Monday, April 28, 2008

Live From Monday's Practice

Welcome to The Furtado Center, where the Storm is back on the court after taking yesterday off. Doneeka Lewis is in the house, practicing for the first time since returning from Italy.

The Storm has split up into two groups, the veterans on one end and the young players (rookies and Dee Davis) at the other end. Brian Agler and Shelley Patterson are working with the vets, Nancy Darsch with the young group. Both ends are playing on-3 against players from the practice squad, and it appears the focus is on defending the pick-and-roll.

- The young players were working at the end of the court nearest to us, and Kristen O'Neill's determination at the defensive end of the court really stood out.

- Sheryl Swoopes' son, Jordan, and Alisa Scott are back at practice today.

- Now the Storm is drilling on transition defense using a common drill. Five players on each side, with the Storm going against the practice squad. The practice guys stand on the endline and the Storm players at the free-throw line extended. At the same time as the practice squad gets the ball, one or two Storm players are called out and have to run back to the endline before getting back in the play. This produces a natural 5-on-4 or 5-on-3 break at the other end. Communication is very important to identify the uncovered player.

The Storm has done a good job of getting stops on the defensive end, but Coach Agler has been a little frustrated with turnovers when they go back to offense going the other direction. He pointed out that when the team has worked so hard on defense, a turnover is a waste of that effort.

On the floor right now is what seems to have emerged as the first unit - Kimberly Beck and Swoopes in the backcourt, Katie Gearlds and Shyra Ely as the forwards and Yolanda Griffith in the middle.

- Great play by the Storm in transition. Swoopes found point guard Dee Davis in the middle of the floor. Davis looked off the defense and found Ashley Robinson all alone in the paint for the left-hand layup. Davis had another nice assist on the secondary break to Leah Rush, doing a good job of being patient and letting the play develop.

- Next up for the Storm is some 5-on-5 action in the halfcourt with a focus on post defense.

- The Storm has moved on to half-court offense, first against the practice squad and now with two different units. On the sidelines, Lewis and Patterson have the clipboard out to go over the team's offense.

- Now we've got the younger players running through the offense against the practice squad. I've been impressed with their job of execution without a lot of natural shot creators (at this level) on the floor. O'Neill and Natalie Doma have both been hitting from the perimeter. At the risk of redundancy, it is amazing how frequently O'Neill comes up with loose balls.

I like the way the veteran players are supporting the younger players from the sidelines. It's evident that there is a genuine appreciation for the kind of people and hard workers the young group has.

- Rush hits a free throw (Anne Donovan made players hit two) and that wraps us up.


Anonymous said...

Do you think O Neill has stepped up her game. How would you rate her out of all the rookies?

Anonymous said...

how's Rush doing?

Kevin Pelton said...

Today was probably Kristen's best day of practice, at least going off of what we've seen in the last half hour or so (an hour today). She shot the ball well and was all over the floor.

As for Rush, she's also very scrappy and has proven a heady player. She's been singled out for her play a few times. One of the questions with Rush is her ability to defend bigger players in the post. It's hard to gauge against the guys, so I don't have a good feel for that yet.

It's tough to rate the young players at different positions against each other, since they're asked to do different things.

Anonymous said...

We're really excited to hear that Leah Rush is playing well. She played the center and power forward position at Oklahoma Univ. before Courtney Paris arrived and did quite well. We would love to hear any additional information regarding her from your training camp insight.