The Storm has a new Seattle Center neighbor. Seattle’s burgeoning pro soccer team, Reign FC, will play at Memorial Stadium. It announced a multi-year contract Thursday to host home matches at the facility, partnering with Seattle Public Schools to renovate the locker rooms and make other improvements to the venue named in…More
Topic: Sue Bird
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 13, 2014) – Including 14 Olympic and/or FIBA World Championship gold medalists, the 33-player 2014-16 USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool, from which the 2014 USA World Championship Team and, if the U.S. qualifies, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team will be selected, was announced today. The USA National Team pool will be fluid, and athletes may be added at any time by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee.
Highlighting the returning veterans are three-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks); 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx); and Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun) and Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty), who were members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Further, Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars) and Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), members of the 2010 USA World Championship Team that won gold, have been named to the pool.
Also named to the 2013-16 USA National Team roster were: DeWanna Bonner (Phoenix Mercury), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock), Stefanie Dolson (University of Connecticut), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Lindsey Harding (Los Angeles Sparks), Briann January (Indiana Fever), Glory Johnson (Tulsa Shock), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Kayla McBride (University of Notre Dame), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (University of Connecticut), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Silver Stars), Odyssey Sims (Baylor University), Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut), Alyssa Thomas (University of Maryland), Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky), Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx) and Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars).
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:More
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.More
Rookies Brittney Griner, the 6-foot-8 Phoenix center, and Elena Delle Donne, the 6-5 Chicago forward, did their job in drawing more fans to WNBA seats and telecasts for the 2013 season. Delle Donne’s Sky saw a 17 percent increase in attendance from the averaged 5,573 fans Chicago drew in 2012.
Phoenix saw a 9 percent bump from its 7,815 in 2012 while the Indiana Fever was third in increased attendance, up 8 percent from its 7,582 average in 2012. The WNBA conveniently stopped providing the hardcore averages for its attendance this season — percentages without reference to actual numbers does look better in print, you know — so it surmised its total attendance saw a 1 percent increase overall. The league averaged 7,457 fans in 2012, an all-time low.
Because I have a calculator and time, the Storm, sans All-Stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, averaged 6,980 fans in 2013. In Seattle, where KeyArena’s environment and fans are the envy of the WNBA, the figure is a dramatic dip from the 7,489 fans in 2012 – which ranked seventh in the WNBA. The Storm’s best season remains its inaugural one in 2000 when it averaged 8,912. But since Force 10 Hoops purchased the team in 2008, the Storm has averaged more than 8,000 fans in three seasons (2008, 2010, 2011).
I blame this season’s dip more on a failure to market more than Bird and Jackson in the past, fans not knowing players like G Tanisha Wright, F Camille Little and the addition of F Tina Thompson are worth seeing, too, hence the 10th consecutive playoff berth. But I digress.More
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.”More
My first Seafair weekend will be remembered as sparkles and flowers. Everything I witnessed, whether it was the crowning of Miss Seafair 2013 or the FIBA U19 World Championships in Lithuania, the young women we doted with exquisite jewels, flowers, and medals. Well, the winners were.
In-coming Washington freshman Kelsey Plum was one. She was a deep reserve for the USA Basketball u19 World Championship team, but she did score a bucket in the gold-medal game against France. The Americans (9-0) defeated the French (7-2) on Sunday, 61-28. As the tournament grew, Plum could be seen getting more confident but definitely needs work on consistently hitting her shot.
Plum, a 5 foot 9 PG, averaged 5.2 points in an averaged 14.6 minutes. But Plum shot 27.3 percent from three-point range.
Under former coach Kevin McGuff, UW used the outside shot to counter its lack of size inside. First-year coach Mike Neighbors said the overall coaching philosophy will mirror McGuff, but the team obviously won’t have to rely on the outside shot with C Katie Collier able to play.
Still, everyone needs to be an offensive threat for the Huskies to be the successful team it envisions. Plum is already in the gym working on improving her game, hopefully that work and experienced gained overseas translates to her first year at Washington.
Here’s a clip of Plum in action against Japan. You’re supposed to be able to hear her talk about the gold-medal game but none of my electronic devises are allowing me to access the clip. Maybe you’ll have better luck.More
The WNBA named its All-Star starters and for the first time since PG Sue Bird was drafted with the top overall pick in 2002, the Storm doesn’t have a rep among the five Western Conference starters. Phoenix stars Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner will line up with Candace Parker (Los Angeles), Maya Moore (Minnesota) and Seimone Augustus (Minnesota).
Storm F Tina Thompson could be named as a reserve when those are announced July 23. If not, the Storm will not have an All-Star for the first time in the organization’s history. F Camille Little (2,608 votes), G Temeka Johnson (2,521), G Tanisha Wright (1,782), and wing Noelle Quinn (981) were far behind in fan voting.
Seattle is 6-9 this season, hosting Los Angeles on Saturday at KeyArena.
Chicago rookie Elena Delle Donne, the second overall pick in the 2013 draft, was the leading vote-getter with 35,646. She’s the first rookie in WNBA history to lead all voters. Yet her tally is far behind the record. Bird was the leading vote-getter in 2007 with 128,838 All-Star votes. It surpassed then-Houston F Sheryl Swoopes’ mark of 124,575 set in 2003.More
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.More
Storm PG Sue Bird announced this week she’ll undergo left knee surgery to remove a cyst beneath her knee cap. The procedure is set for May 9 and will cause the All-Star to miss the 2013 WNBA season. Bird already had surgery on her left hip in October 2012.
Bird, 32, will return to Seattle shortly after surgery to complete rehabilitation and be part of the team. Her guaranteed base salary of $107,500 counts toward the Storm’s maximum $913,000 salary cap. Brian Agler, the Storm’s general manager and coach, signed veteran Temeka Johnson to help fill Bird’s position while returning G Tanisha Wright can also handle running the offense.
But Seattle is also without three-time MVP Lauren Jackson (hamstring) and her intended fill-in Ann Wauters (family), whose contracts do not count against the cap. It’s the first time since the Storm’s inception in 2000 that it played without Jackson or Bird, back-to-back No. 1 overall draft picks in 2001 and 2002.
Bird communicated via her agent about needing to undergo surgery. Here are her Q&A responses.
Q: Are you still in Russia traveling with UMMC Ekaterinburg playing right now?
Bird: Yes, right now I’m in Russia helping my team prepare for the EuroLeague final 8. As I’m sure you know I’m not playing in that but will resume play once the Russian League starts up again.
Q: Lauren mentioned speaking with you before she opted to have surgery, did you share your situation with her?
Bird: Once I knew surgery was the definite option Lauren was one of the first people I told.More