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 Waltiea Rolle, who was signed to the first of a league-maximum three seven-day contracts on July 21. The Storm had to wait to use its 12th-player option due to its salary cap that neared the league-mandated maximum ($901,000, $857,000 of which is guaranteed). Rolle, 23, was signed for the remainder of the season on Aug. 11, which amounted to two games. Rolle had the opportunity to play against the big lineups of Los Angeles and Phoenix. She recorded a double-double against the Sparks (10 points and 10 rebounds) in a season-high 31 minutes. Rolle, a 6-foot-6 center, was strong in moments against Mercury C Brittney Griner, who’s 6-8, finishing with five rebounds in that 78-65 loss.
Rolle began her rookie season in Minnesota’s training camp, getting cut before the regular season. She’ll play in Prague during the WNBA offseason.
Seattle Times: You were a third-round pick by Minnesota in the 2013 draft but didn’t play, why?
Rolle: My junior year of college (at North Carolina), I got pregnant. I left, missing the beginning part of my junior year because I went back home (Bahamas) and had my daughter (Carlisa). I had to finish my classes, so I stayed and finished my degree that summer (2013). She’s a good kid, a sweetheart. I’m not married, though, waiting for the right one.
Q: Was that a hard decision? You left Carlisa at home to be cared for by your mother while you played and completed your degree in sports administration and exercise sports science at UNC.
Rolle: Yeah, it was. Because I felt if I had went during that time (to Minnesota when drafted), I probably would have been playing. But, I still got an opportunity now.
Q: You didn’t play at all during your first seven-day contract. When the Storm was officially eliminated from the postseason and Agler used the games as evaluation, you did see more minutes and appeared in six games overall. Do you have an assessment of what you’d bring to the WNBA?
Rolle: I feel I did pretty good. Hopefully it’s good enough to come back. I probably need to improve my strength. The last teams we played were pretty tough and they had better shooters. It was a lot to pick up. When I first came in, it was a lot of information to take in. I think I did a pretty good job in trying to take it in. I could have been better in a lot of areas, though. We’ll see what happens.