The Storm won’t be the only group on the court with new uniforms this season. Adidas, the league’s apparel supplier, redesigned the jerseys worn by WNBA referees. Designed to evoke the league’s trademark Orange and Oatmeal basketball, the uniforms are primarily tan with orange patches on the shoulders as shown above.
Archive for April, 2010
Lots of great coverage during the first week of training camp. Let’s get to it.
- Lindsay Schnell of ESPN HoopGurlz had a feature on Brian Agler’s relationship with his daughter Taylor, who is a promising young point guard – and already a good quote! Some excellent details in here.
“He tries to be a normal parent,” laughs Taylor, a freshman at Oletangy Orange High School in Ohio and the point guard for All Ohio Red. “But he’ll always be a coach.”
And while most players are taught to ignore the advice parents offer from their perch in the bleachers, Taylor knows that when your dad is the head coach of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, he probably has some good advice to offer. So she, and her teammates, pay attention.
“What he says, my teammates and I believe him, so we kinda listen,” Taylor Agler said. “I’ve learned to stop arguing with him and listen to whatever he says because he’s right.”
She pauses, and lets on a sigh.
“Only in basketball though.”
- Yesterday’s big news was Lauren Jackson telling Australia’s ABC Sport that she plans to rejoin Spartak Moscow Region next winter.
“At this stage it looks like I’ll be heading back to Russia, back to my old team, minus Shabtai (von Kalmanovic), but it would be great to put back on those colours again,” she said.
ABC Sport also reports that Jackson is headed to Seattle on Saturday.
- As part of her daily coverage, Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans took a look at how the WNBA’s changing salary rules could hurt veteran players.
At Board of Governors meetings, the WNBA and players’ union agreed to decrease the salary cap by $28,000 from the 2009 total ($803,000) to $775,000 for 2010. The collective-bargaining agreement signed in 2008 called for the cap to be set at $827,000, which is a total drop of $52,000.
But the parties didn’t agree to eliminate the veteran minimum ($51,000), so general managers are anticipating filling their rosters with high-priced veterans and low-end rookies or players with fewer than three years of experience.
- SwishAppeal.com continues to provide the best general WNBA coverage of any site on the ‘net. Q McCall was out at the Storm’s practice on Monday and shared observations on the team’s newcomers.
Hampton was arguably the most impressive newcomer of the day overall. One of the most important things that both Storm coach Brian Agler and Hampton pointed out is that she has gotten herself in much better shape since leaving Cal.
“One thing last year out of Cal is I was overweight — I had to lose 28, 25 pounds,” said the 6′3″ Hampton after practice. “So I’m back down to 200, 198. So now I’m more mobile, my knees are in better shape, and I extended my range out so I can be a threat at the three point line too, more inside-outside.”
Lastly, while it’s not exactly reading, you’ll want to check out King5’s video interviews if you haven’t already. Here’s Coach Agler on Monday’s practice:
and rookie Alison Lacey discusses her camp experience on Tuesday:
While the outcome wasn’t necessarily surprising, the fashion was. With a 73-67 home victory in Game 3, UMMC Ekaterinburg swept Spartak Moscow Region in the Russian Superleague Finals to repeat as Russian champions. Spartak got off to a slow start in the back-to-back, trailing by 11 after a quarter and 15 at the half, but rallied to actually take a three-point lead during the fourth quarter. Ekaterinburg answered with an 8-0 run to reclaim command, and Spartak’s hopes were dashed when Diana Taurasi was called for a charge with 24 seconds left and Cappie Pondexter followed with two free throws.
Candace Parker put together another phenomenal all-around game, scoring 25 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and handing out five assists. Pondexter (12) and Sandrine Gruda and Deanna Nolan (11 apiece) joined Parker in double-figure scoring for Ekaterinburg. Svetlana Abrosimova had two points and two boards in 20 minutes of action off the bench.
Taurasi, who fouled out on the late charge, was again unable to duplicate her Euroleague Final Four heroics. Taurasi knocked down four three-pointers, but needed 17 shots to score her 17 points. Sylvia Fowles had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Spartak, and Sue Bird contributed 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting and a pair of assists.
This is the second consecutive year that Spartak and Ekaterinburg have split the two biggest prizes available to them, with Spartak winning the Euroleague and Ekaterinburg the Russian crown. Previously, Spartak had won back-to-back Russian titles.
