Series Note: The Storm was swept in the opening-round of the WNBA playoffs by Minnesota on Sept. 22. Game 2 was played at the Tacoma Dome due to a scheduling conflict at the team’s KeyArena court by one of its sponsors, Microsoft. Minnesota went on to win the Western Conference championship as Seattle players dispersed to offseason destinations the following days after holding exit interviews with coaches and the media. This series will feature conversations from the 11-player roster.
The WNBA offseason won’t feel as long given news the league should generate on the business side. The league’s collective-bargaining agreement expired Sept. 30 and a new agreement will need to be in place before free-agency can open as tentatively slated in February. The 2014 WNBA schedule likely will be moved up to accommodate for the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Turkey from Sept. 27-Oct. 5.
Storm-wise, the team could remain the same in 2014. Here’s a conversation with F Camille Little, who took on the co-captain role as franchise leaders PG Sue Bird (knee) and C Lauren Jackson (hamstring) rehabilitated offseason surgeries. Little, 28, had a slight dip in numbers while increasing her minutes to 30.2. She teamed with F Tina Thompson inside to average 10.9 points and 4.7 rebounds. But Little shot 28.7 percent from three-point range after an improved 33.3 percent in 2012.
Seattle Times: How do you wrap up the season?
Little: It’s weird, bittersweet. Obviously I really had a great time with this group of women. It was a special team and I’m sure Brian (Agler) and the coaches would say that. It was a special group and I’m really happy, just glad that we held to our standards and fought the entire season. We all know a lot of people didn’t count on us making it to the postseason, let alone give Minnesota the run that we did. So, I’m just happy we played well and played hard. You know, 10 consecutive years making the playoffs — doing it without Sue and Lauren this year, finishing at .500. It was a tough season all the way around, but we did a great job of using what we had to our advantage. We were a tough team to play against.
Q: Did you personally reach your potential?
Little: Well, somewhat. There were some times where I wish I could have done more. My thing is always trying to be consistent. There were some games where I played really, really well. Then there were some games where I felt I wasn’t…I didn’t do my part or I wasn’t that player I wanted to be. Especially with Tanisha (Wright) and Tina and I trying to make sure we were the core of the team. I felt like the three of us should always have been significant parts of each game and sometimes I didn’t feel like I did that. That’s unfortunate to know there were games where I didn’t play as well as I wanted to, but that’s something I can learn from and build on. And hopefully next season I’ll be able to do that more consistently.
Q: When you go to play for Kayseri Kaski spor in Turkey, is there something specific that you’re going to try to work on?
Little: It’s hard. I’m still trying to figure out what that would be. I’m always going to play hard. I’m always going to try to continue to get my outside shooting better. I want to push myself to be on attack-mode for the entire game. Someone that you have to guard the whole game. I don’t think that I did that this year. There were times that I would do that, but it wasn’t for the length of the game. I want to make sure I’m a threat on the floor always. Especially with Sue and Lauren coming back, that would be a great asset for our team to make sure that you have to guard every single person on the floor. With Lauren and Sue and T and Noe (Noelle Quinn) Meek (Temeka Johnson), where going to have a great team so I want to make sure I’m doing my job every time I’m on the floor.
Q: Can you explain this chemistry y’all found this season?
Little: I don’t think there was something wrong in the past. We know Brian (Agler) well enough to know what his system is and the type of players that he needs. And I think (this roster) is the best job he’s done with bringing in the type of athletes that he wants. That plays well for him in the scheme of things or the way he wants to play. The tenacity that he wants to play with defensively, you know, he wants to be a team that’s all over the place. This is the best group so far. We were a force to be reckoned with defensively. It was hard to score against us in the halfcourt. I think he did a really, really good job in bringing in those type of players this year.
Q: Will you watch the rest of the postseason? Minnesota did win advance to the WNBA Finals as the Western Conference champion.
Little: A little bit, not really. I’ll be checking in on (former North Carolina teammates) Ivory (Latta) and Erlana (Larkins). But it’s kinda hard to watch. I feel like we should be on a plane today (for Game 3 in Minnesota). It is what it is. You’ve gotta keep moving. So, I’ll checkup on those two and hopefully they’ll advance (Latta’s Washington was eliminated by Atlanta in the opening-round while Larkin’s Indiana lost to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference Finals). But for the most part, I won’t watch too much.
Q: What was the mood after Game 2, Tina’s final WNBA game?
Little: Tina is our friend and obviously I won’t be playing with her anymore but we’ll be in each other’s lives. I’m going to see her and talk to her on a regular biases. Her main thing last night was to not say goodbye because, ‘it’s not the last time you’re going to see me.’ So, I tried not to get too emotional. Playing with her, that was a great honor playing beside her. But I’ll see her. She’s not leaving my life, so I’m not going to get too emotional about it.
Q: What do think about the pending CBA talks?
Little: I can’t talk much about it, that’s what our union’s for. Hopefully all of the negotiations get done soon. I have faith in the league and I have faith in our (negotiating) team, so I hope they come to an agreement sooner than later.