how much did you see her grow?
Wright: I thought Camille was tremendous this year. If I’m being completely honest, I thought she was a constant. She might have been the constant on the team this year. You knew what you were going to get from Camille every night. The rest of us were very up and down, roller coast -ery. But with her, she was very constant this year and that’s an attribute as to how she approached this year — how she came in and was very ready, very focused. I just expect Camille to continue to get better as a player that’s very good in this league. Can for sure be an All-Star in this league. On any other team, she would have more opportunity. With us, you know, we don’t need her to do tons because we have Lauren (Jackson) and we have Sue (Bird) and we had Swin (Cash) in the past. So, we never needed her (Camille) to do so much. But this year you saw she’s very capable of stepping in and being that person.
Q: Is there a pride that you were able to handle the adversity?
Wright: I think so, for sure. We don’t rest on moral victories or anything like that. But, like I said, this year and the injuries that we occurred and not having people and then having people in and out, it’s hard to get a rhythm when you’re in a situation like that. At the end of the season, with the way we finished this past series, I really think that we can hold our heads high and be proud of the way we fought. No one expected us — maybe people here in this group — but outside of this group, everybody probably figured we’d get blown out. Get smashed. That just wasn’t the case. And we knew that. We knew how capable we were. It was just a matter of putting it together at the right time. We definitely did that.
Q: Given the injuries Lauren had and has had over the years, do you think she’s near needing to hang it up?
Wright: Lauren? What kind of question is that? She’s in her prime. Absolute prime. It’s tough for anybody…she played for the Olympics. That is a toll. Mental. I think people forget, this game is mental as much as it is physical. So, even before (playing in) Spain, to go from one team, one system, one group of people and be with them for a few months and even the course of trying to prepare for that, it was her focus for the past year. If we’re being honest, the Olympics was her focus. To be able to transition from that to now this, in the middle of this season and we’re already having the weird up and down season — to be able to intertwine that, it really takes a toll. I expect Lauren to come back and be the Lauren Jackson that she normally is plain and simple. I mean, she is one of the best, if not the best players in the world and she’s been that for the past few years. I don’t expect that to change whatsoever. She’s too dominate. And she’s too much of a competitor.