Saturday, May 30, 2009

Batkovic-Brown Wedding

The Sydney Telegraph reports on Storm center Suzy Batkovic's wedding to Matt Brown on Saturday (which is already yesterday in Australia). Check out a photo of Batkovic and her wedding party, all of them Opals players (Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and former WNBAer Trish Fallon). The wedding took place in Cronulla, just south of Sydney.

Jackson is due back in Seattle tomorrow, while the latest on Batkovic (who will henceforth be known as Suzy Batkovic-Brown) is that she will be in town for the Storm's Opening Night matchup with Sacramento on June 7. Whether she is in uniform will depend upon whether she arrives in time to undergo a physical and complete the necessary paperwork prior to the game, though either way she would not be part of the rotation having just flown nearly 18 hours.

Storm Wraps Up Preseason

Aaron Last/Storm Photos

The Seattle Storm's preseason finale will be Saturday night in Phoenix against the Mercury, and Head Coach Brian Agler has indicated he sees the game as a dress rehearsal of sorts for the start of the regular season just over a week away. After the Storm practiced Friday in the Valley of the Sun, Agler said he'll draw his starting lineup from the group of Sue Bird, Shannon Johnson, Tanisha Wright, Camille Little, Ashley Robinson and Janell Burse. The players likely to be in the Storm's rotation will get the bulk of the playing time.

"Obviously we need to keep improving in our defense," said Agler of his focus for the game. "That and playing together, trying to get our people acclimated to playing together and go from there."

Though Swin Cash got in her first work with contact during Friday's practice, Agler does not necessarily expect her to see any action against the Mercury as part of her rehab process.

"I don't know if we'll get that far," he said. "I have no idea, but we'll see. I envision her, though, getting back in the swing of things here next week. She didn't necessarily play herself out today, so that was a good thing."

As for evaluating the players fighting for roster spots, that was done in part during Thursday's series of scrimmages between the Storm, the Mercury and the Sacramento Monarchs. "They got plenty of time," said Agler, who enjoyed the format and singled out Robinson as playing well in the scrimmage setting.

Friday, May 29, 2009 Season Preview's season preview series checked in with the Storm yesterday. Check it out:

With the departures of Griffith and Swoopes, the Storm have two open slots in their starting lineup to fill and a new rotation to get used to with a number of new players on board for 2009. Health will once again be a concern, but if Jackson and Cash can return to their pre-injury form, the Storm will have a legitimate Big Three to build around in hopes of an another championship run.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Road Trip

Kasha Terry and Janell Burse battle for a rebound in practice. Aaron Last/Storm Photos

After spending the first week and a half of training camp in Seattle, the Storm is ready to head out on the road for the first time. The team flew to Las Vegas this afternoon and will join the host Sacramento Monarchs as well as the Phoenix Mercury for a three-team controlled scrimmage tomorrow. Friday, it's on to Phoenix for Satuday's exhibition finale against the Mercury. Since the Storm hosted Sacramento in its home preseason game, the WNBA's three westernmost teams will know each other intimately by the start of the regular season.

The Storm has now had eight days of practice, having taken Tuesday afternoon off before returning to the floor at The Furtado Center for a session Wednesday morning.

"I think we're improving," Head Coach Brian Agler said afterward. "I think that's a better question to ask after we play, how we stand. We've really been proactive on trying to get a lot of things in. When you do that in a short period of time, you don't get the reps that you want on certain things. I like how we're advancing, but how sharp we are trying to do those things, that's another question."

Agler explained that the coaching staff will use the two settings for different purposes. On Thursday, the focus will be on evaluating talent. The teams will alternate playing quarters against each other - two teams on, one team watching.

"I think tomorrow will be a good (test)," said Agler. "Tomorrow we'll get a chance to watch people in more of a controlled situation, up close. I think it will be a good evaluator."

Saturday, the focus changes to what Agler calls "our last dress rehearsal." Rotations will be more "game-like" as the Storm prepares for the regular season. The lineups will be different from the ones Agler used in the Storm's previous preseason game.

