October 31, 2013 at 8:00 AM
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 WNBA 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 Sue Bird, who missed the WNBA season along with C Lauren Jackson (hamstring) due to offseason knee surgery. Bird, who turned 33 in October, returned to play with her Russian team, UMMC Yekaterinburg, on Oct. 15. She played 25 minutes and finished with 16 points and six assists in the team’s 87-64 Premier League debut at Enisey Krasnoyarsk. Bird has played three games overall to date, one in the Russian Cup series, to average 13 points and 3.7 assists. She’s teaming with former Storm posts Ann Wauters and Eva Kobryn on a stacked roster. You can catch the promo video below. Bird didn’t play the WNBA season but counted on the roster and was paid her WNBA-maximum salary in order to rehabilitate her injury through the organization with first-year Storm strength and conditioning coach Susan Borchardt. This conversation with Bird is bits and pieces throughout the season as well as before she left for Russia, so it’s extremely long. It may take the entire offseason to read. But first, that promo video:
September 26, 2013 at 4:24 PM
Trying out for the national team normally is an honor. But it’s a tryout PG Briann January hopes to miss. Her Indiana Fever dismissed Courtney Vandersloot’s Chicago Sky in the WNBA playoffs opening-round and are currently playing the Atlanta Dream in a best-of-three Eastern Conference Finals.
Winner gets a trip to the WNBA Finals and thus would be too busy to participate in the 2013 Women’s National Team mini-camp from Oct. 4-6 at the Cox Pavilion practice gym on the campus of UNLV in Las Vegas. A WNBA Finals run would be a second consecutive trip for January, who led the Fever to the 2012 league title. The Los Angeles Sparks are the last team to win back-to-back WNBA championships, doing so in 2001-02.
Vandersloot is making a return trip to the mini-camp. It’s designed to identify players for the USA National Team pool, from which the 2014 USA World Championship Team will be selected. Invitations to attend the training camp were issued by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee.
Of course with Storm All-Star Sue Bird and Minnesota All-Star Lindsay Whalen still locks on the national team roster, there isn’t much room for the Washingtonian guards. January starred at Spokane’s Lewis & Clark HS while Vandersloot is of Kentwood HS fame.
Bird is rehabilitating from knee surgery in May. She said she’s going to attend the session but won’t participate. A three-time Olympian, Bird is cleared for full-contact practice and will begin that phase of her comeback with her Russian team this fall.
Whalen, a first-time Olympian in 2012, is busy leading Minnesota to the Western Conference Finals. Her Lynx are facing the Phoenix Mercury in a best-of-three Western Conference Finals.
September 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Ah, the 1990s. In terms of basketball, I’ll always remember the decade as O.J. Simpson’s freeway chase that interrupted my Knicks’ playoff broadcast, Arizona winning the 1997 NCAA championship (Bear Down!) and studying poolside in Tucson while watching my two favorite point guards dish and score their way to success.
The personalities that are Dawn Staley and Gary Payton can be the only explanation why a budding young woman in Arizona would care about Seattle and Richmond, Va. Enraptured, I’d watch Staley high-step, yap-jaw and gum-smack to wins with the defunct Rage on BET. In college at Arizona (Bear Down!), I lived and died with the Sonics and Payton as I studied poolside and watched the playoff struggles on a 8-inch black-and-white TV.
I just loved watching them play and always wondered what the heck they were saying to themselves, teammates, opponents, fans, officials — seemingly anyone within earshot. Who knew I’d grow to actually find out, covering both through the Seattle Times. So, it was especially cool to witness the greatest point guards from my generation enter the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame together on Sunday.
But who entered as the greatest trash talker?
“Dawn can trash talk with the best of them,” said 17-year WNBA veteran Tina Thompson, who won Olympic gold with Staley, played with her for the defunct Houston Comets and against Staley as she starred for the defunct Charlotte Sting (1999-2006).
“Gary’s use of verbiage was a lot different,” Thompson continued in comparing the elite trash talkers. “He would be a lot more tormenting than Dawn. But they’re both pretty good trash talkers.”
