Friday, May 9, 2008

Notebook: Two Roster Spots on the Line for Storm

The Seattle Storm wraps up the preseason tomorrow, hosting the Indiana Fever at KeyArena (7:00 p.m., 1150 AM KKNW, ), and Storm Head Coach Brian Agler will be keeping an eye on the competition for the final couple of spots on the roster. Agler indicated after Friday's practice at the Key that the Storm will be able to go with a 12-player roster now that Janell Burse is sitting out the season, giving the team more salary-cap flexibility. The coaching staff has a good idea who 10 of those players will be, leaving the other five players in camp vying for a pair of spots.

"We'd like to come out, obviously, and play well," said Agler. "That's important, but we do have to evaluate some people still.

"I think we're getting down to five or six people for two sports. They all have their strengths. We need to evaluate it, hopefully, in a live situation - also with our practice Monday against Indiana."

Burse's decision helped clear things up for the Storm. In particular, it helped out post Kelly Santos, whom Agler said has slid into the group of players that is expected to make the roster. Not only is the Storm in need of depth up front without Burse, but Santos has impressed the coaching staff during her first week in camp. Without Burse's salary, the Storm also has more room to keep veteran players on the roster despite their higher salaries.

Now, the competition appears to be on the perimeter. According to Agler, salaries shouldn't be a factor, with any combination of two players amongst that group leaving the Storm under the cap. What will be a factor is how players' skills fit together.

"It's hard," said Agler, "because there's a lot of different scenarios, different combinations. Of those five or six people, there's some combinations better than others. It's more than just evaluating that single person in that spot. It's how it all fits together. Versatility matters. Getting comfortable with who's going to be that backup point guard. Is it going to be Tanisha (Wright) or is it going to be someone like Kim (Beck)? That's what we're evaluating. Tomorrow will be a big test for that, and Sunday will be a test, and then early next week."

During tomorrow's preseason game, Agler wants to balance the evaluation process with getting playing time for the Storm's rotation players. The starters - including Wright at the point and Shyra Ely at power forward - should see 20-25 minutes apiece, around the same playing time starters got last Friday in Sacramento.

The one question mark with the starting lineup is Sheryl Swoopes, who did not practice Friday after tweaking her left ankle yesterday. The Storm may not know whether Swoopes will play until just before tomorrow's game.

"It's just awful sore right now and stiff," said Agler. "But it's not severe. It's not something that's going to keep her out for a week. It's just a day-to-day-type thing."

If Swoopes is unable to go, Katie Gearlds would step into the starting lineup at shooting guard.


While the Storm awaits the return of stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson from overseas, Indiana still has four players overseas, including starters Katie Douglas and Tammy Sutton-Brown. Meanwhile, starters Tully Bevilaqua and Tamika Catchings did not travel with the Storm. Bevilaqua is resting up after arriving in to Indianapolis late last week, while Catchings is still in the rehab process after tearing her

In his blog, Indiana's Director of Media Relations, Kevin Messenger, discusses the makeshift Fever lineup.

Saturday's matchup with the Storm will prove interesting. Seattle is playing a
lineup that includes longtime WNBA vets Swin Cash, Yolanda Griffith and Sheryl Swoopes - though does not include Sue Bird or Lauren Jackson. Indiana,
meanwhile, will counter with perhaps the youngest and most inexperienced team in
the league at this point with its band of rookies and free agents joining
(Alison) Bales, (Kasha) Terry, (Tan) White -- and (Allison) Feaster.

Agler Audio After Practice


Online ZenDoc said...

There are 10 roster spots locked up and 2 spots up for grabs. I assume that the 10 locked-up spots are Guards - Sue Bird, Tanisha Wright. Sheryl Swoopes, & Katie Gearlds; Forwards - Swin Cash, Lauren Jackson, Shyra Ely, & Kelly Santos; and Centers - Yolanda Griffith & Ashley Robinson.