The good news of the series ending in a sweep is it means Abrosimova and Bird are headed to Seattle. We should find out more about their timetable for arriving at practice on Friday.
Tuesday’s Game 2 of the Russian Superleague Finals will be remembered for two things – Candace Parker and free throws. Also, perhaps, Candace Parker free throws. Parker scored 43 points and was 13-of-16 from the charity stripe (including a perfect 8-of-8 in the fourth quarter) as UMMC Ekaterinburg defeated Spartak Moscow Region 87-79 at home to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Parker was unstoppable, making 13 shots in 21 attempts, including all four of her three-point attempts. Parker also grabbed nine rebounds and drew 11 fouls. Spartak was called for 26 as a team, with three starters (Sylvia Fowles, Irina Osipova and Diana Taurasi) fouling out. Fowles lasted just 14 minutes on the floor. Taurasi scored 14 points, but it was an off night, as she shot 5-of-18 from the field.
Sue Bird picked up the slack for Spartak on offense, scoring 20 points and shooting 8-of-14. Spartak held a two-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but Ekaterinburg never trailed again after starting the period with an 8-0 run.
Svetlana Abrosimova, with 13 points, was Ekaterinburg’s second-leading scorer.
Ekaterinburg will go for the sweep on Wednesday at home.
As the Storm started training camp yesterday, basically half of the team’s roster remains overseas. Let’s update their status, focusing on when they might be finished with their commitments.
Saturday was Game 1 of the best-of-five Russian Superleague Finals, and UMMC Ekaterinburg pulled the upset on the road, limiting Spartak Moscow Region to 21 points in the second half of a 70-62 victory. Ekaterinburg did a phenomenal job of defending Spartak’s UConn backcourt. Sue Bird shot 3-of-11 from the field, scoring eight points, but was held to one assist. Diana Taurasi finished with 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Spartak’s only consistent offensive force was Sylvia Fowles, who had 22 points and nine rebounds. Ekaterinburg was more balanced, with five players scoring at least eight points. Svetlana Abrosimova started but was scoreless in 24 minutes of action.
The series now heads to Ekaterinburg for Games 2 and 3 on Tuesday and Wednesday. If necessary, Spartak will host Games 4 and 5 on Saturday and Sunday. Whether the series goes four or five games, then, won’t make a big difference in return dates for Abrosimova and Bird, but they would be back much quicker if Ekaterinburg sweeps the series – which would definitely be a surprise.
The Lega Feminina finals also tipped off on Saturday, with host Ros Casares Valencia handing Halcon Avenida a 78-69 defeat. Belinda Snell (24 points) and DeLisha Milton-Jones (23) both had big offensive games, combining to knock down eight three-pointers in 12 attempts. Jana Vesela had five rebounds in 33 minutes of action. Sancho Lyttle led Avenida with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Le’coe Willingham scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting, grabbing six rebounds.
Ros Casares will go for the sweep on Thursday in Avenida. If necessary, Game 3 will take place on Saturday in Valencia.
In Poland, the PLKK finals are tied at one apiece. AZS Gorzow defeated Tanisha Wright and Lotos Gdynia 78-74 in yesterday’s Game 1, but Lotos evened the series with an 80-72 win earlier today. Wright’s play was a big difference between the two outcomes. After a quiet Game 1 (four points), she exploded for 20 today on 5-of-12 shooting as well as six rebounds and four assists. Games 3 and 4 will be played Friday and Saturday. I can’t find a date for Game 5 online should the series go that far.
The Storm has two training camp invitees who finished up their season in Greece yesterday against each other. Laura Kurz led Ano Liosa’s 95-77 win over Panathinaikos with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Lindsey Wilson had three points in 13 minutes. Still, Panathinaikos (which I suspect may already have clinched) won a three-way tie for third place in the A1 League, which does not have any postseason play, at 15-9. Ano Liosa finished 14-10 and in sixth place. Kurz ended the season the league’s leading scorer in terms of total points (414). Wilson was ninth, as well as seventh in assists. Kurz also was fourth in rebounding.
The other two Storm players who remain overseas are posts Abby Bishop and Lauren Jackson, who are participating in a training camp with the Australian Opals National Team. The camp, which will be the last opportunity for the Opals to train together prior to this fall and the World Championship, runs through Friday.
”One of the challenging things about the Opals program is our lack of time together, lack of the full group together,” Head Coach Carrie Graf told The Age. ”It’s really about maximising the time and putting in some of the team systems and building the foundation of what our culture and team themes are.”
