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October 7, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Storm 2013 Exit Interviews: Point guard Temeka Johnson enters the fold


Storm PG Temeka Johnson (2)
PHOTO: Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times

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 PG Temeka Johnson, who took on running the offense as franchise leader PG Sue Bird (knee) and go-to C Lauren Jackson (hamstring) rehabilitated offseason surgeries. Johnson, 31, quickly grew comfortable with coach Brian Agler’s system as the season progressed. She teamed with G Tanisha Wright in the backcourt to average 10.2 points and 4 assists, shooting a career-best 87.5 percent from the foul line. Johnson missed two games as a precautionary measure to rest her right ankle.

Seattle Times: Everyone wants to win, but you were one of the ones happy about the season, right?

Johnson: Absolutely. The way we ended the season was great. We left our heart out there. We competed. We played to our potential, if not better. We just gave it everything we had and I couldn’t have asked to be part of a better group or end with a better group of women. This season, everybody expected us to do nothing. We believed in ourselves, so we’re not surprised by anything.

Q: Did anyone in particular improve as the season went along?

Johnson: It was a group effort, to be honest with you. If I had to say anybody, Tanisha did a very good job. Camille and Tina – all of them, it was a group effort in relying on one another and learning from one another and doing the best that you can for the group of women that you were amongst.

Q: You were eager to join the organization, signing a multiyear contract. What did you think of the first season in Seattle?

Johnson: I didn’t really have any expectations for what the season would be like or what not, I just know it turned out to be very, very good. I learned a lot and enjoyed playing basketball. I had fun and enjoyed every last one of my teammates and am looking forward to (next season).

Q: Based on the fact that Sue has been the Storm’s starting point guard since she was drafted in 2002, are you expecting to play off the bench when she returns healthy in 2014?

Johnson: It’s not something I’m concerned about or thinking about. I can’t be concerned with that, she is who she is. It’s self-explanatory so, whatever happens, happens. The most important goal is holding up a championship at the end. However that has to happen, that’s what it has to be. I’m coming in as a competitor. That’s it.

Q: Are you returning to play for Dynamo Kursk in Russia?

Johnson: No, I’m playing for Nadezhda. I can get better as a basketball there and my financial situation is better.

Q: What was it like to play with F Tina Thompson during her final WNBA season?

Johnson: I’m just happy I had an opportunity to be on the floor with her on the same side and not against her. I learned a lot from her, not just about basketball, but being a woman period. She’s a great teammate and a great person and I’m glad I was able to experience this experience with her.

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