Thursday, May 15, 2008

Notebook: Storm Wants to Keep O'Neill Around

The Seattle Storm waived wing Kristen O'Neill Thursday morning, but there was O'Neill on the floor at KeyArena during the Storm's practice later in the day. It was the start of what could be a new role for O'Neill as a practice player this summer, continuing her relationship with the organization. Despite having to make the difficult decision to cut O'Neill, Head Coach Brian Agler would love to have her around.

"We just want her to stay involved in case there's an opportunity that could come about sometime during the course of the year and she's ready to go," Agler explained after practice. "That's why we're going to encourage her to stay here and be a practice player for us. I know that our organization is looking for her to possibly have some other responsibilities, which would be great.

"It's nice to have somebody that's real familiar with what you're doing that can be there in a moment."

Agler noted that O'Neill does have to make a living, which could force her to give up the role of practice player. After practice, however, O'Neill sounded like she was planning to stick around.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity that the coaches and the organization presented to me to continue training and working with the team," she said. "I was obviously delighted to take that opportunity. I'm going to be here and continue to keep working to get better and make this team better."

According to Agler, it was a numbers situation that forced the Storm's decision with O'Neill. During her time in camp, she had impressed the coaching staff with her play and especially off the floor.

"The quality of person that she is, those types of people are few and far between coming into your life," said Agler. "She's one of those."

Having received the news from Agler Wednesday, O'Neill remained upbeat. Her former college coach at UW, current Washington State Head Coach June Daugherty, was at Thursday's practice and chatted with O'Neill afterwards. For her part, O'Neill enjoyed with her experience with the Storm during training camp.

"The experience has been incredible," she said. I truly have enjoyed every day. I'm just so thankful for the opportunity from the coaching staff, my teammates and the organization. It's been an incredible opportunity.

"I feel like I've grown so much as a player throughout this experience. Having a strong work ethic and trying to push myself to work as hard as I can every day but also having the element of playing with the best makes the situation that much more competitive. Just playing with such a high level, that's what makes you better. Through being around these incredible women, I've learned so much about professional basketball, the way they carry themselves on and off the court. It's been a great learning experience."

- After cutting O'Neill and guard Roneeka Hodges, the Storm's roster now sits at 13 players less than 24 hours away from the WNBA's Noon Pacific deadline for setting final rosters for the season. The Storm still must make one more cut, and because of the early time on the West Coast, must do so before practicing tomorrow.

"I think there's two or three ways we could go," Agler said. "If we go a couple ways, though, it might handicap us in terms of depth at certain positions. That's what we're going to sort of talk about as a staff here after practice today, what way we're going to go. We've got to make it basically before practice tomorrow because the deadline is 3:00 Eastern time and that sits right in the middle of our practice. For whatever reason, they don't want to work with us. We'll probably have a decision sometime tonight or tomorrow morning."

Without having studied the updated transaction wire during practice, Agler said he does not anticipate the Storm bringing in anyone from outside, but instead for the roster to, "probably be a combination of this group we have right now."

The early deadline means the Storm will have to make a decision on newcomer Florina Pascalau after just two practices in Seattle. Agler felt the staff got a good look at Pascalau during today's session.

"She's a good player," he said. "She's got a lot of potential. We'll see. We haven't come to a conclusion yet on that."

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey did the Storm Roster page just turn to 12 players, or was Florina never put on it?

Kevin Pelton said...

Elias still hasn't added her to the player list. The Storm Players page (http://www.wnba.com/storm/players/) accurately lists 13 players.

Online ZenDoc said...

Kevin, did you get to see practice today? If so, what is your impression of our new center, Florina? Is she pretty impressive or not? Do you think she's had time to show enough to make the decision on whether to keep her or Kelly Santos? Or do you think that they should keep both of them for now and cut Doneeka Lewis instead or possibly even Kim Beck or even Shyra Ely? Do you have some impressions that you could share? Maybe they could cut 2 players and re-sign Kristen O'Neill. It's possible. :-) At least they want Kristen to stick around awhile. But, c'mon guys, put her on the payroll.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that O'Neill has chosen to stick around for a little bit.

And given the plight of injuries that can occur during a season, I would hope she would be the Storm's first choice to take a roster spot.

Anonymous said...

Wow, as far as Kristen O'Neill, I was amazed when I saw a pre-season interview with her, really a special person. Everyone wants her in a Storm uniform sooo bad. I love the idea of keeping her here if she is willing. It's a long season and at any time there could easily be room for her. Go Kristin!

Anonymous said...

Is the coaching staff really so unsure of what they want from the last bench player that they have to go to the wire with the last cut???

Anonymous said...

OK coaching staff - any time now...

Who'd you cut? Hope they can come up with plays quicker than this.

Kevin Pelton said...

What exactly is the rush?

But anyways, the move had to be made before practice. It simply hasn't been announced yet, but will be shortly.

Anonymous said...

How shortly?

Online ZenDoc said...

