Series Note: The Storm did not advance to the postseason for the first time since 2003. The team held its exit interviews Aug. 18. This series will feature conversations from the 12-player roster. PG Sue Bird’s conversation was a feature used in the newspaper.
In a new move, the WNBA held the draft lottery four days after Seattle lost its regular-season finale to Phoenix. Seattle (12-22) and Tulsa (12-22) had the best chance to win the No. 1 overall pick, the Storm hitting the lucky number. The draft should be held in April 2015.
In addition to a top-tier pick, should Storm coach and GM Brian Agler choose to keep it, the team could look different. Alisha Valavanis, the organization’s new chief operating officer, is taking a holistic approach to moving the franchise into the next 15 years and that includes on the court.
Here’s a conversation with C Angel Robinson, who was signed as a developmental player. Robinson, 27, was a rookie who actually began her pro career overseas due to knee injuries she couldn’t overcome to stick on previous WNBA rosters. By the end of the 2014 Storm season, the 6-foot-5 post was averaging her most minutes (10.8) and still shooting well from the field in five games in August.
Robinson will return to Spain this WNBA offseason and is expected to be a Storm training-camp invitee in 2015.
Seattle Times: You’ll have a little break before heading overseas, what will you do?
Robinson: My twin brother is getting married. I’ll have more time to spend with family and catch up with college friends. I haven’t been back to college (at Georgia) since, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll catch a football game. Do something that “normal” people do. I’m excited about that.
Q: How did you feel you progressed this season?
Robinson: I caught on pretty quickly but there’s still a lot. It doesn’t matter how much you learn, there’s always something else you have to learn later. Learning the foundation was huge for me to carry on for next year.
Q: How so?
Robinson: Seeing what Seattle Storm basketball really is – the culture, my teammates. There still could be changes we might have to adjust to. (With) the new president (COO Valavanis), we don’t know what’s going to happen the next eight months. We just have to sit there and wait. All I can do is wish the best for the organization. Seattle is a very nice place to play.
Q: The tradition is winning. Did you notice anything about vets Sue Bird or Tanisha Wright as they struggled to string together wins in order to advance to a WNBA-record 11th playoff appearance?
Robinson: That was tough. We sat there and we watched (San Antonio clinch the final berth with a win against Minnesota, minutes before Seattle played at LA). It really hit me, “We have two games left, not four not six. Two games. And we can’t do anything to get in.” I don’t ever want to experience that, again. We just have to hold onto that for the next eight months until we get another chance. It can’t get any worse than that. It won’t. We’ve got to keep it moving. It’s hard not to hold onto that grudge because they’ve been going the past 10 years. I can only imagine for them how it feels for it to come to a stop. It’s kind of like your career coming to an end or you graduating. It’s not a good feeling at all.
Q: Y’all had two remaining games that were basically meaningless, how did you mentally get prepared to play knowing it wouldn’t make a difference in advancing to the postseason?
Robinson: Play every game like it’s your last. Don’t stop, there’s two games that need to be played. And it was more of working toward next year. It might be two games, but remember how we ended on a good note. That’s how you look at it. You’re not supposed to put your head down and just play 40 minutes – enjoy those 40 minutes.
Q: You were one of the players who got more playing time as Agler used the games more like an exhibition.
Robinson: Yeah, it was a good way to look at that. It kind of caught me off-guard because I wasn’t used to going from eight minutes to 20. That’s huge. But just to go out there and make a mistake and learn from it, it was good. It’s good to see what those who don’t play much are capable of in a longer stretch versus two, three minutes at a time.
Q: What will you work on when you play in Spain?
Robinson: One thing you have to learn is how to readjust. It’s a different game. The rules of the WNBA– three-second rule, how aggressive you can be, how overly aggressive they can be — it’s different. Once I get back over there, it’s like OK, now I can elbow people in the mouth. No, I’m joking. Not that bad. But over here, if you touch it’s a foul. I had to tone it down just a little bit. But there are areas I can work on. Defensive pressure and my confidence level since I’m playing against elite players. I have to go out there thinking I’m not just here to fill up a roster place. He (Agler) saw something in me to be able to play against these elite players. But right now, it’s more recovery mentally and emotionally, That’s what we all need right now and I’m looking forward to that.
Q: Yes, it was an interesting season, especially when you’re trying to shake off a seven-game losing streak.
Robinson: Everybody back home (Atlanta) was like, “We’re waiting for that losing streak to end!” Finally it did.