"We have Tanisha (Wright) now and we see Tanisha playing big minutes for us this year. She'll get some quality time. Obviously Sue (Bird) will be on the court. Sue didn't play the last game."

Then there could be a wild card on Saturday - the potential availability of Swin Cash, who is making progress in returning from her back surgery and continues to feel good.

"I sort of envision Swin trying to get in the swing of things sometime either Saturday or early next week," Agler said. "Everything's based on her. Knowing Swin and knowing how well she's feeling, I would guess she'll get on the court more in practice as time goes on. If she feels like she can go, then we'll give her some minutes."

Storm in the News

In case you've yet to see it, I wanted to make sure everyone is aware of a resource we're providing on - our new "In the News" page, which collects links from local sources and around the country covering your Seattle Storm. It's a great archive for past article as well as a chance to see what's being said each day.

While on the subject, I wanted to point you in the direction of a few news stories and blog posts, in case you hadn't seen them.

- This morning, the WNBA released its leaderboard in terms of jersey sales. Storm guard Sue Bird ranked fourth on the list, which counted from last October through this April. The Storm ranks fourth in terms of most popular merchandise.

- The Seattle Times continues to deliver excellent daily Storm coverage. Last week, columnist Jerry Brewer wrote about how life is different for the Storm now as an independent franchise and the opportunities this has provided. I also enjoyed beat writer Jayda Evans' look at the long-running rivalry between Storm rookie Ashley Walker and Sacramento center Courtney Paris (and Paris' twin sister Ashley, who plays for L.A.).

- You should know Patrick Sheehy from his Chasing the Title Storm blog. He's writing this season for, and at media day decided to focus on the newcomers to the Storm and learn a little bit more about them.

- No WNBA blog is more thought-provoking than Rethinking Basketball, which is back in our blogroll after an offseason hiatus. Author Q was at the Key for last week's preseason titlt against Sacramento and has a detailed take on the action on the floor as well as the atmosphere.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Charmin Smith on Ashley Walker

Courtesy University of California/Mollie McClure Photo

Last week, we began our season-long Where Are They Now? series with former Storm guard Charmin Smith, now an assistant coach at Cal. That gave Smith unique insight into the Storm's first-round pick, Cal forward Ashley Walker, which she shared with the coaching staff before the draft. When I interviewed Smith, I made a point of asking her to offer some observations on Walker. What can you tell us about Ashley Walker?
Smith: Ashley is really a phenomenal player. She basically carried this program the past year; she did so much for us. She's, I guess you'd say, a versatile four player. I just describe her as a beast. She thinks every rebound is hers; she's extended her game to shoot threes now. She just battles every single possession and kind of wills herself to be successful. It was definitely a pleasure to have the opportunity to be able to coach her here at Cal, and I'm expecting big things for her at the next level.

How much did you see Walker develop over the course of her career?
If you look at her statistics, she just got better and better every year. She came in with a very talented recruiting class, that freshman class, but she was the one that no one really had very high expectations for. People weren't talking about Ashley Walker when she walked through the door, and very quickly in her freshman year she established herself as a significant presence on the team. I know that having had to scout against her when I was at Stanford her freshman and sophomore years. She really decided to assert herself and really took over. She spent a couple of years being kind of the Robin to Devanei Hampton and Alexis Gray-Lawson, who was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Devanei Hampton was the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2006-07, their sophomore year. Then the last couple of years, Ashley has pretty much asserted herself as the 'Batman' of the team and has really taken over. In terms of specifics of her game, she's always had a rebounding desire and gets after the board. She's had good moves in the paint, but since her freshman and sophomore year, she's extended it to be able to hit the high post shot her junior year and her senior year stepping out and knocking down threes. She was one of the best three-point shooters on the team. You saw her hit some of those in the UConn game. She shoots it with confidence. Being able to do a lot more defensively as well - guard a little bit more on the perimeter, things like that. She's had to guard people like Noelle Quinn when she was at UCLA. She's pretty versatile.

