Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coop's Conspiracy Theory

The Storm's secret weapon?
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Before the game, when I interviewed Michael Cooper, he threw me a curveball by mentioning the Storm had focused in practice on defending Sue Bird (which made sense) and Lauren Jackson (huh?). I wasn't exactly sure what to make of that, but Cooper's logic became clear during a rare noteworthy postgame press conference.

"We're expecting to play against a team that's going to suit Lauren Jackson up," Cooper said, looking ahead to Game 2.

And what gave Cooper the idea Jackson could play?

"The basketball gods," he mused. "I just think there's something about that - she's down here for a reason. Obviously, it's for team morale and camaraderie, but she's walking pretty well on the other end every time I watch her. We've got to be ready to play her.

"As a coaching staff, we prepared for her for this game here. We're not going to leave any stone unturned. We're going to stay ready, and if they do (play her), it won't be a surprise to us. They're a very good basketball team without her, but they become a great team with her."

Things got more fun when Storm Head Coach Brian Agler followed Cooper to the dais. He was asked whether Jackson was going to start (along with whether he had been in contact with the basketball gods)

"No, I don't think she'll start on Sunday," Agler deadpanned.

(Note that he left the door open to Jackson playing off the bench.)

(That was just a joke. She's not going to play.)

Anyways, the mood of the Storm after the game was disappointed but not downbeat. Getting off to a better start and not having to play from behind will be key for the Storm. Coach Agler said he thought the team settled down after halftime, and also gave credit to Los Angeles for simply playing a strong first half. Yolanda Griffith was resolute about the next two games, saying the Storm will be fine.

Historically, losing Game 1 on the road has actually worked out well for the Storm, who have won both series that have started like that, both in 2004 - the Western Conference Finals against Sacramento and the WNBA Finals against Connecticut.

Postgame video courtesy
Sue Bird
Lisa Leslie

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