Abrosimova Embraces Role on Seattle's Bench

Sep 14 2010 4:24PM
Seattle, Wash. -- "Tell me about your role as the sixth woman on this team?"

It was a simple question, one that caused Seattle Storm forward Svetlana Abrosimova to smile and laugh.

"Sixth woman," she responded. "I've never heard that but I like it."

The phrase is typically "sixth man," given to the player who is first off the bench night after night. But in the woman's game, a tweak is gender necessary.

Abrosimova is in her first season with the Seattle Storm after seven years in Minnesota (2001-07) and one in Connecticut (2008), where she left after six games to take some time off. That break lasted through the 2009 season. For much of her nine-year WNBA career, she's been written into the starting lineup. With the Lynx, Abrosimova began the night on the floor 148 out of 204 times. This season, however, she started just once in 34 games. Despite this, Abrosimova is anything but unhappy in her role on the Seattle bench.

"I'm okay playing 10 minutes, 20 minutes. It doesn't matter," the 6-foot-2 forward said. "That's why I'm here with this team. That's why I'm coming off the bench. I know my role."

There is a value to having a player like Abrosimova on the bench. Take for example Game One of the WNBA Finals on Sunday. Forward Swin Cash, one of the team's primary offensive weapons, picked up three fouls by the end of the first quarter. Storm head coach Brian Agler, who coached Abrosimova for two seasons in Minnesota, called upon her to step in and play 21 minutes, three more than her playoff average of 18.

"Every game is different. Obviously, Swin couldn't get enough playing time because she was called for a lot of fouls at the beginning of the game so I knew he was probably going to give me extra minutes," the former University of Connecticut product said. "Sometimes Tanisha (Wright) is in foul trouble, or sometimes I'm just playing better."

Abrosimova credits Agler's fair coaching assessment for gauging who gets minutes.

"He's a great coach and he knows my game and he knows when I can really help. At the same time he knows when (Swin) is playing her best, and he's never going to take her out when she's playing good."

The 30-year-old averaged 7.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2 assists for the Storm this season. Her 2.33 steals average ranked her 14th in the WNBA, while the 37.6 three-point percent was 15th overall.

Now, well into the playoffs, Abrosimova is two wins away from her first WNBA championship. Numerous players have said this week that they are going to play the same way they've played all season; making changes now are unnecessary.

"I think that a lot of players make mistakes when they're like 'oh, we're in the playoffs, we have to step up now,'" Abrosimova said. "You can't get yourself overly excited because that can hurt your game, too. You can't overthink it."

The focus will again be on rebounding, where the Dream have excelled this season. They were the league's best in that category; however, in Game One the Storm pulled down more balls (36-34) off the glass than their counterpart.

"We knew that was the number-one thing, to keep them off the boards," she said. "They're amazing and strong. They want to get those rebounds. They've got that inside rule 'go get the boards.' That's how they play. It was our preparation. But still, we can do a lot better."

Game Two is Tuesday night at KeyArena in Seattle, where the Storm are 20-0, including the playoffs, in 2010. While home-court advantage has been huge for the Storm, the series definitely is about to get more intense. There's no doubt Atlanta feels pressure to steal at least one in Seattle, especially if they want to try and win the title on their home floor.

"It's still not over," Abrosimova said. "Everything can be turned around in the next game."