What did you tell Walker about what to expect after she was drafted by the Storm?
I told her that it's a great city. There's a lot to do in Seattle, but I told her she won't have time to do any of it as a rookie because she'll be working so hard. I just told her how much I love it there, that they're great fans. I've had people e-mailing me and saying, 'We're getting one of your players. Let her know if she needs anything, we're here.' That's been really special. The first thing I did when I saw Ashley was coming to Seattle was I got online and hit up Sue (Bird) on AOL Messenger and let her know she was getting a Cal Bear. Just things like that. I want it to be her experience. I'm obviously really happy that she's going somewhere I'm familiar with and a place I really like, but this is all about Ashley Walker. I just want her to do the best that she can and go out and earn a roster spot and enjoy Seattle. I know the fans will really, really enjoy how hard she plays and her passion for the game.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wright Joins Storm for Practice

Aaron Last/Storm Photos

A week after finishing her season in France, Tanisha Wright joined her Seattle Storm teammates for practice Sunday. In between, Wright went to her hometown of Pittsburgh and her offseason home in Charlotte, where she spent some time wrapping up details on her purchase of a home.

"It was good, but it was busy," Wright said after practice. "It was a busy couple of days. I went home to get stuff together for my house, and that's not an easy task. I'm glad to be back. It's bittersweet because I'd love to be back in my house, but I'm glad to be back as well and getting ready to start."

Wright's team played in what was apparently the final game played anywhere in Europe during the 2008-09 season, contesting the Coupe de France after playing in the French LFB Finals.

"It felt like a really long season - it was a long season," she said. "The good thing about it was it was a long season, but it was broken up. There were plenty of times where we would have four or five or six days off throughout the season. I think three or four times where we had that situation where we didn't play for several days. That helps."

In her first practice back, Wright felt the effect of the long season as well as her travel over the last week.

"I was tired - I'm not going to lie," she said. "Usually I'm not like exhausted exhausted, but I was exhausted today."

Still, Head Coach Brian Agler didn't notice much fatigue and lliked what he saw from Wright, who played primarily at shooting guard alongside either Sue Bird and Shannon Johnson, joining them in a versatile three-guard lineup at times.

"She looks in real good shape," he said. "We had her in and out - we didn't try to overdo it. She's still tired from traveling and a long season. She did a good job. It's great to have her back out here."

For Wright, the start of this training camp is very different from a year ago, when she came in late and was trying to pick up a new offense and adjust to a number of new teammates. She was also trying to establish a position then, having shifted between both guard spots. Now, she is solidly at shooting guard, though with the ability to swing to small forward in small lineups or play the point if needed.

"I think the difference this year is being more comfortable now - knowing the situation, knowing his system and knowing (Coach Agler) and the rest of the coaching staff as well as the players, because we have a lot of returning players," Wright explained. "This year, I think I'm more comfortable in my skin and can just play. I don't have to learn a lot on the run. You know what he expects, you know exactly what he wants and it's a matter of going out and doing it.

"There's some new stuff. The more I get out there the more it will be like the rest - I won't have to think about it."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cash Practices

Aaron Last/Storm Photos

Saturday was Swin Cash's first practice with the Seattle Storm since her back surgery, and it went well. Cash, who is still restricted from contact action, went through shooting drills before practice and joined her teammates when they dummied through the offense (going through the motions of plays without any defenders). She also rotated in and out on one defensive drill the Storm did before the training staff shut her down for the rest of the day.

"I felt good," said Cash after practice. "I was kind of getting annoyed with myself because I missed a couple shots and fumbled the ball a few times, but it's to be expected. All in all, I thought it was a good practice. I felt like I shot the ball well in our warmups, but it's just about the timing. That's going to come because I'm not all the way go just yet."

"She looks good," echoed Storm Head Coach Brian Agler. "I was impressed by how live she was. She looked live and looked real active and quick. She was no contact today, but she got into a couple of live drills, looked good running up and down the floor. It's going to take her getting back into contact and getting the ball in her hands and in the flow of things."

Agler said Cash will visit a rehab specialist later in the day as the team continues to plot her course back to full action. That will depend on how Cash responds to this limited work, and what her doctor and the Storm's medical staff feel she is capable of doing.

