Series Note: The Storm did not advance to the postseason for the first time since 2003. The team held its exit interviews in August. This is the final entry in a 12-player series that featured conversations from the Seattle roster.
In a new move, the WNBA held the draft lottery four days after Seattle lost its regular-season finale to eventual WNBA champion 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 G Tanisha Wright, who was named to the WNBA’s all-defensive first team for the fifth time in her 10-year career. Wright missed five games this season due to a bruised knee injury, averaging 8 points and 3.6 assists in an averaged 25.5 minutes overall.
Wright had a few personal-bests during the season. She dished out a career-high 11 assists in a July win against Chicago and recorded her career-1,000th assist in a win against Tulsa in August. But Seattle not reaching the postseason is a first for Wright, who was drafted 12th overall by former coach Anne Donovan in 2005.
While Wright did sign to play in Turkey during the WNBA offseason, she is undecided about her future with Seattle. Her three-year contract expired in September.
Seattle Times: Many are curious about your future, do you read stories or blog posts about yourself?
Wright: Not since I’ve been in the league. I feel like my second year I stopped reading everything.
Q: How do you look back on the season?
Wright: It’s different territory for me, for us to not be playing in the postseason. But there’s going to be some disappointments. You’re not going to always win, you’re not going to always get your way. I say it all the time, just as graciously as you win, you have to lose. And we’ve been on the high-end, the winning-end for so many years. We’ve had so many great wins and so many great postseasons and memories from those that now it’s just (Phoenix’s) turn. There’s always a silver lining to something. Maybe with this, they’ll (Seattle) be able to get a great pick next year and build from that. Who knows? There’s always some type of positive you can take out of this season. People should see that. I’m a Sagittarius, optimism is part of my blood, I see there’s always a positive in things. It’s not all always bad. This season wasn’t all bad.
Q: So, what Seattle does with that pick is important to you?
Wright: Yeah, now maybe you get a good pick and you get better. In this league, it’s very visible, it’s very accurate to say the way you get better is by getting younger. You have to have some young talent. All of the teams that are good now is because they have young talent. That’s just the truth of the matter. So that might be the silver lining — maybe they (Seattle) get a young talent. Historically they haven’t had that. It was Sue (Bird) and Lauren (Jackson) as No. 1 overall (in 2002 and 2001, respectively). Then Strick (Shekinna Stricklen as the No. 2 overall pick in 2012). So, historically they do keep their young, good talent but they haven’t had many opportunities to do that in all these years. Here’s an opportunity. And as long as that player comes in and works hard, she’ll have a shot for sure.
Q: You usually watch the NCAA tournament despite being overseas, do you know enough to name any top candidates for the 2015 draft?
Wright: I did watch but I don’t know too many juniors. I paid attention, so I knew the seniors from the (2014 WNBA draft class), but I didn’t pay attention to many of the juniors. I know (UConn F) Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is coming out and the chick from Duke is coming out (C Elizabeth Williams). I watched South Carolina, but I don’t know enough to really comment. I won’t watch this college season any more than I normally do because of the pick. When March Madness comes around, I’ll watch like I normally do.
Q: What was a good part of the Storm season?
Wright: Growth. The younger kids got some valuable experience in terms of what it takes to be a winner and what it takes to be successful. Hopefully players like Alysha (Clark) and Strick and even the newer players — Jenna (O’Hea) and Lang (Crystal Langhorne) take some ownership in this team in understanding that this is your team, you’re going to be here and it has to be important to you. They can’t have just another season — not saying that was it — but I feel like going through a season like this, now your perspective changes going into next year. You come in bigger, you come in hungrier, you come in more ready and knowing what to expect and what it takes to get what you want to get. We had some good basketball moments, too, toward the end. Even the LA game (on the road in August), the way those young kids played was very promising and exciting the way they fought. Yeah, the season wasn’t all bad. There are good things when you sit back and really think.
Q: For yourself, going through a season like this, does that make you want to come back or will you still weigh your options this offseason?
Wright: No. It is what it is. It wasn’t the best season for me individually. It wasn’t the best season for us collectively. But you take the good with the bad, right? I’ve been up so many times. I’ve had so many successes here that this doesn’t alter anything. When I’m ready to make a decision about what I’m going to do for next year, I’ll do that.