Two days away from opening the preseason against the Sky in Chicago on Wednesday, Seattle Storm Head Coach Brian Agler said Monday he’s close to a lineup for that game.
“Probably Shyra (Ely) or Ashley (Robinson) at the other post with Yolanda (Griffith),” he said. “Katie (Gearlds) and Sheryl (Swoopes) and we’ll probably start Kim (Beck) at the point on Wednesday. That’s probably how we’ll go – unless things change tomorrow.”
Despite Agler’s caution, that group has worked as the Storm’s first unit in several recent practices. In most of the positions, the Storm’s most experienced players are getting the nod. The exception is point guard, where several young players are competing. So far, Beck appears to have a slight advantage on the other players. When it comes to the team’s crowded backcourt, Agler said, “This week will tell a lot.”
The Storm will continue the road trip Friday in Sacramento and have two of the team’s three preseason games in the books by this weekend.
On Saturday, the Storm made its first roster move of training camp, waiving guard Brandie Hoskins. The 2007 third-round pick from Ohio State had been behind, something Agler hinted might have had to do with her comeback from a torn Achilles suffered last Spring.
“I just think the other people passed her by,” Agler explained. “She worked hard; she just wasn’t quite ready physically.”
Agler said the team plans no more cuts and expects to take the current group of 13 players to Chicago. Tomorrow is a mandatory WNBA roster cutdown to 15 players, but that number includes only those in camp, so the Storm will not need to make any moves.
During this week, players will continue to join the team, starting with Swin Cash. The All-Star forward wrapped up her work in China with USA Basketball on Saturday and will meet the team on the road.
“It’s either going to be in Chicago or Sacramento, one of those two spots,” said Agler, “but it will be over the trip.”
Due next in are guard Roneeka Hodges and center Kelly Santos, whose season in Spain ended yesterday. According to Agler, they should be in Seattle for physicals by Wednesday or Thursday. Depending on how early they get in, they could fly to Sacramento for Friday’s game. Otherwise, they will join the Storm in Seattle.
While it will be a busy week for the Storm in terms of travel, Agler can’t afford to skimp on practices. (”This is training camp,” he explained. “We’ve got to practice.”) The Storm will go early tomorrow before flying to Chicago, and practice Thursday in Sacramento after making that trip (with time zones in the Storm’s favor that time). Game-day shootarounds before both games will also likely play more of a teaching role than during the regular season. The team will take Saturday off before Sunday’s Fan Fest and open practice at KeyArena.
FOCUS ON DEFENSE
The defensive-minded Agler isn’t happy with where his team is at that end of the floor.
“We’ve got a ways to go with our defense right now,” he said, “so we spent a lot of time on that today.
“We need to get better at everything, but we’re going to spend a lot of time with our defense here in the next couple of days.”
Griffith, who anchored some of the league’s best defenses while in Sacramento and is a former WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, believes part of the problem is that the team is too quiet right now.
“The most important thing is talking,” she said. “We don’t talk enough.”