- The Storm expects to get another player in town tonight when Tanisha Wright returns. The plan is for Wright to get her physical done before tomorrow's afternoon practice so Wright can be out on the floor. "We're anxious to get her in here," said Agler.

- During yesterday's day off, the Storm made its first two cuts of training camp, with Kimberly Beck and rookie Mara Freshour being waived. Agler called making cuts "the toughest thing about this position or any position."

He reiterated his position after the Storm's preseason opener on Thursday that the pace of training camp required the team to cut down its numbers, and the decisions had little to do with what Beck and Freshour had done or not done in camp.

"They'll do well," Agler said. "They'll have opportunities overseas to play and hopefully they'll get another opportunity here this year with another team or maybe something next year."

- Agler closed practice by having the players run the length of the court and back with a 10-second countdown. Guard Sue Bird was the apparent winner from this vantage point, using a veteran move. She ran through an open door off the practice gym to keep from having to slow down as quickly.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Storm Makes First Cuts

As promised, the Storm made a couple of roster decisions this morning, waiving guards Kimberly Beck and Mara Freshour. I can't say I was surprised. Beck seemed to have fallen behind A'Quonesia Franklin at point guard, where the Storm had four players and will add Tanisha Wright this weekend. Meanwhile, La'Tangela Atkinson and Aja Parham led Freshour on the wing, another spot that will get more crowded with the arrival of Swin Cash.

While he was discussing making moves last night, Storm Head Coach Brian Agler made a point to note that they were really about managing the size of the roster in camp.

"In all honesty, it has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of people they are and the quality of players they are," Agler said. "It comes down to a short training camp. It's a numbers game and we've got to get some of our key players reps and get them ready for the regular season."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My All-Decade Team Picks

You're getting your first look at voting for the Seattle Storm All-Decade Team today, but this has been in the works for months. As part of the process, all of us in the Storm offices have been putting together our own personal All-Decade teams, and I wanted to share mine today. Since we're asking fans to share why they voted the way they did, it's only fair I do the same.

Adia Barnes - There's no question I have a soft spot for Adia, and did long before we began working together with Storm radio broadcasts. Barnes played a key role as a starter for the first Storm playoff team and her defense off the bench was invaluable during the championship season.

Tully Bevilaqua - As I wrote in the text on her page, the Storm might well not have won a championship without Bevilaqua backing up Sue Bird. She's set an impossibly high standard for backup point guards ever since. And there's a reason she had the nickname "Loveable Pitbull" when she was here.

Sue Bird - Call me crazy, but I think Sue belongs on this team. No, obviously she's a no-brainer.

Janell Burse - I think people sometimes overlook Burse's key place in Storm history. She ranks in the franchise's all-time top five in points, rebounds and blocks, and will only add to those totals this season. Also, isn't it nice to see the so-called "Killer Bs" reunited again?

Iziane Castro Marques - During three years as a starter in Seatle, Izi really came into her own, developing into a dangerous streaky scorer who also defended the opposition's top perimeter scory.

Simone Edwards - Certainly, no Storm All-Decade Team would be complete without the Shakin' Jamaican. In addition to ranking third in franchise history in games played and being the last player left from the inaugural Storm team, Edwards' contributions in the community were immense.

Lauren Jackson - A good rule of thumb: If you make the WNBA's All-Decade Team (as Bird did also), you're a pretty good bet for the Storm All-Decade Team.

Betty Lennox - Who amongst us can forget Betty's emotional reaction to being named Finals MVP in 2004? Even had Lennox left after that first season in Seattle, she'd still be an easy pick because of her enormous role in bringing home the Storm's WNBA championship.

Alicia Thompson - This was the toughest pick for me, as I considered players like Michelle Marciniak, Edna Campbell and Swin Cash. You could make an argument for any of the 24 nominees. Still, my bias toward the championship team is evident (nine of the 10 players on my All-Decade Team were part of the 2004 squad), and that pushes Thompson into this spot. She came up with plenty of clutch three-pointers during the 2004 playoffs.

Kamila Vodichkova - The Storm's first-ever draft pick is both a strong emotional choice because of her endearing personality as well as a solidly rational one, still ranking amongst the franchise's all-time top five in points, rebounds, blocks, games and minutes.

