They’re baaaaack. Great to see Sue and LJ out on the floor. The rumors are very true – LJ looks to be in incredible shape after playing in Korea and Russia during the off-season.
More great news: Janell Burse is on the court for contact. I haven’t noticed any lingering effect of her shoulder spasm last night. Tye’sha Fluker is also on the court, though that’s not really a surprise.
We’ve missed this: LJ grabs a rebound and hands off to Sue. After the ball is advanced upcourt, LJ screens for Sue, who steps back and nails the three-pointer.
Izi Castro Marques has not been on the court since I arrived. Not sure why. Shyra Ely is getting the vast majority of the reps at small forward.
Anne Donovan calls a foul on Lauren, who protests. “Well, that’s a WNBA official for you,” answers Donovan.
It’s a very different experience watching a practice with fans in the crowd cheering. Solid turnout for today’s “Meet the Team” event for season ticket holders, which includes the chance to watch practice and more.
I want to take a moment to give credit to all the Storm folks who have worked to make today’s event possible: Gentry Davis, Katie Dahl, Kristina Netzler, Susie Kandzor, Dallas Pride, Gabriella Buono, Todd Albright, Kelly Nigh (who specifically requested a shout out), Matt Heuer, the Knittels, Alan Horton and Adia Barnes and everyone with Storm basketball operations … I’m sure I’m missing people and I apologize to them.
LJ is clearly fighting the effects of jetlag to some extent. She’s smiling about missing shots she knows she’s going to hit in a week.
One of the members of the practice squad nearly runs into Coach Donovan on the fast break. Fortunately, disaster averted and the crowd gets a good laugh.
Janell Burse hits both ends of a one-and-one to finish us off and Lauren Jackson swarms her with a bearhug to show her appreciation.
While the players do their post-practice stretching, Alan and Adia raffle off some great prizes. As the players file back out to the floor, they’re joined by Doppler, who has a surprise – a birthday cupcake for Lauren Jackson (26 yesterday), accompanied by the fans singing “Happy Birthday.” One fan brought an enormous birthday card/poster for Lauren.
Fans ask, how jetlagged are Sue and Lauren?
“Pretty jetlagged,” says LJ. Their total trip was about 18 hours, including a 13-hour flight from Moscow to Los Angeles.
Betty was asked about what it’s like playing overseas for coaches who don’t speak English. She compares it to how it was depicted in the movie “Love and Basketball.” Have your teammates translate for your coach and then say, “Get me the ball.”
The “Tennessee trio” (I’m thinking about trademarking that one) was asked to compare Coach Donovan to legendary Pat Summitt. Ashley Robinson sees a lot of similarities. Coach herself says that Tennessee is one of those programs that prepares its players really well for the WNBA – adding in UConn to appease Sue Bird.
“Just ask them what happened,” says Bird, referring to the two NCAA titles UConn won over Tennessee during her career.
Anne concludes the group portion by thanking fans for their support. Now season ticket holders will break into smaller groups to meet the players in a more intimate setting.
“I feel so positive during 2007,” says Ashley Robinson. She was candid when asked if she always rebounds as well as she did last night. “My statistics say I don’t,” she admitted.
Tanisha’s favorite food: “Good old spaghetti with meat sauce.” I’m sitting with a young group, so we’re hearing a lot about favorite pets.
Tye’sha Fluker is speaking at length about playing for Coach Summitt. “She wants to develop you as a woman first.” Later, she adds, “Being here reminds me of being at Tennessee.”
“Did they put all the kids in one section?” asks Anne Donovan. Wasabi Bistro is the consensus favorite restaurant of the sushi-loving coaching staff.
LJ says ice hockey is becoming her favorite sport outside of basketball. I can’t imagine where she got interested in that. Lauren surprised herself by saying, “I’m home,” when she got to her place in Seattle last night, something she didn’t expect and never would have imagined as a homesick 20-year-old rookie.
Sue has no pets and solicits suggestions. When she had goldfish, she reports, they died the second day when she was changing the water. Sue’s favorite hangout is “wherever these guys go,” referring to her teammates.
Talking about her legendary coach at Louisiana Tech, Leon Barmore, Betty notes that Coach Donovan is the first female coach she has ever had. Betty is confident the boxing and kickboxing she did over the winter helped her game and worked on her shooting in Poland because she didn’t want to drive into the lane and get her head knocked off – all for no call.
JB describes the recovery in her hometown of New Orleans as “really slow.” Seattle is “so far away,” which is why her favorite thing to do for a vacation is go home.
“I’m all yours,” exclaims a smiling Izi, ready for questions. She had to be convinced to pick up basketball at about age 13 because nobody else in her family is an athlete “at all.”
That wraps up a fun event. We’ll have more after media availability.