There’s not much faith in the Storm sans All-Stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird – if you believe the Seattle Times’ unscientific poll. Both are out this season due to injuries, the first since 2002 that at least one wasn’t in the Storm’s lineup. More than 60 percent of a small sampling of readers voted the team will have a losing season and miss the playoffs for the first time in a WNBA-record nine seasons.
No doubt the Western Conference will be tough with the addition of No. 1 overall draft pick Brittney Griner, who I hear has already found a reason to dunk five times in the opening day of Phoenix’s training camp practice Monday. But the Storm having a losing season and no trip to the postseason where four of the six teams in the conference advance anyway? Ouch. And some must have forgotten a losing record hasn’t kept a team from advancing to the postseason in the past. Seattle (16-18) and New York (15-19) achieved the dubious feat in 2012, losing in the first-round.
Vote your early thoughts below:
It’s too early to call the season for any team. The Storm roster full of fresh faces hasn’t even started serious drills on the organization’s patent defense. We’ll see after exhibition play what the season could hold.
KNEE STORY: All-Defensive team selection Tanisha Wright didn’t play overseas this offseason due to chronic pain in both knees. She spent about six months off the court then slowly began conditioning to get in camp-shape. Sunday’s practice was the first time she played ball at full-speed.
Wright, the Storm’s 2005 first-round draft pick, has participated in about half of the two-hour sessions. She rode a stationary bike the remainder of practice and believes that will be the norm until the season starts.
“Thank God I stopped at the right time,” Wright said after Sunday’s practice. “It’s a good happy medium for me. Being able to even get up and down the court after not doing anything for however many months it’s been, that in itself is a good accomplishment for me. I was tired, though.”
ONE MORE: PG Temeka Johnson joined practice on Monday. She was signed as a free agent to replace Bird in the starting lineup. Johnson, a nine-year veteran, played in Tulsa last season and won a WNBA title in Phoenix in 2009.
“Anytime you get a consistent, veteran point guard (in camp), things run a lot smoother,” Storm coach and general manager Brian Agler said.
Undrafted rookie Sam MacKay (Dayton) is expected Wednesday, meaning Agler will have to make a cut to stay at the 15-player limit for camp. Bird counts against the regular-season roster limit of 11 because she’s rehabilitating through the Storm’s athletic staff.
AUSSIE BOUND?: The rumors are true, Agler was contacted recently about the open position to coach the Australian women’s national team, the Opals. The spot is vacant since Carrie Graf, a former Storm assistant coach, completed her four-year term and opted to focus on coaching the Canberra Capitals.
Agler, 54, said it was a simple phone conversation and he hasn’t been contacted since. He mentioned being interested in the job, however, and hoped possibly guiding the team to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio wouldn’t cause a conflict with the Storm.
For the first time in more than a decade, the Australian Olympic Committee will make the head coaching position a full-time role. The Opals, led by Jackson, won the bronze medal in the London Games.
The selection panel for the Opals position includes Jan Stirling, Rachael Sporn, Luc Longley, Andrew Gaze, and Ian Rutledge.
GRADUATED ROOK: Former Kentwood HS star Lindsey Moore graduated from Nebraska with a degree in communications studies on Saturday and joined Minnesota’s camp the following day. She was selected with the 12th overall pick by the Lynx.