Be on the lookout down the road for "Celebrity" picks from current or former Storm players and broadcasters, etc. as voting for the All-Decade Team continues through July 3.

Storm the Lake This Saturday!

Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images

One of my favorite Storm events is back this season. Join us for “Stormin’ the Lake” this Saturday from 2–4 p.m. at Green Lake Community Center. Meet the 2009 players and coaches, get your face painted, make locker room signs, learn moves from the Storm Dance Troupe, shoot hoops on the Storm court, plus much more!

Because Stormin' the Lake is a little later this season (along with training camp), we should get some great weather. For a taste of what Stormin' the Lake is like, check out our photo gallery from the last event in 2007.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Practice Notes

Not a lot noteworthy from Wednesday's practice, as most of our attention was focused on today's feature story looking at tomorrow's preseason game and the fight to make the roster. One thing that is notable for not producing notes: The Storm's health, which right now gets a clean bill.

"So far, so good," said Head Coach Brian Agler. "Knock on wood. We're doing pretty well."

- Storm forward Swin Cash is not yet back in Seattle, having been delayed in her travel. She's now expected in Thursday. "Storm fans, I'm trying to get to Seattle, trust me," Cash said via her Twitter account. The current plan is for Cash to get her physical either Thursday night or Friday, when the Storm will have the day off, and then begin working her way into practice.

"She won't be full-go when she gets here," said Agler. "We're going to ease her in and sort of let her be the barometer of those things."

- As for guard Tanisha Wright, her expected arrival is now on Saturday night, which would allow her to get on the practice court for Sunday's session.

- The Storm's broadcast team of Dick Fain and Adia Barnes were both in attendance, and Fain participated with the Storm's practice squad. Barnes just returned after a stopover in San Diego, having spent the offseason playing in Italy.

This is actually from yesterday, but check out (amateur) video of a couple of plays from the Storm's practice resulting in threes for Sue Bird and Katie Gearlds:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Notebook: Cash On Her Way

The Storm is anticipating the arrival of forward Swin Cash on Wednesday after Cash's 10-week checkup with her doctor went well on Monday. Cash will undergo her physical tomorrow and then could begin working her way back into practice.

"She had a good report from the doctor and I think we're going to move forward," said Storm Head Coach Brian Agler. "There's no red flags. We anticipate her gradually getting back in the practice situation."

The Storm should also have Tanisha Wright back in camp by this weekend. Wright, whose final game in France was on Sunday, is traveling from Paris to her hometown of Pittsburgh and then to her offseason home in Charlotte. She's got some details to attend to there after purchasing a home. From there, Wright will make her way to Seattle. Because Wright is experienced in the Storm's system and coming off a long season in France, Agler doesn't mind her getting an extra couple of days off.

The players who are in camp focused on the defensive end during Tuesday's practice, the third of four the team will have before Thursday's preseason finale. They wrapped things up by going 5-on-5 against the male practice squad during the portion of practice open to the media, primarily working on offense but also testing their transition defense.

"By the end, when you guys get in," explained Agler, "that's trying to get some conditioning - get up and down the floor, incorporate the things that we've worked on."

Generally, Agler has split the team up into two squads - a black unit made up of veterans Sue Bird, Shannon Johnson, Katie Gearlds, Camille Little, Ashley Robinson and Janell Burse and a white team of rookies Mara Freshour, Aja Parham and Ashley Walker; newcomers La'Tangela Atkinson, A'Quonesia Franklin and Kasha Terry; and Kimberly Beck. Today, a variety of players from both teams worked together against the practice squad.

The format does make it a challenge to work everyone in.

"It's hard the way we like to run practice against the guys to keep everybody on the floor and those types of things," Agler said. "I like playing against the guys. As we move forward and our roster shrinks, we'll get a lot more reps for our key people and get more cardio."

- The starting lineup for the preseason opener figures to come from the group of veterans. Bird will not play in that game to rest and give other players Agler needs to evaluate more time on the court.

