Thursday, May 3, 2007

Storm Short-Handed Saturday

I had the unfortunate task of bringing some bad news to Coach Donovan today. She'd been on the practice floor and had yet to hear the outcome in Poland by the time she chatted with the media. As I blogged earlier, that final series is headed to a deciding seventh game, which I believe will be played on Saturday. Therefore, no Betty Lennox for Saturday's preseason opener in Indiana. Lennox might be with the Storm in time for Tuesday's game at Connecticut, but today's result puts that in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, it doesn't sound like Tanisha Wright will be able to play Saturday, though the Storm has decided to bring her on the road trip.

"I'm really convicted that she's not going to play until she's ready. T understands that," said Donovan. "Our goal was Saturday. That looks unrealistic, so our next goal would be Tuesday - and not a day before she's 100%."

No Lennox, no Wright means not a lot of depth - or any - in the perimeter on Saturday. We chatted with Katie Gearlds about making her professional debut in her native Indiana, and she mentioned she was excited because, looking at the numbers, she was going to see some minutes. That's an understatement.

"I wish we had more bodies in our perimeter," Donovan said about her mindset going into Saturday. "We're trying to prepare Katie for Tully (Bevilaqua). Eager to play against somebody besides these guys."

Barring a miraculous return by Wright, Gearlds and Iziane Castro Marques will start at guard against Indiana. Shyra Ely and Wendy Palmer will be at forward with Janell Burse in the middle. And the only perimeter sub is Palmer, if she plays small forward, as she did during Thursday's practice.

"It's exhibition," said Donovan. "That's what I'll keep telling myself."

Bevilaqua, who has some of the fastest hands on defense of anyone in the WNBA, is sure to test Gearlds in her debut. The Storm's backup point guard at the moment is Castro Marques, something Donovan said she'd never imagined.

Palmer at small forward is something that was considered when Palmer first came to Seattle, but had never been put into reality before today.

"When I talked to her today," Donovan said, "I reminded her, when we recruited her as a free agent, that was one of the things that we talked about. She was hurt too early last year. We never got her settled with the post. This year, with certain matchups on the floor ... we'll see."

Palmer is not yet 100%, and Donovan will be cautious with her minutes in the exhibition season. There's no limit placed on how much Palmer can play, however.

We've talked a lot about how the injuries will affect the exhibition games, but Donovan pointed out something a little more subtle - practices on the road will be difficult ("pretty conservative," in Donovan's words) because the practice squad will not be there with the Storm.

As for Wright, she's in an unfortunate position. She's fighting for a spot on the roster, which makes it important for her to be on the court, but if she comes back before she's ready, that doesn't help anyone. Wright has shown the kind of patience that is needed and she is feeling better. She was able to go through a drill with some contact today.

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