2004 in Review: Janell Burse
Days before the 2004 WNBA Draft, the Seattle Storm dealt forward Amanda Lassiter and its sixth pick of the draft to Minnesota for forward Sheri Sam and center Janell Burse. Sam was the player the Storm aggressively targeted in trade, the veteran small forward Donovan believed was necessary to win the championship (an opinion later proven correct). However, the Storm would not have done the deal without the inclusion of Burse, considered one of the WNBA's top young centers after a breakout 2003 season.
The Storm didn't get that player and prospect during much of 2004 because of injury. In late July, Burse initially injured her right hip during a practice. She was diagnosed with bursitis and placed on the injured list, missing the Storm's last five games before the August Olympics Break. Burse was activated in time for the start of September and played the Storm's final nine games and all eight playoff games, but her injury issues were hardly over. Further tests revealed Burse had a quad injury as well as hip bursitis, and eventually that she had a partial tear of the vastus lateralis, a muscle near the hip and the quad.
2004 Janell Burse Photo Gallery
2004 in Review Archive
Burse Brings It Off the Bench
The Janell Burse File
Q&A With Burse
Nonetheless, Burse finished fifth in the WNBA in offensive rebounds per 40 minutes (4.0) and blocks per 40 minutes (2.8). Despite coming off the bench, Burse ranked ninth in the WNBA in blocks per game (1.2), one of only two reserves (Minnesota's Vanessa Hayden was the other) to block at least one shot per game. Burse's long arms give the Storm a second shot blocker the franchise has never before had alongside Jackson.
Teaming with Jackson proved more challenging for Burse on the offensive end. A traditional low-post center in Minnesota, Burse had to play more often in the high post to accommodate Jackson's post-ups. She seemed more comfortable in this role late in the season, as her offensive numbers actually improved after the break to a 47.6% field-goal percentage and 5.3 points per game.
Burse is a restricted free agent, giving the Storm the option to match any offers made to her, and she is expected to return as the heir apparent to starting center Vodichkova. After playing in China this off-season, Burse should enter 2005 healthy and more experienced in her role as the Storm's third post, promising a better season.
- Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com