September 9, 2013 at 8:21 AM
Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson is nearing the end of her rehabilitation from January hamstring surgery, signing to play in China this winter. The Australian native will join the Heilongjiang Shenda Basketball Club based in Heilongjiang University Gym in Harbin City, which is the capital of Heilongjiang Province.
“I’m looking forward to my arrival in China and Harbin City,” Jackson said in a released statement on Monday. “I have been very privileged to play basketball all over the world and this is a new, exciting challenge for me, playing for this club in the WCBA league.”
With Jackson signing, WCBA arguably passed Russia and aligned itself with Turkey as the second-best women’s basketball league in the world, trailing only the WNBA.
WNBA stars Maya Moore (Minnesota), Brittney Griner (Phoenix), and Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles) have already signed to play in the league this offseason. Aussie C Liz Cambage (Tulsa) played in the league last season and could return after rehabilitating from an ankle injury suffered in August.
Storm F Camille Little played in China last offseason but her agent said she’s close to signing a contract to play in Turkey this winter. Storm All-Star Sue Bird is nearing the end of her rehab from May knee surgery and plans to return to Russia this winter before playing the 2014 WNBA season. Bird, 32, was medically cleared last week for all non-contact, on-court drills. She began participating in shooting drills with the team Tuesday.
August 18, 2013 at 7:30 AM
Can you be the WNBA’s Most Improved if you’ve really just returned to actually honor your contract? Tulsa All-Star Liz Cambage, a 6-foot-8 center, is making a case for what to do with her improved play as the WNBA’s final stretch begins.
The Australian scored 27 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field as the last-placed Tulsa defeated the WNBA-leading Minnesota 83-77 on Friday. It’s the relocated-Shock’s first win against the 2011 WNBA champion Lynx in 15 games.
Remember when Cambage in 2012 flip-flopped on playing in Tulsa, ultimately missing the season after averaging 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in 33 games as a WNBA rookie? Well, as Storm C Lauren Jackson said in terms of her game, Cambage is finding the competitive benefits of playing in the toughest league in the world. She’s averaging 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds for Tulsa (8-17), which sits 3.5 games back of Seattle (11-13) for the fourth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff race. It would be the Shock’s first postseason appearance since relocating from Detroit in 2009.
The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011, Cambage’s game arrives at the right time. Down under on Sunday, her Opals national team co-captain, Jackson, scored the first seven points of an eventual 84-66 win against New Zealand in the FIBA Oceania Championship. Jackson, who underwent hamstring surgery in January, finished with a team-high 21 points to seal a 2-0 series win.
Former Storm G Belinda Snell finished with 17 points and four assists for the Opals.
August 14, 2013 at 8:27 AM
Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson returned to the court on Wednesday after a 10-month layoff due to hamstring surgery in January. A three-time WNBA MVP, Jackson joined her native Australian national team to defeat New Zealand 66-50 on Wednesday in the opening round of the Oceania championship.
Jackson, a 6-foot-6 center, scored 22 points and had nine rebounds in her first organized game since Seattle lost 73-72 to Minnesota in the decisive Game 3 of the WNBA playoffs opening-round in October 2012. Jackson finished that road game with nine points on 1-for-7 shooting with six rebounds, missing a possible game-winner with 1.2 seconds left. Immediately following the loss Jackson, 32, wondered if she’d play, again.
“I’m just happy I got that game out of the way. It feels so good to be out there pain free,” Jackson told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News after Wednesday’s game. “I couldn’t walk before I had the surgery. I’m feeling pretty good about things, now. There was a period where I thought I’d never play, again, but to come out here tonight…New Zealand is our neighbor, so it feels like home a bit and it feels good.”
The Opals face the Tall Ferns on Sunday in Canberra. The teams are vying for slots at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey from September 27 to October 5, 2014.
June 20, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Storm coach Brian Agler has had a successful career in Seattle since being hired in 2008, winning a WNBA championship in 2010 and collecting a solid run when the team won a franchise-record 18 straight home games from 2010-11. In 2011, Agler past former Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor to became the coaches’ all-time leader in wins in American women’s professional basketball with 229 through Sunday’s overtime victory at KeyArena against Washington. Agler had 72 wins in the defunct ABL and has 157 in the WNBA.