Storm players Swin Cash, Camille Little and Ashley Robinson were on hand to model the team’s new jerseys at the press conference announcing the Storm’s marquee partnership with Bing. Despite their busy schedule – players also led a Jr. Storm clinic for students from John Muir Elementary – I had a chance to catch up with Cash and Robinson to get their thoughts on the announcement.
What do you think of the new jerseys?
Robinson: Just the fact that it says Bing, now learning all that represents, I’m down with it. It looks good to me. I think we’ll look cute, as always. Definitely, having Bing behind us, can’t be mad about that.
What does the support of partners like Bing mean to the Storm and to the WNBA?
Cash: I think it shows how the WNBA is evolving. With everything that’s happened in our country with the economy, to see teams like Seattle, like Phoenix, like L.A. take the initiative to do great partnerships with corporations like Bing, I think it’s going to make not only the Storm but the WNBA better.
As players, we’re really happy about this opportunity.
Robinson: It’s a big deal to the whole WNBA. I feel like we’re the leaders in something that’s going to be so big having these companies back us and help make sure our league has longevity. If we’re the third team to do it, I feel like we’re in the forefront.
What does it mean to have the Jr. Storm program be prominently involved in this partnership?
Cash: To partner and really give back to the community is something that I think makes this partnership that much better.
Robinson: We’re just giving back to these kids – letting these little girls get to know us so they know they can do it. Having Bing support our Jr. Storm program, it’s going to be good for the community. I think we’ll start seeing a lot more talent out of Washington state thanks to this program and youngsters being exposed to Storm players.
Spartak Moscow Region completed a sweep of its semifinal series in the Russian Superleague Playoffs on Sunday, defeating Kursk Dynamo 92-69 in Game 2 of their series. Kursk was within striking distance at home after three quarters, trailing 67-57, but Spartak clamped down and allowed just 12 points in the final period to win going away.
Pokey Chatman was able to limit her starters’ minutes. Sue Bird saw 23 minutes of action, scoring six points and handing out seven assists. Diana Taurasi scored a game-high 21 points in as many minutes, knocking down four three-pointers. Irina Osipova came off the bench to contribute 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The big surprise in Russia is that UMMC Ekaterinburg will need to win a deciding third game against Nadezhda after falling at home in Game 1, 77-76. Ekaterinburg got back on track yesterday with a blowout Game 2 win, 94-66, but will have to win Wednesday to set up an anticipated finals matchup against rested Spartak.
Storm forward Swin Cash spent the weekend back in Connecticut, participating in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team training camp. A week’s worth of practices concluded with a scrimmage open to the public yesterday.
“It’s very important,” Cash said of the last USA Basketball extended training before the roster is chosen for this summer’s World Championship. “Not only for us and for what we want to do moving forward, obviously we have the World Championship coming up, but as you saw, there was a lot of young talent out there today. When you set the tone for them, they’ll understand as they go through the USA Basketball program what the expectations are for the level of play and how high the intensity level has to be. I think it’s great for them. It’s great for the coaching staff. At the end of the day we all got a good result out of this.”
With many U.S. players like Bird busy overseas, Cash was one of the veterans in camp, but playing for Geno Auriemma reminded her of the basics of the game she learned at UConn, she told the Hartford Courant in a feature article.
A few other Storm articles to check out. First, Lauren Jackson talks about her offseason to The Border Mail while at home in Albury, Australia. (HT: RebKell)
“I’m looking forward to the WNBA, I feel like I’ve been a bit spoiled, I’ve been home and having the time of my life, I’ve really missed being home and I don’t want to leave at all but I am looking forward to getting back to Seattle.
“I just feel fit and I feel very strong at the moment, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt this strong in my career before.”
Next up for Jackson is an Opals training camp before she arrives in Seattle at the start of May.
SwishAppeal checked in with a pair of stories about new Storm backup point guards. Contributor freelantz spoke with Alison Lacey’s coach at Iowa State, Bill Fennelly, about Lacey’s development and how she will fit in Seattle.
“For Aus to be picked by in my mind [by] the perfect team [is] the perfect situation for her,” he said. “Great coach, great organization and she’ll get to play with the best point guard in the world, Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, her fellow Australian.”
And Q McCall took a look at what the addition of Loree Moore means for the Storm.