I am definitely rooting for Kristen. I hope that she will be re-signed, although I guess that means I'm hoping that someone gets injured - not a career ender - and not one of our top 8 players preferably. Or there's another scenario below ...

Has anyone heard who got cut today? I would think it was between Kelly Santos or Florina Pascalau of the bigs, or possibly between Kim Beck and Doneeka Lewis of the backup PG's. Since we already have Tanisha Wright, a good combo guard, I don't think that we really need 2 more backup PG's and I like what I've seen of Kim Beck - somehow she makes me think of Nate MacMillan, so I would definitely keep her.

If I was coach, I would be cutting Doneeka Lewis and Kelly Santos (more upside for a 5 with Florina) and re-signing Kristen O'Neill. Now THAT would be a very powerful roster with all bases covered and good versatility/flexibility, don't you think? I like that scenario. But I think it's a fantasy ...

So what really happened? Or did they get an extension of the time to make their decision? Do they have to submit it to someone by noon where it could be checked publicly? Or do we just have to wait for their announcement, however long it takes? I think I'll go read the SonicsCentral.com blog.

Online ZenDoc said...

Hey Kevin, you never answered my question about Florina Pascalau! Did you see her practice and if you did, what did you think of her? Would you keep her over Kelly Santos? How dos she compare or can you say? It's difficult to make a decision with only 2 practices to see her. That's one reason why I think that they can't cut her. What do you think?

Online ZenDoc said...

If you assume that they can't cut Florina because of Janell's absence and Yolanda's age and Florina's upside and they need more time to evaluate her, then to carry that further, you'd have to say that, unless they are really sure, and I don't think that they can be, they also need to keep Kelly Santos, because when they're done evaluating, they may decide that they really like Kelly better, and since good bigs are generally harder to come by, I think it makes the most sense to cut one of the point guards: either Doneeka Lewis or Kim Beck, don't you?

That gives them time to further evaluate their bigs, and if they eventually decide to cut Florina or Kelly and bring back a guard, guess who they have waiting in the wings? Ms. Kristen O'Neill! That's the scenario that I'm hoping for, including bringing back Kristen.

Anonymous said...

They got rid of Lewis and kept Beck!!! Yeahy. It's set. Let's go win a championship! :-)

Online ZenDoc said...

So they cut Doneeka Lewis - well they must have been reading my posts! :-)

Seriously, I think that's what they had to do. Kim Beck has too much potential to cut her, and I already discussed the bigs. I don't think they had any other choice. Too bad for 'Neeka, but someone had to go.

Online ZenDoc said...

I'm very happy with the roster as set, especially if they bring back Kristen O'Neill. They have good depth at all positions now. I think it was the right move to keep Kim Beck over Doneeka Lewis, but it could have gone either way.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
They got rid of Lewis and kept Beck!!! Yeahy. It's set. Let's go win a championship! :-)

May 16, 2008 1:45 PM

how did you find that out?

Online ZenDoc said...

She probably found i out the same way that I did, by reading Jayda Evans Storm blog in the Seattle Times. Jayda broke the news before it as announced here. As soon as I saw what Jayda said I came back here and posted it, thinking that I would be the first to posr it here because anonymous' post was not showing up at that time. Then when mine showed up, I saw that hers was there too, just before mine. At least we agreed on the news.

Anonymous said...

It's Lewis. See Jayda's blog.

Online ZenDoc said...

Also, in answer to last anon's question, did you notice the link: Final Storm Roster on the main page under the story "Veterans looking for Another Title" on the left side?

This is the direct link to the final 2008 roster: (well, hopefully not quite final - ;-) )

http://www.wnba.com/storm/news/roster080516.html

Online ZenDoc said...

Do links work any better if you turn them into "tiny URLs" first?

Like so for the 2008 Storm roster:

http://tinyurl.com/3pbkmn

Maybe they just don't get linkified.

Anonymous said...

yes - K Mc Neill definately deserves roster spot.. For a player that loves basketball(and can really play) and getting paid is a bonus rather that an player who loves the money and plays for same.

Kevin Pelton said...

Nope, can't link in comments.

Online ZenDoc said...

Jayda Evans, who writes the Storm blog for the Seattle Times, made an interesting comment from her talk with Brian Agler today. She said that the coaches had already decided that Kim Beck would be the main point guard back-up for Sue with Tanisha also available, so Kim was at no risk of being cut today. They also like Doneeka Lewis a lot and would have liked to have kept her, but they had not had time to fully evaluate Lina (her nickname that she goes by) Pascalau yet, but they did like what they saw.

They also liked Kelly Santos a lot, so she wasn't really at risk of being cut, either. Jayda said that it came down to keeping the exta big, Lina, or keeping another point guard, Doneeka, and they went with the big Romanian center. If she's not as good as they think and they decide to cut her down the line, they can always sign Kristen O'Neill. Or if one of their 5 guards gets injured, they can always sign Kristen. She provides good insurance for them.