2008 in Review: Kristen O’Neill
Kevin Pelton, storm.wnba.com | December 3, 2008
When the Seattle Storm invited Kristen O'Neill to training camp, the former University of Washington standout and native of Edmonds, Wash. faced long odds to make the team. Going into her first WNBA training camp, O'Neill was one of five invitees battling with draft picks for limited spots on the Storm's final roster.
O'Neill quickly served notice that she was going to be a factor in training camp, opening eyes with her versatility, shooting ability and most of all an unparalleled work ethic. Long after her teammates had concluded their post-practice shooting, O'Neill would remain all alone honing her shot or the rest of the game.
"If you wouldn't have made me turn around and you would have asked me who's back there shooting," Head Coach Brian Agler told the media after one training-camp session, "I would have said, 'It's Kristen.' She was shooting for an hour and a half after practice yesterday. She's had a great training camp. She's a workaholic. She's a great teammate. She's worked hard and she's still on our team."
During the preseason, O'Neill saw action in two of the Storm's three games, scoring a combined five points. She hit a three-pointer in the exhibition opener at Chicago and made her KeyArena debut on May 10. Playing in front of family and friends, O'Neill beat the first-quarter buzzer with a jumper for her only score.
Ultimately, O'Neill's battle to make the team was cut short when she was waived two days before Opening Night. Disappointed but thankful for the opportunity, O'Neill decided to stay with the team as a practice player.
"We just want her to stay involved," explained Agler, "in case there's an opportunity that could come about sometime during the course of the year and she's ready to go."
That chance would come midway through the campaign. The Storm waived rookie guard Kimberly Beck in late June to avoid having Beck's contract become guaranteed for the remainder of the season. That freed a roster spot, and on July 1 the Storm signed O'Neill to a seven-day contract.
"I'm just so grateful for the opportunity," she said. "I've been working hard, trying to stay positive and keep having faith that it will work out if it's supposed to."
Two nights later, O'Neill made her WNBA debut at home against the New York Liberty, receiving a loud ovation from Storm fans proud of the hometown hero. She had played in four games when a decision day for the Storm was apparently at hand on July 15. It was believed the Storm would have to either sign O'Neill for the remainder of the season or allow her second seven-day contract to expire because of a limit on seven-day deals. However, the team found out from the league that no limit existed, and O'Neill would continue to be re-signed on a weekly basis through the duration of the season.
Twice, O'Neill saw extended playing time, in a blowout win over Minnesota and a lopsided defeat at Washington. For the most part, her playing time came in bits and pieces here and there, making it difficult for O'Neill to really display her skills. She would play in a total of 11 games before spending the Storm's playoff series against Los Angeles on the inactive list with the team relatively healthy.
2008 Photo Gallery
Get the Flash Player to see this movie.