As important as (Shannon) Johnson was to the Storm last season as a veteran presence, Moore was a far more productive distributor last season with the Liberty. While neither was an aggressive scorer, Moore was by far the more trustworthy ball handler in terms of both pure point rating and turnover percentage and had an assist rate that was closer to average among distributors in the league. Defensively, Moore is known for her defensive ability and although she has not made an All-Defensive team in the last two years, last season her defensive numbers — never perfect metrics — were among the best of any point guard.
Hot off the presses, here are jersey numbers for the Storm’s newcomers.
#3 – Laura Kurz
Previously worn by Michelle Marciniak, Wendy Palmer and Charisse Sampson
#5 – Abby Bishop
Previously worn by Tiffani Johnson, Danielle McCulley and Robin Threatt
#7 – Jana Vesela
Previously worn by Edwige Lawson-Wade, Kamila Vodichkova and Francesca Zara (all, like Vesela, European players)
#11 – Alison Lacey
Previously worn by Jamie Redd and Barbara Turner
#12 – Loree Moore
Previously worn by Jamie Redd and Tonya Massaline
#13 – Lindsey Wilson
Previously worn by Mactabene Amachree, Yolanda Griffith and Alessandra Santos de Oliveira
#14 – Devanei Hampton
Previously worn by Shannon Johnson, Astou Ndiaye-Diatta and Kate Paye
#21 – Aja Parham
Previously worn by Semeka Randall and Charmin Smith (note that Parham wore #7 in last year’s training camp)
#22 – Tanisha Smith
Previously worn by La’Tangela Atkinson, Betty Lennox and Sheryl Swoopes
#32 – Chelsea Newton
Previously worn by Adia Barnes, Shaunzinski Gortman, Stacey Lovelace and Kristen O’Neill
#34 – Le’coe Willingham
Previously worn by Sonja Henning
It was a good run for Ashley Walker and Maccabi Ashdod, which made the Israeli D-I Finals for the first time in team history, but it came to an end Monday when Ramat Hasharon defeated Ashdod 64-63 on the road to win the series three games to one. Ashdod clung to a one-point lead and the hopes of extending the series to a deciding fifth game with six seconds left, but Ambrosia Anderson’s layup won the game and the series. Walker had 14 points in the final game, a defensive struggle, while former Storm forward Sheri Sam won the championship with Ramat Hasharon.
Chelsea Newton also saw her overseas season conclude as Liomatic Umbertide was swept by the best team in Italy, Cras Basket Taranto, 2-0 in the quarterfinal round. Taranto won 81-52 at home in Game 1 as Newton scored nine points, and then won 81-61 at Umbertide on Tuesday. Newton had six points and nine boards and former Sacramento teammate Rebekkah Brunson led Taranto with 20 points and eight boards.
Yesterday marked the start of semifinal action in the Russian Superleague playoffs, and Spartak Moscow Region handed Kursk Dynamo a 102-87 defeat. Sue Bird scored 10 points and handed out five assists and Diana Taurasi led all scorers with 20 points. Spartak made 67.2 percent of its two-point shots and piled up 35 points in the third quarter alone. Spartak will go for the sweep Sunday, when the series moves to Kursk.
Half of the Liga Feminina finals is set in Spain. Halcon Avenida swept its way into the championship by defeating Rivas Ecopolis 65-59 on Saturday behind 14 points and eight rebounds from Le’coe Willingham and 68-65 in a thriller on Wednesday. Rivas Ecopolis was unable to connect on a potential tying three at the buzzer, allowing Avenida to advance. Willingham had six points and five rebounds in the deciding game, including a crucial rebound of a missed free throw late in the game.
Because Ros Casares Valencia was busy finishing as the runner-up in the Euroleague Final Four, the other semifinal series did not get underway until yesterday. Ros Casares moved halfway to a showdown against Avenida by defeating Mann Filter Zaragoza 80-64. Jana Vesela contributed six points and four boards and DeLisha Milton-Jones scored a game-high 27. Game 2 will take place on Monday.
Now, die-hard Storm fans may remember the Mariners actually had both Brian Hunters during the 1990s. Moore’s brother is the power-hitting platoon first baseman/left fielder, not the speedy hacktastic outfielder. Hunter played for the Mariners in 1996, when he hit .268/.327/.424 with seven homeruns in 221 at bats. That was part of a nine-year major-league career for Hunter, who most famously played in three World Series as a member of the Atlanta Braves.