So where are there weaknesses with those 10? If all of them are healthy and available, probably nowhere. Center is a little weaker w/o Janelle, but it really would have been overloaded with her here & healthy. Still that would be a good problem to have. Since Kelly Santos & Shyra Ely can both play center, I think we'll be OK there.

I think we have to have another point guard in case Sue or Tanisha get injured. I know they like the rookie Kim Beck, but there's also the 'Neeka sisters, one of whom I think is a point guard. I believe the other is a shooting guard, but I'm not sure. I don't know much about the 'Neeka twins, Don & Ron, but I think Roneeka is the shooting guard & Doneeka is the point guard. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

The Storm could keep both 'Neeka sisters, but then they can't keep Kim Beck, and they certainly can't keep Kristen O'Neill, unless she shoots the lights out tomorrow. That may be her only chance. Realistically, she doesn't have much chance, unless there's something else I don't know about.

Anonymous said...

Spartak steamrolls CSKA.

Anonymous said...

If I was the GM my cuts would go to Kristen O'Neil and Doneeka Hodges-Lewis.

I feel Kim Beck and Daphine have really showed that they both deserve to be in camp.

I wish every1 the best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Spartak win 101-63. Lauren had 30 points. :)

Anonymous said...

Kennedy hasn't shown much more than the others, and sometimes less.

Her lack of height puts her at a distinct disadvantage when matched against most of the SG's in this league.

Kevin Pelton said...

I'm curious - when you say Kennedy hasn't shown much, what is that based on?

LD said...

We should be looking for maximum versatility for the 12th player, since she will only be used if an injury occurs to one of the other players. In that regard O'Neill has the advantage over others since she can play any one of the positions pg, sg, sf while others can play max two positions.

Online ZenDoc said...

Remember that they are carrying 15 players as soon as Sue and Lauren get here, so they still have to cut 3 players, not just 2. I didn't even mention Daphine Kennedy because I don't know anything about her and I was assuming that she would be cut.

They can only keep 2 of these 5: the 'Neeka sisters, Kim Beck, Kristen O'Neill, and Daphine Kennedy. So how good are the 'Neekas compared to Kim Beck and Kristen O'Neill? Personally, I'd love to see them keep Kim Beck and Kristen O'Neill, but that may not be the best move for the team.

Also good for Sue and Lauren. They wrapped things up so they can be back here early in the week - maybe even Monday!

Online ZenDoc said...

I think that Kim Beck locked up her spot on the roster with her performance in the Storm's final preseason game. She's a very good distributor of the ball and she had 5 assists with only 1 turnover and played more minutes than all but 2 starters.

So I think Coach Agler will need to decide which player to keep out of Doneeka and Roneeka Hodges, Kristen O'Neill, and Daphanie Kennedy. Kim Beck gives them plenty of ball handlers, so they don't need another point guard - maybe another sharpshooter like Kristen O'Neill. Maybe ...

Online ZenDoc said...

Kevin, who would you keep if you were the coach? Who do you think could make the biggest contribution this year to the team and who do you think has the most potential to be a major contributor in the future? Can you talk about each one's natural positions and how many different positions each one can play? Who's the most versatile?

Do any of them offer something that we don't already have in the other 11 players? I'm guessing no, but they might solidify an area. Are any of them defensive specialists?

Can you run another article on the final 6 players of whom they will keep 3, including Kelly Santos, because we still don't know a lot about most of them and we won't have any more chances to get to know them because three of them will be gone in a few short days.

Anonymous said...

Kristin O'neill should definitely be one of the players of the two. The other player they should keep should be Roneeka Lewis.

Kristin didn't get enough playing time, but every time she was out on the floor she posed a threat - as a sharp shooter and spread the floor. That allowed her to distribute the ball to someone else and created a lot of open opportunities for the Storm in their last preseason game.

I liked Roneeka's hustle every time she was out on the floor. But if they kept Beck instead, I don't think that would be a bad choice either.