Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ely's Staying

If you want to know why Shyra Ely made the Seattle Storm's roster over Barbara Turner yesterday, you have to look all the way back to June 4, 2006. That was the first game Wendy Palmer missed after injuring her Achilles, and the Storm faced a San Antonio team that went small in the second half.

Playing a frontcourt of 6-2 LaToya Thomas and 6-1 Sophia Young, the Silver Stars outscored the Storm 52-41 in the second half of an 89-87 come-from-behind victory. When San Antonio went small, the Storm had no answer. Anne Donovan stuck with her typical frontline of 6-5 Janell Burse and 6-5 Lauren Jackson, and the Silver Stars outquicked them.

Young had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Thomas 15 points and six rebounds and San Antonio pulled down 18 offensive boards.

Okay, Storm Coach Anne Donovan probably isn't thinking quite so literally about that one game, but she does know that in today's WNBA, the ability to match up small against certain teams is important. She also knows that size is valuable at a small forward position that includes some players whose size and athleticism make them difficult matchups like Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings and Chamique Holdsclaw (at least during the Storm's playoff series with L.A.).

Donovan didn't believe that Turner, two inches shorter than her listed 6-0 height, could play that role for the Storm. Turner played some minutes at power forward last season, but when I asked Donovan about that possiblity this season, she said it wasn't fair to either the Storm or Turner to play her there except in extreme situations.

That's what yesterday's decision was ultimately about. Coach Donovan made no secret of the fact that she was unhappy with Turner for reporting to camp late because of her obligations in Turkey. That absence allowed Ely to come to camp and open eyes with her performance. The Ely we saw in camp was a better player than the one we saw in San Antonio the last two seasons - a better shooter who was aggressively taking the ball to the basket at times and capable of playing both forward positions.

Donovan's buzzword this season has, for some time, been "versatility." Tye'sha Fluker at the four might be a little bit of a stretch, but otherwise everyone else on the Storm's bench can play at least two positions and sometimes three (Ely also played shooting guard during the preseason when the Storm was short of guards, though it's unlikely she'll see action there during the regular season).

Turner will be missed after a solid rookie season where her great personality was evident to everyone around the Storm. I look forward to and expect to see her somewhere else in the WNBA this season. For now, however, Ely was the better fit for Donovan.


Kole said...

She had better be ready to prove herself. As of this five minutes I think Anne made a bad decision. I will gladly recant at the end of the season if Ely does well...

Online Zen Doctor said...

Kevin, what you say certainly makes sense and Anne probably made the right decision, but I can't help being bothered a little by it. We don't have much basis to compare the 2 players, because of limited pro experience and Shyra's injury last year, but wasn't Barb a higher draft pick and more highly regarded coming out of college? How did their college careers compare? Pretty similar ppg, rpg, FG%, etc. or not? That may make for a better comparison than their pro careers. Barb certainly had some very impressive games last year and she was good enough to crack the starting lineup 9 times. It seems very odd to give up on your first round draft choice after a very good rookie season.

One thing in your article that really bothered me is that you said that Shyra is 6'2" but Barb is really 2 inches shorter than her listed height of 6'0"! If that is true, I don't understand how someone can be listed as 2" taller than she really is. Doesn't the Storm do all their own measurements? If Barb was only 5'10", then she was really 4" shorter than Shyra! Do you think that is true? If so, it could explain a lot. I would definitely want Shyra on the team if she is 4" taller and has approximately the same game and talent. But aren't there some official heights somewhere that are truly accurate?
- Zen Doc

Victor said...

I think BARB needed this to redirect her career. I don't think she's even scratched the surface on the potential she has. I'd like to see her end up with the Mercury or SilverStars. Good Luck BARB...I will miss you!

Anonymous said...

I, and I hope fellow Storm fans will do the same, will take a wait & see approach to this. Hopefully Ely will work out. I really do think that she will. Personally, I like her alot better than Turner, but Turner at least in terms of performance, has been the better player. On the other hand, Ely has been injured during her short career as well. As I said, I think that she will be fine, especially with what appears to be a rejunevated and healthy LJ and happy LJ and Sue, and on her game, so far, BMoney. This could be a special year for the Storm !!!!!!

Kevin Pelton said...

Shyra might be 6-2. I'm not good with that kind of thing, but Coach Donovan has said that Turner measured in at 5-10 prior to the Draft.

Height inflation has been going on for decades and probably will be going on decades from now. It's just part of the game.

wasn't Barb a higher draft pick and more highly regarded coming out of college?

Turner was drafted 11th, Ely 14th. Fun fact: I had the Storm taking Ely with the 12th pick (used on Tanisha Wright) in my first 2005 Mock Draft.