Wednesday, May 30, 2007

May 30 Practice Report

This is interesting. We've got a 5-on-5 scrimmage without the practice squad, which is rare. The lineups are basically starters against the second unit, but with Tanisha Wright playing the point for the starters and Sue Bird paired with the reserves. This might be Anne Donovan's way of getting Wright comfortable working with this group ... or it might not mean anything. The latter is probably more likely.

Good aggressive move in transition by Shyra Ely for a pull-up score in the paint.

They cleared the score before I remembered to double-check it, but I believe 16-12 Black (the starters and Wright) emerged victorious, thanks to some typically superhuman play from Lauren Jackson and some solid play from Wright. She usually plays better when paired with the starting unit - of course, who wouldn't?

The Storm is now working on a full-court press against the guys.

We've got an old-fashioned shootout in this scrimmage, with both teams clicking on offense. Janell Burse has knocked down consecutive 18-foot jumpers, showing off her range. The Storm has briefly gone to a lineup with Burse, Jackson and Wendy Palmer together in a supersized frontcourt.

Wow, Lauren is a gazelle out there today. She's leading the fast break and flying in the black tights she's wearing to keep her legs warm. She has completely dominated.

Still, the guys come back to win 25-24 on a breakaway dunk (usually not kosher) just before the buzzer. Storm scrimmages usually aren't played under game conditions at the end, so the Storm wasn't trying to run out the clock and gave up the late score.


After practice, Coach Donovan said she's pleased with the last three days of practice, which amounted to a second training camp of sorts. My focus was on the bench for a feature later today, and Donovan is getting more comfortable with a rotation with Wright backing up Bird, Katie Gearlds getting minutes on the wings and Wendy Palmer and Ashley Robinson backing up the posts. Donovan said she'd like to get more minutes for Robinson, and one creative way that could happen is with Jackson playing small forward - as I mentioned, she was out there briefly during the scrimmage.

Donovan also said she's tried to sprinkle reserves in with the starting five at times over the last three days to get them more comfortable in that role and help the starters learn the style of the reserves. While you usually have the first unit and the second unit in practice, the second team rarely plays as a group in games.


Anonymous said...

Is Anne more comfortable with LJ at the three this year. I remember the horribly failed attempt against LA in last year's season opener. (I think that was the game LJ stunk it up, but I'd have to go back to verify). LJ is a lot healthier this year and her shot seems to be falling from wherever the heck she decides to throw it up from, so maybe this would work. But don't you think we lose some speed in our transition game with this front court configuration? And what effect would an opponent throwing a small, fast lineup at us have on this configuration?

Kevin Pelton said...

Lauren also was out of shape in that opener. I think the question isn't so much her, however, as the player alongside her. Wendy Palmer has a perimeter game that Mandisa Stevenson (who started alongside Jackson in that game) does not, so LJ is less inclined to drift to the perimeter with this group than with that one (she attempted a franchise-record 13 threes in that game).

As Anne pointed out, you'd only use this lineup against select opposing lineups. For example, L.A. is playing Chamique Holdsclaw at the two guard right now with Murriel Page against the three, so this unit would match up better with that group. If the opposition goes small, then you go back to your regular lineup.