For that, and many more achievements, he’ll be inducted into his native Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame on May 17, 2014.
“I would have loved to (play for Brian here),” three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson said recently of Agler being considered to coach her Australian national team through the 2016 Olympic Games. “He’s probably the best coach I’ve played under.”
Here’s the official release:
Brian Agler to be Inducted to Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame
2010 WNBA Coach of the Year Will Be Honored in 2014 Ceremony
SEATTLE – Brian Agler, the all-time winningest coach in women’s professional basketball, will be inducted to the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame on May 17, 2014.
“I feel very honored to be nominated for induction into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame, which already includes many great individuals and teams from my home state,” Agler said. “I have had great fortune to have played for, played with and coached great basketball people that have impacted this recognition and because of that, I am very appreciative.”
May 9, 2013 at 4:59 PM
Storm PG Sue Bird underwent left knee surgery Thursday to remove a cyst. The procedure was a success, according to the team. Bird, 32, stated earlier she’d be on crutches for about six weeks as she begins rehabilitation in Connecticut. When she’s able to travel, she’ll return to Seattle to complete rehab and attend Storm games.
“I feel fine and am at home resting,” Bird said in a released statement. “Looking forward to being in Seattle with my teammates!”
Despite missing the 2013 season due to injury, Bird does count against the Storm’s maximum 11-player roster for the regular season and her guaranteed $107,500 salary counts against the cap. Veterans Tanisha Wright, Camille Little, Tina Thompson and second-year wings Shekinna Stricklen and Alysha Clark are the other players returning from the 2012 squad that finished 16-18, losing in the opening round of the playoffs to Minnesota.
Storm coach and GM Brian Agler signed PG Temeka Johnson to fill Bird’s starting position. Free agents in veteran G Noelle Quinn and post Nakia Sanford were also signed to possibly start. The moves technically leave two roster spots open, one likely to go to No. 6 overall draft pick Tianna Hawkins (Maryland). Agler has seven free agents in camp who he’s also evaluating.
Seattle will open exhibition play Sunday against Los Angeles at Long Beach State’s Pyramid. The season opener is May 26 at the Sparks’ Staples Center. The regular-season roster is due May 23.
May 6, 2013 at 3:38 PM
There’s not much faith in the Storm sans All-Stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird – if you believe the Seattle Times’ unscientific poll. Both are out this season due to injuries, the first since 2002 that at least one wasn’t in the Storm’s lineup. More than 60 percent of a small sampling of readers voted the team will have a losing season and miss the playoffs for the first time in a WNBA-record nine seasons.
No doubt the Western Conference will be tough with the addition of No. 1 overall draft pick Brittney Griner, who I hear has already found a reason to dunk five times in the opening day of Phoenix’s training camp practice Monday. But the Storm having a losing season and no trip to the postseason where four of the six teams in the conference advance anyway? Ouch. And some must have forgotten a losing record hasn’t kept a team from advancing to the postseason in the past. Seattle (16-18) and New York (15-19) achieved the dubious feat in 2012, losing in the first-round.
Vote your early thoughts below:
May 1, 2013 at 1:53 PM
Considering recent news of basketball players Brittney Griner and Jason Collins announcing they are lesbian and gay, respectively,it’s fitting this week the LGBT community would also hear about its first sports Hall of Fame.
According to a press release sent Wednesday, the National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame, based in Chicago, will recognize those who have stood up to stereotypes and worked to break down the walls of differences to bring people together for the good of the games, according to the group’s executive director, Bill Gubrud. Nominations are currently being accepted and the inaugural induction is set for August at the Center on Halsted, a LGBT community center in Chicago.
It’ll be interesting to see the first inductees. CBS recently compiled a list of openly gay athleteson its site. Aside from being the first actively gay NBA player to come out, Collins has hardly done much athletically to be considered and Griner is on the cusp of her WNBA career, unable to express her sexuality while making history at Baylor due to a code of conduct.
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