- Next week, the Storm will spend a day in Las Vegas scrimmaging behind closed doors with the Sacramento Monarchs and the Phoenix Mercury. The Monarchs, whose owners (the Maloof family) own the Palms where the teams will stay, have organized the event. For Agler, it's a chance to work against an unfamiliar opponent in a controlled setting - more than a typical practice, but less formal than a preseason game.

A'Quonesia Franklin attacks from a pick-and-roll. Aaron Last/Storm Photos

Sonics legend and Storm fan Slick Watts stopped by practice, chatting with Coach Agler after its conclusion. Aaron Last/Storm Photos

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wright's Season Finished

Guard Tanisha Wright is one of four Storm players who is not here for today's Media Day, as Wright had the longest overseas schedule of any player (period, not just on the Storm). Her Tarbes team, which lost to Bourges last week in the French LFB Championships, got a rematch with the Coupe de France on the line. Alas, Bourges emerged victorious again by a 68-63 final.

Wright had a huge effort in the loss, scoring 27 points with eight rebounds and three assists. Tarbes took advantage of its superior depth, with six players scoring at least eight points.

Wright now heads home and will be in camp later this week. We'll pass it along when we hear a more exact date.

It's Media Day

The Storm kicked things off with yesterday's practice, but today's Media Day really begins things from our perspective. The Storm will be holding Media Day from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., and will (of course) have things covered from all angles. To get live updates during Media Day, your best bet will be to follow the Storm's Twitter feed (@seattlestorm), as I'll be texting from my phone. Then afterward, we'll have all the great content you've come to expect from, as well as coverage of this afternoon's first practice.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Introducing LiveAccess

The WNBA today announced the debut of WNBA LiveAccess for the 2009 season, which will dramatically expand the league’s live webcast offerings. Fans around the world will be able to watch most Storm games live right here at using TriCaster technology that will combine the radio broadcast with in-house video feeds. This same technology has previously been used to produce webcasts for D-League games.

We’ll have more details on which games will be available shortly along with the release of the Storm’s TV broadcast schedule, so stay tuned and remember to check out during games all season long for another great way to enjoy Storm basketball.

Fair Play Bill Signed Into Law

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed into law the "Fair Play" bill ((SB 5967) yesterday with Anne Levinson from the Storm's ownership group, Force 10 Hoops, in attendance. The ACLU of Washington and the Women's Sports Foundation supported the bill, which ensures equal treatment for women's sports at the recreational level.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who spoke to about the importance of women's athletics as part of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, invited Levinson to take place in yesterday's signing. Sen. Kohl-Welles was a co-sponsor of the bill along with Rep. Christine Rolfes.

Photos courtesy of the Washington State Senate:

Gov. Gregoire celebrates signing the bill. Levinson is fourth from left.

Gov. Gregoire poses with Sen. Kohl-Welles, far right, and young supporters of the Fair Play Bill, from left to right, Julie Fradkin, Catherine Rolfes, Elizabeth Rolfes, Gabriel Fradkin, Grace Trautman and Francis Gellert. Catherine and Elizabeth are the daughters of Sen. Rolfes, the bill’s co-sponsor.

Sen. Kohl-Welles and her daughter, Terra Cooper, with Gov. Gregoire.

Young athletes take a moment to celebrate with the Governor.

Wright's Team Falls in Final

Tanisha Wright and Tarbes fell short in their bid to win the French LFB, losing today's deciding Game 3 72-49 at Bourges. As in Game 2, Tarbes fell behind early. It was 18-8 Bourges after one quarter and 43-19 at the half. Tarbes had a tough time generating offense, shooting 36.4 percent from the field. Wright scored 12 points as one of three Tarbes players in double-figures.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bryant's Job Shadow

Last December, we blogged about Breanna Leonard, the eighth-grader from Kent, Wash. who wrote an essay about why Storm CEO Karen Bryant was a role model to her as part of the Macy’s Follow A Leader essay contest. Amongst other prizes, Leonard won the chance to spend a day with Bryant learning more about her job. She was in the Storm offices last month just prior to the WNBA Draft, and wrote about the experience:

To start off the day, we went to Karen Bryant’s office and talked about each of the job positions within the organization. We also talked about the draft and other things pertaining to her position at the Seattle Storm Headquarters. Then, we went into the meeting room. While we were there, Ms. Bryant had meetings with two of her staff members. I learned that she has meetings every day with different people from her staff and one meeting with all of her staff once a week.

