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.
Agler Audio After Practice
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.