One sign a season is spiraling downward is sudden changes in lineups and rotation patterns. Storm coach Brian Agler did that Tuesday in a matchup against Phoenix at KeyArena. He swapped F Alysha Clark for F Shekinna Stricklen in the starting lineup, the latter’s first start of the season.
“We wanted to give Strick an opportunity to start and see how she’d do,” Agler said. Stricklen was 3 of 11 from the field, missing four of her five three-point attempts, for eight points and three rebounds in 25 minutes. Tuesday was also Stricklen’s first game since straining her neck in a road loss against Minnesota on July 13.
“She (Shekinna) really hasn’t done a whole lot since her injury,” Agler continued. “But I think we’ll stick with that (starting lineup) for the time being.”
A passerby of KeyArena’s press row also noticed G Noelle Quinn didn’t play in the 89-71 loss to Phoenix and wondered why. I had the same query given Quinn, a utility player, is a solid passer who’s only turned the ball over twice in her past six games off the bench.
Seattle gave up 31 points on a season-high 22 turnovers against Phoenix.
Quinn playing may not have stopped the Mercury (19-3) from picking the Storm’s offense apart. But for her not to log a minute with nothing else working was peculiar. Quinn is averaging 16.2 minutes this season.
“It’s just really hard to get some people quality playing time,” said Agler, who leaned on Clark and F Jenna O’Hea as the main reserves Tuesday. They combined for two points, five turnovers and 28 minutes.
Backup PG Temeka Johnson only played six minutes. She hasn’t been shooting the ball well lately, but has committed just four turnovers in an averaged 16.4 minutes her past five games.
“When you have a number of players who can play, we just made a decision to give some others quality playing time,” Agler said. “It’s nothing other than that. She (Noelle) has been practicing well. She’s a good player but we decided to give some other people some time.”
Seattle is 2-5 in the month of July, only clinging to a possible playoff berth because fourth-place Los Angeles (10-13) is equally inconsistent and last-place Tulsa (8-16) doesn’t know how to close out wins.
The Storm (9-16) hosts New York (9-13) on Thursday at KeyArena. The matchup will air on LiveWell and the WNBA’s LiveAccess at 7pm PT.
New York has won its past two games and recently picked up former Storm All-Star Swin Cash via trade with Atlanta.