The meetings during the week are set up by the staff and they come to Ms. Bryant to check in and show what they are working on. I thought that was really interesting that the staff sets up the meetings. Also, during the meetings I learned about Lauren Jackson and got to see the video they sent to her, trying to convince her to come back to the Seattle Storm. I thought the video was a really good way of telling Lauren Jackson that she is special and means a lot to the team.

After the staff meetings, we went to the Interbay Neighborhood Association meeting to hear different businesses talk about how they can help each other. While we were at this meeting, Ms. Bryant gave a 15-minute speech about the Seattle Storm. During this meeting, she surprised me with my very own Seattle Storm jersey. This by far was the best part of the day because I had no idea she was going to do this, and I thought it was really kind of her to make me a part of her team.

Finally, to end the day we went to eat lunch at Red Mill Burgers and it was delicious! Overall, I learned a lot about how things work at the Storm and I’m glad I had the chance to job shadow Ms. Bryant.

Go Seattle Storm! :)

- Breanna Leonard
For more on Breanna's day with Karen Bryant, check out this article in the Kent Reporter newspaper.

Batkovic's Team Takes Title

Congrats to Suzy Batkovic and her Cras Basket Taranto teammates. With a 56-52 victory yesterday, Taranto defeated Umana Venezia 3-1 in the Italian LegA Basket Femminile finals to win the top Italian league.

Taranto win on the road to take the deciding game, outscoring Venezia 28-19 in the second half and holding the hosts to seven points in the final period of another slow-paced, low-scoring affair. Batkovic was one of three players, along with series MVP Emile Godin and Megan Mahoney, to pace Taranto with 12 points, shooting 6-for-12 from the field.

According to the incomparable Paul Swanson, this is Taranto's second Italian championship, having previously won in 2003.

The finals series in France is heading to a deciding Game 3 after Tanisha Wright's Tarbes squad was blown out 78-37 on the road in Game 2. Host Bourges led 30-5 following a dominant first quarter, and things got little better for Tarbes the rest of the way. The previous games between the two teams have been close, so a lopsided outcome was a definite surprise. Tarbes will get a chance to bounce back and take the series on Wednesday, the final game also to be played in Bourges.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Reading Material

Hope all our mothers out there had a good day. The Storm does not have any mothers on the roster this year, but of course every player is a daughter, and Percy Allen of the Seattle Times interviewed Janell Burse's mother Esther on raising Burse. Sue Bird and Swin Cash also spoke about their mothers. also has a photo gallery featuring players' best Mother's Day gifts that includes several WNBA players, most notably Lauren Jackson - who picked the gift she gave her mum, Maree, this year.

Lastly, a year ago I interviewed Cash about her mother, Cynthia, and their special relationship. Then, Cash was in Seattle during the midst of training camp and missing her mom. Moving the start of camp back means many players are at home with their families, and Cash shared on Twitter that she spent the day with her mother and grandmother.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Talking Training Camp

Would you believe that we're nine days away from the Storm and the rest of the WNBA opening training camp? With yesterday's three signings, the Storm is pretty close to set for May 17. There are 17 players on the roster, and while just 15 are allowed in camp, the Storm will have some players in to camp late.

- Suzy Batkovic will not be participating as she prepares for her wedding on May 30, as she is still in action overseas.
- Lauren Jackson's status is not yet resolved. Jackson will be in Batkovic's wedding party, and it may not make sense for her to make the arduous trip from Australia to Seattle only to go back again shortly thereafter.
- Swin Cash is awaiting clearance to begin practicing. According to Brian Agler's interview with earlier this week, Cash has a doctor's appointment scheduled for Tuesday, May 19 - 10 weeks from her back surgery.

So the Storm will be going over 15 players on the roster to have a full complement around for the first week of practices and the preseason opener at KeyArena on May 21 against Sacramento.

"We have a good idea who our core group is going to be, but we have a couple of spots up in the air," Agler said earlier this week. "We'll just let that play out on the training-camp floor."

The Storm now has 11 players under contract, but has the flexibility for competition should one of the training-camp invitees or third-round pick Mara Freshour play their way onto the roster.

Between now and then, the coaching staff is preparing, said Agler: "Right now, we're sort of focusing on getting our practices and our training camp organized and just getting excited for the 17th."

I hope you're getting excited for the start of camp as well. The countdown is officially on.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Latest from Overseas

Having returned home for Games 2 and 3, Cras Basket Taranto and Suzy Batkovic have taken a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five series against Umana Venezia.

Game 2, played Tuesday, saw Taranto overcome an off night from Batkovic, who spent time in foul trouble and scored but three points on 1-of-6 shooting. She contributed six rebounds, and Taranto emerged victorious by a 56-52 final in a defensive battle where both teams hit fewer than 40 percent of their shots. Karen David came off the bench to score a game-high 14 points, and Elodie Godin had 10 points and 14 rebounds for Taranto. No Venezia players reached double-figures.

Today's Game 3 was scarcely more offensive, but Taranto's stars got back on track in the 57-50 win. Megan Mahoney led the way with 19 points, while Batkovic scored 10 and pulled down five rebounds. Michelle Greco also scored 10 points.

The series shifts back to Venezia for Game 4 on Sunday for an elimination game for the hosts.

In France, the finals series is through just one game. On Wednesday, Tarbes earned the 56-50 victory over Bourges on the strength of a 22-9 third-quarter advantage and now goes on the road needing one win to claim the championship of France. Again, the game was defensive in nature, Bourges shooting 33.3 percent from the field. Bourges clamped down on Tanisha Wright defensively, holding her to seven points with five assists and four rebounds. Isabelle Yacoubou stepped up for the victors with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 2 will be played on Saturday.

Monday, May 4, 2009

LJ Reaction

Lauren Jackson's free agency and her decision between staying with the Storm or signing in Phoenix has been emotional for Storm fans, and I'm sure you have strong reactions to today's news that Jackson has re-signed with the Storm. Please share them in this thread.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Storm Players Into Finals

As we head into May and approach WNBA training camps, overseas play is winding down. Just two Storm players are still in action, and both of their teams are currently playing for national league championships in finals series.

In the Italian Lega Basket Femminile, Game 1 of the finals was today. Suzy Batkovic's Cras Basket Taranto team went on the road under the 1-2-1-1 format used by the LBF and fell 74-62 to Umana Venezia. Taranto led through much of the first half, but was outscored 19-8 in the third quarter as Venezia took command of the game.

Batkovic scored 14 points for Taranto, making four of her five shot attempts and all six of her tries from the free-throw line. The rest of Batkovic's teammates had a tough time finishing, as Taranto shot 35.9 percent on two-point shots. Megan Mahoney scored 15 and Michelle Greco 11 for Taranto.

Venezia features WNBA players Essence Carson and Vanessa Hayden-Johnson as well as WNBA vet Mery Andrade, but it was Italian vet Simona Ballardini - one of the team's go-to players - who led Venezia with 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

The series now shifts to Taranto for games Tuesday and Thursday.

Tanisha Wright's Tarbes Bigorre Elite team won its way to the French LFB Finals last Wednesday, sweeping a semifinals matchup against Villeneuve d'Ascq with a 74-56 victory. Wright had 12 points and seven assists and five Tarbes players scored double-figures. Bourges also swept into the finals, setting up a showdown between the two top teams in France.

The best-of-three series opens Wednesday, with a last possible date of the following Tuesday, May 12.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Essay Contest Winners

The Storm announced today the winners of the 2009 Seattle Storm National Girls and Women in Sports Day Essay Contest. Mikayla LaRosa of Marysville was chosen by judges including Assistant Coach Shelley Patterson and co-owner Ginny Gilder as the overall winner, and will be recognized before a Storm game this season while also getting a personalized Storm jersey and a $150 gift card.

Check out our Essay Contest page for the runners-up in all three age categories, as well as to read the essays of all the winners.